Humans of the Waterway: Chris

Humans of the Waterway: Chris


Posted 22nd June


In the latest of our Humans of the Waterway features, courtesy of the Canal & River Trust, we meet volunteer lockkeeper, Chris, of Frankton Locks

"We're both happy when we're here! People ask me why I work as a volunteer on my day off, and I say, just because I like it. I volunteer at Grindley Brook one day a week and work as a Canal & River Trust part-time lockkeeper at Frankton Locks too.

I used to be a teacher until I retired from fulltime work nearly three years ago. I think I work much harder here physically than I did when I was a teacher - I'm using energy for the right reasons now and keeping fit instead of shuffling bits of paper round. It's good, and my dog, Alfie, usually comes with me to help. I almost lost him once when he spotted a dog he quite fancied saying hello to on a boat passing through the lock. Nobody noticed him jumping aboard, and I only realised when I saw him cruising away into the distance!

When I first started working on the Llangollen Canal it was only as a volunteer, but after I decided to go through the lockkeepers’ course I got the job as lockkeeper on the Montgomery Canal. I've known the Montgomery Canal since before its restoration, and I never thought that I'd be working here one day as a lock keeper - it's lovely! I love the energy of its history.

My degree, and the subject I taught at school, was industrial archaeology and heritage so in my role on the canals I'm able to talk about my interests and meet people which is a nice part of my job. I see every boat that passes through my lock like a theatrical experience - and I think that how I greet the crew is part of that experience for them. Unlike canals linked to the main systems, this canal isn't going anywhere, and there isn't a destination - so I like to create each lock as a destination. I have the time now I'm retired to enjoy doing that. I have a laugh too - if I didn't enjoy it, I wouldn't do it.

As a child I was steeped in the Shewsbury & Newport Canals, and I became chair of their trust for a time, fighting to make restoration a reality. I've been on the canals since the 1960s and had several boats. My last working boat was a josher called Tench and I'm looking at buying another one at the moment. I think I just like being on the canals, and there's not much that beats being huddled in the boatman's cabin of a historic boat!"

Text and imag courtesy of the Canal & River Trust





Related articles
Posted Friday

Five New Years resolutions that could help wildlife

Five New Years resolutions that could help wildlife


Posted Thursday

Humans of the Waterway: Mark, Michael & Henry

Humans of the Waterway: Mark, Michael & Henry


Posted Thursday

Five big nature issues to tackle in 2018

Five big nature issues to tackle in 2018


Posted Wednesday

Keeping your dog in optimal shape over the festive season

Keeping your dog in optimal shape over the festive season