A look at Bow Locks

A look at Bow Locks


Posted 15th Feb 2018


In the next of our History of the Waterways features, courtesy of Insure4Boats and the Canal and River Trust, we find out about Bow Locks

Bow Locks has one of the longest histories of any lock in Britain.

Originally mentioned as a waterway during the reign of Edward I, the lock themselves were developed to become a complex web of transport channels, dating as far back as the 11th Century.

The locks were constructed in 1850, initially a pound lock for barges to pass through. Bow Locks was extremely popular when it was first constructed, mainly because, like much of the rest of the river, it was toll free. Therefore, the decision of the lock's owners to introduce a toll system shortly after proved to be incredibly unpopular.

A compromise was eventually reached - next to the lock were flood gates, which also provided the same access to the canal, but only when the tide was right. These gates would be kept free to use, but the lock would have a toll - that way, depending on the time of day, boat owners would have a choice between the two.

Despite being rebuilt in 1930 to try and stop the tidewater flowing in, it was not until a refurbishment in the year 2000 that the tides were successfully kept out for good - with excess silt taken out of the canal to improve the boating experience for everyone.

Did you know...

- The historic footbridge across the locks was refurbished for £3.3 million in 2005.

- To make sure boats can still use the locks, repairs require a dizzying patchwork array of scaffolding to complete.

- A nearby canal, the Limehouse Cut, holds the record for being London's oldest canal.

- A new part of the Locks opened in 2009, offering access for construction materials by water to the site for the London 2012 Olympics.

Information and images courtesy of Insure4Boats and the Canal and River Trust / image credit: Simon Balson / Alamy





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