The history of the Grand Union Junction Canal.
A brief history :
The Paddington Canal communicates with the Grand Junction Canal, at Bull's
Bridge, in the precinct of Norwood; and was made in the year 1801. This
latter canal was cut under an Act obtained in the year 1793, and begins at
Braunston, in Northamptonshire, where it joins the Oxford Canal, and ends at
the Thames, near Brentford. By this inland navigation, London is connected
with all the different canals which have been made in the midland and
north-western parts of England; and thus a cheap and easy conveyance is
afforded to the great commercial port of Liverpool, the manufacturing towns
of Manchester, Sheffield, Birmingham, Derby, Nottingham, and Leicester; the
salt mines of Cheshire, the Potteries, the Coals, and the Iron of
Staffordshire, Shropshire, and Worcestershire.
The length of the Grand Junction Canal is ninety-three miles, and with its
six collateral branches, to Paddington, Wendover, Aylesbury, Old Stratford,
Buckingham, and Northampton, it possesses a navigation of one hundred and
thirty-five miles. The main line of the canal was completed in March, 1805,
when the Blisworth tunnel was opened. The magnitude of this required on the
main line, the erection of more than two hundred bridges, the construction
of one hundred and ten locks, of eighty-four feet in length, of an average
of seven feet, each of which requires nine thousand feet, or two hundred and
fifty tons of water; the forming of two tunnels, one at Blisworth, and the
other at Braunston, the former of three thousand and eighty yards in length,
fifteen feet wide, and nineteen feet high; and the latter, two thousand and
forty-five yards in length, and of the same dimensions as the former. The
great range of chalk hills, near Tring, is passed by a deep cutting three
miles in length, and the greatest depth thirty feet. In several other parts
of the canal there are deep cuttings of considerable magnitude. The canal is
carried over the valley of the river Ouse, between Wolverton and Cosgrove,
by an embankment forty feet in height, and an iron aqueduct. There are also
embankments of almost equal magnitude at Weedon, and at Bugbrook, besides
numerous lesser embankments and aqueducts in different places. There are
eight large reservoirs, one in Middlesex, five in Hertfordshire, and two in
Northamptonshire; from these, and other resources, the canal is at all times
supplied with water.
Articles of commerce conveyed along the line in the year 1812, amounted to
527,767 tons, and the tolls were £141,000. The trade has since received a
very considerable addition from other lines of communication, one of which
is called the Grand Union Canal, which cost £300,000. and were completed in
1814. This canal joins the Grand Junction Canal near Long Backley in
Northamptonshire and the old Union Canal near Market Harborough, and forms a
distinct inland navigation, from London to the north-eastern parts of the
kingdom. In the year 1812, an Act was obtained for making the Regent's
Canal, of the length of nine miles from the canal at Paddington, to the
Docks at Limehouse; by this extension, which was completed in 1820. The
weight of goods which passed along the Grand Junction Canal, in 1835, was
192,859 tons, and there passed in that year, 631,815 tons, to the numerous
wharfs along that canal.
Historically, and in brevity, this sounds great. But which towns, and in
particular the Pubs are along the canal / canals? There does not appear to
be a decent guide of all of the towns which span this canal, although there
is a rather excellent
guide to the
locks. The Grand Union Canal runs for 93 miles and 5¼ furlongs through
102 locks from Braunston Turn to the Thames.
From working through a number of 19th century census it was apparent that
there are lock keepers in various towns in Buckinghamshire, but this is too
slow for me to research each town. I am particularly interested in Bierton,
Buckinghamshire, in the first instance. I will attempt to list a few lock
keepers and associated staff along the way, plus obviously the historical
pubs! What other reason would you travel the country slowly on a barge,
apart from a major pub crawl (The M1 motorway is now much quicker). As we
wander though time, you can see the effects of the railway overtaking the
To start along the Grand junction Canal, here are the
historical pubs in Braunston,
Northamptonshire at the beginning (and top) of the Grand Junction Canal. And
in 1891, Samuel Mills and William Mills are two of the lock keepers, both
local men and in their forties.
After a couple of miles, we arrive at
At 6 miles , we are at Long Buckby
and Buckby Wharf. Here there are a number of toll keepers listed in the
census. In 1851 and 1861, we have George Viney who is the Toll Clerk of the
Grand Junction Canal, and in 1851 only there is John George Cherry, another
listed Canal Toll Clerk. We also have Thomas Tomalin and Thomas Amos, who
are both Canal Lock Keepers in the Buckby Wharf in 1851.
