Today I set myself the challenge of identifying all the lockkeepers on the Kennet and Avon Canal in the 1911 Census. I plan to go on to to find out whether any of them were affected by the Great War, three years later. Today’s goal was to list all the locks and add as many names as possible, (without being too distracted by their stories!) Most of the lockkeepers at this time were employed by the Great Western Railway, but some were employed by the Canal Company. This is what I found today. I will add updates to this list if I find any more.
Hanham Lock, Keynsham (lock 1)
Edmund Watson age 67 lived at Lockkeeper’s Cottage, Hanham Lock. Edmund was born in Wraxall. He was a widower and lived with his unmarried daughter Ellen Watson, age 27, who was born in Semington. The cottage still exists.
Keynsham Lock (lock 2)
This lock is close to the Lockkeeper pub, formerly the White Hart pub (1886). The lockkeeper here was most likely to be John White, age 53, who lived at Londonderry Cottage, Riverside, Willsbridge, with his wife, Sarah, age 53, their daughter Gertie, age 15, and George Smart, age 2, who was probably a grandson. It is unlikely that there was ever a specific lock cottage here. There are a few smaller buildings near the White Hart, but no lock cottage is marked in the 1886 OS map.
Swineford Lock (lock 3)
Despite a thorough search of the census, I can find no lock cottage or lock keeper here, and there was no building here on the OS map in 1886. The lock is near the Swan Inn, previously (in 1886) the Old Bath Barge Inn.
Saltford Lock, north of Saltford (lock 4)
Despite a thorough search of the census, I can find no lock cottage or lock keeper here. The Jolly Sailor is a former Mill House for a paper mill, and was converted into a pub before 1886. In the 1886 OS map there are some smaller buildings nearby, but these are not marked in any way.
Kelston Lock, Saltford (lock 5)
There is no lock cottage at Kelston Lock on the 1886 map. Frank Curtis age 43 and his wife Eliza Curtis age 35 lived at Saltford. Frank was a lockkeeper on the Kennet and Avon Canal, employed by the GWR. No further address details are given in the census, but the closest properties to his house are near to Kelston Lock. He was born in Bruton and Eliza in Bridgwater. They had been maried two years and had no children from that marriage. They lived with Frank’s son from his previous marriage, William John Curtis, age 17, who was employed by the Great Western Railway as a Clerk.
Daniel Roach, age 56, was a lockkeeper on the River Avon. He lived at 1 Mill Cottage, Saltford. Mill Cottages are in The Shallows near Kelston Lock. Daniel was born in Burnet, Somerset. He was single and lived alone.
Eli Verrier, age 68, was also a lockkeeper on the River Avon. He was a lodger with Arthur and Alice Densley at 3 Maud Buildings, Saltford. He was born in Lyng, Somerset, and was a widower (his wife was Anna and they’d had a son George). Maud Buildings were a long way up the High Street, a long walk from Kelston Lock, but it is still the nearest lock.
Weston Lock, Bath (lock 6, on the Weston Cut)
The Lock House at Weston is quite a substantial house, bigger than a usual lockkeeper’s cottage, beside the Lock, on Brassmill Lane. On the opposite side of the lock between the canal and the River Avon, was a large woollen mill (the site is now occupied by First). In 1911 and for more than 20 years previous, the Lock House was occupied by James Mitchell, age 63, a canal inspector, agent and clerk, and his wife Elizabeth, age 59. His son Charles was a canal labourer. Either James or Charles may have been the lockkeeper, but the census does not confirm this. There was also a house listed in the census as Lock Cottage. This was occupied by Edward John Coward, a railway porter.
Widcombe Lock (lock 7, also known as Bottom Lock or Lower Lock)
There are a row of cottages called “Lock Cottages” here, but none of the residents are lock keepers.
Bath Deep Lock (created in 1976 by merging Chapel Lock (lock 8) and Bridge Lock (lock 9)
Wash House Lock, Widcombe (lock 10)
Abbey View Lock (lock 11, called “Rasamar Lock” on the 1886 map)
Pulteney Lock (lock 12, called “Second Lock” on the 1886 map)
Bath Top Lock (lock 13)
David Mizen age 56 and his wife Sarah Lavinia Mizen age 56 lived at Bathwick Lock Cottage beside the top lock, and had done so for over 20 years. He was employed by the GWR. David was born in South Wraxall, and Sarah in Seend. They had been married 29 years and had no children from that marriage. No family were living with them.
