Environment

Funding level: £1,001 to £5,000

Description

The River Waveney Trust (RWT) was established in 2012 to care for the river, its ecology, water quality, environment and heritage. We place a big emphasis on education and working with communities. Members deliver projects, run working parties, social events, and educational opportunities for schools together with support for college student’s projects.

Our latest community heritage project is the restoration of Geldeston Lock basin. The lock is one of four built in the 1670’s to enable commercial river trade beyond Beccles up stream to Bungay. The opportunity for large sailing barges, known as a Wherries, to trade further upstream was hugely influential on the socioeconomic development of these riverside communities. At this time the road system was very poor so the river was the only way to transport bulky items over long distances. The Wherry was the HGV of its day. It allowed wheat, malted barley, butter and cheese to be traded in London, via Great Yarmouth and essential commodities such as timber, later coal, hardware and fertiliser to be transported to Bungay on the return trip.

The lock basin at Geldeston is the only one of the three remaining. The lock gates have already gone and the brick walls forming the basin are in a very fragile state of repair. It is essential that this icon of the River Waveney’s trading heritage is not lost.

The brickwork forming the lock walls has been badly damaged by vegetation and trees that have grown out of the face of the wall, some of which extend to two feet in diameter. If something is not done quickly to reverse this decline the masonry could fall into the lock and it too will be lost to future generations.

2017 has seen the successful completion of Phase 1 of the restoration with the removal of the vegetation and the partial rebuilding of approximately a quarter of the southern wall. The work was carried out by RWT members, with the help of volunteers from the Waterways Recovery Group (WRG) who spent a week camping in Bungay while assisting with the work.

The WRG returned in 2018 to assist the RWT with Phase 2 of the project. This year we have removed more tree stumps and rebuilt an even longer portion of the wall. However, this work is not sufficient to secure the future stability of the lock structure. It is imperative that we maintain this momentum into Phases 3 of the project.
Cantilever scaffold was used during Phase1 to provide safe access to the wall but a work barge was very successfully during Phase 2. The barge gives a safe, flexible and cost effective platform from which to carry out the work and has proved less expensive to hire.

The barge and the building materials needed to repair and rebuild the wall are our major expense. We have willing volunteers who are very enthusiastic about continuing the project but without the funds to purchase these vital materials and hire the essential equipment, it will not be possible. Putting this wonderful heritage site back in jeopardy.

When the project is complete the lock will become a nucleus for education projects that provides a vital focus for the social and economic history of the area and the wider river network. We hope to form partnerships with schools and colleges to ensure the heritage of the River Waveney is passed down to future generations.
The refurbished lock basin will provide a focus for community pride and become a destination for visitors to the Broads National Park. We have an aspiration to see one of the Wherries moored in the lock as a fitting celebration of the lock’s heritage.

River Waveney Trust

Moment of Pride

I am honoured to be involved with the River Waveney Trust’s latest project to restore the iconic lock basin at Geldeston. When the lock is restored it will become an asset to the community, providing educational and leisure opportunities to all.

Location: Geldeston