Dock Lock and Maintenance Yard

This lock took its name from the nearby dry dock in the Stroudwater Company's maintenance yard. (For sources, see end of page.)

Dock Lock

Dock Lock with the maintenance yard buildings behind
Dock Lock with the maintenance yard buildings behind
Dock Lock with the maintenance yard buildings behind
Dock Lock with the maintenance yard buildings behind

Completed in 1778, this is the second in a flight of five locks that carried the Stroudwater Canal up the hill past the village of Eastington. It was originally known as Court Orchard Lock after the field in which it was built. The name changed after a covered dry dock was built alongside the lock in 1821 (in centre of picture).

After the canal was closed in 1954, the lock gates were replaced by a concrete dam to maintain water levels suitable for anglers. Later much of the debris from the demolition of Pike Bridge was dumped into the lock, making life very difficult for the volunteers restoring the lock in the early 1990s.

Maintenance Yard

The Company's maintenance yard developed on what was known as the Island (as it was almost surrounded by the waters of the canal and the Oldbury Brook). As well as the dry dock near the lock, there was a carpenter's shop, a blacksmith's forge and a saw pit. The adjoining Dock House was occupied by the man in charge of the yard. The carpenters shop and Dock House have survived. 

At the western tip of the 'Island' was a boat house where the Company's ice boat was kept when not in use. To the east of Dock House was a spill weir from the pound above the lock, and a channel carried any surplus water from that pound into the Oldbury Brook. This channel survives, but it will be replaced by a new structure built on the towpath side

Dock House

Sometimes called Canal House, the house adjoining the maintenance yard was built in 1807 for the man in charge of the maintenance team. In the early days, the occupant was usually described as a surveyor, carpenter or foreman.

From 1892, however, as Company finances were under growing pressure, the house was made available to whoever would pay the rent. After the canal closed, the house was sold to a private owner in 1956.

First Coal to Eastington

As construction of the canal proceeded, it was opened in stages, and the first cargo of coal delivered to Eastington was recorded on 14 Jan 1778. At this date, Dock Lock was still under construction; so it seems that early deliveries were discharged on to the Island and the coal yard below Pike Lock only came into use later.

Sources

For lock completion date, work was still 'in progress' in Jan 1778 - D1180/1/1 p183.
For building the dry dock, see D1180/2/2 23 Dec 1820 to 16 Feb 1821.
For restoration of Dock Lock, see Trow Archive Sep 1989 to Dec 1994.
For building Dock House, see D1180/1/3 p62.
For first cargo of coal to Eastington, see D1180/4/1.
For Dock Lock still under construction in 1778, see D1180/1/1 p183.

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