Bristol Road Bridge & Lock

Both bridge and lock were built in 1777 and were brought into use in the following year when the canal opened through to Eastington. (For sources, see end of page.)

Bristol Road Bridge

Bristol Road Bridge (Glos Archives K185/1)
Bristol Road Bridge (Glos Archives K185/1)
Bristol Road Bridge (Glos Archives K185/1)
Bristol Road Bridge (Glos Archives K185/1)

The canal originally passed under a hump back bridge carrying the Bristol Road and through a lock on the east side of the road. As the bridge belonged to the Stroudwater Company, they had to accept responsibility for maintaining the surface of the short section of the main road immediately over the bridge until well into the twentieth century.

As large horses had difficulty passing under the bridge and climbing the steep bank up to the lock, some boatmen tried taking their horses across the main road, but this meant the horse had to jump the fence on the other side. When in 1835 this inevitably led to the fence being damaged, the farmer agreed to the Stroudwater Company installing a gate in his fence to make the road crossing easier.

Bristol Road Lock

Bristol Road Lock and Hydes Bridge by Thomas Pyne (Ken Burgin)
Bristol Road Lock and Hydes Bridge by Thomas Pyne (Ken Burgin)
Bristol Road Lock and Hydes Bridge by Thomas Pyne (Ken Burgin)
Bristol Road Lock and Hydes Bridge by Thomas Pyne (Ken Burgin)

The lock featured in the records in 1900 when there were complaints about boys swimming indecently right next to the main road, and the local policeman was asked to help stop the practice.

In 1923, the lock was the scene of a dramatic and frightening accident when the light was fading one January evening. While one horse boat was rising in the lock, a motor boat towing a butty was approaching the lower gates and was late in trying to stop. When the bow of the motor bumped the gates, they collapsed, and all of the water in the lock and the horse boat came rushing backwards, sinking the motor. For more details, visit Gate Crasher.

After Canal Closure

OpenStreetMap superimposed on c1880 OS Map
OpenStreetMap superimposed on c1880 OS Map
OpenStreetMap superimposed on c1880 OS Map
OpenStreetMap superimposed on c1880 OS Map

After the canal closed in 1954, the wooden lock gates deteriorated and were eventually replaced by a concrete dam. Before the gates were disposed of, the Stroudwater Company allowed the iron paddle gear to be taken away in 1965 for use on the Stratford Canal that was being restored at that time.

Then in the early 1970s, the bridge and lock were cleared to make way for a roundabout connection for a link road to the nearby M5 motorway junction. To help the restoration of the canal, Highways England have recently financed the building of a channel across the roundabout, completed in 2020.

Sources

For maintenance of the road surface over the bridge, see D1180/1/8 p38.
For helping horses to cross the main road, see D1180/1/4 p99.
For boys swimming indecently, see D1180/9/10 p443.
For re-use of paddle gear, see D1180/9/54, Letter 16 Aug 1965.

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