Heading west towards Birmingham the three Calcutt Locks are the first of the modern broad locks encountered on the Grand Union. A result of the improvements to the long distance route from London, they were built in the 1930s following the formation of the Grand Union Canal which amalgamated several existing private navigations.
This stretch was the Warwick and Napton Canal, and, in conjunction with the Warwick and Birmingham, opened for traffic in 1800. The two connected canals ran from Napton Junction to Salford Junction on the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal, and gave a direct route from the Oxford Canal into the “Workshop of the World”
Stockton Top Lock, the “candlestick” paddle gear is fitted to all the broad locks through to Camp Hill.
In keeping with the existing canals they linked, they were originally built to narrow gauge. The earlier chambers continued in use while the new broad locks were built alongside in the 1930s, then becoming the bywashes.
Looking down from Middle to Bottom. The old narrow chamber is on the left of the new lock.
Although I’ve heard that some people dislike these locks, I’m quite fond of them. A triumph of the lock-builders art, they’re quick to fill and empty, and don’t bang a single boat about due to the well placed paddle sluices. OK, each paddle takes around 20 turns to lift, but you can generally just knock off the locking clip and let them drop on their own. And the gates are pretty heavy. But then, they’re quite big, too…
Large lower ground paddle culverts empty the lock chamber quickly.
We were all gearing up to go by around half past ten this morning. Tom and Jan were first to leave, going back to Napton Junction.
Tom and Jan, NB Waiouru
Into Stockton Top Lock.
Although grey and blowy it wasn’t too cold, but maybe two of our crew members would disagree…
Dropping down the short flight
There are two large marinas here, one either side of the canal. Calcutt is on the left and Ventnor Farm on the right. A little further on an old wharf is home to a collection of craft.
Several working boats, a Dutch barge, tug and steam powered replica tug Adamant
We pulled in just beyond Bridge 20. Only a short trip, but we’re now a few hundred yards from our destination…
…the new Willow Wren training base at Nelson’s Wharf. I’ll be doing a short-range radio course and exam here on Saturday.
Locks 3, miles 2