The Last Flashlock on the River Thames

Working the Waterways: NarrowBoat, Winter 2020

David Wilson provides an insight into the ancient paddle-and-rymer locks that were once prominent on the Thames

The small, attractive town of Lechlade-on-Thames stands close to the converging borders of Oxfordshire, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire. It is well known as the usual upper limit of navigation for motor vessels on the river. The tall steeple of its Cotswold stone-built church can be seen for a considerable distance over the lush Thames-side meadows. Around 3 miles downstream of the town is the site of the former Anchor Inn and Hart’s Weir, otherwise known as Eaton Weir.Photographs In the 1980s, I was resident lock- and weir-keeper at Buscot, roughly a mile upstream of the site. I occasionally called into the small bookshop in the main street in Lechlade. One day theproprietor, knowing my interest in local history, gave me two old glass plate negatives that she had rescued from a pile of photographic materials thrown out by a local chemists. They were believed to be of Eaton Weir or Flashlock. It has taken me too many years to finally have the two plates digitally copied. The pr…

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