Page last updated at 17:44 GMT, Friday, 5 March 2010

New 70 tonne steel gates floated into Sharpness Docks

The old gates being removed
The old gates had been in place since 1958

A set of 70 tonne gates have been floated into Sharpness Docks, Berkeley, to replace those that have held back the sea for the past 52 years.

The massive steel gates arrived by barge from Deest, in Holland, where they were made.

Teams of specialist divers will float the gates into position at low tide and remove the previous ones.

The docks will be closed for around two weeks while the £1m British Waterways project is completed.

Project manager Will Burnish said: "The first phase of the operation will involve removing the current gates which are 11 metres high and weigh 74 tonnes.

"This will be carried out over the coming weekend, with the new gates installed during the course of next week."

The old gates will be loaded on a pontoon and floated to Holland for refurbishment.

Mr Burnish said: "These are among the largest gates in British Waterways.

"In addition to providing access to Sharpness Docks and the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal, they offer a solid defence against the unpredictable weather in the Severn Estuary.

"The existing set of gates has guarded the entrance to the docks since 1958 with just minor maintenance and we are hoping for the same length of service out of these."

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