Left bank, tel: 0118 957 5764, length: 131'4", width: 17'11"
871: The life of King Alfred -
In the year of our Lord's incarnation 871,
which was the twenty- third of King Alfred's life,
the pagan army, of hateful memory, left the East-Angles,
and entering the kingdom of the West-Saxons,
came to the royal city, called Reading, situated on the south bank of the Thames,
in the district called Berkshire;
and there, on the third day after their arrival, their earls,
with great part of the army, scoured the country for plunder,
while the others made a rampart between the rivers Thames and Kennet
on the right side of the same royal city.
They were encountered by Ethelwulf, earl of Berkshire, with his men, at a place called Englefield; both sides fought bravely, and made long resistance. At length one of the pagan earls was slain, and the greater part of the army destroyed; upon which the rest saved themselves by flight, and the Christians gained the victory.
De Bohun Island
Fred Thacker, 1920 - Thames Highway, Locks and Weirs -
The old lock, the mills and mill barge, the ferry and its boat,
were all granted to Notley abbey about 1493.
Dysshemede and Hergyn Eiate are named in the deed.
The flashlock, according to Bishop, was kept in 1585 by Rd. Barton; and the weir "by one Salter".
The modern lock was first opened in 1778; the passage over the flashlock being stopped at the end of May.
Upward barges were to pay 2d. per ton; downward, not returning, 1d. These rates held good till at least 1789.
Wm. Leach was the first collector, with 5s. weekly. He had a small wooden house "for to receive his money and put in his Tools for the necessary opening the pound."
James Leach is noted as keeper in 1797: perhaps identical with William, who reappears in the records next year; though in December 1806 Robert Deane, the weir owner, supersedes "Jas. Leach in arrear."
A lockhouse was ordered, but not built, in 1810; it was reordered in March 1814.
In June Philip Ward, a Reading shoemaker, was put in charge; his wages were in April 1817 raised from 24s. to 40s. monthly. There was a laybye within the lock on its north side at this date.
J. W. Knollys in July 1819 sold the Commissioners sufficient land for a lockhouse, which apparently had not yet been erected.
Chas. Benwell was keeper in May 1846; J. W. Grave owning the weir.
In 1854 Benwell lost his monthly wage of 50s., owing to the railway competition; but kept the pleasure tolls and the lockhouse on condition of carrying on.
In October 1866, under the Conservancy, it was to be ascertained "if Wm. Allen, the husband of the present keeper, will undertake the duties at £2 12s. monthly." Apparently he declined: as in February 1868 F. Knight is named as keeper.
In July 1871 the Corporation of Reading obtained leave to build a swingbridge across the cut, just above the lock; but never did so.
The lock was rebuilt in 1875; and the breakwater below it was erected in March 1878. Knight was drowned in July 1883; and was succeeded by his widow.
Anderson's excellent little Corporation Guide states that a steamboat passed by Reading for the first time in 1813. This is a very early record. In my General History I print a statement that "no steamboat appeared westward of London Bridge before 1810; and even then none ventured for a long time above Richmond."
Local towpath names occurring in 1825 are Brigham and Frog or Marsh eyot.
De Bohun Island
The lock island has been called "de Bohun Island" -
I should point out that the form of the name makes it unlikely that lock keepers and bargees ever called it "de Bohun"! If they had, over the years it would have probably become Bone Island!
Maybe it was a genuine medieval name arising from ownership of a mill here by the de Bohun family.
"de Bohun Road" was at one time the name of the road going over Reading Bridge (now "George Street"). But whether the island was named from the road, or the road from the island, or whether both were named from some historical connection is not known
Something of the sort might also have happened to the next island upstream "de Montfort Island" and "de Montfort Road" is just south of that island.
On Berks XXXVII.3 Revised 1931, published 1934
1593: Bishop mentions the flash lock and weir
1778: A pound lock was built
1813: The first steam boat seen at Reading.
1845: Sir Alain de Bohun is a character in "The Legend of Reading Abbey" by Charles MacFarlane, set in 1137.
1871: The Corporation of Reading obtained leave to build a swingbridge across the cut, just above the lock. It was not built.
1875: Lock rebuilt
1878: Breakwater below lock built.
1881: George Leslie, "Our River" -
Just beyond Caversham Lock there is a walled-in bathing-place for the town of Reading. The river is decidedly ugly here, and does not recover itself until after Caversham Bridge is past. There are one or two little eyots and backwaters on the right just beyond the lock, where white water-lilies grow when allowed to do so by the townspeople. Reading folks do not seem much addicted to aquatics, and the boats let out for hire here are just the sort to suit what Mr. Calderon used to call "drowning parties".
1890: Caversham Lock, Henry Taunt -
Caversham Lock, Henry Taunt, 1890
© Oxfordshire County Council Photographic Archive; HT6417
1890: Above Caversham Lock, Francis Frith -
1890: Above Caversham Lock, Francis Frith
1890: Caversham Weir, Francis Frith -
1890: Caversham Weir, Francis Frith
1890: Below Caversham Lock, Francis Frith -
1890: Below Caversham Lock, Francis Frith
1890: The Clappers Footbridge, below Caversham Lock by W F Austin -
The Clappers, W F Austin, 1890
1924: From above Caversham Lock Cut, Francis Frith -
1931: Lock keepers house rebuilt
Caversham Lock, 1999