Limit of motorised Navigation


1910: Thames Valley Villages by Charles G Harper

Lechlade Footbridge

Lechlade Footbridge
Lechlade Footbridge, Most boats should turn before the bridge

A modern wooden footbridge marks the limit of navigation for most powered craft.  Most powered boats should turn below the footbridge.
Above here the river slowly becomes its natural self without the benefit of weirs and locks.  It becomes shallower, less well maintained, weedy and swifter. In a powered boat above here you are much more at risk of grounding, and tangling in branches and thorn bushes and finding swift currents than you are below here. Even in an unpowered boat you may have problems.

River Coln

1690: Baskervile - Coln Flu  [Flu = Flumen = River] -

Here conjunctions, famous prove,
On the score of united love,
Ffor here about Cown River wends,
Its waters into little Temes,
And so these pleasing bankes they wash,
And help the boats, down with a flash.

Thames & Severn Canal

Right bank.

Round House

Right bank
1789: November 14th, the Thames and Severn Canal was opened. The Gentleman’'s Magazine -

A boat, with the union flag at her masthead, passed laden for the first time to St John’s Bridge, below Lechlade, in the presence of great numbers of people, who answered a salute of twelve pieces of cannon from Buscot Park by loud huzzas.  A dinner was given at five of the principal inns at Lechlade, and the day ended with ringing of bells, a bonfire, and a ball.

1793: Thames & Severn Canal, Lechlade Lock -

Thames and Canal near Lechlade Boydell 1793
Junction of the Thames and Canal near Lechlade. June 1, 1793. J. Farington R.A. delt. J.C. Stadler sculpt.
(Published) by J. & J.Boydell, Shakespeare Gally. Pall Mall & (No. 90) Cheapside (London)

The 1793 print of the canal first lock shows no trees around here.  The spire of St John's Church Lechlade is visible in the distance.

1811: The Thames, or Graphic Illustrations of seat, villas, public buildings ...

The Round House, 1811

1821: William Cobbett, Rural Rides –

The land here and all around Cricklade is very fine. Here are some of the finest pastures in England, and some of the finest dairies of cows ...
I saw in one single farmyard here more food than enough for four times the inhabitants of the parish; and this yard did not contain a tenth, perhaps, of the produce of the parish; but while the poor creatures that raise the wheat and the barley and cheese and the mutton and the beef are living upon potatoes, an accursed Canal comes kindly through the parish to convey away the wheat and all the good food to the tax-eaters and their attendants in the Wen! [i.e. to London ] Is this an "improvement"? Is a nation richer for the carrying away of the food from those who raise it, and giving it to bayonet men and others, who are assembled in great masses? ... It is eaten, for the main part, by those who do not work.

William Cobbett was a man with an "attitude". Today he would be making much the same point fighting for fair trade with the third world - and hopefully might look a little more kindly on our waterways!

1859: The Canal and the Roundhouse. Now there are trees, though not as thickly as today -

Lechlade Roundhouse and Canal, 1859
Lechlade Roundhouse and Canal, 1859.

Notice in 1859 there was a footbridge over the main river just above the canal entry.  The modern footbridge is 50 yards further downstream.

1885: Lechlade Roundhouse and Canal. The trees had grown a little more –

Inglesham Round House 1885
Inglesham Round House, The Royal River, 1885.

1888: from " The Thames: Oxford to its Source" by Paul Blake -

Less than a mile from Lechlade stands the Round House, as the lock-house is called which guards the entrance to the Severn and Thames Canal.
The River Colne chooses the same spot to effect a junction with the Thames, so that there are three streams meeting.
The tower-like erection has a novel appearance to strangers, and, backed by tall poplars, has a striking effect.
The river now turns sharply to the left under the towpath bridge, and the navigable part is over, at least as regards barges and large boats. Soon after a turn to the right brings the stream and canal nearly parallel.

1890: most of these trees had gone again; Inglesham Round House, Henry Taunt -

Inglesham Round House, Henry Taunt, 1890
Inglesham Round House, Henry Taunt, 1890
© Oxfordshire County Council Photographic Archive; HT3770

1906: Henry Wellington Wack, In Thamesland -

The junction of the Thames, Coln, and Canal, is a picturesque spot. A "Round House" stands in the shade of the slender alders, a sturdy bridge spans the canal, and the locks and weirs seem stagnant from disuse. The canal is in fact a thing of the past; the pudgy old barge of burthen is now a hulk in a shipyard for wrecks, or in the coal service of the lower Thames; the tow path is narrowed - almost obliterated - by an overgrowth of grass and osier, gladdened here and there with the peeping violet and daisy.
For forty miles from its source the river's banks are asleep in solitude. Nothing but the hum of insects, the pipe of the moor-hen, or the rippling song of a jetty, enlivens the serenity of the scene.
Now and then a moss-grown mill creaks its rusty wheel in a backwater and, when the wind is right, the distant din of the toiling town may be faintly heard. The quiet evening is sweet with a loveliness that refreshes both the heart and the mind. You love England for her recreative repose.

1911: Inglesham Round House, W Parker -

Inglesham Round House, W Parker, 1911
Inglesham Round House, W Parker, 1911
© Oxfordshire County Council Photographic Archive; D230399a

1960: Inglesham Round House, Francis Frith -

1960: Inglesham Round House, Francis Frith
1960: Inglesham Round House, Francis Frith.

1999: Inglesham Roundhouse. The trees are back with a vengeance. All the way down the Thames it seems to me the same story - there are now far more trees than ever there were in the last few centuries. Trees were free fuel for poor cottagers, every one of whom had an axe. Suddenly the world has changed and the trees are back -

Inglesham Roundhouse, 1999
Inglesham Roundhouse, 1999.

Inglesham, Ashley Bryant
Inglesham, the Round House, Ashley Bryant

The top of the round house (canal lock house) is just visible in the above two pictures.  It has lost a storey or more.
The junction with the Severn and Thames canal is dry at this point (2003) and little sign of the canal is visible from the river.  (It is under the Weeping Willow.)
The canal line is not far from the river all the way to Cricklade. It was said that the intention was to restore this section of the canal by 2008 (funding permitting). Needless to say - funding did not permit - but it might just yet happen

Of which the bards have sung in visionary dreams,
The union of Sabrina's floods with silver Thames.

[ Silver teams? - pity about the rhyme! - or alternatively maybe they were "visionary drams"? ]
Sabrina is supposedly the goddess of the Severn - though one somehow doubts that anyone who lived near the Severn was ever consulted.
One day soon, we hope, there will be a reference here to where to turn for going on up the Canal …
We for now however (if our boat is suitable – or on foot) continue on up the river.