A set of images all taken on my recent canalboat holiday on the Grand Union Canal, these were all taken whilst ascending and descending Foxton Locks near the village of Foxton in Leicestershire. The weather was very foggy when we ascended the locks but sunny when we descended them. Foxton Locks is the largest flight of staircase locks on the English canal system with two "staircases" of five locks. They are located on the Leicester Line of the Grand Union Canal 5km West of Market Harborough close to the nearby village of Foxton. They form the Northern terminus of a 20 mile summit level that passes Husbands Bosworth, Crick and ends with the Watford Flight.
Staircase locks are used where a canal needs to climb up a steep hill, and consist of a group of locks where each lock opens directly into the next, that is where the bottom gates of one lock form the top gates of the next. The Grade II listed locks are a popular tourist attraction and the County Council has created a country park at the top. At the bottom, where the junction with the arm to Market Harborough is located, there are two public houses, a shop, trip boat and other facilities alongside the locks, as is the site of the Foxton Inclined Plane, an inclined plane built in 1900 as a solution to various operational restrictions imposed by the lock flight. It was not a commercial success and was remained in full time operation for only ten years. It was dismantled in 1926, but a project to recreate the plane commenced in the 2000s since the locks remain a bottleneck for boat traffic.
Building work on the locks started in 1810 and was finished 4 years later in 1814. Little changed until the building of the inclined plane resulted in the reduction in size of some of the side ponds.
In 2008 the locks became part of the European Route of Industrial Heritage, a network which seeks to recognise the most important industrial heritage sites in Europe. The locks are usually manned during the cruising season from Easter to October and padlocked outside opening hours. This is done to prevent water shortages due to misuse and to ensure a balance between those wishing to ascend and descend. There can be lengthy delays at busy times but the actual transit should take approximately 45 minutes to one hour to complete, it is made quicker by the fact that the locks are are narrow beam and the gates are light.
V1 - Chris M opening a lock
V2 - Chris A opening a lock
V3 - Arm of the Union passing through the bottom lock
V4 - Arm of the Union passing through another lock
V5 - Glenn mooring the Arm of the Union before ascending the 2nd flight of locks
V6 - Chris A closing a lock, the last one before the top lock
V7 - Chris A closing a lock
V8 - Wicked William in the top lock about to descend the 1st flight of locks
V9 - Wicked William in one of the 1st flight of locks when we descended on Wednesday
V10 - Descending Foxton Locks
V11 - Glenn turning the Arm of the Union around before descending the 2nd flight of locks
V12 - A view of the top flight of locks and the lock keepers cottage
Tags: Photo journalism
Grand union canal
Portraits and people