MP takes a trip into the depths of one of the Harborough district's most famous landmarks
Luckily for Neil the lock had been drained.
The district’s Conservative MP wanted to see first-hand how the Canal & River Trust keeps the stunning 200-year-old flight of locks working smoothly.
Neil was joined by the Deputy Lieutenant for Leicestershire, Lt Col David Young, and representatives of local authorities for a behind the scenes tour of the Trust’s lock gate replacement works.
The waterways and wellbeing charity is carrying out major works at Foxton, the longest and steepest ‘staircase’ of locks in the UK.
The exhaustive scheme includes replacing a number of ageing giant oak lock gates.
The blueprint will see new lock gates lifted into seven of the site’s 10 locks as well as repairs to historic brickwork and other parts of the lock structures.
Neil and the other special guests were invited to walk down into a drained lock to get an intriguing close-up view of the works.
They also met some of the Trust’s staff and Foxton’s team of volunteer lock keepers who keep the unique attraction and brilliant engineering feat ticking over in the summer.
The visit also gave a chance for people to hear about the Trust’s plans for developing Foxton, encouraging people to stay longer at the site and boosting local tourism.
Inspired Neil said: “Foxton Locks is a much-loved and well-visited attraction within the constituency.
“It was fascinating to visit during a rare ‘drained’ period - for which I’d like to thank the Canal & River Trust for the invite.”
The MP added: “The vital work that is being carried out will help to ensure it remains an important attraction for many years to come.
“I look forward to visiting again in future.
“I’d also encourage anyone who is interested in seeing the drained locks to attend one of the upcoming open days.”
Philip Mulligan, regional director for the Canal & River Trust, said: “We were delighted to welcome Mr O’Brien, as well as Colonel Young and our other guests, to showcase the works currently taking place at Foxton.
“It was a great opportunity to show the hard work and craftsmanship that goes in to keeping this famous landmark site working the way it should and give them the chance to see it from a totally different perspective.”
Mr Mulligan added: “It was also a chance for us to outline our exciting plans for developing the site.
“Foxton Locks is already an incredibly popular place for people to unwind and escape the pressures of daily life.
“But we think it has so much more potential.
“Our plans would enable people to spend longer at the site, making the most of the nearby pubs, cafes and businesses and giving the local visitor economy a real boost.
“It’s an incredibly exciting time at Foxton and it’s great to have so much local support.”
To find out more about the work of the Canal & River Trust, including how you can support through volunteering or making a donation, go to www.canalrivertrust.org.uk
More details of the Open Days can be found at www.canalrivertrust.org.uk/enjoy-the-waterways/events/2020-02-15-open-day-at-foxton-locks