Whilton Locks - Northamptonshire, UK
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Dragontree
N 52° 16.407 W 001° 05.710
30U E 629963 N 5793161
Quick Description: This is a flight of three locks on the Grand Union Canal in Northamptonshire, UK.
Location: East Midlands, United Kingdom
Date Posted: 7/23/2008 11:40:47 AM
Waymark Code: WM48Y5
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member cache_test_dummies
Views: 40

Long Description:
The area is called Whilton Locks after the actual ones. There are many old dates appearing on different parts of the locks from the 18th century. Nearby the bottom lock is a still pond put aside for wildlife where a moorhen was feeding her young.

The busy Whilton Road crosses above the bottom lock via bridge 15. This takes the route over the top of the M1 motorway and to the A5.

Acknowledgement: The notes below were prepared and kindly supplied by the Whilton & Buckby Locks Association.

Local Canal History

The Beginning

The canal through Whilton & Buckby Locks was authorised on 30th April 1793 as part of the plan for the Grand Junction Canal from the River Thames at Brentford to join the Oxford Canal at Braunston.

James Barnes took charge of construction and this section was opened on 21st June 1796. The full length was opened in 1805.

Daventry Branch

The plans originally allowed for a branch to run from beyond the top lock at Buckby up to Daventry. This was never constructed but a reservoir and a water feeder channel were constructed on the proposed line in 1803. The canal reservoir is now situated within the Daventry Country Park.

Purpose of Canal

The main purpose of the canal was to allow coal from Warwickshire to reach London by a shorter route than via Oxford and the navigable Thames. Later a new canal, the Grand Union, linking the Leicester & Northampton Union canal at Foxton near Market Harborough to the Grand Junction at Norton, just above the top lock, was authorised in 1810 and completed in 1814. This allowed the coal from Derbyshire also to reach the Grand Junction by a shorter route.

Water supply problems however on the summit pound from Foxton to Watford limited traffic and it made less difference to the success of the Grand Junction than expected.

The Coming Of The Railway

In 1838 the London and Birmingham Railway reached this area crossing the canal above Lock 10. A new brightly painted bridge completed in 1997 marks the point. Robert Stephenson built the first bridge at this point. The railway gradually took commercial traffic from the canal.

Falling Revenue

Eventually the companies concerned found it difficult to maintain dividends. Tonnages carried peaked in 1845 and in 1893 the Grand Junction took over both the Grand Union and the old Union canal. The Regents Canal & Dock Company bought the Grand Junction itself in 1929. The combination was renamed the Grand Union Canal Company.

Improvements were carried out between the wars as an early form of job creation scheme. However, commercial traffic never proved fully viable. After the war the canals and boat fleets were nationalised with the boats eventually being sold off and the canals are now managed by British Waterways.

The Canal Today

Commercial traffic did not survive the winter of 1963. The predominant use today is for leisure.
Waterway Name: Grand Union Canal

Connected Points:
Links the London to Birmingham part of the Grand Union Canal via Northampton and Braunston.


Type: Lock

Date Opened: 1/1/1793

Elevation Difference (meters): 10.00

Site Status: Operational

Web Site: [Web Link]

Date Closed (if applicable): Not listed

Visit Instructions:
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Recent Visits/Logs:
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Norfolk12 visited Whilton Locks - Northamptonshire, UK 2/15/2011 Norfolk12 visited it
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