We set off from the bottom of the Hanwell Locks at about half-ten yesterday. We weren’t in any hurry, our booking out of Thames Lock onto the tideway wasn’t until 18:15 so we planned to drop down two locks and spend the afternoon in Brentford, before doing the last mile and lock to meet the lockie.
The Brent, which the GU uses from here to the Thames, has a reputation for being a little grim. Well, it’s a deserved reputation, I’m afraid.
Rubbish, carried downstream from the city, mingles with branches and logs to clog up weirs and locks.
There are banks of silt extending out into the navigation to trap the unwary, and the bottom, when disturbed, smells abysmally. Still, we’ve seen worse…
There was a small launch coming up Osterley Lock as we arrived, and a narrow boat joined us as we prepared to go down.
Gallows bridge, crossing the stream between Osterley and Clitheroe’s Locks, was built at the same place as those carrying the towpath over the redundant loops on the North Oxford Canal.
Leaving Clitheroe’s Lock with NB Ultreya
Chris and Diane were good locking companions, chatty and competent.
We pulled in at a handy spot just above the Great West Road, the A4. OK for the afternoon but a bit noisy for overnight.
It was dull, but a least warm and dry. I got some bedding, that had been through the washer, dry by hanging it on a makeshift line on the counter before we moved on.
The afternoon was spent pottering. One task was to order a service kit for the Eberspacher heater which has recently become unreliable. I‘ll pick it up in Staines next week. A walk to the nearby Co-op secured a quick and easy meal for when we moored above Teddington Lock.
Then we toddled on again, filling up with water and disposing of rubbish at the basin, before dropping down the gauging lock.
Brentford Basin, permanent moorings on the left, busy visitor moorings on the right.
Brentford Gauging Locks
The Toll House
The paired gauging locks were where a loaded boat’s depth in the water was measured or “gauged” to determine the weight of cargo she carried. Depending on direction and type of goods carried, so many pence per ton were charged to the carrier.
Leaving Brentford Locks
The river is now semi-tidal; at high tides the Thames tops the weir at Thames Lock, causing the level here to rise, only to fall again to the weir crest level on the ebb. Unless it’s a high Spring tide, the effect is minimal.
The waterway twists and turns, following it’s natural course now, past floating moorings for a wide variety of craft.
There’s a lot of ex-pat Dutchmen here…
Thames Lock, Brentford and the gateway to the tidal river.
The area is clogged with work-boats, the right hand of the two chambers is having new gates fitted.
We had about an hour to kill, so tied up to the flat on the right. The grey narrowboat will be joining us to go upstream…
Ready to go. Chris and Diane, the couple we shared locks with this morning, are on the bridge waving us off.
They’ll be catching the morning tide. We were offered that, but leaving here at 07:00 on a Sunday didn’t appeal…
Out onto the creek, that’s the Thames dead ahead, and a huge floating dry-dock on the left.
Several launches passed as we approached the junction, then we joined a small convoy, all heading up to Teddington.
Out on the river.
The launches ahead soon left us behind, those behind overhauled us.
I was struck by the fact that they were all “proper” boats, timber construction and classic lines. It was only when we reached the lock that we found out that they were all Dunkirk “Little Ships” and had been part of a small river pageant earlier to mark the queen’s 90th.
I wonder if we could arrange something similar for Mags later in the year…
Temple at the north end of Isleworth Ait
While trying to find out what it was (unsuccessfully) I came across the surprising fact that Isleworth Ait is the last sanctuary of the German Hairy Snail, and the Two-Lipped Door Snail. I wondered where they’d all gone…
And that several outdoor scenes for the film The African Queen were shot on the small Lotts Island (Lot’s Ait) in Brentford. Lots of info about Lot’s Ait here.
Timing is fairly critical on the tideway. Below Richmond is Richmond Lock and sluices. The sluices are only open for around 2 hours either side of high water, otherwise gates between the arches are closed to keep water in the reach above and the lock has to be used. For a fee.
And the lock
Under Richmond Bridge
Inscribed “GR III (George III), 1777”
Another couple of miles saw us arrive below Teddington Lock. It had started to rain by now, so photos are few.
The Dunkirk boats were having to queue, having taken the lock-keeper by surprise.
We went up in the second locking, concerned about space on the moorings above. (Excuse the raindrop)
We needn’t have worried though. There was plenty of room further up. Only three or four of the launches stayed, the rest carried on.
Today, being Sunday, has seen a steady stream of trip boats up and down, and a few private boats up and down the lock. We decided to stay put, having earned a day off. Tomorrow will see us heading upstream, but we’ll be dodging the showers so we’re not sure where we’ll end up.
KevinToo, you asked for some info about the Three Bridges. Lots here - http://www.disused-stations.org.uk/features/windmill_lane_bridge/index.shtml including this photo from the ‘20s.
I’m guessing the Three Bridges must include the twin arched bracing across the railway lines.
There’s only one line left, but it’s still in use, carrying freight between Brentford and Southall.
Across from Hanwell, south of Hanwell Locks
Locks 5, miles 8