Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Newport Canal - Norbury Locks 6 and 7

Newport Canal
Oulton Bridge
Post 2 - Maltshovel Bridge 3 to Oulton Bridge 4 - incl 2 locks
May 2010

I make no excuses for lingering over the Norbury Locks because they are an absolute gem of abandoned canal architecture. Perfectly preserved with sagging chambers and lock gates quietly rotting away in their hinges, all hidden away in an inaccessible cutting devoid if rubbish or human intrusion.

Norbury Lock 6 bottom gates

The two locks rising up from Oulton Bridge (No. 4) are the best on the canal with the lower chamber actually containing some water which gives an added sense of being just abandoned. The reality is that beyond Oulton Bridge the canal line is completely lost under farmland and an earth dam has been throw up under the bridge which causes the rainwater to pond up. 

Oulton Bridge

West of Oulton Bridge

The lock by bridge (lock 7) is the lesser of the two, but lock six stands with it's lower gates in place and it's steel protection plates still attached, prepared to meet the blows of the next boat that will never arrive.

Norbury Lock 7

This is a magical place, with the air filled with a melancholic mix of activity passed and wild garlic. We scampered around the remains of this lock like kiddies in the sweetshop, snapping away feature after feature, exactly how the boaters left it all those years ago. These locks reminded me of the archive photos I found of the Bentley Canal in Wednesfield, but this time I am not too late to see them in all their fading glory.

Lock 6 gate tops

Now before you go tramping into this canal 'holy of holies'  to see them for yourselves, remember that this is private lane and no public right of way exists. We picked our way through the site careful to do no damage but were surprised to meet another photographer as we were leaving. He exclaimed surprise at seeing anyone in such a remote location and pointed out the absence of public rights of access. He wished us well and hoped to "see you again - but not in here!" Its the most civilised "get off my land you are trespassing" encounter I have ever had.

Remains of top gates in undergrowth

Jaws of top of lock 6
I fear that my interest in lost canals will continually lead me onto private land so I have perfected the golden rules of trespass:

1. Dont get caught
2.Take photos as soon as possible in case of interruption
3. If caught apologise and confess to dreadful map reading skills
4. Seek guidance on the best way out (which is what they want)
5. Leave quickly and with smiles and thanks.

Guarded by wash wier


Starcross said...

Despite your warning I really must go and see all this for myself one day.

Captain Ahab said...

Its hard to believe that all this exists a mere mile or two from Norbury Junction. It is well worth a look but I suggest long trousers and a very stealthy approach!