After the usual Friday gathering we caught the bus into Stafford on Saturday with Dot & Gordon.
Rumour was that the staircase locks at Etruria were being opened for visitors on Sunday. It was a damned cold morning but we decided to go along. It's not often you get the chance to go to the bottom of a lock and see the workings and it was well worth the effort.
The scaffolding had been set up to allow us to get to the bottom of the lock chambers, so after putting on our hardhats we were escorted down. The C&RT man exlained how they fitted the new gates and pointed out the features of the cills and paddle gear. These are the bits which are usually under water and remain a mystery, except when some muppet manages to drain the pound!
One feature which came as a suprise was the rubbing stone. Set in front of the cill, it protects the cill from being damaged by boats when the level is low or when a boat is exceptionally deep in the water.
While we were at the bottom of the lock a man with an official looking badge started talking to us. It was only after he had gone that we found out he was the head man of the Canal & River Trust. If we had known we could have had a conversation about some of the issues with the trust. Perhaps it's just as well we didn't know.