At 13 miles we are at Bugbrooke.
By 16 miles, we are at Gayton.
Next, at about 17 miles, we will be passing through
Blisworth. At Blisworth, in
1861, Joseph Billingham is the Toll Collector for the Grand Junction Canal.
In 1871, we have Jessie Cherry as the Grand Junction Canal Manager. By 1881,
we have Edward White Viney, who is the Assistant Toll Collector for the
Along the canal with the next set of locks is at
Stoke Bruerne, and the
hamlet of Shutlanger, at
about 21 miles. Stoke Bruerne has a number of locks, and a considerable
number of lock keepers in the earlier years. In 1851, we have William Child,
Thomas Dimsey, Nathaniel Carter and Joseph Dyke as lock keepers here. By
1861, we have Thomas Frost, Daniel Dempsey, Benjamin West and Joseph Dike.
By 1871, the numbers of lock keepers seem to be diminishing, and we have
just Benjamin West and Joseph Dyke. In 1881, I can only find Joseph Dyke
listed as a lock keeper. In 1891, this is only Daniel Atterbury.
But, in 1901, there are now a number of lock keepers again serving this area
of canal at Stoke Bruerne. i.e. Henry Allen, Richard Dyke and George Inns.
I am now jumping a number of miles south along the canal to
the next set of locks appear to be. We have now travelled about 27 miles from
the start of the canal, moving southwards.
We are now in Buckinghamshire, at
Wolverton, at about
29 miles along the canal. And also here is
Bradwell (old and
new), including Stantonbury.
Great Linford at
31 miles is next along the canal, then
at about 35 miles.
Along the canala we pass through Fenny Stratford (now all listed under
Big jump to Ivinghoe, at 51 miles -
Ivinghoe, and Horton.
Then we pass Pitstone,
and a couple of miles further at about 53 miles, is
Marsworth with its
junction with the 'Aylesbury Arm'. There are a number of locks here, as
there are many lock keepers through time.
I list the Marsworth lock keepers in order, to clarify roughly which locks
they operated. This detail is from the census of this period.
In 1851, in Marsworth, is William Jeffery (born Kingston, Surrey in 1811),
then William Filkin (born 1786 in Tring, Hertfordshire), then the Queens
Head. Next is John Barber (born 1782 in Chesham), then Norman Norman (born
1798 in Aylesbury); and finally the Red Lion.
In 1861, in Marsworth, is Samuel Anderton, Toll Collector (born in
Paddington in 1811), then the lock keepers are - Francis Filkin (born
1806, in Tring, Hertfordshire) and William Perkins (born 1817 in Marsworth);
next is the Queens Head, followed by more locks. We have Joseph Newens (born
1817 in Betlow, Hertfordshire), then Charles Readhead (born 1811 in
Bramston, Northamptonshire); followed by the White Lion, an unnamed beer
house, and followed by George Norman (born 1823 in Marsworth); and finally
the Red Lion.
In 1871, in Marsworth, we have Samuel Anderton, Toll Collector (born in
Paddington in 1811), then lock keepers are Francis Cockett (born 1812 in
Ivinghoe, Buckinghamshire), then William Perkins (born in 1825 at Marsworth).
Next is the White Lion, the Queens Head and the Ship, followed by George
Norman (born 1823 in Marsworth); and finally the Duke of Wellington and the
In 1881, in Marsworth, we have Peter Corkett, a Night time Toll clerk (born
1845 in Cheddington, Buckinghamshire), and again Samuel Anderton, Toll
Collector (born in Paddington in 1811). The lock keepers are then as usual,
Robert Rowland (born 1835 in Marsworth), William Perkins (born in 1825 at
Marsworth). We then have four pubs, i.e. the Queens Head, White Lion, Red
Lion and Duke of Wellington, finished off with a lock keeper - George Norman
(born 1823 in Marsworth).
In 1891, in Marsworth, we have William Cockerill (born 1823 in Milton,
Northamptonshire); followed by the Ship, Red Lion, White Lion and
Queens Head. The Stanhope End Lock House is named with William Perkins (born
in 1825 at Marsworth), then Thomas Saunders (born 1853 in Marsworth), and
Peter Corkett is the Night Lock Keeper. Finished off with a beer at the Duke
Finally, in 1901, we have Peter Smith, lock keeper (born in 1867 at
Marsworth), followed by Ship and the Red Lion. Another lock keeper, Henry
Twigg (born in 1862 at Ivinghoe, Buckinghamshire), followed by the White
Lion, Queens Head and the Duke of Wellington.
