HAND-CRAFTED gates made of English oak and each weighing a massive 4.5 tons will be carefully swung into place at Bingley's Three Rise Locks as part of a £3.5 million maintenance programme this winter.

And the historic staircase will be drained to allow public access to see what lies below the still waters of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal during the renovation work across Yorkshire.

"The works will provide thousands of visitors the chance to see up close some of the finest examples of working industrial heritage in the world," said a spokesman for the Canal & Rivers Trust.

A total of £45 million is being spent on renovation work across England and in addition to this year’s winter maintenance programme, the Trust is carrying out a three-month-long survey to uncover what lurks beneath.

"Across the country hundreds of shopping trolleys, traffic cones, car tyres, bottles and plastic bags are hauled out of the canals by the Trust and its volunteers at a cost of nearly £1 million each year," the spokesman said.

Weird and wonderful items such as a World War II medal in Rotherham and discarded bank safes have also been discovered in recent years.

The Trust, which wants an end to rubbish being dumped in its waterways, will be announcing the results next spring.

Jon Horsfall, waterway manager for the Canal & River Trust, said: "Our open days give people the chance to get a look at some amazing craftsmanship.

"To walk along the bed of a 200-year-old lock, see the waterways’ original 18th century design and understand the scale of the work is a real privilege."

New lock gates are made using traditional methods in the Trust’s specialist workshops at Bradley in the West Midlands and Stanley Ferry near Wakefield.

A single lock gate can take up to 20 days to make and has a working life of between 25 and 30 years.

In order to be watertight they need to be built very precisely, fitting tightly to the masonry of the lock walls and to each other.

And they are no longer painted black, but kept as natural wood which helps to prevent rotting it has recently been discovered.

Specialist lock fitter Russell Clark and his team will carry out replacement of the top lock gates at Bingley Three Rise sometime in December.

"The hardest part is the preparation, getting everything right with the crane, pumps, lighting, safety and security," said Mr Clark.

"We've done about 30 sets of gates in the last ten years and each tail gate made of English green oak weighs 4.5 tons. It's fantastic engineering."

To find out more about the Restoration & Repairs programme and the open days happening across the country go to canalrivertrust.org.uk.