The original course of the Barge River was along the Black Ditch to the south of the current course. This became unusable and the river was diverted to use the Ware Mill head stream. This necessitated the building of a lock to overcome the natural fall of the earlier course – the second pound lock built on the Lee, this one in 1658.
28.9.1785 "the Surveyor do repair the Half Lock near Ware Park Mill to prevent its wasting water" (NA Rail 845/51)
17.10.1787 “Ware Mill Lock put under the care of Mr Hankin’s servants” (NA Rail 845/6)
6.3.1793 “….this Trust do pay Mr Hankin for the care of Ware Cistern and Priory Lock (from Michaelmas 1790 to 26.1.1793) amounting to the sum of Eighteen Pounds and Three Shillings”( NA Rail 845/6)
Ware Lock c1900. The 1658 lock was out of shot to the right of this picture
12.6.1823 A letter received from “Mrs Hadsley, owner of the Priory at Ware, complaining of Barges passing up the Old Stream and requesting permission to place a Chain at the Mouth thereof..” It was “Resolved and Ordered that she be permitted to do so to prevent the use of the Old Stream for that purpose” (NA Rail 845/9)
The chamber became known as Priors Lock (from the nearby Priory), where Mr Byde charged a toll of 1/6 for passage. It was replaced by a new lock in a new position in 1832. This, in its turn, was rebuilt in 1922 to 16’ width.
21.1.1821 The Trust received a letter from “Mr Mylne, the Surveyor to the New River Company respecting the Building of a new Cistern at Ware Mills and this Trust contributing to the increased expence” NA Rail 845/9
The plan below details the intended new works. The swing bridge at the new lock was replaced by a wider fixed bridge over the tail and the proposed cart road was built at a different place. The lock keeper's house was rebuilt in the 1970's.
LMA ACC 2423/P/706
2.2.1885 "Ware Lock Tolls - On requesting the Lock keeper to keep an account of the Traffic for the purpose of our checking the amount payable to the New River Co - he informed me that the New River Co do not keep any a/c or give any return whatever..." (J Child) LMA ACC 2423/002
1.5.1885 "Ware Lock Tolls - I was informed that the lock keeper Pallett had received instructions from the New River Co's inspector that he was not to take any money or issue any boat tickets whatever and that any money he had taken he was not to hand over to our chief collector - some weeks ago myself and Mr Corble called at the New River Office and saw Mr Francis (who) gave me a letter instructing the lock keeper to carry out our requirements. As the instructions given to the lockman are various and can only be given verbally and by explanation to him it is quite impossible that he can learn his duties or our requirements, if the same are to pass through 2 or 3 channels before reaching him. As it is we have lost several tolls and something must be at once done to remedy the evil" (J Child) LMA ACC 2423/002
Ware Lock is controlled by the owners of the New River to allow them to regulate the level of the pound above. It is from this pound that the New River abstracts part of its supply of water. The Lock keepers have therefore been employed by successively, The New River Company, The Metropolitan Water Board, Thames Water, the National Rivers Authority and today (not that there are any lock keepers today!), the Environment Agency.
The map to the right, drawn in the 1820's, shows the relationship between the New River and the Lee.
LMA ACC 2423/P/754
This site was last updated 02/03/24