Sunbury Locks and boat rollers
Left bank locks, tel: 01932 782089, length: 206', width: 24'4"
Sunbury Weir for canoists
1623: 100 poore barge men complained -
Sir Thomas Lake has caused 2 milles to be built here to the great hindrance of a great many poore men which getts their living by the said river. But what cares hee or such as hee?
1789: A weir ordered -
for the benefit of the navigation with all convenient speed
The main weir at Sunbury stretches between the tail end of Wheatley’s Ait and Sunbury Lock Ait.
This island was created in 1812 when a long channel was dug across the long bend of the river here.
1812: Pound lock opened, designed by Rennie.
The lock was built towards the tail end of the lock cut, next to where the old lock-keeper’s house still stands.
The 1812 lock changed the place where barges were unloaded, to the annoyance of a local house owner –
On Monday last a large barge was brought in close by the house to unload during that and the following day. One of the bargemen, tho’ I was standing within a few yards of him and without permission was going to take my punt from the shore to the barge. Upon my refusing him the use of it after such a liberty, and stating the nuisance of unloading so close to the house – He said he should land there when he pleased. Soon after another bargeman fastened the barge rope to a small punt post – I went out to notice the impropriety of fixing the rope of such a large barge to so small a post – He answered that if he chose, he might fix the rope to the knocker of my street door. The language used by the men was very improper to be within the hearing of the ladies of the house.
1834: Sunbury Lock, Tombleson -
Sunbury Lock, Tombleson, 1834
1836: The weir damaged in the summer.
1838: A third pair of gates added.
1856: the lock was rebuilt at the tail end of the cut, with a new lock keeper’s house on the island – at the same time the footbridge to the island was added.
1859: Mr & Mrs Hall -
A weir of considerable length, and lower down a lock recently constructed on ‘scientific principals’, the waters being raised and lowered by machinery; but the effect of the ‘improvement’ is to embarrass and delay the voyager.
1859: The Thames, Mr & Mrs Hall
Passing between low lands for the distance of about two miles, we
arrive at Sunbury. *
* In ancient records this place is called Sunnabyri, Sunneberie, Suneberie, &c. Sunnabyri is composed of two Saxon words — sunna, the sun, and byri, a town — and may be supposed to denote a place exposed to the sun, or with a southern aspect."- Lysons.
— a pretty village on the Middlesex side.
a weir of considerable length, and lower down a lock: the lock has
been recently constructed on "scientific principles" — the waters being
raised and lowered by machinery, but the effect of the "improvement"
is to embarrass and delay the voyager. *
* "About a mile below Sunbury Lock there is a turn on the left bank, or a back-water meeting the river again, but the course of the river lies to the right bank, and the water runs very sharp. This part of the river is called 'Cane Edge', and the stream from this part up is known as 'Sunbury Race'." — The Oarsman's Guide.
1862: Lock rebuilt.
1866: Boat rollers built
1871: Henry Taunt –
The lock very slow in emptying
1880: William Morris, Putney to Kelmscott -
Towed on in darkness up to the Magpie Inn at Sunbury which was reached at 10.15.
(curious, & rather pleasant muddling ones way across to the inn in the dark - 'tow not as a rule in the dark')
On arrival WM exclaimed "what a stink", the waiter replied "It is nothing sir I assure you", RCG put in inquisitively "Is it a sewer?", waiter in answer "yes sir quite sure" (note by RCG. After this unfortunate jeu d'esprit all/some of the males of the party seemed to think that they were entitled to indulge in the most abominable puns for the whole of the rest of the journey)
Supper at 10.30. Pickled salmon Poached eggs Ham etc. Bed at or about 12 o'clock. Cornell Price & WM slept in the Ark the rest of the party in beds. Lovely hot day and night.
Wednesday Aug 11th, 1880
William Morris fished at 6.a.m. caught one gudgeon and one small dace, WM, DM & Price bathed also RCG at 8.30. Started at 10 o'clock: towed on without incident to Penton Hook Lock.
1880: Sunbury Locks, Henry Taunt -
Sunbury Locks, Henry Taunt, 1880
© Oxfordshire County Council Photographic Archive; HT321
1886: Lock rebuilt
Lantern Slide (1883-1908) - Sunbury
Pictures by W.C.Hughes. Thanks to Pat Furley, research by Dr Wilson.
1889: Three Men in a Boat
Postcard undated –
Sunbury Locks, undated
1925: Second Lock built.
Sunbury has two locks and two boat rollers, which the lock keeper helped me to use, causing much astonishment to a boat which passed me in the lock cut and entered the lock before me and then found themselves re-passing me below the lock.
1999: At Sunbury Lock I met a launch full of fostered children and their guardians who chatted to me and invited me to lunch onboard and took some photos of me punting in the most difficult circumstances, on silt, coming out of the lock, facing a line of oncoming boats -
Sunbury Lock, in 1999