Eastington

The Canal climbs the hill to the north of Eastington village in a flight of five locks, and near the middle of the flight was the Canal  maintenance yard and a dry dock for maintaining vessels.

OS Map c1880 (National Library of Scotland)  Larger Map
OS Map c1880 (National Library of Scotland) Larger Map

The five locks are named Westfield Lock (1), Dock Lock (2), Pike Lock (3), Blunder Lock (4) and Newtown Lock (off map). 

The Oldbury Brook joins the canal above Westfield Lock, and a large circular weir on the towpath side (5) allows surplus water to flow on down to the River Frome near Meadow Mill. The 'island' between the canal and the brook became the Canal Company's maintenance yard (6). To the west of Pike Lock was Eastington coal wharf (7), and beside the lock is a house that was home to the lock keeper (8). To the east is the site of a wharf (9) built in 1874 for barges unloading grain to be taken by wagon to Millend Mill in Eastington village.

After the right of navigation was withdrawn in 1954, all of the five locks became derelict, but Blunder and Newtown Locks were restored some years ago as a means of demonstrating what could be done by volunteers.

Eastington Coal Wharf

(Neil Parkhouse)
(Neil Parkhouse)
(Neil Parkhouse)
(Neil Parkhouse)

This image shows the coal wharf beside Pike Bridge with the gates of Pike Lock visible through the bridge and the lock keeper's house in the background. Coal from the Midlands was delivered here by narrowboats, and some also came by barge from Bullo Pill. For many years, the yard was run by Zaccheus Whiting who owned his own boat Nellie.

On the right hand side of the image, a group of children can be seen standing behind a towpath gate, a common feature of the Stroudwater Canal as most of the towpath was open to the neighbouring fields and gates were needed at each field boundary.

Eastington Maintenance Yard

(Howard Beard)
(Howard Beard)
(Howard Beard)
(Howard Beard)

This image shows the covered dry dock beside Dock Lock in the centre with the carpenter's shop on the left. Behind these buildings was a blacksmith's forge, a saw pit and a house for the man in charge of the maintenance team. The dry dock was used for repairing the Company's maintenance vessels and was rented to visiting shipwrights who were employed by owners needing their vessels repaired. At the western tip of the 'island' was a boat house where the Company's ice boat was kept when not in use. For more about the work of the maintenance team, read Operation and Maintenance.

It Happened Here

When hostilities with France broke out again in 1803 after a short pause, the Stanley Mill corps of militia were particularly enthusiastic in their training, and the Stroudwater Company had to ask their commanding officer to stop his men using the lock gates at Eastington for target practice as some balls had penetrated the woodwork causing leakage. (1/3 p5)