Tallington locks

There is now only one site in this stretch of the canal – at Heron’s Close near the church –  where lock remains can be identified, but Tallington, like West Deeping, had three locks to cope with the downward slope of the land from west to east.

Three locks are marked on the 1813 Enclosure map – shown as pairs of  ‘<‘  symbols pointing westwards and upstream –  one in West Marsh at the western end of the village, to the south of the main road, one just to the north of the church and the third to the east of the village, in Mill Marsh or Horse Holmes. In the Deepings  Heritage book The Stamford Canal  they are identified as 9, ‘Copthill Turnpike’;  8, ‘Tallington Village’ and 7 ‘Tallington (Horse Holmes)’.

Original documents in the archives at Stamford Town Hall provide some interesting detail about Tallington locks from the 1860s when the canal was deteriorating and the Welland Navigation Committee were considering what repairs would be needed.   The committee minutes provide evidence not only of the dilapidated state of the canal but also of the original names of two locks.

15 June 1866 Surveyor’s report: “I find there are dams put across the canal immediately in front of the doors at … Cross Lock and Marsh Lock. … the bridge and doors of the sluice against the Cross Lock have been entirely removed”.  

There are only 2 locks along the whole stretch of the canal that could be described as in a marsh, and they are both in Tallington.  The minutes of the next meeting confirm that the “Cross Lock” is in fact in Tallington:

3 July 1866 “The Committee inspected the Navigation… and … found a rough post and rail fence placed across the whole width of the canal at the bend near to the Cross Lock at Tallington.  This fence it was ascertained had been put down by James Smith of Uffington,  Carpenter.”

Being near the bend, it is evident that the “Copthill Turnpike” lock should rightfully be called the “Cross Lock”.  (Some of the West Deeping Heritage Group that walked this stretch of the canal route in 2013 were thrilled to discover a distinctively-shaped stone block lying in the hedgerow close to where the lock is thought to have been.)  The lock to the east of Tallington was then “Marsh Lock”, referred to in the Surveyor’s report.  A map showing Lord Chesham’s property adjoining the canal confirms this – although it looks as if whoever drew the map had difficulty spelling “Marsh” for it looks more like “March”!

Another archive has been the source of some confusion to researchers. The 1810 map of Bevan’s proposed extensions to the canal shows only 2 of the 3 locks in the Tallington section. The canal is shown in blue, outlined in black, with each lock marked as a single thick black line.  In the copy we have seen, the lock to the east of the village (7)  is not marked but it was the middle lock (8) that was evidently missed by later investigators. (Maybe there are different copies of the map with some details missing; maybe it is the very small scale of the drawing that meant a detail was missed. 10 years later, with digital photography it is much easier to enlarge images.)  To add to the confusion, lock 8  is also missing from the otherwise-detailed descriptions of the 24 lots to be offered by auction when Stamford Corporation attempted to sell off the canal in 1865!  In 1992, when Garland Grylls redrew Bevan’s map on an up-to-date Ordnance Survey map, he showed 11 locks, missing out lock 8.

Heron’s Close Lock

An area behind some cottages in Heron’s Close, to the north of the church, was used as a rubbish dump for many years and was overgrown with brambles and weeds.  In 1998 the owner of the cottages decided to clear the ground to provide a car park for the tenants.   Being familiar with the history of the canal, he soon realised that the solid mass of masonry underneath all the rubbish was in fact the missing lock.  There was much excitement among the experts. Dr Barry Barton, of the Institute of Civil Engineers’ Panel for Historical Engineering Works, was brought in to look at the structural remains. Although much was damaged and missing there were identifiable details to confirm that it was a lock, for example: “a vertical in-curved chase, radius about 4ins, presumed to be to receive the heel of the gate”. This detail is still visible, as the photograph below shows.  John Smith, who helped with the clearance and excavation, still looked after the lock 15 years later in 2013, having turned it into an attractive garden.  (Read a News Post about John Smith and the lock)

(We are grateful for Dr Barton’s photographs, and for his interpretations of the evidence for our project group. View a video of the group’s visit.)

The Grantham Archaeological Group logged their visits:

On 7th August 1998 our survey party visited the site, confirmed the stonework as being part of the lock abutments and made a survey of what had been exposed.  This was unfinished as the rubbish was being burnt in the ditch beside the stonework. Another visit was made on 17th September that year and the sketch survey improved.

The stonework turned out to be the part of the western gate abutments on the north side of the canal.  Stonework stood about two metres above the bed of the lock and was probably once another half metre higher. 1 abutment is identified by the carved indented vertical groove which must have received the heel of the lock gate.

Across the bed of the lock we found a strip of stone paving laid to protect the scouring effect of the water as the gates were opened and there were embedded in the bank that had filled to canal several large pieces of timber thought to be parts of the gates.  We were unable to take our investigation any further.”

Measurements and surveys were compared with other lock remains at West Deeping and Deeping St James and the experts agreed that the details matched.  If the lock is the same dimensions, with a width of 11 feet or 3.35 metres, it is possible that under the tarmac of Heron’s Close are the remains of the southern side, and equally possible that 85 feet or 26.2 metres away to the east, next to Bainton Road, the  downstream abutments could be found.  In the 1970s, there are reports of lock gates being visible in a nearby garden.  By the 1990s these must have disappeared; the 2013 project has not been presented with any evidence as to their whereabouts.

Lock 8 Survey drawing 1998 9 17 OHP A

Tallington Lock as surveyed in 1998 by Grantham Archaeology Group

Garland Grylls re-drew his map and re-numbered the locks;  and amongst his papers there is a survey drawing. Other details that can no longer be seen are described in the reports of the Grantham Archaeology Group surveyors: “To the west of the gate-hanging the fill is left rising and consisting of mixed clay and rubbish.  In it is a black baulk of timber about 6 ft long and 150×100 mm section that appears to be part of the gates. It has been left in situ covered. Also at the foot of the gate recess were found two large pieces of oak (?) board with chamfered edges which may be part of the sill.   Near these were a metal rivet 90mm 11 and a metal bolt 140 mm 1, (with a rivet head at one end with square shank and the other end threaded.”


Marsh Lock

Proposals for a new cut 1852

Proposals for a new cut 1852

Tallington’s most easterly lock, (“Marsh Lock” as we believe it to be called)  was very close to the route of the Great Northern Railway, the east coast main line which connected London with Peterborough in 1850. The Peterborough to Retford line opened in 1852, with a stop at Tallington.  A map entitled “Great Northern Railway: Communication with Stamford Canal” dated 1852 (copies in Stamford Town Hall collection and Lincolnshire Archives KP 6 80) shows the lock – just west of the railway, close to the point where the railway crossed the canal –  and the “Line of Proposed Cut” between the existing canal and the Cavendish Arms Inn (now called The Whistle Stop).    The lock must have been obliterated in 1910 when the Great Northern Railway was widened from 2 tracks to 4. (There is however no reference to the canal or a lock in the Act that authorised the development.)

Note: The proposal for the new cut, which would have been of great advantage for the transfer of goods between the canal and the railway,  was “lost in committee” due to the objections of Lord Lindsey’s barristers. The Stamford Mercury for 6th May 1853 reported that the committee “have expunged the Branch Canal from the Company’s Bill” (The Great Northern Railway Bill, No. 1, 1853. )

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