Couple travelling on narrowboat left stranded for four days due to a fault in lock

A middle-aged couple enjoying a narrowboat holiday have been stranded on a canal for four days because of a fault with a lock gate.

Tina, 53, and Mark Harding, 59, were just eight miles - or four hours from home - when they tried to enter a lock at Godmanchester, Cambs.

But a fault with its gearing mechanism meant the gates would not open and the couple along with other boats have been left stranded outside it.

The couple's 62-foot narrowboat called 'A Little Wobbly' is too long to turn around in the narrow canal so they have been left trapped while engineers try to fix the lock gates.

They have been stranded on the River Great Ouse since Sunday even though they live just a 20 minute drive away in St Neots, Cambs.

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Tina said: "The Environment Agency have just been giving us excuse after excuse. "It is a shambles. "We just need to get home to St Neots which is only about 20 minutes away in the car and four hours on the boat.

"And we are still sitting here four days.

"Stuck on our boat. There is something fishy going on, it shouldn't take this long.

"There are three boats stuck behind us and on the other side of the lock there are also two boats stuck. We all can't get past and we are all stuck here."

The couple, who have been married for nine years, have not been able to leave the boat due to "security reasons" and celebrated their nine year wedding anniversary on the boat.

She said: "We celebrated out nine year wedding anniversary yesterday. It will definitely be one to remember - we still had fun.

"We had to make the most of it, we had some cake, ate some dinner and just watched the world go by.

"But we can't shower or wash the clothes, because we don't know how long we are going to be here and our water is running low. So I feel a bit grubby to be honest."

She said their boat was too long to turn around and their only alternative was to travel to a marina, but that would "incur costs".

Tina said the Environment Agency visited them on Sunday but said since then they have "over complicated everything" by bringing different contractors out to look at the lock.

She said due to the gearbox being broken on, it needs parts from an old gear box to modify and fix it. Tina added: "They said they had to get a contractor out to put a tower up in order to start work. "But Tuesday came and we are waiting to move. Tuesday comes and goes - still sitting here, water is running low, toilet is filling up still sitting here.

"Tina continued: "When it happened on Sunday, we thought it's ok, it is a Sunday lets just try and enjoy it. "But now all of this time as passed, we don't know what is happening. The Environment agency is over complicating everything.

"The couple, who own a ceramic tiling company, have also been forced to put their business on hold whilst engineers try to solve the problem.

She added: "Because we are self employed we can't work. So we are loosing money as we speak.

"An Environment Agency spokesperson said: "On Saturday, September 21, a boat was navigating through Godmanchester Lock, which is owned and managed by the Environment Agency, when the gate stopped operating, rendering the lock impassable and the boat stranded within the lock chamber.

"Our officers attended the scene and the boat has since been released but due to a mechanical fault the lock remains inoperable and is currently closed.

"The gearbox, which is essential to open and close the gate, needs replacing and there is no way of operating the lock manually, so boaters are unable to operate the lock.

"Contractors are currently working on a bespoke drive shaft and a replacement gearbox, which will enable the gate to be operational and we hope to have this in place as soon as possible.

"We are continuing to engage with and support the local boating community and keeping them informed of the situation, and apologise to those inconvenienced by the fault.

"Once we are satisfied the gate is operating and safe to use, the lock will reopen."

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