I am Linda and along with my husband Richard and our dog Muffin we enjoy our summers on the UK's canal system

Friday 26 September 2014

Abingdon (River Thames) – Thursday 25th September

We didn’t have very far to go today so didn’t pull pins – or maybe that should be unwrap the lines from the bollards – until 11am.

The King’s Arms from Sandford Lock
It was down through Sandford Lock which is the site of one of the first three pound locks built on the Thames in 1630. It was built in stone and was rebuilt in 1795 and 1836. Over the years the lock has undergone many modifications and updates, and little of the original construction remains.  The existing lock, the deepest on the non-tidal Thames, was built alongside an earlier.  In 1875 the nearby Sandford Paper Mill was rebuilt requiring the head water level to be raised by 5 feet. This may explain the need for such a deep lock-chamber.

Abingdon Lock
We stopped at the services above Abingdon Lock before descending down to Abingdon Meadows.  Abingdon Lock's history is as fascinating as it gets. At Swift Ditch there are remains of a lock constructed around 1624 which is the oldest surviving lock chamber in the UK, and possibly Europe.  This ancient lock - now acting as a weir - is near the top of the Swift Ditch, a meandering stream that by-passes the town of Abingdon to the south. You can still see the old brick chamber at the head of the Swift Ditch. 

Abingdon Lock Weir

You may have noticed that I have been writing a lot about the locks on our return trip down the river.  I didn’t want to keep repeating things and found the Visit Thames website which is full of interesting facts.

After mooring up Richard and I wandered up to the lock and then across the weir and into the town – destination Waitrose!  It was a much nicer, though longer, walk than going up through the town but Muffin appreciated it.  Shopping done it was a walk back to Mary H through the town. 

4.98 miles
2 locks

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