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Lock restoration project unearths 'buried treasure' in bid to keep history alive

PUBLISHED: 13:58 11 June 2019 | UPDATED: 11:37 12 June 2019

Volunteers clearing the wall on the Norfolk side at Geldeston Lock. PHOTO: Inland Waterways Association

Volunteers clearing the wall on the Norfolk side at Geldeston Lock. PHOTO: Inland Waterways Association

Archant

Restoration work aimed at preserving one of the Broads' last remaining locks has unearthed a notable piece of history in the area.

A gold wedding ring found during the Geldeston Lock restoration. PHOTO: Inland Waterways AssociationA gold wedding ring found during the Geldeston Lock restoration. PHOTO: Inland Waterways Association

The River Waveney Trust hosted a Waterway Recovery Group canal camp at Geldeston Lock last month where workers discovered a carved stone in the chamber wall recording the last restoration in 1910, 109 years ago.

Volunteers also discovered a gold wedding ring, believed to be from London in 1951, with the trust now attempting to reunite it with its owner and find out the story of how it ended up in the lock.

David Evans, canal camp leader, said: "Whenever we carry out restorations, we hope to uncover some buried treasure, so it was very exciting to find the gold wedding ring.

"However, it was the carved stone that made the most impact on our team.

A carved stone recording the previous restoration at Geldeston Lock in 1910. PHOTO: Inland Waterways AssociationA carved stone recording the previous restoration at Geldeston Lock in 1910. PHOTO: Inland Waterways Association

"We always feel that we are helping to keep history alive with our work, so knowing that another restoration was taking place here back in 1910 and that they were trying to do a similar thing feels really special."

The lock was in danger of collapsing with the brick walls crumbling, while trees and other vegetation began growing through.

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Mr Evans said: "Working on a river brings slightly more challenges than working on canals as we have to work around the tides.

Volunteers at the Geldeston Lock restoration. PHOTO: Inland Waterways AssociationVolunteers at the Geldeston Lock restoration. PHOTO: Inland Waterways Association

"With some of the work being situated below the high tide water level, we had to use rapid setting mortar.

"The courses were laid at low tide so the mortar had a few hours to go off and not be washed away when the high tide came in.

"All of the brickwork above the high water mark was set with traditional lime mortar, which would have been very similar to the material used back in the 17th century.

"We had a good system in place and have exceeded our expectations on what we achieved.

"Things are really starting to come together."

The Trust began the restoration work in 2017 after extensive fundraising efforts and backed by more than a dozen dedicated volunteers.

The lock was built around 1670 to enable trading wherries to reach Bungay and is one of only two on the Broads system.

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