Stoppage at Cowley Lock

Picturing the Past: NarrowBoat, Spring 2021

Christopher M Jones

Chris M. Jones looks at two images recording a stoppage at Cowley Lock in 1896

Like any transport system, the canals were not exempt from accidents and sometimes avoidable incidents, one of which occurred inside Cowley Lock near Uxbridge on the Grand Junction Canal on 30th December 1896. This involved a wide-boat, recorded as being 10ft 6in beam with a cargo capacity of 45 tons. It entered the lock from the Uxbridge pound above carrying chalk, and started to descend into the London pound that would have enabled it to reach the canal terminus at Paddington Basin without further locks. However, as the craft descended, the crew, rather foolishly, decided to visit the nearby Shovel Inn public house for refreshment. Without anyone to take care of the boat, it drifted back and its sternpost grounded on the cill; as the lock continued to empty the stem ended up resting on the bottom. With all the weight of the chalk bearing down on the structure of the boat at those two points, and without any water to support it, the craft broke its back forward of the cabin bulkhead …

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