Construction of the Tees Barrage began in 1991 and was completed in 1995, being officially opened by the Duke Of Edinburgh on the 17 July 1995. In 2001 ownership of the barrage and the White Water Course was passed to British Waterways who later became the Canal and River Trust who continue to operate, manage and maintain the barrage to this day. It was the trust who organised this years open day, only the second since it was completed and following on from their successful first event last year.
I spent a pleasant hour or so walking across the river bed of the Tees on Saturday, or as close as you can possibly get without actually getting your feet wet! Temporary dams have been placed either side of one of the gate wells and the water pumped out to allow the inspection of the gate seals, walls, floor and pivot points. As well as staff and volunteers being on hand inside the gate well to answer questions they also undertook tours of the control room to explain just how the barrage worked, both mechanically and also in terms of controlling the flow of the River Tees.
There was a very good turn out for the event and I understand that the Canal and River Trust intend to make this an annual open day so if you missed it this year then make 2016 the year you walk across the bed of the River Tees!
Photographs and details courtesy of David Thompson.