This lock is said to be the oldest example of a pound lock in Europe. This was the key innovation which gave rise to the modern canal, by virtue of having two gates, although it was a larger basin capable of holding a number of ships at once.
The Lek was normally at a slightly higher level than the canal leading to Utrecht and in times of flood was very much higher, so that it would not be possible to let boats enter or leave without flooding the surrounding land. The additional gate limited the amount of water that needed to be let in, so that only the basin needed to be raised.
- J. Kuyper, Gemeente Atlas van Nederland, 1865-1870, "Vreeswijk". Map of the former municipality in 1868.
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