what is a love lock?

“A love lock normally takes the form of an inscribed padlock, which is then attached onto a public structure, to symbolise affection.”

As humans, we are social creatures and emotions are a mechanism to express ourselves to others. We give hugs, send greeting cards and even hang inscribed padlocks in certain locations, and while doing this we get the ‘feel good’ factor!

Over the last decade this outpouring of love has helped to create the global phenomenon of ‘hanging a love lock’, as more and more people want to participate in this contemporary ritual of leaving a lasting token of affection, a memory or a cherished moment in time.

Many of us may have hung a love lock or have seen them and then thought no more about them. BUT, while listening to a news item on the radio, we became aware that in some locations, love locks are now becoming a real predicament.

While some authorities/people see love locks as a problem, due to the considerable weight and rust which is causing serious damage and risking the integrity and aesthetics of public structures such as bridges, railings, sculptures, historic monuments etc. and may even be forced to ban this popular custom, others embrace love locks using them to bring in revenue, fundraise or to increase tourism and boost the local economy by actively encouraging the hanging of love locks.

love locks in paris pont de arts

Love locks causing structural integrity issues, due to the sheer volume/weight and rust.

danger caused by falling love locks

Need to remove love locks for bridge maintenance and safety issues.

removal of love lock padlocks

Uncontrolled placing of love locks, attracts graffiti spoiling scenic/historic places.


...We took this potential love lock issue and came up with a solution and, better still, an opportunity. We conceived, designed and developed the ‘Love Lock Tree’, a permanent, universal tree shaped structure, for the purpose of hanging love locks on, so that tourists can still place their love locks at these sites without damaging the very thing that makes these places special. 

“Throughout history and across cultures, people have wanted to leave their mark. Love locks are today’s way of doing that. The ‘Love Lock Tree’ provides an alternative ‘canvas’ to shift people’s ritual attention from current structures of interest and value, whilst still encouraging the practice - but in a safe, sustainable, and attractive way.”

Dr Ceri Houlbrook, Folklore Researcher, University of Hertfordshire