Canal locks are common. Canal boat lifts are rare [though Strépy-Thieu, one of the largest in the world is nearby]. Inclined Planes are very rare. Ronquieres is the largest of its type in Europe and may be the largest in the world.
It is an impressive structure. The Plane is 1,432 metres [0.89 miles] long and has two tracks. Each track has a caisson almost 300 feet long. The photograph below was taken from the upper station and shows a caisson moving up the left track.
|A caisson moves up the Plane|
|The upper canal|
|The lower station with a boat waiting to enter a caisson.|
|Looking up from the lower station|
|The upper station|
The tower shown above is at the upper station. It is not part of the workings of the Plane. The area is economically depressed and there seems to been a rather strange attempt to turn the Inclined Plane into a tourist attraction. The tower is just for tourists and has nothing to do with the canal operations. You can pay to ride a lift to an observation level at the top of the tower and then look at the Plane and the surrounding countryside.
The video below shows you what you will see; the Plane and the rather dull surrounding countryside. You will not see anything [such as the motor room] of the internal workings of the Plane. If that interests you you should see this page for information on the Plane's engineering.
I suggest you do not bother with the tower. It is not very interesting.If you go to the bottom of the Plane there is free parking and you can get a good view of the entire incline.
If you click on the canals tag on the right of the page you will find posts on the old World Heritage boat lifts on the Canal du Centre and the giant boat lift at Strépy-Thieu.