The Stroudwater Canal closely follows the River Frome though Whitminster, and Whitminster Lock (1) was built to match the change in river level associated with the former Whitminster Mill (2 marks the site). In the 1830s, the former mill weir (3) was retained to maintain the high level of the river in order to provide an important feed through the settling tanks (4) to the Stroudwater and on to the nearby Gloucester & Berkeley Canal. For more about the water feed, read Whitminster Feeder. From Walk Bridge (5), a permissive path leads to Whitminster House and church (6).
When the right of navigation on the Stroudwater was withdrawn in 1954, the section from Whitminster Lock to Saul Junction was taken over by British Waterways (now Canal & River Trust) as it was still required to feed water to what is now known as the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal - and it continues to do so today.
When the Gloucester & Berkeley Canal was under construction in the 1820s, the section of the Stroudwater between Whitminster Lock and Saul Junction needed to be raised about five feet to match the level of the Gloucester Canal, and Whitminster Lock became virtually redundant. The remaining difference in level between the pounds above and below the lock was so small that it became common to leave the gates open and accept that the pound above was a little shallow. At times, however, the Gloucester Canal dropped below its proper level, and then the gates had to be used to keep vessels moving on the upper pound.
About a mile to the south-east of Whitminster Lock, a coal wharf was established beside the Bristol Road as soon as the construction of the canal reached here in December 1776. The wharf continued in use well into the twenthieth century, particularly handling coal and also road stone. For a dramatic accident at the nearby lock, read Gate Crasher at Bristol Road Lock.
The original house and a later warehouse which was converted to a second house have been much altered over the years.
Walk Bridge was originally hump-backed, but as road traffic increased, the steep approaches were considered a hazard, and it was replaced by a swing bridge. This image shows a later bridge installed in 1878.
In the hot summer of 1900, the Stroudwater Company received complaints about boys swimming indecently in the canal right next to the main Bristol Road, and the local policeman was asked to help stop the practice. (9/10 p443)