Bottom Lock. Initial restoration
Following the successful fight to prevent demolition of Navigation House in Sleaford, the newly formed Sleaford Navigation Society turned its attention to restoration of the actual waterway.
After the Sleaford Navigation Company had been wound up by its owners in 1881, control of Bottom Lock passed to the Witham Commissioners. The Witham Commissioners employed a lock keeper until 1952 when traffic finally ceased (see account) when the lock gates were replaced by fixed sluices.
Ownership of Bottom Lock had passed into the hands of the Anglian Water Authority by the 1970’s so the Society entered into negotiations with the Authority with a view to restoration. By the beginning of 1978 the Society had received, in principle, approval for restoration and therefore began to investigate the engineering work involved and the financial implications of the work. Early 1982 saw the start of an appeal for funds to restore the lock. Fundraising was successful with £1,300 being raised locally and the remainder coming in grants from Lincolnshire County Council, Lincolnshire Branch IWA and Shell UK.
Investigations started in 1983 to see who could produce a set of bottom gates for the society and, initially, the work was going to be carried out by the Manpower Services Commission group on the Rochdale Canal who were building gates for the Rochdale Canal restoration. However, it was eventually decided that the local Manpower Services Commission group would build the gates in Metheringham with advice from the Rochdale people. The wood for the gates was delivered in January 1984 and production commenced. The gates were eventually fitted by Anglian Water employees, working in their own time, in October 1986.
In March 1985, plans for the new guillotine gate were well advanced when there was a setback with the original source of government funding for the gate withdrawn, however, by November 1985 Anglian Water Authority had agreed to fund the new gate themselves. Fitting of the new guillotine structure commenced on 13th October 1986 and was completed within about two weeks.
The lock was eventually opened on 8th November 1986 by Councillor Higgs on NB Wigford.