SP 593687 - 38.38 miles from west Bridge Leicester.
Opened in 1814 Watford Locks are numbed 1 to 7 which confuses visitors to Foxton, where the lock numbers start at 8. (so how can there be 10 locks when the bottom lock is number 17?) the locks are laid out in a similar pattern to Foxton.
Watford Top Lock, No.7. Watford Locks consist of a single lock, a staircase of four, and two further single locks through which the canal falls a total of 56 feet. Lock 5 marks the drop below the 400 foot contour. In its development plans at the turn of the century, the
Grand Junction Canal Company first contemplated another incline at
Watford to match that at Foxton, but later decided to widen the locks, though the work was held in abeyance until the success of the Foxton experiment could be assessed.
Then in the winter of 1901/2 the locks were rebuilt in the narrow gauge. This considerable operation took a little over two months and "was carried out by the Northern District Maintenance Gang with extra assistance and at one time 160 men were engaged. Overtime was made both night and morning and at such time the works were lit by acetylene lamps" (T.W. Millner's notes). The cost was £5,545 of which £2,846 was for labour and £2,699 for materials (exclusive of Bulbourne charge for new gates and paddles). Then the new Grand Union Company proposed replacing the seven narrow locks with six wide ones, the middle two to be a riser. Mr Jack Seaton remembered the new route being pegged out across the field to the east of the spinney bordering the existing flight. He also recalled a wide beam dredger being taken round the flight on rollers to carry out the last major dredging programme on the summit. The towpath hedge below the bottom lock had to be removed and was replaced by iron railings.
Mr William Seaton took over as lock keeper from Mr William Webb before the First War, and about 1935 was succeeded by his son, Mr Jack Seaton who lived there until his death in 1971.
Watford Bottom Lock No. 1. Watford feeder enters just below. The brick bridge at the tail of the lock, which replaced the original stone one in 1902, was reconstructed in 1976, when the pumping house was also installed.
Image taken: Watford Locks, before rebuilding in 1901
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