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The reason why one of the Cardiff Bay Barrage locks is out of action

Cardiff Bay Barrage

The Cardiff Bay Barrage is at the heart of the £2 billion regeneration of the docklands area of the city and is what connects Cardiff and Penarth.

The construction of the barrage in the 1990s has created a 200-hectare freshwater bay and waterfront area. It is hugely popular with locals and tourists, where you can find people walking or cycling across the barrage daily.

The barrage itself features locks and bridges, sluice gates and a fish pass. These not only help the surrounding environment (which is closely monitored), but it is how boats navigate between Severn Estuary and Cardiff Bay.

There are three locks on the Barrage; each one is 40m long, two are 8m wide and one is 10.5m wide. Each lock can accommodate up to 10 average sized vessels, with passage through the locks taking between 5 and 20 minutes, depending on the tide.

As the estuary has a high tidal range, the sector lock gates are up to 16m high to enable the boats to pass through at all stages of the tide.

So, it isn’t surprising that from time to time, the locks need to be maintained.

Cardiff Bay Barrage – view of locks

If you’ve visited the barrage in the last few weeks, you will have noticed that Lock 2 is currently out of action for planned maintenance.

View of Lock 2 – the freshwater of Cardiff Bay is being held back to allow maintenance work to be carried out

As Chris Seddon, Barrage Manager for Cardiff Harbour Authority explains:

“Lock 2 is currently undergoing its planned maintenance this is a three yearly cycle with one of our three locks taken out for maintenance in the winter months.

“We have a list of planned maintenance activities during this time which includes lock hinge assembly maintenance, floating pontoons and roller inspections, anode changes, etc. As this is our only opportunity to work on the Locks when they are drained of water we check and replace the lock gate rubber seals. We also plan in repairs and modifications, this year we have carried out works to protect the cabling that runs to our detection strips, hinge assembly modifications and installation of a new water level gauging system.”

“Depending on what is found the works generally take around two months to complete, we are hoping to reopen the lock in early February. All this work is essential in order to ensure rights of navigation under the Act of Parliament (Cardiff Bay Barrage Act 1993).”

Cardiff Bay Barrage – Lock 2

If you have the chance, do visit whilst Lock 2 is undergoing maintenance, it gives you a rare glimpse of the lock dry, allowing you to see the shear scale and depth of the infrastructure.