Bow Back Rivers

 

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BOW BACK RIVERS

On the east below Old Ford Lock is the channel of the Old River Lea, leading to the entrances of Carpenters Road Lock and eventually (via the City Mills River) to City Mills Lock. 

Both of these were built as a result of a flood relief scheme in the 1930’s which also created the high concrete edges of the Bow Back Rivers.  Both locks were named in opening ceremonies to honour local councillors, respectively Mr Ward and Mr Hollins. Both names have now been virtually forgotten.

The area of the Bow Back Rivers has become the site of the main stadium for the 2012 Olympics.  The Pudding Mill River has been filled in but the other rivers have benefitted from these developments.  Go to http://www.london2012.com/

Before we go on to look at the individual locks, let's examine two aerial photographs - before and after the Olympics

    Upper image: Canal and River Trust                                                                   Lower image: Jason Hawkes

 

A plan in 1892 to alter the entrance to Pudding Mill River was deferred but a drawing from 1920 shows the intention not only to alter the entrance but to build new tide gates also.  The abutments of the eastern set of gates still stand.

LMA ACC 2423/P1826

 

 

 

 

 

 

CARPENTERS ROAD LOCK or WARD LOCK

Lock State Date Length Length - Working Distance Width Fall Removed or bypassed
Carpenters Road Radial Lock  (Tidal until 2009)   1933 92' 0'' 90' 0'' 20' 0'' ~  

 

Carpenters Road Lock was built in 1933-4 as part of a programme of improvement works carried out in accordance with the River Lee (Flood Relief) Act of 1930. The Lock was the only one on the Lee Navigation to be fitted with rising radial gates, a type of lifting gate used on the continent but apparently never before in a British navigation lock. The Lock was one of only four in the country built with radial gates, one of only two that survive to the present day and the only one known to have been built with two such gates.

 

The lock house (top left) was complete by 15.2.1935 and ready for occupation. It was demolished soon after 1967.

Radial gates were installed at Carpenters Road Lock because the lock was required both to maintain navigation and to discharge floodwaters. The situation at Carpenters Road Lock was complicated by the reversible head of water between the Waterworks River and City Mills  River, which necessitated the installation of a second radial gate.  The water level could be higher at either end of the lock.  The arrangement of the counterweights and operating mechanism at Carpenters Road were an innovative solution to the challenges these conditions presented.

Carpenters Road Lock southern gate, looking towards City Mills River.

The Lock was directly beneath one of the approach bridges to the Olympic Stadium.  Now the games are over, the intention is to restore the lock as a fully working navigable structure.  The gates that are the most important historic aspect of the Lock are still in place but the gantries and associated ramps were demolished to make way for the bridge. The full width bridge has been dismantled leaving narrower structures which allow room for the Lock to be reconstructed

Go to the Canal & River Trust's website to keep up-to-date with this project http://canalrivertrust.org.uk/carpenters-road-lock

Canal and River Trust

Carpenters Road Lock looking north towards Waterworks River

Carpenters Road or Ward Lock 

Census/Date

Name

Title

Wife

Location given by enumerator/Comments

Source Reference

1950 C Newton Lock keeper £5.3.6 LCB Records
1950 Allan McLean Tait Lock keeper Transferred to Harlow Lock LCB Records
9.6.1948 Allan McLean Tait Lock keeper Up to £5.1.0 per week LCB Records

11.12.1946

Allan McLean Tait

Lock keeper

Appointed (ex steersman from 22.10.1945) at £4.15.0 per week with uniform

NA Rail 845/128

28.11.1941

H R Clifton

Lock keeper

With H M Forces.  Increase of 15/- per week

NA Rail 845/125

12.1.1940

E T Heales

Temp Lock keeper

£2.5.0 and uniform and part house

NA Rail 845/124

1.4.1938

H R Clifton

Lock keeper

£2.6.0 to £2.10.0

NA Rail 845/122

1.4.1937

H R Clifton

Lock keeper

£2.5s to £2.6s (inc house and garden)

NA Rail 845/121

15.3.1935

H R Clifton

Lock keeper

Ex Labourer at Bow Locks.  Appointed at £2.5s per week with house and uniform

NA Rail 845/119

             

 

CITY MILLS or HOLLINS LOCK

Lock State Date Length Length - Working Distance Width Fall Removed or bypassed
City Road Lock (Tidal until 2009)   1933 95' 0'' 87' 0'' 20' 0''    

LMA ACC 2423/P2275

This drawing is dated 15.11.1932 and shows the layout for the new lock at City Mills.  The plan shows the  proposed lock house but the design in the photograph below is different.

