Replacing mains water stopcock - advice needed

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I've just gone to change a tap washer and discovered that my mains water stopcock does not turn the flow off sufficiently to do the job. Even when fully tightened, enough water gets through to make the job tricky.

Luckily there is a built-in drain-point in the stopcock, so I was able to open that to take the flow and complete the job.

The stopcock is 35 years old and in a bit of a state, so I'd ideally like to replace it with one I can rely on.

My question is - if I'm able to turn the water off outside (at the meter or elsewhere), am I allowed to replace the stopcock ?

My plumbing skills are sufficient to do a job like that, but I wasn't sure whether I'm technically allowed to touch it. (a la BT and their master socket)

If I am allowed to replace it, then I guess freezing the pipe is another option, as is fitting a second stopcock just above the original.

In the same location as my water meter (small manhole in the pavement) there is a small handle which, when pulled out, reveals a medium-sized posidrive/phillips screw. Is that used for turning off the water to the house ? That's the only thing near the meter that might do such a thing and there are no other small manholes or hatches nearby.

I'm a bit puzzled by the handle as it doesn't appear to turn - it only pulls out, rather like a car's dipstick. If it's just a dustcover for the screw, then it's a bit OTT !

Any comments appreciated - cheers.
 
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It does turn, though sometimes they get jammed agin one end. Shouldn't even be left hard up to the end.
If you rear breaking the handle, use a car mechanic's type socket on it. The screw should be tight.

Everything your side of the boundary is yours.
 
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Thanks for that - exactly what I wanted to hear !

I'll have another looks at the plastic handle in the morning.

The incoming main below the stopcock looks to be 3/4" - does that sound right for a house built in 1972 ?

Are these substantial stopcocks something that any plumbers merchant will stock ?
 
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