29 May 2019

While working on restoring the lock, the volunteers uncovered some bits of treasure. First, they found a carved stone in the chamber wall. This stone recorded the last restoration which was carried out 109 years ago in 1910. They then found a gold wedding ring. The hallmark suggests it was assayed in 1951 in London. The River Waveney Trust is now attempting to find the owner and discover the story of how it ended up in the lock.

Commenting on these finds, David Evans, Canal Camp leader says, “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. 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 Geldeston Lock was built in around 1670 and is one of only three locks on the Broads. It forms the border between Suffolk and Norfolk. Most of the work this week has taken place on the Suffolk side, although vegetation has also been cleared from the Norfolk wall so that experts can see the condition of the brickwork and work out a plan of action for restoration.

David Evans adds, “Working on a river brings slightly more challenges than working on canals as we have to work around the tides. With some of the work this week being situated below the high tide water level, we had to use rapid setting mortar. The courses were laid at low tide so that the mortar had a few hours to go off and not be washed away when the high tide came in. All 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.”

If you are interested in taking part in a Canal Camp. There are many different camps taking place all across the country this summer. Find out more about IWA’s Waterway Recovery Group Canal Camps.