Stanking planks

This page contains the different types of stanking plank store we have encountered on the canals we have cruised around England and Wales.

The canals are in alphabetical order and there is a section at the end containing pictures of stanking planks in use.

Some people have commented about me calling stop planks, stanking planks.  Whilst I accept that the common usage is for stop planks I call them stanking planks as I explain further down.  The planks are inserted in narrow sections of canals, such as bridge holes or lock heads and tails to hold back the water as a dam.  The dam is called a stank and can also be referred to as a cofferdam.  The planks are lowered into the water, puddled with clay and hence cause a watertight barrier so water can be drained out for maintenance on the drained section.

Karen and I were walking along the Aylesbury arm a good few years ago to have a look at the works that CRT were carrying out on the locks.  We went along on the day they were stunning fish to remove them from a partially dewatered section to a section still in water.  One of the workers kindly explained what they were doing and started with how they dewater a section of canal.  He showed us the stop planks but referred to them as stanking planks.  I just loved the expression so from that point on I also called them stanking planks.

When we were on the Montgomery canal at the end of 2015 we took a walk along a section that was being restored and, again, a CRT guy explained what was going on and he too referred to the stop planks as stanking planks.  So whilst I accept stanks are generally accepted as being created by stop planks, there are some who refer to them (rightly or wrongly) as stanking planks and I shall continue to be one of those.
Click on the canal name below to visit a page showing the stanking planks and shelters we have found on the canal.


Birmingham & Fazeley canal

Bridgewater canal
Caldon canal
Grand Union canal
Leeds & Liverpool canal
Llangollen canal 
Macclesfield canal
Montgomery canal
Oxford canal
Peak Forest canal
Shropshire Union canal
Staffordshire and Worcestershire canal
Stratford on Avon canal
Trent and Mersey canal


Canal du Midi
Canal de l'Oise à l'Aisne
Canal Latéral à la Loire
River Marne
River Seine


Stank behind top gates of lock 30 on Stratford canal - March 2017

Stank behind top gates at Stoke Bruerne (2nd lock down in the flight) - February 2017

Holding back the water to allow bottom gates of top lock at Fradley to be removed

Removing top gate at Fradley top lock

Too wide for stanking planks so dam built instead - Gas Street Birmingham when aqueduct was leaking into railway tunnel

Current end of restored northern section of the Montgomery canal

Stanking planks used for creating a dry dock at the northern end of the Trent & Mersey canal

Dry dock created by using stanking planks at Rochdale on the Bridgewater canal


  1. Interesting, thank you. We have some of those bridges with them inside at Whittington(Coventry Canal)where I live, so nice to see inside and interesting about the air vents too and also to see them in place at locks

    1. Thank you for your comment. We like Whittington, it's where the Birmingham & Fazeley becomes the Coventry again heading north.

  2. I was so happy to find this blog! I've loved reading it. My little boy was intrigued as to a structure next to Bridge 198 on the Trent & Mersey @ Anderton, and I'm guessing it was a stanking plank store, albeit seemingly unused. Thanks again! ~Matthew

    1. Thank you Matthew. Glad it's been useful. My email is if you have any pictures to share