Hugh Conway-Jones investigates why Dudbridge Upper Lock is also sometimes referred to by the name Foundry Lock.
Local people still remember a pub that stood beside Dudbridge Upper Lock, known as the Victoria Tap pub. In the 1950s it was run by a redoubtable lady named Annie Clark and was patronised by workers from the nearby gasworks and by boys from Marling School on illicit lunch breaks. A documents in the Stroudwater Archive reveals that the building had an earlier use.
A minute book records that in 1853, the Stroudwater Committee gave notice to John Battershill of the Iron Foundry to stop using the canal towing path between his premises and the gas works as he had lately done, 'whereby the path had been injured'. Two years later, after a change of ownership, the Committee agreed John Bucknall could take trucks through the gate at Dudbridge Lock and along the canal path to his foundry.
An article available online explains that these men were doing pioneering work on the development of textile machinery at a time when the wood used in early machines was being replaced by cast iron. After larger foundries were established elsewhere, however, the foundry by the lock closed, and by 1871 the associated house had become a beer shop. This was later run by Annie Clark who became very well known for her good looks and strong personality, but that is another story.