Pike Lock and Bridge

The lock is sited just above Pike Bridge, and a Victorian lock-keepers house stands alongside. (For sources, see end of page.)

Pike Lock

Pike Lock lower gates 1960 (Richard Lord)
Pike Lock lower gates 1960 (Richard Lord)
Pike Lock lower gates 1960 (Richard Lord)
Pike Lock lower gates 1960 (Richard Lord)

Built in 1777, this is the third in a flight of five locks that carries the Stroudwater Canal up the hill past the village of Eastington. Originally named after the nearby village, its later name relates to the turnpike house built in 1803 beside the adjoining road junction.

Also in 1803, it was found that the lock gates were leaking after an over-enthusiastic corps of the local militia had used them for target practice and some of the musket balls had penetrated the woodwork.

In 1858, the imminent arrival of a large steam powered barge led the owner to request an enlargement of Pike Lock, but it is not clear what, if anything, the Stroudwater Company was willing to do about it. As the barge owner also owned a lighter, it is likely that this was used to carry some of the barge's cargo up the locks.

Pike Bridge

Pike Bridge with coal wharf on left (Howard Beard)
Pike Bridge with coal wharf on left (Howard Beard)
Pike Bridge with coal wharf on left (Howard Beard)
Pike Bridge with coal wharf on left (Howard Beard)

Pike Bridge was originally a traditional hump-back bridge of narrow width carrying an important road through Eastington village. It also carried the towpath which changed sides here because the original land owner to the east did not want the path to be adjacent to his fields.

To suit increased road traffic, the carriageway was widened in 1924, and the hump in the road was reduced to the minimum that would not impede canal traffic. 

After Canal Closure

Pike Bridge partially demolished c1970. (Michael Handford)
Pike Bridge partially demolished c1970. (Michael Handford)
Pike Bridge partially demolished c1970. (Michael Handford)
Pike Bridge partially demolished c1970. (Michael Handford)

In the 1960s, the upper lock gates were replaced by a concrete dam to maintain water levels for anglers. When the M5 Motorway was under construction in the early 1970s, Pike Bridge was replaced by an embankment and the lock was partially infilled with an earth ramp and an open concrete channel funnelling surplus water to an Armco duct through the embankment. This infill was removed when the lock was partially restored by volunteers in the early 1990s. The embankment was replaced in 2005 by the present bridge which makes use of the foundations of the earlier bridges - as can be seen under the arch.

Pike Lock House

Pike Lock House 1928. (Michael Handford)
Pike Lock House 1928. (Michael Handford)
Pike Lock House 1928. (Michael Handford)
Pike Lock House 1928. (Michael Handford)

The present Victorian house was built by the Stroudwater Company in 1878 for their employee who looked after the five locks in the Eastington flight. The house is now in private ownership and has been extended.  

It replaced the turnpike house beside the old road junction where travellers from Stroud turned north-west to join the road to Gloucester or south-west to join the road to Bristol. The former main road beside the house now just leads to a car park, but traces of cats-eyes are a reminder of the road's earlier status. 

Narrowboat Leviathan

Narrowboat Leviathan east of Pike Lock.
Narrowboat Leviathan east of Pike Lock.
Narrowboat Leviathan east of Pike Lock.
Narrowboat Leviathan east of Pike Lock.

On the bank to the east of Pike Lock is riveted narrowboat Leviathan that served as a workboat for restoration volunteers in the 1990s. It was particularly used by the team restoring Newtown Roving Bridge and later by those felling dead trees.

The boat was originally built in the 1930s to transport steel pipes between two factories on the BCN. In the 1980s, it served as a workboat on the River Avon.


Sources

For building the turnpike house, see D1180/1/2 p358.
For using the gates for target practice, see D1180/1/3 p5.
For alterations to Pike Lock, see D1180/1/5 p265-279 and high depth on cill in 1907 Royal Commission.
For the towpath changing sides, see D1180/1/1 p142. 
For the widening of Pike Bridge in 1924, see D1180/9/15 p71-476. 
For concrete dams and removal of Pike Bridge, see D1180/9/54 and 1978 Inspection Report in D1180/acc10879/Box1/3.
For restoration of Pike Lock, see the Trow Archive 1990-94.
For building the present Pike Bridge, see Pike Bridge Project.
For building Pike Lock House, see D1180/9/5 p270.
For narrowboat Leviathan, see Trow Archive 1994-95.


 

Heritage Sites