Lock Me Up And Throw Away The Key

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Love Locks - Albert Dock
I’d never heard of them until a couple of weeks ago. When Liss and I found lots of padlocks on fence between the River Mersey and Albert Dock in Liverpool, we wondered what they were doing there.

There were a dozen or so sections of fence all with padlocks on. Some large, some small. All different types, colours and sizes. Some were engraved. Some were even combination locks, which kind of defeated the objective.

For those that don’t know, the idea of love locks is that a courting couple seal their love by fastening a padlock to a bridge, fence , gate or some other public fixture. Often the locks are etched with the couples names or initials. Once the lock is fastened the key is thrown away so that the lock can never be opened and break the union.


No one knows exactly where or when it started. Some say it began in Pécs, Hungary in the 1980s, when love-struck students wanted to symbolise their love. Pécs is now considered a romantic place to lovers to visit.

Locks are fixed to the Ponte Milvio bridge in Rome after it was mentioned in the book ‘Three Meters Above The Sky’ by Federico Moccia.

The Most Ljubavi bridge in Vrnja?ka Banja, Serbia is literally the Bridge of Love. This place was chosen as it was where, in the 1930s, a local school mistress, Nada and her beau, Relja used to meet. Relja was an officer in army and when he went off to war in Greece he fell in love with a girl from Corfu. Nada was broken-hearted and died not long after discovering her betrayal. Now local lovers meet there and fasten their locks to the bridge.

A modern day myth has arisen from the Love Locks in Fengyaun, Taiwan. ‘Wish Locks’ are attached in pairs to an overpass above the railway station. The locks are said become empowered by the electro-magnetic field produce by the trains passing below. The energy from the field is makes the wishes come true.

As you may guess, in most places the local officials don’t look too favourably on Love Locks and consider them to be litter or vandalism. They say locks cause damage the structures on which they are placed - many are taken down. Other councils have a more enlightened approach and realise they could actually be an attraction.

In Liverpool the keys are thrown into the Mersey. When we were there the tide had just turned and was rushing out in a swirling, eddying pattern. It makes me wonder where the keys will end up. Would they sink into the silt, or due to the changing tide be swept upstream or out to sea? Would they end up in one single remote location due to specific current, and if discovered would the finder associate them with the locks?

What we couldn’t fathom was that in some places there were multiple locks of the same type. Were these from the same individual with multiple partners. Did the unbreakable magic of the locks not work and so the same hopeless romantic keep coming back with each new love. Or was it someone who liked to commemorate each new conquest? There again it could be the same couple returning to add a new lock on each anniversary?

For me the locks presented an unusual photo opportunity. Hope you like my efforts.
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