Thursday, 12 September 2013

A "View the Locks" Special Boat-Trip.

The Kenavon Venture in lock 49.

The Kennet & Avon Trust trip boat occasionally runs special trips down to the top of the famous "Caen Hill" flight of locks.  Last Wednesday afternoon one such special trip made its way down six locks to the top of the flight of 16 consecutive locks.   During the trip a crew member gave a short history of the canal to the 35 passengers, who during the cruise, enjoyed refreshments of tea and coffee, beer, crisps and cream teas.   The weather was rather overcast, but nice and cool for the passengers and those having to operate the locks.

The boat at lock 47 at Prison Bridge.

The boat entered through the top gates when the lock was full of water.   The helpers  wound the paddles up to let the water out, opened the lock gates for the boat to come out, and are now closing the paddles using a windlass.  The huge Wiltshire county prison, now demolished, stood near this bridge, hence its name of "Prison Bridge."

The closed top gates, with the bottom ones open to let the boat out towards the next lock.

The white handrails at the side of the lock are to tops of ladders.  A boater without help from a crew, will have to come into the lock at the bottom, and climb to the top to close the gates and fill the lock with water to raise its level.  The entire flight of locks is basically a huge step ladder of water.

 The boat approaches lock 47 on the return journey.

This bridge has two arches, one for the canal and the other to allow wagons of bricks to be hauled up to lock 50.  During the building of the canal, a brickworks at Foxhangers at the bottom of the flight, produced the thousands of bricks needed the the construction of the 29 locks.  A track ran along the towpath, (right,) which allowed horse drawn wagons bringing bricks up the flight, to pass underneath the road. 

Lock 50, Town Lock.

The is the first lock of the flight in the centre of Devizes.  There are three sections to the flight, the first six to lock keepers cottage at lock 44,  then the 16 consecutive locks down to Foxhangers, the site of the old brickworks at lock 28, and then another seven locks to Lower Foxhangers at lock 21 at the bottom.  A modern electric pump now pumps water to the top of the flight, so that a supply is always ready to fill each lock.

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