Griggs’ Report 1844: No 15 Lock at South Mill is affected by a mill. Has a Horse Bridge at the tail which is old and in bad condition. Headway 6’ 9’’. Depth of water on lower sill 2’ 8’’; ditto on upper sill 3’ 4’’; lower gates in middling repair, dated 1822; upper gates in good working condition, dated 1834; this lock in fair working order.
Beardmore’s Report 1870: South Mill Lock is in bad repair
Childs’ Report 1880: South Mill; Brick ends, open sides, nearly all renewed last year and deepened. Lower gates new, Upper gates old and will require renewal shortly. Wing walls below brick new built, depths over sills sufficient. Lockhouse about ¼ mile above (at Bridge No 50) is a brick built and slated Cottage in fair condition with new and commodious outbuildings.
Childs' 1884 Report: "Brick ends, open sides nearly all renewed last year and deepened. Lower Gates new; Upper gates old, about to be renewed next week. Wing walls below, brick, new built, depth over sills sufficient. Lock-house, about 1/4 mile above (at Bridge No 50) is a brick built and slated Cottage in fair condition, with new and commodious outbuildings."
Tween's 1901 Report:''Brick ends, open sides, nearly all renewed in 1883, and deepened. Lower gates fair order. Upper gates 1884. Wing walls below, brick, new built open timber sides, all good. This is the best lock on the River. Upper sill lowered 1 foot. Cost £200. Lockhouse built by Sir W Gilbey, not far from lock" (Coincidentally, the occupant of the cottage was Walter Gilbey, lock keeper, from 1911-1915)
The name was recorded in 1785 but on the 1st edition Ordnance Survey map in 1805, it was uniquely called Sow Mill. It was also called Thorley Lock on some early 20th century postcards.
There is a miller's plate below the bottom gate.
A sign bearing the inscription "Notice. The Punishment for Tampering with these Works is Transportation", was found at this lock and can be seen in the Canal Museum at Stoke Bruerne, Northants.
The shape of the sign has caused a certain amount of speculation. The answer can be deduced from a photograph of Feakes Lock, further downstream. Enlargement of the sign above the door of the shed reveals the same wording.
However, the shed here at South Mill has an apex roof, as can be seen from the image below.
The picture below shows the lock in its original turf sided condition.. It was rebuilt with concrete sides in 1923, the last of the Stort Locks to be rebuilt.
The original Lock Cottages were built in 1833 next to the Tanners Arms Public House. on London Road about 700 yards upstream from the lock. In the early 20th century postcard below, the Tanners Arms is to the right and the cottages are central. The Navigation flows under the London Road Bridge to the left and turns sharply right towards the foreground. The cottages have now been demolished to provide access to a development built on the former timber yard which was out of view to the right hand side.
A newer house was provided at the lock, situated just to the south of the chamber. The building date of this
house is unknown, but it was occupied by the lock keeper in the mid 1970's.
Photograph from late 1970's, courtesy of Tony Ford, son of former lock keeper Danny Ford
South Mill Lock House
This site was last updated 19-Feb-2013