The technology employed to construct the canals was rather crude - gangs of 'navvies' with hand tools digging and building. Likewise the paraphernalia of operation - ratchets, levers and the like.
In the 1970s a nascent H&S movement suggested that it would be much safer if there were no exposed machinery particularly on the locks. The solution was, they claimed, was hydraulic power. This died a death but was resurrected on the Kennet & Avon recently. Hopefully it will not have nine lives but will be laid to rest permanently soon. We arrived at Stonebridge lock this afternoon and had to operate it manually as the electric gear was out of use. A local boater said it had been so since November 2007. At least BW are keeping the paintwork pretty. To work Gecko through the lock using only one gate in and out required 1840 turns on the windlass. But hydraulic power is so safe. If there had been an emergency of any kind how does one reverse the operation quickly?
We heard our first cuckoo this morning so that compensated for the arm-ache.
Opposite our mooring for the night was a pump out station in gleaming stainless steel and a mongrel goose caught sight of its reflection.............