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Traditional Paddle Gear for Cotswold Canals

Traditional Paddle Gear – A Report by Jim White 

Stroud District Council’s Canal Project Team has begun the procurement process to furnish gate and ground paddle gear for phase 1a.

Over recent years several sources of paddle gear have been considered, ranging from a unique fully enclosed unit designed and modelled by a CCT team, to buying off-the-shelf equipment used elsewhere on the canal system. 

These options did not sufficiently echo the strong heritage traditions of the gear in use when the canals last carried boats. 

The picture, right, was taken at Ryeford in 1991 by R.P. Marks.

In November 2010 Cotswold Canals Trust, with the pooled knowledge of many of its members and the guidance of Stroud District Council's Canal Restoration Project team, began a detailed examination of the historic evidence and engineering.

The aim is to develop a design scheme that, whilst visually reflecting strong heritage values, will provide paddle gear suitable for operation by the general public in the 21st century rather than strong armed 19th century boat crews!

Following competitive tendering and Heritage Lottery Fund approval, the design schemes are now being taken into production by Davall Gears of Hatfield in Hertfordshire.

Davall have been a leading company in the production of high quality geared drives for over 60 years. Geoff Watts, the Managing Director of the company, has also generously undertaken to extend the normal gear design and manufacture process to provide the detail design and drawing package for the non-geared parts such as the castings, at no additional charge. This illustrates the goodwill that exists towards our heritage restoration project.

Castings and other machined components will, where possible, be sourced locally and similar generous price concessions have been offered.

In the meantime volunteers at the Cotswold Canals Trust Eastington Depot are busy restoring the remaining two sets of Ryeford Double Lock paddle gear.

The plan is to use the two restored units on Ryeford middle gate. If it is found to be too high a torque for today's user then the gear could be displayed near the lock itself.

Pictured left is a balance beam paddle gear unit from Dudgrove Lock. 

Click here for an earlier report on Jim White Engineering Project Manager. 



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