Caen Hill Locks
The 29 locks have a rise of 237 feet in 2 miles (72 m in 3.2 km) or a 1 in 44 gradient. The locks come in three groups: the lower seven locks, Foxhangers Wharf Lock to Foxhangers Bridge Lock, are spread over 3⁄4 mile (1.2 km); the next sixteen locks form a steep flight in a straight line up the hillside and are designated as a scheduled monument. Because of the steepness of the terrain, the pounds between these locks are very short. As a result, fifteen of them have unusually large sideways-extended pounds, to store the water needed to operate them. A final six locks take the canal into Devizes. The locks take 5–6 hours to traverse in a boat.
The side pounds, the areas around them and adjoining fields to the north, are managed as nature habitat by the Canal & River Trust. Over 30,000 trees were planted in 2012–13 to mark the Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II.
This flight of locks was engineer John Rennie's solution to climbing the steep hill, and was the last part of the 87-mile (140 km) route of the canal to be completed. Engineer John Blackwell oversaw the locks' construction as site agent; until the flight's completion, a tramway provided a link between the canal at Foxhangers to Devizes, the remains of which can be seen in the towpath arches in the road bridges over the canal. A brickyard was dug to the south of the workings to manufacture the bricks for the lock chambers and this remained in commercial use until the middle of the 20th century.
After the coming of the railways, the canal fell into disuse and was closed. The last cargo through the flight was a consignment of grain conveyed from Avonmouth to Newbury in October 1948. From the 1960s there was a major clearing and rebuilding operation, culminating in a visit by Queen Elizabeth II in 1990 to open the new locks officially, although the flight had been navigable for a number of years before then.
Because a large volume of water is needed for the locks to operate, a back pump was installed at Foxhangers in 1996 capable of returning 7 million imperial gallons (32 million litres; 8.4 million US gallons) of water per day to the top of the flight, which is equivalent to one lockful every eleven minutes.
In 2010 British Waterways planned to install sixteen new locks gates in twelve weeks as part of its winter maintenance programme, in an attempt to reduce the amount of water lost. The exceptionally cold weather delayed work, and when the section was re-opened at Easter 2010 only twelve pairs of gates had been dealt with. The wood from the old gates was donated to Glastonbury Festival and used to build a new bridge which was named in honour of Arabella Churchill, one of the festival's founders.
A number of the locks in the flight are named. These include Lock 42 (Monument Lock), Lock 43 (Queen Elizabeth Lock), Lock 44 (Sir Hugh Stockwell Lock), Lock 45 (Cave Lock), Lock 46 (A. P. Herbert Lock), Lock 47 (Manifold Lock), Lock 48 (Trust Lock), Lock 49 (Maton Lock) and Lock 50 (Kennet Lock).
- "Country Life magazine, vol 180". Google Books search result. 1986. p. 8. Retrieved 6 November 2015.
- Historic England. "Caen Hill locks (1004694)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 6 November 2015.
- "Devizes Branch - Locks". The Kennet and Avon Canal Trust website. Retrieved 2 October 2007.
- Allsop, Niall (1987). The Kennet & Avon Canal. Bath: Millstream Book. ISBN 0-948975-15-6.
- "Wildlife at Caen Hill". Canal & River Trust. Retrieved 20 September 2018.
- "John Blackwell". www.hungerfordvirtualmuseum.co.uk. Hungeford Virtual Museum. Retrieved 31 October 2019.
- "Devizes Branch - Local History". The Kennet and Avon Canal Trust website. Archived from the original on 7 September 2007. Retrieved 2 October 2007.
- "Caen Hill Locks". Kennet and Avon Scrapbook. Archived from the original on 25 May 2011. Retrieved 18 September 2006.
- Clew, Kenneth (1968). The Kennet and Avon Canal (2 ed.). Newton Abbot, England: David and Charles. pp. 145–147. ISBN 0-7153-5939-8.
- "Canal restoration anniversary marked". BBC News: England. 7 August 2015. Retrieved 20 September 2018.
- Pearson, Michael (2003). Kennet & Avon Middle Thames:Pearson's Canal Companion. Rugby: Central Waterways Supplies. ISBN 0-907864-97-X.
- "New locks for the Kennet & Avon Canal in Wiltshire". BBC. 22 January 2010. Retrieved 22 January 2010.
- Owen, Gill (22 March 2010). "Caen Hill open for Easter". Paddington, England: British Waterways. Retrieved 17 June 2010.
- Owen, Julian (18 June 2010). "Heart of Glasto". Venue. 924: 14–15.
- "Dec 2008 Assets". British Waterways. Retrieved 18 August 2015.
- Media related to Caen Hill Locks at Wikimedia Commons
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