What can I expect when visiting Bratch Locks?
Start from the car park, exit and turn left then walk along Bratch Lane, you will then see the locks on the right behind the white cast iron fencing.
Enter through the gate and head down the lock under the bridge that carries Bratch Lane. Here you can see the original bridge that carried the lane before it was widened to the south in the 19th century.
Notice the steps and arch used by boaters when navigating the locks, talk about narrow!
Head back up the locks where you will see the octagonal toll house on the right.
Notice the strip of cast iron running on top of the lock wall, there to prevent ropes of wearing out the brick when horses would have been used to tow narrowboats.
Head past the tollhouse where you will see the top lock and the lock keeper’s cottage.
Notice the overflow channel at before the top lock, which flows down to a pond on the side.
How long does it take to see Bratch Locks?
It will take you around 15 minutes to see Bratch Locks so it’s worth extending your visit by walking along the canal or you can drop into the Railway Café, which occupies the former Wombourne Railway station on the disused Wombourne branch line. It’s a 5-minute walk from the locks and you have the opportunity to see The Bratch Pumping Station on the way.
Is Bratch Locks suitable for a picnic?
There is a picnic bench in between the car park and canal that offers a superb place to enjoy lunch.
How do I get to Bratch Locks?
There is a small car park next to the locks that is free, please note the opening hours. The nearest bus stop is on Bull Meadow Lane at the end of Bratch Lane.
History of Bratch Locks
1766 – A group of businessmen, mainly from Wolverhampton, led by James Perry promoted a bill to construct a canal from the proposed Trent & Mersey line at Great Haywood, Staffordshire to the River Severn . The canal is named the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal.
1770 – By November, the canal is reported to be completed and fully navigable between Compton (outside Wolverhampton) and the River Severn; therefore, the Bratch Locks would have been completed by this date .
1772 – The entire Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal is opened .
1800 – The tollhouse is constructed .
1867 – Thomas Toy, a boatman in the employ of Messrs. Crowley and Co. was fined 1s and costs for wasting water and placing a boat in Bratch Locks that was in danger of sinking despite warning from an employee of the canal company .
1948 – The UK’s transport infrastructure is nationalised, and control of the locks is passed to the newly formed British Transport Commission, that also become responsible for all inland waterways .
1963 – The British Transport Commission (BTC) is abolished, and control of the locks passes again to British Waterways, a statutory corporation wholly owned by the government that take ownership of all inland waterways .
1987 – Bratch Locks are listed as a Grade II structure .
2012 – The Canal & River Trust is formed and take control of all inland waterways in England and Wales from British Waterways  including Bratch Locks.
2019 – An unexploded bomb from World War Two was discovered by a member of the public in Bratch Locks. The ordnance was moved to a nearby quarry where a controlled explosion was carried out .
Bratch Locks consists of three locks and two bridges that use red and blue brick. The two-storey octagonal tollhouse attached to bridge number 48 has doors at the level of both the middle and upper locks; semi-circular arched panels to each face at first-floor level with most containing fixed light glazing bar windows .
- (1766) Aris’s Birmingham Gazette, 20 January.
- Staffordshire & Worcester Canal Company (1770) Committee Minute Book, 6 November.
- Staffordshire & Worcester Canal Company (1772) Committee Minute Book, 28 May.
- (1868) ‘Wasting Canal Water’, Wolverhampton Chronicle and Staffordshire Advertiser, 15 January, p, 4.
- Transport Act 1947, c. 49. Available at: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/Geo6/10-11/49/enacted (Accessed: 25 October 2021).
- Transport Act 1962, c. 46. Available at: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/Eliz2/10-11/46/part/I/crossheading/the-british-waterways-board (Accessed: 25 October 2021).
- Historic England (2020) Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal Bratch Locks, Bridge Number 47 (Bratch Bridge) Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal Upper Bratch Bridge and Associated Toll House. Available at: https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1232421 (Accessed: 25 October 2021).
- Canal & River Trust (2020) About us. Available at: https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/about-us (Accessed: 25 October 2021).
- (2019) ‘Unexploded WW2 bomb found in Wombourne canal’, BBC. Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-stoke-staffordshire-46878234 (Accessed: 25 October 2021).