While wandering through London’s famous Camden Market area we stumbled upon this lovely – albeit somewhat radioactive-looking – boat lock on Regent’s Canal.
Camden Lock is a traditional, manually operated double canal lock designed to move boats through a major shift in water levels. It was installed in the early 1800s, replacing an earlier system that required boats to be raised and lowered while submerged in a waterproof box, and is still regularly used today.
We were admiring the empty lock from a nearby stone bridge when we noticed a house boat coming our way.
The boat pulled up to the quay and someone jumped out to lash it down. Wait a minute… does this mean we get to see the lock in action?
Indeed. The owner scurried across the railings and closed the furthest lock gate, then came back and opened the first juuuust a little. Lo and behold, the water level in the holding cell slowly began to rise…
… and once it reached that of the upper canal the top gate was opened, the boat slipped in, and the whole process was executed again in reverse on the lower side.
I imagine it was a slow and tedious experience for the boat owner, but we felt lucky to have stumbled upon this utterly fascinating demonstration of a two-hundred-year-old mechanism in action.
My undercover sources (a.k.a Teh Internetz) tell me that the overabundance of fluorescent algae covering the lock is, in fact, an abnormal occurrence.
Apparently the toxic algae (yep, toxic) have thrived following a sudden and atypical spell of hot weather… which just goes to show that it’s a bloody good thing it rains all the time in London. Who knows what kind of nefarious creatures this lock would produce with high humidity and soaring temperatures?
I’m thinking Lock Ness Monster… the sequel.