Caen Hill Locks


Rowde, Wiltshire KAC54.64 & KAC55.32

part of: Kennet and Avon Canal
KandAC mile 55
KandAC mile 56
Caen Hill Locks from the bottom; it's a long way up, and it sometimes rains on canal holidays.
The Caen Hill Locks are 16 locks taking the canal down the greensand escarpment west of Devizes, from the Pewsey Vale across the chalk, into the Avon Valley.
The flight of 16 locks starts 54 miles 64 chains from Reading and ends at 55 miles 32 chains.
fall 130ft8ins
Caen Hill Locks from the bottom; rain stopped.
Looking down Caen Hill Locks from the top; busy with boats. The view reaches over the Avon Valley, Wiltshire.
Looking down Caen Hill Locks from the top.
Looking down Caen Hill Locks.
... looking down the locks, the structure of the gate arms resembled the backbone of a huge fish ...
L T C Rolt:-
... The most spectacular lock flight in England ...
The distance between the locks is small, so - water let out of a lock would cause a short intermediate pound to flood, water let into a lock would make a short intermediate pound go shallow. To prevent this there are large side pounds between each pair of locks.
A side pound on Caen Hill Locks.
Side pounds and locks, Caen Hill.
Each (many?) of the locks has a footbridge at its tail, making working the locks a little easier. These were added during restoration, about 1980s?
Tail bridge on a lock on Caen Hill Locks.
Bottom of a lock, tail bridge, lock gates, ...
While the locks were being built there was a tramroad connecting the canal at Devizes to the canal westwards. Traces of the tramroad, built by the contractors in 1812, could be seen in the undergrowth alongside the towpath. It is said to have used iron fishbelly rail on wood sleepers; some stone blocks from the track bed were visible. Some of the fishbelly rail can be seen, re-used for stop plank racks, fences, etc, along the canal.
Rose bay willow herb, Epilobium augustifolium, flowering in August by the towpath.
Boat, locking down the flight of 16.
Boats, and more boats; the flight of 16 is open a limited time and is usually busy the period after the start of morning traffic.
Every lock takes a bit of time and effort.
Looking up Caen Hill Locks; a long climb.
A deposit of gault clay was found when building the locks, about 1810, and was used by the Devizes Brick and Tile Works. This brickworks supplied about 2 million bricks for the Bruce Tunnel. In the latter 19th century the brickworks was worked by R B Mullings; and latterly by Mr Oram; the works is now disused.
Site of the brickworks; now used for miscellaneous storage by ?BWB.
Lock 44 is 54 miles 64 chains from Reading.
Lock gate, lock 44.
fall 8ft2ins
depth of water, full 4ft1ins
depth of water, empty 7ft1ins
length 74ft6ins
width 14ft3ins
Lock 44, from eastward, from above.
The house beside lock 44 was the home of the Superintendent Engineer. It is built of brick with tiles. Later it became a laundry, which discharged soapy water in the pound below. This was christened Soapy Pound by boatmen.
The Lock Cottage Tea Rooms at lock 44.
Stone plaque commemorating the canal bicentenary, the inscription worked around the BWB logo:-
CANALS 200 / British Waterways / THE KENNET AND AVON CANAL / 1794-1994
Lock 43 is 54 miles 67 chains from Reading.
fall 8ft2ins
depth of water, full 6ft4ins
depth of water, empty 6ft6ins
length 75ft1ins
width 14ft2ins
Alongside lock 43 there was once a wooden hut with tile roof and chimney, for the lockkeepers on duty. Long gone.
Lock 42 is 54 miles 71 chains from Reading.
fall 8ft2ins
depth of water, full 6ft6ins
depth of water, empty 7ft0ins
length 74ft11ins
width 14ft0ins
Lock 41 is 54 miles 76 chains from Reading.
fall 8ft2ins
depth of water, full 6ft4ins
depth of water, empty 6ft10ins
length 74ft2ins
width 13ft11ins
This is the narrowest lock on the canal.
Lock 40 is 54 miles 77 chains from Reading.
fall 8ft2ins
depth of water, full 6ft5ins
depth of water, empty 6ft9ins
length 74ft2ins
width 14ft2ins
Lock 39 is 55 miles 1 chains from Reading.
fall 8ft2ins
depth of water, full 6ft4ins
depth of water, empty 7ft5ins
length 74ft3ins
width 14ft1ins
Lock 38 is 55 miles 4 chains from Reading.
fall 8ft2ins
depth of water, full 6ft5ins
depth of water, empty 6ft6ins
length 74ft10ins
width 14ft1ins
Lock 37 is 55 miles 7 chains from Reading.
fall 8ft2ins
depth of water, full 6ft4ins
depth of water, empty 6ft11ins
length 75ft2ins
width 14ft2ins
Lock 36 is 55 miles 10 chains from Reading.
fall 8ft2ins
depth of water, full 6ft6ins
depth of water, empty 6ft4ins
length 75ft0ins
width 14ft2ins
Lock 35 is 55 miles 14 chains from Reading.
fall 8ft2ins
depth of water, full 6ft8ins
depth of water, empty 6ft8ins
length 74ft4ins
width 14ft1ins
Lock 34 is 55 miles 17 chains from Reading.
fall 8ft2ins
depth of water, full 6ft6ins
depth of water, empty 6ft10ins
length 74ft5ins
width 14ft3ins
Lock 33 is 55 miles 20 chains from Reading.
fall 8ft2ins
depth of water, full 6ft8ins
depth of water, empty 6ft11ins
length 74ft5ins
width 14ft3ins
Lock 32 is 55 miles 23 chains from Reading.
fall 8ft2ins
depth of water, full 6ft5ins
depth of water, empty 6ft8ins
length 74ft8ins
width 14ft3ins
Lock 31 is 55 miles 26 chains from Reading.
fall 8ft2ins
depth of water, full 6ft8ins
depth of water, empty 6ft9ins
length 75ft2ins
width 14ft1ins
Lock 30 is 55 miles 29 chains from Reading.
fall 8ft2ins
depth of water, full 6ft8ins
depth of water, empty 6ft8ins
length 75ft6ins
width 14ft3ins
Lock 29 is 55 miles 32 chains from Reading.
fall 8ft2ins
depth of water, full 5ft8ins
depth of water, empty 7ft0ins
length 74ft11ins
width 14ft1ins
Alongside lock 29 there was once a wooden hut with tile roof and chimney, for the lockkeepers on duty. Long gone.
The whole of the Devizes Flight, of which Caen Hill Locks is the middle section, is 29 locks, lock 50 to lock 22, a total fall of 237ft in 2 1/4 miles.
In the early 19th century, 1829-43, the flight was lit by gas lights. The company minutes, 18 October 1829, state:-
The Gas Works along the line of locks at Devizes now being in operation - Resolved that no Barge or Boat be allowed to enter any one of the Devizes Locks after the gas shall be lighted but on payment of one shilling for each Boat which payment shall entitle the Owner to navigate his Barge or Boat through the said locks so long as the Gas shall be lighted but not longer.

Kennet and Avon Scrapbook 2000