Posted by: sandvika
N 51° 45.360 W 001° 16.154
30U E 619458 N 5735317
Quick Description: Isis Lock is the southernmost lock on the Oxford Canal, linking the canal to the River Thames.
Location: United Kingdom
Date Posted: 8/18/2007 1:32:53 PM
Waymark Code: WM212D
The Oxford Canal was constructed over a period of more than twenty years. Authorised by Act of Parliament in 1769, it was the first waterway link between the industrial English Midlands to London via the River Thames.
Construction commenced at the northern end, near Coventry, supervised by the famous engineer James Brindley. When Brindley died in 1772, his brother-in-law, Samuel Simcock took over and completed the canal. By 1774 the canal had reached Napton, but, as today, major engineering projects run over budget and the canal company was already running out of money. This resulted in a second Act of Parliament to permit further funding to be raised, contruction resumed and the canal reached Banbury in 1778.
Further financial problems followed, so work on the final stretch to Oxford did not begin until 1786. It was built as cheaply as possible, comprising extensive use of wooden lift bridges rather than fixed brick bridges, deep locks with single gates at each end. Even a stretch of the River Cherwell was incorporated into the canal, a false economy which renders the canal impassable at times when the river is in spate.
The final section into central Oxford was formally opened on 1 January 1790. The link from the Oxford Canal to the River Thames, known as "The Duke's Cut" was built in 1789 by the Duke or Marlborough.
The Isis Lock, linking the canal to the river, was the last addition to the canal, completed in 1796, giving the Canal company its own independent access to the River Thames.
The drop on the lock is variable, depending on the level of the water in the Sheepwash Channel of the Thames. The lock, known as 'Louse Lock' to boatmen, is officially called Isis Lock, referring to the alterative name given to the River Thames through Oxford. It was argued by some that the River Thames did not commence until the joining of its River Thame tributary, at Dorchester, below Oxford.
Although the canal was already a commercial success by 1796, the Isis Lock also exhibits the cheaper construction method and has single gates at each end, there being a curved side to the inside bottom end of the lock opposite to the hinge to accommodate the bottom lock gate. It also means that the lock is 77 feet long, in order to accommodate 70 foot narrow boats whilst ensuring clearance fof the bottom gate. Though this method is wasteful of water, water supply is scarcely an issue on this stretch of the canal, below its shared course with the river Cherwell.
Until the completion of the Grand Union Canal, the Oxford Canal became one of the most important and profitable transport links in Britain, with most commercial traffic between London and the Midlands using the route.
Waterway Name: Oxford Canal
Grand Union Canal
Date Opened: 01/01/1796
Elevation Difference (meters): 1.00
Site Status: Operational
Date Closed (if applicable): Not listed
Web Site: Not listed
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