Caen Hill LocksDevizes Category For the Family, For the Kids, For Adults
An impressive flight to locks that can be easily photographed.
Caen Hill Locks on the Kennet and Avon Canal at Devizes is a flight of 29 locks, 16 of which form an impressively steep flight in a straight line up the hillside. Normally you would find water pours between locks in a flight, but here the gradient is too step and they have an unusual method to deal with the water storage needs, in that they have a whole series of ponds formed with embankments next to the canal, one pond per level.
The 29 locks have a rise of 237 feet (72m) over 2 miles (3.2km). The locks are in three groups, 7 lower ones spread over 1.2km, 16 locks in a single flight, and 6 more to take the canal into Devizes.
This was the last section of the 87 mile long Kennet and Avon Canal to be completed, before these were in place there was a tram road link, some remains of which can be seen in the tow path. Between 1829-42 they were lit by gas lights at night, useful as it took 5 to 6 hours to get through all these locks.
After the developments of the railways canals started to lose traffic, and this canal was bought by a railway company who raised fees sufficiently to drive over most of the remaining traffic to the railway. The canal fell into disuse, although sections were used for fishing. From the 1960's restoration has been going on and by the mid 80's the canals were open again, being officially reopened by the Queen in 1990. Water supply problems became a problem as the canal became more popular. In 1996 a new pump was added that could back pump 32 million litres of water a day from the bottom to the top of the flight, the equivalent of a lock full in 11 minutes