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British Industrial History

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Bingley Five Rise Locks

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Bingley Five Rise Locks is a staircase lock on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal at Bingley.

In effect the 5-rise consists of five locks connected together with no intermediate "pounds": the lower gate of each chamber forms the upper gate of the chamber below. There are therefore five chambers, and six gates (the top and bottom gates and four intermediate gates).

As the Leeds Liverpool canal is a wide canal, the chambers are 14 feet (4.3 m) wide, and each "gate" consists of two half-gates, "hinged" from opposite sides of the canal. Each half gate is slightly more than 7 feet (2.1 m) wide, so that the two halves close in a "V" shape (pointing "upstream"). Water pressure on the "uphill" side of the gate thus keeps it tightly closed until the water levels on either side are equal, when the gate can be opened and the boat moved to the next chamber.

The 5-rise is the steepest flight of locks in the UK, with a gradient of about 1:5 (a rise of 59 ft 2 in (18.03 m) over a distance of 320 ft). The intermediate and bottom gates are the tallest in the country.

Because of the complications of working a staircase lock, and because so many boaters (both first-time hirers and new owners) are inexperienced, a full-time lock keeper is employed, and the locks are padlocked "out of hours".

The Locks opened on 12 March 1774 and was a major feat of engineering at the time. When the locks and therefore the canal from Gargrave to Leeds was opened in 1774 a crowd of 30,000 people turned out to celebrate.

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