 On 15.2.1935, the lock house here was reported as nearing completion.  

In 1967, the lock chamber looked like this when the present owners of the (just out of shot) lock house moved in.

The nearer set of gates are to keep the high tides  in the Waterworks River (which is connected to Bow Creek and thus the Thames) out of the lock as well as flood water from the Lea Valley.  If these gates were opened, perhaps maliciously, the high water would push through and open both of the other sets of gates, allowing (as the tide or flood water fell) the entire pound between Limehouse and Old Ford to drain down!  This happened on at least one occasion although the situation was rectified before all the water went!  As can be seen in this photograph, the tide gates have been secured shut to prevent repetition.

Photo: Martyn Denney

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The house is still by the lock chamber, shown here in 1994 with the original 1933 gates still doing their job...

 

....even without the balance beam!

 

 

 

 

 

The old gates, which were becoming quite unsafe, were removed and replaced with stop planks in 2000.

The lock was regenerated and regated during the preparation for the 2012 Olympics.  It reopened to traffic on July 31st 2010.  The "third" set of gates no longer protect against high tides because the Waterworks River is no longer tidal since the building of Three Mills Lock.  They would however, still keep out excess flood water if it builds up.

City Mills or Hollins Lock

Census/Date

Name

Title

Wife

Location given by enumerator/Comments

Source Reference

(1951?) C J Gypps Lock keeper £5.3.6 LCB Records

20.9.1947

C J Gypps

Lock keeper

Appointed ex Enfield Lock at £4.15.0

NA Rail 845/128

20.9.1947

T Lee

Lock keeper

Retired on account of age

NA Rail 845/128

6.3.1942

T E Lee

Lock keeper

Appointed ex Tottenham Lock at £2.16.0

NA Rail 845/126

6.3.1942

L A Page

Lock keeper

Transferred to Tottenham Lock

NA Rail 845/126

NK

L A Page

Lock keeper

£3.4.0

 

1.4.1941

L A Page

Lock keeper

£2.9.0 to £2.11.6

NA Rail 845/125

1.4.1938

L A Page

Lock keeper

£2.5.0 to £2.9.0

NA Rail 845/122

5.11.1937

Louis Page

Lock keeper

Appointed ex Bow Lock at £2.5s per week with house and uniform

NA Rail 845/121

12.10.1937 S V Williams Lock keeper Discharged LCB Records
4.10.1937 S V Williams Lock keeper Appointed ex Dredger hand (since 23.3.1936) at £2.0.0 per week LCB Records

4.10.1937

W Slaymaker

Lock keeper

Retired

NA Rail 845/121

12.3.1937

W Slaymaker

Lock keeper

65 on 1.3.1937. 11 years service.

NA Rail 845/121

1935

W Slaymaker

Lock keeper

Transferred from Marshgate Lock

NA Rail 845/121

             

 

 

HUNTER’S GATES, MARSHGATE LOCK or MARSHGATE LANE LOCK

Lock State Date Length Length - Working Distance Width Fall Removed or bypassed
Hunters Gates (Single) Recorded 1847         1864
Marshgate Lock Built 1864         1935

The map below is from about 1815 and shows, on the eastern side, the outfall of Pudding Mill Stream from St Thomas's Mills and the dog leg where Hunters Gates /Marshgate Lock will be built.  Towards the west is the confluence where the Back River rejoins the main Navigation which then passes under Bow Bridge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LMA/ACC 2423/P1719

 

Hunter’s Gates were first recorded in 1847 and changed to Marshgate or Marshgate Lane Lock in 1864.

