Today has been our last intensive lock day for some time. The eight Hanwell Locks drop the canal 66½ feet, leaving only another 20 feet of descent to Thames Lock at Brentford, and the connection with the tidal Thames.
It was moderately quiet on the moorings outside Tesco, just the odd wagon with a late delivery going past on the road above.
The site used to be an extensive waterways maintenance yard, opened by the Grand Union Canal Carrying Company in 1934. Along with slipways and workshops, the Bull’s Bridge Dock also had dry docks, one of which has been restored as a non-working showpiece.
Bull’s Bridge Dry Dock
Artics delivering to the large Tesco supermarket that occupies the site now cross the dock on a modern bridge.
The gates are still holding back water, but the walkways and handrails are in a sorry state.
Looking across the cut from Bull’s Bridge
The small 20-odd foot Springer behind Seyella is home to Trev, who moved back a bit for us when we arrived. He’s aiming to reverse our route up to Braunston, then head south on the South Oxford. We may see him again in that case!
If you see him, say hello from us.
This section of the Grand Union Main Line, as well as the Paddington Arm leaving at the junction, sprouted several short factory arms. We passed the entrance to Shackles Dock yesterday, today Adelaide Dock and Maypole Dock were passed on the left.
Adelaide Dock served several small companies, then was used as a boat-hire base (my bookshelf contains a copy of The Water Road by Paul Gogarty, who hired a boat from here in 2001 for a four month voyage around the canal and river network) and is now a CRT depot…
…while Maypole Dock was built for the Maypole Margarine Company, once the largest margarine manufacturer in Europe!
The arm is now used as moorings.
Another odd craft, but as they say, “whatever floats your boat”…
Our arrival at Norwood Top Lock, the top one of the Hanwell Locks, was brightened by the sight of a volunteer lockie opening a gate for us. With Mags in the lock and the paddles raised he suggested that I walk down to the next and set it up. Then we didn’t see him again! I guess he was only responsible for that one!
Mags heading down from Norwood Top Lock
The locks run through an almost rural area, compared to Bull’s Bridge
Three Bridges, we’re crossing the railway while the road crosses us…
…and a solitary pigeon looks on.
There are two locks separated by a few hundred yards between them and the top of the remaining six, these follow one after another with short pounds in between.
Near the top of the six is Asylum Lock and the site of Asylum Dock.
Behind the wall is now part of Ealing Hospital, but in the 19th century it was the County Asylum. In the middle distance, just above the next lock, can be seen a lighter patch of brickwork. This was an arch which led through to Asylum Dock where coal for the boilers was delivered and surplus food from the institution’s gardens was loaded.
Towards the bottom of the flight we came across a gaggle of boats coming up. Another volunteer was trying to keep them organised.
It turned out that all three boats had got themselves stuck on the sand-bar that extends out across the canal from the influx of the River Brent below the locks.
Needless to say we gave the bridge a very wide berth as we left the bottom lock!
We pulled in just a few yards on, after a fairly quick transit of the locks. Eight in 90 minutes ain’t bad…
It’s been another warm, dry day, but it looks like we’re due some cooler, wetter weather tomorrow. And us booked out onto the tideway to Teddington in the evening. Ah well.
Locks 8, miles 3