April A-Z: M is for Muirtown Locks

When canal users need to transport their boats from a higher water level to a lower water level they traditionally use a system of locks, which are basically a series of stepped deep chambers with lock gates at either end of each chamber.

So for example here, a boat would enter the top lock, the lock gates would be closed and the water pumped out so that the water level is lowered to match that of the next chamber. Once the water levels are equal, the lock gates between the two chambers are opened and the boat moves on through to the next chamber. The operation is repeated as many times as is necessary until the boat has reached the lower level. In order for boats to move up from the lower to the higher level, the same procedure is completed in reverse, but with each chamber being filled with water rather than emptied, raising the boat further up each time.

The Muirtown Locks in Inverness, originally built in the early 1800s, comprise a flight of four locks (and therefore five lock gates) at the northern end of the Caledonian Canal. Each lock chamber is 180ft long and 40ft wide, and altogether these four locks raise the canal 32 ft from the Muirtown Basin to the Dochfour Reach. The locks, orignally cranked manually, were mechanised in 1963 – the same year I was born!

PS If you’re interested to see more I’ve previously posted images of two boats actually going through the locks at the end of last summer 🙂

For this year’s A-Z I’m going to take you on a photographic tour of My Inverness, Past and Present. I grew up in the local area, I went to school here and brought up my three children here, but I moved away to London for 18 years before returning home for good at the end of last summer.

P.S. My initial plan for my A-Z posts has necessarily been curtailed somewhat due to the current coronavirus pandemic, but we’ll get through the alphabet one way or another, however creative my use of subjects may have to be – so thank you for visiting Inverness with me, and I hope you enjoy our trip!

6 thoughts on “April A-Z: M is for Muirtown Locks

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