[What is to come - well, this site covers Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire
- and certainly London already, So the next parts of the Grand Junction
canal route and its link to the local pubs network should speed up]
As the canal wends its way south, we cross the Buckinghamshire border into
At about 55 miles, we find Bulbourne, and
At Akerman Street in 1851, we have James Marcham (born about 1811 in Tring),
and Francis Pipkin (born about 1808, Tring) as the lock keeper and
night lock keeper. In 1861 and 1871, we have William Stratford (born about
1821, in Marsworth) at Long Marston.
Several miles further south, we then touch upon the Dudswell &
Northchurch Locks. Modern Northchurch also appears to be spread amongst
Great berkhampstead . The Bourne End part of Nortchurch is attributed to
Bovingdon. By 64 miles, we are heading though Winkwell, and modern Hemel
At Dudswell in 1851, we have James Dunn (born about 1798 in Berkhamstead).
Then in 1861, we have Charles Talbot as the lock keeper (born about 1825 in
Northchurch). By 1871, we have a Richard Eacrey (looks like, and born in
Coventry about 1817). By 1871, we also have an Edward Hadlam (born about
1810 in Warmington) at the Canal House, near to Bourne End.
At the Cowroast Lock in 1851, we have George Riddley (born about 1810 in
Middlesex). In 1861, we then have Thomas Andrews (born about 1814 in Crick,
Northampton) as the lock keeper - he is also still here in 1871.
As we proceed further south, we hit the area, listed in modern day, as
Hemel Hempstead, in
Hertfordshire. This is yet another area which is confusing. There are locks
at Bourne End (now in Hemel Hempstead, but in 1915 to about 1935 in
Bovingdon); then at
Winkwell, and Boxmoor, Two Waters, Apsley, Nash Mill etc. To add an
additional complexity, I split the pubs in Two Waters and list these under
That sort of describes the area as I understand the history, enjoy.
It looks like Kings Langley
is nearly upon us, at about 68 miles, which includes the areas named as Nash
Mills, Two waters, and the Waterside - we also have
Chipperfield which is
often listed with Kings Langley. Then as we pass Hunton Bridge, we are
Then we are heading for Watford.
In 1871, we have two lock keepers where the canal passes west of Watford at
Cashiobury. They are Edward Edwards (born about 1820 in Tring,
Hertfordshire); and also Charles Norman (born about 1830 in Marsworth,
About a mile further on, we are now passing
Croxley Green on the
other bank of the canal. Croxley Green is listed as part of
iscoming up next along the canal (I think). Lots more work to do on both.
In 1841, we have James Brown (born about 1781 in Hertfordshire), at the lock
near to the White Bear. In 1851, at Batchworth, we have Alfred Morris, the
Lock house keeper (born about 1823 in Fenny Stratford, Buckinghamshire).
Whilst in 1851, at the Common Moor Lock we have Isaac Beasely (born about
1811 in Purton, Wiltshire); and also John Treadwell (born about 1799 in
Thame, Oxfordshire). By 1871, at
Lot Mead Lock House, we have Isaac Beasley at the Lock House (born about
1814 in Purton, Wiltshire). In Batchworth, near to the bear Inn, we also
have Alfred Anderson (born about 1833 in Deptford, Kent).
I have now finally moved into Middlesex, and
Harefield. There is Jacks
Lock, at 78 miles, and also Harefield Marina at 79 miles. This area is on
the borders of the counties.
Next along the canal in
Denham, which is now a quiet place with three pubs; it used to be very
important in the road and canal network, with a huge number of Inns and
taverns (at least twelve). The lock keepers at Denham were :
In 1851, Thomas Collet (born about 1764 in Berkshire); In 1861, a samuel
Barford (born about 1793 in Blisworth, Northampton); in 1871, we have
James Kirby (borna bout 1803 in Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire). In
1881, we no longer have a lock keeper, but an labourer at the lock house,
i.e. Levi Tomkins (born about 1830 in Iver, Buckinghamshire), abd again in
1891 although he is now born in Tring, Hertfordshire in about 1820. By 1901,
John James is at the lock house (born about 1852 at Little Tring,
Next along the canal is Uxbridge,
this may take a week or two to update. The area includes
West Drayton (Yiewsley).
I have moved down the canal a little more to the
Hayes area. I also include
Southall, North Hyde and Norwood in this index. I have added a host of new
(old) pubs to the pages, although there is considerablte detail to add as
yet. Hanwell appears to be
next, and then Brentford ...
As usual, there is lots more to follow - I just need to fill in all of the