25th November 2010
A stanking plank formed from part of a railway sleeper takes pride of place in my remodelled front garden. Fear not, I didn't pinch it from BW - such and act would be unthinkable and incredibly dangerous. This one was well past its sell by date, and when I found it it was obstructing one of the lock gates at Penkridge.
For those of you who are wondering exactly what a stanking plank is I am referring to the specially shaped planks which are held in sets at strategic points around the canal system, ready to be dropped into grooves in bridges and locks to seal off a breach or help with a repair.
These sets of planks are so numerous they become almost invisible. The trouble with them is that they need to be stored out of the weather and over the years a number of solutions have been implemented, including little tunnels in the haunches of bridges or the wartime utility concrete bunker affairs which as as ugly as they are effective.
But all this is changing. BW has come up with a "Swiss Chalet" style of plank holder which leaves them in the open air but protected from rain. These are slowly becoming more and more widespread and I have to say I really like the understated design. A really good addition to the canal infrastructure.
Here is the new shelter at Hack Green Locks, alongside the post war "austerity" version it replaces.