At Dundas just to the east of the aqueduct there are a pair of canal cottages which also existed on the 1886 map. Although this cannot be specifically identified in the 1911 census, this may have been the home of canal labourer Frank Blick. He was 49, and he and his wife Sarah had 8 children. It appears likely that this same cottage was occupied by Emanuel Mizen ten years before.
At Murhill there is a cottage beside the canal by the old stop gates. These could be closed to retain water when, as often happened, a breach opened and drained part of the canal. This house cannot be uniquely identified in the census, but may have been occupied by 35 year old Henry George Kettlety, known as George, and his wife Edith Mary nee Lewis, his son, daughter and niece. He was employed by the GWR as a canal labourer.
Bradford Lock, Bradford on Avon
I have not found a 1911 lock keeper in Bradford on Avon. The former lock keeper, William Dyke age 75, was living a short walk from the canal, at 27 Frome Road. He was living at 18 Frome Road when he was a lockkeeper in 1891, and a canal porter in 1901.
In an 1886 map there is a house by the north bank of the canal east of Bradford on Avon, where John Rennie Close has been built. This is just to the west of the Beehive pub (formerly the New Inn). This may have been a lengthman’s cottage. The house is no longer there.
Buckley’s Lock (lock 15, also known as Semington Bottom Lock)
Edwin Brown age 63, and his wife Rosanna age 64 lived at Semington Lock House. Edwin was born in Market Lavington, and Rosina in Westbrook. They had been married 37 years and had two children. Living with them in 1911 was their granddaughter, Rosina Lye, age 5, who was born in Semington. You can read more about Semington Lock House here.
Barrett’s Lock (lock 16, also known as Semington Top Lock)
Seend Bottom Lock (lock 17)
Seend Perry’s Lane Lock (lock 18)
Just before the Barge Inn, a very short walk from Perry’s Lane lock is a lockkeeper’s house. The lock keeper here in 1911 was James Perry, age 64. He had been married to his wife, Eliza Ann, for 41 years. They had four children, one of whom had died. One son was still living with his parents: Arthur George, age 21. Also with them were two grandsons, Algernon Candy and Wilfred Gingell. The whole family were born in Seend. James Perry was employed by the Kennet and Avon Canal Company.
Seend New Buildings Lock (lock 19)
Seend Silver Lock (lock 20)
Seend Top Lock (lock 21)
Henry Buckley age 36 and his wife Emily age 37 lived at the Lock House, by Seend top lock, a stone cottage with a tiled roof, now extended. Henry was born in Devizes, and Emily in Warminster. They had been married for 12 years, and had five children, of whom one had died. The four remaining children who all lived at the Lock House were William, age 11, born in Devizes, George, age 7, born in Devizes, Sidney, age 5, born in Seend, and Hilda, age 2, born in Seend.
Caen Hill (locks 22 to 44)
Gilbert Jerden Crouch, age 20, was the lock keeper at Foxhangers, at the bottom of the Caen Hill Flight. He was born in Rowde. He lived at Lower Foxhangers, probably in Lower Foxhangers Cottage, although this is not named in the census. He lived with his widowed mother, Sarah, and his siblings, Elsie, age 25, Walter, age 22, a baker, Herbert, age 18, was a carter, and Ernest, age 12, who was still at school. Gilbert was employed by the Great Western Railway. During the Great War he served in the Prince of Wales’s Volunteers (South Lancashire) Regiment, Regimental Number 65686. He survived the war. Lower Foxhangers Cottage was on the left just above lock 22. It no longer exists and the site is wooded over.
Upper Foxhangers Cottages are on the left going up Caen Hill, at Lock 26. These are not mentioned by name in the census and no other canal employees are mentioned on this lower part of the Caen Hill flight.
There were small wooden lockkeepers’ huts, with a tiled roof and a chimney, beside locks 29 and 43, but these fell into disrepair and were demolished many years ago. Caen Hill Locks Tea Room and the Caen Hill moorings lie between locks 44 and 45.
Sir Hugh Stockwell Lock (lock 44, the top of the flight)
A P Herbert Lock (lock 46)
Manifold Lock (lock 47)
Trust Lock (lock 48)
Maton Lock (lock 49, near St Peter’s Church)
Several large private houses, including Parkdale, overlook the canal by Maton Lock, but there is no lockkeeper’s house.
