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Epiphany's Guide to using the Handspike on the Calder and Hebble

"Most locks on the Calder and Hebble Navigation require a 'spike'."

We searched for information about this "spike". There was not a lot and no real "guide to obtaining and using said "spike". So here goes -

First obtain a "spike". It can be bought from local boatyards on the Navigation or from British Waterways at Castleford. Alternatively, a 3 foot long piece of 3"x2" hardwood is just as effective. Thanks to a fellow NABO boater we had such a piece of wood ready and waiting!

Travelling towards Sowerby Bridge, the first lock that requires this simple piece of kit for gate paddles is Thornes Lock (27), the operation of which is best shown by photos!

Paddle gear barrel on the gategear barrel gear barrel


spike inserted:handspike inserted

Rotate the barrel using the spike until it is horizontal as below

rotate lefthorizontal

Remove and replace and repeat action until the paddles are openrepeat

Here is John demonstrating the technique!

1spike upright 2left a bit

3a bit more 4nearly horizontal

Repeat until openrepeat

The ground paddles are in the boxes operated with the usual windlassground paddles

As with all locks these should be opened first, slowly, before the gate paddles. So be patient and take it slowly otherwise your boat will bounce around, or worse.

At Mill Bank Lock the ground paddles are operated using an handspikeground paddle

Handspike insertedspike inserted

Rotated to open ground paddleroatated

Horizontal, repeat slowly until paddles fully openhorizontal

Just a comment on our experience so far - the ground paddles at Thornes, and the two Broad Cut Locks were quite adequate and John's demonstration was just a "try out" for the photos. The boat ahead of us at Mill Bank Lock did not use the handspike; this made the lock fill more slowly since he had to be more careful because of the gate paddle flow.

We will probably need to use the handspike at some other locks, so it is best to be prepared!

You can find the whole series of photos here


Dave Smith
# SpikeDave Smith 2010-06-05 22:58
Hi.Very informative artical.I see you mention 3x2 as the size of the piece of timber used.does this mean 3x2 will fit into the holes in the paddle.sorry if that sounds like stupid question,but i read another artical saying 4x2 shoud work.
Kind regards Dave
# 3 x 2John 2010-06-06 20:53
Some people use 4 x 2 and reduce the end to 3 x 2. The slot in the paddle gear is only 3 x 2. Our spike is made of 3 x 2 unshaped. (so far!)

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