Posted 2nd Apr 2018
In the next of our History of the Waterways features, courtesy of Insure4Boats and the Canal and River Trust, we find out about Caen Hill Locks
Caen Hill is, perhaps, the longest continuous flight of lock in the UK and should be on the bucket list of every serious boater.
First opened in 1810, they were designed and built by John Rennie, the engineer of the Kennet and Avon Canal that they form part of.
There are a total of 29 locks, which add up to a rise of 237 feet over two miles. On top of that, they have a staggering gradient of 1:44. The most famous stretch is where 16 of the 29 locks are bunched together to take boats up the side of the hill between Reading and Bath. When they were first built, the locks had to be close together to mean there would not be enough water to operate them. To solve this, engineer John Rennie built long ponds that run down the side of the towpaths, feeding into the locks when needed. To sum up how impressive an engineering feat this actually was, you have to see them in person. With towpath and hill walks all around, Caen Hill Locks have plenty to offer both boaters and walkers alike.
Did you know...
- The sixteen hill locks are designated as a Scheduled Ancient Monument - the same level of heritage protection given to Stonehenge.
- The Caen Hill Locks were the final section of the Kennet and Avon Canal to be built.
- The locks became derelict after the Second World War but were restored and reopened by the Queen in August 1990.
- When the lock gates were replaced in 2010, the old wood was donated to build a bullring at Glastonbury Festival.
Image credit: Paul Chambers / Alamy