Devizes Top Lock (lock 50, just above Northgate Street Bridge)
At the top of the Caen Hill flight, the lockkeeper was John Barnes, age 55, who was born in Great Cheverell. He lived at 4 Wharf Street, in a terrace of cottages behind the wharf, now demolished. He was employed by the Great Western Railway. His wife, Sarah Ann, was 50 and was born in Devizes. Their niece, 14 year old Elsie Hobbs, was staying with them.
Wootton Rivers Lock (lock 51, the bottom of a flight of four locks)
Heathy Close Lock (lock 52)
Brimslade Lock (lock 53)
Henry Merrett age 58, and his wife Miriam, age 60, lived at Brimslade Lock House. They were both born in All Cannings, had been married 7 years and had no children from that marriage. No family were living with them.
Wootton Top Lock, previously known as Cadley Lock (lock 54)
Crofton Top Lock (lock 55 – the top lock of the Crofton Flight, locks 55 to 63)
Wolfhall Lock (lock 56)
Wolfhall Lock House was occupied by Frank Rudman, a farm labourer, and his faily. A lock keeper is not mentioned.
Adopters Lock (lock 57)
Sam Farmer Lock (lock 58)
Freewarren Lock (lock 59)
Crofton Pumping Station Lock (lock 60)
Albert Wild and his wife Ann, both age 59, lived at the Lock House, Crofton, Great Bedwyn. They were both born in Little Bedwyn, and had been married 31 years. They had 9 children of whom two had died. Two sons were still living at home, Ernest age 19 and Albert age 16. They were both farm labourers. Cecil, age 2, perhaps a grandson, also lived with them.
Crofton Bottom Lock (lock 61)
Unnamed Lock (lock 62)
Beech Grove Lock (lock 63)
Great Bedwyn Church Lock (lock 64)
Burnt Mill Lock (lock 65)
Potters Lock (lock 66)
Little Bedwyn Lock (lock 67)
Oakhill Down Lock (lock 68)
Froxfield Middle Lock (lock 69)
Froxfield Bottom Lock (lock 70)
Percival John Lovelock, age 22, single, was the lock keeper, living at the Lock House at Froxfield. He lived with his two brothers, Leslie William age 15, who asisted his brother as a lockkeeper, and Frederick Charles, age 10, who was at school. All three were born in Great Bedwyn.
Picketfield Lock (lock 71)
Cobbler’s Lock (lock 72)
Hungerford Marsh Lock (lock 73)
Hungerford Lock (lock 74)
Eli Wild, age 65, was the lock keeper at Hungerford Lock. He was a widower, and was born in Hungerford. He lived at the Lock House.
Dunn Mill Lock (lock 75)
Wire Lock (lock 76)
Brunsdon’s Lock (lock 77)
Kintbury Lock (lock 78)
The lockkeeper at Kintbury was Walter Newman. He was 33 and was born in Poulshot. He was married to Mary Annie Newman who was 28 and was born in Bremhill. They had three children: Daniel Walter James Newman, age 6, Emily Lilian May, age 4, and Annie Florence Louise age 1. They lived at the Lock Cottage.
Dreweats Lock (lock 79)
Copse Lock (lock 80)
Hamstead Lock, Hamstead Marshall (lock 81)
John Henry Salter age 64, a widower. He was born in Kington St Michael. He was a widower. Living with him and keeping house, was his unmarried daughter Ada, age 26, who was born in Marsh Benham, Speen.
Benham Lock (lock 82)
Higg’s Lock (lock 83)
Guyer’s Lock (lock 84)
Newbury Lock (lock 85)
The lockkeeper at Newbury was John Ferris, age 58, who was born in Rowde. He was married to Eliza, age 56, who was born in Farmborough, Somerset. They had been married 36 years and had 12 children, of whom two had died. In 1911 they had five children living at home with them. Annie Louise was 31 and helped at home, Richard Alfred was 19 and was master of a barge. Walter Henry, age 15, and Stanley James, age 14, were barge mates. Rupert, age 12, was still at school. Also living at home were two grandchildren, Annie Ferris, age 11 and Maud Ferris, age 4.
I first hired a narrowboat with two school friends in 1978, and I have loved canals ever since. I live in Royal Wootton Bassett, and I am a professional genealogist, building family trees, and conducting WW1 research. I am also an expert on the history of teasmades.