 

 

Left: LMA ACC 2423/P/444

 

 

Plan showing the proposed change from the single Hunters Gates to Marshgate Lock.

 

 

 

 

 

Right: LMA ACC 2423/512

The completed lock in May 1868 - a rather unusual shape!

2.2.1885 "Cottage at Marshgate - I find we can rent (the cottage adjoining Marshgate Lock) at 7/6d per week...it will require a considerable amount of repairs which he (the agent) has undertaken to have done. (J Child) (LMA ACC 2423/002).

29.5.1885 "Cottage at Marsh Gate Lock - This cottage...has not been repaired to my satisfaction...(J Child) (LMA ACC 2423/002)

24.7.1885 "The keeper, Wright, has removed from Bow Wharf to the cottage in Marshgate Lane close to the Lock...it would be difficult and expensive to alter the Bow Cottage into 2...best to let it to one of the river police at a reasonable rent and we should then secure a proper supervision of the wharf" (J Child) (LMA ACC 2423/002)

4.2.1887 The cottage adjoining this lock...is in such a dreadfully insanitary condition that it is not fit for habitation, I therefore got the district Sanitary Inspector to examine it.  He...condemned it as unfit for habitation."  (J Child) (LMA ACC 2423/003)

In a report of 31.1.1913  “We have a lock keeper at this lock about four to five hours during each tide (night and day).  He has to superintend the unloading of barges at Bow Wharf and see that the wharfage charges have been paid, regulate the traffic so that no stoppage takes place, keeps the books at Marsh Gate Lane, recording the number of barges passing through the lock and the number entering Bow Back River and report to Superintendent Lawrence at Bow Locks.”                  

The image below shows Marshgate Lock just prior to its removal.

 

This lock was levelled out in the 1930’s flood relief programme.  The Lock keeper later lived in the house on Bow Wharf which was destroyed by enemy action in World War II.                                              

                LMA ACC 2423/P1469 (dated 185-)

 Hunter’s Gates, Marshgate Lock or Marshgate Lane Lock

Census/Date

Name

Title

Wife

Location given by enumerator/Comments

Source Reference

1935

W Slaymaker

Lock keeper

Transferred to City Mills Lock as a result of demolition of Marshgate Lock

NA Rail 845/121

1.4.1931

W Slaymaker

Lock keeper

+2/- per week

NA Rail 845/115

5.10.1928

W Slaymaker

Lock keeper

£1.15s to £1.18s per week

NA Rail 845/112

20.11.1925

W Slaymaker

Lock keeper

Appointed

 

6.11.1925  R W Clarke interviewed and appointed as Lock and Wharf keeper. He inspected the house and Lock on the next day (November 7th) when he said he was satisfied and stated clearing up the house, but on 13th November, I received a letter from him stating that he was obliged to resign the post as his wife would not go there."  (LMA ACC 2423/022)
23.10.1925.  Letter from English expressing regret at his failure to attend to his duties and to overlook his offence.  Board cannot accede to his request (NA Rail 845/109)

9.10.1925

Thomas English

Lock keeper

“failed to attend to his duties at tide time on 6.10.1925. He had evidently been drinking and was not in a fit condition to do his duty.”  One week’s notice given.

NA Rail 845/109

LMA ACC 2423/022

7.11.1924

Thomas English (52)

Lock keeper

Ex RN for 25 years and captain of a sailing barge., appointed

NA Rail 845/108

28.3.1924..Letter from Judge “appealing for time to find accommodation”  Must vacate by April 1924

11.4.1924  Judge has signed undertaking to give up possession by 30.4.1924.

23.5.1924  Taking all possible means to find accommodation but without success.  Requesting the Board to deal leniently with him.  Notice given to vacate within 7 days or legal proceedings will be taken

20.6.1924  Judge still in occupation. Request “ to rent 2 rooms until accommodation found” Refused.  Legal proceedings be taken and Judges pension be stopped for the present.

