What can I expect when visiting Hatton Locks?
You can start your visit at any point of the flight of locks. For this guide, we started at the car park on Canal Road. Head onto the bridge that carries the road over the canal for the first of many views of the lock flight.
You will also spot the original narrowboat locks next to their modern counterparts. The original locks are now used as weirs, some function as mooring spots.
As we walk up the flight to the top lock, we stop to inspect the gigantic paddle gears, protruding from either side of the mitre lock gates. These gears, control the flow of water to and from their respective lock chamber.
A closer look at the paddle gears reveals their manufacturer’s mark ‘Ham Baker & Co Ltd of Westminster SW’.
On the way, we spot a preserved piling boat. Originally, the boat had a wooden rig with a winch drum and a small engine that powered a hammer used to drive piles into the banks of the canal. This procedure was a crucial part of maintaining the canal banks to minimise erosion and prevent subsidence.
We reach the top lock and its keeper’s cottage, which is now a Grade II listed building.
We shall now head down the flight of locks to the bottom. As we approach the Canal Road bridge, we see what was a sawmill, now used by the Canal & River Trust.
Cross over the bridge and continue down the flight where you will see the old boatyard.
Some of the lock gate beams are made out of iron, such as lock 41.
As you descend further, you will notice some locks with curved concrete twin staircases, a defining characteristic of the Hatton flight. Here is an example on lock 38. Concrete is a reoccurring material due to the era that these locks were constructed in.
Some of the original narrowboat locks have been covered with concrete slabs, this would have been required to ensure boatmen could access the modern paddle gears and lock gates.
You can see the original lock gate recess and hinges, plus the paddle flow exit.
Another keeper’s cottage stands near the halfway point of the flight at lock 34.
Some locks still contain their original narrowboat stairs, such as this example at lock 35.
Can you spot the manufacturer’s mark in the bricks of the original lock 33? Here are two examples from George Wood of the Albion Brickworks in West Bromwich on the left and another on the right when the company merged with J. W. Ivery to become Wood & Ivery in 1872.
Here’s an example of bricks made by Sadler Bros of Oldbury.
You may spot sluices in the overflow channels, such as this example after lock 29.
Some of the concrete lock stairs contain cast iron tread covers, manufactured by Bowes, Scott & Western Ltd of Westminster.
At the bottom lock, you will see the final keeper’s cottage on the flight.
You have the option to continue your journey along the canal into Warwick, or you can walk back up the flight for a different view of its engineering might.
How long does it take to see Hatton Locks?
It will take you around 2 hours to walk a return journey from the top to bottom lock.
What facilities are located at Hatton Locks?
The Hatton Locks Café is located by the top lock. There is seating indoors and outside. The café also has public toilets.
Is Hatton Locks suitable for a picnic?
There are picnic benches located near the car park on Canal Road towards the top lock.
How do I get to Hatton Locks?
The bottom lock is a mile by foot from Warwick town centre, which receives many bus services from the surrounding settlements.
Warwick Parkway railway station is conveniently located opposite the bottom lock.
If you are travelling by car, you have a choice of two pay and display car parks. The car park on Old Budbrooke Road will land you at the bottom lock. The car park on Canal Road will land you near the top lock.
History of Hatton Locks
1793 – An Act of Parliament authorises the construction of the Warwick & Birmingham Canal. The route starts from the Digbeth Branch and requires 21 locks at Hatton to drop the canal, which originally terminated at Saltisford Wharf, just outside of Warwick town centre.
1796 – The number of employed men on the construction of the canal had to be reduced whilst arrears were chased.
1798 – Concerns over the money required to finish the canal were eased with the issue of new shares and loans under the new target to open the Warwick & Birmingham Canal simultaneously with the Warwick & Napton branch, which would link the former with the Oxford Canal.
1800 – Both canals including the Hatton Locks open for trade.
1839 – The Warwick & Birmingham Canal Company pays its highest dividend of 18% in the same year that the London & Birmingham Railway opens. Seven years later, the dividend drops to 3% highlighting just how much competition the canals faced from the growing railway network.
1925 – The Grand Junction and Regents Canal companies start discussing the proposal of merging and amalgamating other lines between Birmingham and London to create one unified route amidst years of declining tolls. A special committee to consider a purchase or merge with the Warwick & Birmingham Canal.
1926 – The Grand Junction agreed to purchase the Warwick & Birmingham Canal for £62,258 (£4.05 million in 2021) providing it was carried out by the Regents Canal Company.
1929 – The Warwick & Birmingham Canal including the Hatton Locks become part of the Grand Union Canal. The new company intended to encourage the use of 12 ft 6 in wide barges and so a plan on widening the canal including its locks was proposed.
1934 – The Hatton Locks are converted into weirs and a new wider flight is constructed adjacent to their original counterparts .
1948 – The UK’s transport infrastructure is nationalised, and control of the canal and locks is passed to the newly formed British Transport Commission, who also become responsible for all inland waterways .
1963 – The British Transport Commission (BTC) is abolished, and control of the canal and locks passes again to British Waterways, a statutory corporation wholly owned by the government that took ownership of all inland waterways .
1987 – The top lock keeper’s cottage is first designated as a listed structure .
1992 – The keeper’s cottage at lock 34 is first designated as a listed structure .
2012 – The Canal & River Trust is formed and take control of all inland waterways in England and Wales from British Waterways .
How many locks are on the Hatton flight?
Hatton Locks consists of 21 locks.
How long is Hatton Locks?
Hatton locks covers a distance of 2 miles (3.25 km).
How long does it take for a narrowboat to pass through Hatton Locks?
We spoke to a boater. They said it took them between 4 and 6 hours to pass through Hatton Locks depending on traffic. Less experienced boaters naturally, would take longer.