Love locks attached to the wire fence on the Collingwood St bridge. The number of locks has been increasing in recent months. Photos: Andrew Board.

Love locks to be cut down

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They’re a hit in Paris, a smash in China and locked in as a firm favourite in Italy but Nelson’s own “love locks” are set to be cut down by Nelson City Council.

Love locks first appeared on Nelson’s Collingwood St bridge two years ago and as of last week there was more than 30 of the padlocks attached to the fence surrounding the bridge’s walkways. But the council says they could cause corrosion so they will be cut down this week.

The padlocks are locked into place by people to declare their love for each other and often have names or initials written on them. After the padlock is attached to a fence, bridge or other public structure the key is thrown away to symbolize unbreakable love.

The practice is a century old but has gained in popularity since the turn of the millennium, especially in Europe and Asia.

Most Nelsonians spoken to on the bridge had noticed the locks but didn’t know what they were.

A faded note on the inside of one of the bridge’s pillars reads: “The Nelson Padlock bridge. Declare your love on a padlock.”

Shannon, who was walking the bridge with his two kids, says his son counts them every day as they walk the bridge and he doesn’t mind them.

“It doesn’t bother me, I think it looks alright and better than a fence covered in dirty knickers”.

Barry Davey says he wasn’t too fussed on them but didn’t really “have a problem” with them either.

German tourist Alex Vonknoop says love locks are very popular in her homeland and she is a fan of them. “Yes, we know the phenomenon and I like them. We have some bridges were you cannot see the surface of the wire anymore because there are so many of them.”

But Nelson City Council says its position on the love locks is similar to graffiti, so they will be removed.

“There are also concerns that any corrosion from the locks could also damage the paint on the bridge, leading to an increase in maintenance costs. With that in mind, the council will be removing the locks from the Collingwood St bridge,” says Alec Louverdis, of NCC. “However, recognising that there will be sentimental value to the locks, once they are removed, they will be available from the office of the council’s contractor Downer in Quarantine Rd should anyone wish to collect their lock.”