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Canals, & Waterways

Thurlwood Steel Lock No 53

The first canal holiday I had was for 2 weeks with three friends, being our first trip we didn't know what to expect of the boat, but it was very basic .  It was so long ago that I don't remember most of the details.  The boat was hired from Deans Pleasure Boats, Christleton on the Shropshire Union Canal.  We were given very basic instructions and off we went to tackle our very first locks, the Iron and Stone Locks at Beeston.

My very first hire boats. Smile

Beeston Castle Wharf Cheshire

We were a crew of 4 lads out to have a good time and so our schedule was very tight, this we realized on hindsight but it didn't stop us enjoying ourselves.  We first went to Llangollen then carried on along the Shropshire Union Canal to the Gas Street Basin in Birmingham.  We then caught the train to London spent a few hours there and then back in the same day, or should I say night.  We returned using the Trent and Mersey Canal.  My first canal holiday and I had crossed the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, been through the Harecastle Tunnel and dropped down in the Thurlwood Steel Lock.


There were once twin locks at Thurlwood, but one had collapsed and so in 1957 British Waterways hit on the idea of building a prefabricated steel tank lock with guillotine gates. This unusual structure was built supposedly to be able to accommodate subsidence due to salt extraction in the area.  It was in practice slower than the conventional lock it was meant to replace, and the remaining adjacent conventional twin lock was notoriously unreliable.


Unfortunately, the new lock took longer to fill than the original lock next to it, and it was more complicated to use and unreliable so it wasn't used very much.

Subsequently the ground stabilized again, and the steel lock was taken out of use, and as can be seen from these pictures the lock was just left to rust and get overgrown.   These pictures were taken by me on one of my bike rides around the area; you can see the handlebars of my bike bottom right of the picture just above

I have crossed the aqueduct and been through the tunnel a number of times since, but the Thurlwood Steel Lock has long gone.



It lay disused for many years in the category 'not worth saving' and was finally cut up for scrap in 1988.


These last two pictures taken on 30th April 2007 are courtesy of John Barratt of the Boats and Canals Forum.  This is the former site and entry of the lock. 


Published 18/04/2007