Louth Navigation

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Remains of a lock at Alvingham
Louth Navigation
Humber Estuary/North Sea
Tetney lock bridge
Tetney lock (location of)
Firebeacon bridge
Out Fen Lock (remains of)
Alvingham Lock (remains of)
Salter Fen Lock (remains of)
Willow's Lock (remains of)
Ticklepenny's Lock (remains of)
Keddington Church Lock (remains of)
Tilting weir (site of Top lock)
Louth River Head

The Louth Navigation was a canalisation of the River Lud. It ran 11 miles from Louth to Tetney in Lincolnshire, England, through 8 locks.


6 of the 8 locks were built in an unusual way with the sides of the lock chambers consisting of 4 elliptical bays, this was apparently to make them stronger. Some of these locks still survive, the remains of one can be seen at Alvingham.[1] The two other locks had conventional straight walls.


The canal obtained its Act of Parliament in 1763 (although the canal had been planned as far back as 1756) and construction started in 1767. The canal opened in 1770. The canal cost £28,000 to build and was able to carry seagoing boats.

For much of its life the canal was leased by the Chaplin family who were able to run it at something of a profit with estimated tolls getting as high as £5,000 a year in the late 1820s.[2]

The coming of the railways lead to a decline in the use of the canal and the First World War killed what traffic was left. The final blow was the devastation caused by the Louth Flood of 1920 to the Riverhead area, the terminus of the canal. The canal closed in 1924.

Louth Navigation Trust[edit]

The Louth Navigation Trust have since restored the tow path which may be walked and parts of the canal are in shallow water. They are engaged in a scheme to restore the full length of the canal by 2020. The Louth Navigation, unlike many other disused canals, is in water throughout its length and has not been in-filled or built over as it is important for drainage of the surrounding land. Several formerly movable bridges have since been replaced with fixed bridges. The eight locks are in varying states of repair; two have been completely obliterated, Alvingham lock (pictured) is the best surviving example.

Selection of photographs from the collection on Wikimedia Commons
Three-story red brick warehouse built for the Canal company. Slate roof, white painted window frames and gabled hoist door on third floor.
Navigation warehouse at Austen Fen 
Aerial shot of the canal, with the Austen warehouse central
Aerial View at Austen Fen 
From the parapet of a lichen covered concrete bridge we are looking along the line of the navigation, which stretches dead straight to the horizon.  It is well filled with placid water. There are wide, grass-covered embankments on each side, with wide grassed tracks on top.  To the side are fields of ripened wheat, the nearest just harvested.  A few oak trees stud the distant embankments.  It is a glorious summer day with a deep blue Lincolnshire 'big sky', studded with small fluffy white clouds.
The Channel near Alvingham 
The best preserved of the lock chambers at Alvingham, the retaining walls of brick and stone are intact, but there are no gates. We are looking downstream, away from the weir formed by the upstream sill, which is not visible. On either side of the channel are flat green meadows, and framing those to the edges of the picture are dense woodland.  It is a bright sunny day and the trees and grass are a bright green.  The data for the picture say it was taken in October 2007, but the vivid green of most of the trees, and particularly one just on the right of the lock, looks like spring.
Alvingham lock 
Image showing the construction of Ticklepenny Lock
Ticklepenny Lock 
Aerial photograph of warehouse by the Louth Canal at Firebeacon Bridge.  This extraordinary brick building is over 50 metres long.
Firebeacon Bridge 
Aerial photograph of Willows Lock, Keddington
Willows Lock 
Aerial photograph of Willows Lock, Keddington
Willows Lock 

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Ice damage threatens historic lock's future". BBC News (BBC). 20 January 2011. Retrieved 21 May 2012. 
  2. ^ Lost canals and Waterways of Britain Ronald Russell page 217 ISBN 0-7153-8072-9

External links[edit]

Media related to Louth Navigation at Wikimedia Commons

Coordinates: 53°27′10″N 0°02′11″E / 53.4527°N 0.0363°E / 53.4527; 0.0363