4.7.1924  “Still doing his best”

1.8.1924  Letter dated 30.7.1924 “quite unable to find a place, although he had visited all his relations in the hope of getting one of them to let him rent a room but had met no success, and thanking the Board for their kind offer to help him defray the expenses of moving”  “That proceedings be taken to recover possession”

14.10.1924  “Judge was quite willing to give up three rooms  at once.”  The Judge gave judgment for immediate passion of three rooms and the remainder of the premises in two months.”

18.12.1924  Judge had applied to the Court for an extension, with the result that the County Court Judge made a final order for possession on 2.1.1925  (all from NA Rail 845/108)

16.1.1925 Judge still not given up occupation.  Warrant to be applied for.

13.2.1925 Warrant executed on 2.2.1925. The house is now unoccupied.

13.3.1925  Pension of 12/- per week to be resumed from 2.2.1925.

23.10.1925  Judge died on 10.10.1925. Mrs Judge asked the board to grant small pension.  Granted 10/- per week (all from NA Rail 845/109)

15.2.1924

James Judge  (67)

Lock keeper

Quite unfit to carry out his duties. Pension of 12/- per week

NA Rail 845/108

14.11.1919

James  Judge

Lock keeper

35/- + house and uniform

NA Rail 845/46

1.12.1916

Taylor

Part time Lock keeper

£2 war bonus

NA Rail 845/43

22.9.1916

W Taylor

Lock keeper

Appointed

LMA ACC 2423/15

22.9.1916

P W Hencher

Lock keeper

Resigned

LMA ACC 2423/15

4.3.1915

P W Hensher

Lock keeper

+2/- per week

NA Rail 845/42

17.1.1913

P W Hensher

Lock keeper

Appointed ex Constable

NA Rail 845/40

14.9.1912

Abraham Thickings (65)

Lock keeper

Died.  His widow (70) receives 3/- per week (She died 30.12.1918)

NA Rail 845/39 LMA/ACC 2423/012 and /017

2.2.1912

A Thickings

 Lock keeper

Ill, sick leave extended until 29.3.1912, when he resumed his duties

NA Rail 845/39

5.4.1891

Richard Hearden  (Hearnden, Harden)(43)

Constable Lea Conservancy

Johanna

4 Marshgate Lane

Ex/West Ham/Stratford/1/22

10.12.1886

Thomas Wright

 Lock keeper

 Died rather suddenly from heart disease last week. He has been employed...for about 11 years, first as a policeman and for 5 years as a lock man.  He was a very steady and useful officer. He leaves a widow and 6 children  £10 paid to widow

NA Rail 845/24

LMA ACC 2423/003

3.10.1884

Thomas Wright

Lock keeper

“That the Engineer do caution the man at Hunter’s Gates, Bow , for being absent from his lock.”

NA Rail 845/23

20.4.1883

Wright

Lock keeper

1 year service20/-  per week

NA Rail 845/23

4.4.1881

William Newman (41)

Police Constable

Sarah

4 Marshgate Lane

Ex/West Ham/Stratford/1/57

4.4.1881

Robert Waller (36)

Constable and Wharf keeper

Lucy Ann

Wharf House, Bow

London/Bromley St Leonard/7/7

12.10.1877

Robert Waller

Lock keeper

Appointed to Marshgate Lane Lock at £1 per week

NA Rail 845/21

14.9.1877

William (John?) Sewell

Lock keeper

Transferred to Hardmead Lock

NA Rail 845/21

2.4.1871

William Newman (31)

Policeman

 

 

Ex/West Ham/Stratford/1/27

14.4.1869 William (John?) Sewell Lock keeper "....his son has been a servant of the Trustees for several years at the Iron Swing Bridge at Barking and I recommend that he be appointed in place of his father as he understands the duties" NA Rail 845/17
14.4.1869 William Sewell Lock keeper "the death of Sewell an old Servant who had the charge of Bow Wharf and St Thomas' Mill Lock...." NA Rail 845/ 17

17.11.1855

William Sewell

Lock keeper

Hunters Gates 20/- per week

NA Rail 845/14

21.10.1854 William Sewell Lock keeper 20/- per week NA Rail 845/14
 
     
     

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This site was last updated 19-Aug-2014