Registered Charity No. 702429


Recording of a canalside feature adjacent to Lock 24 on the Lichfield Canal
compiled by Martin Cook BA MIFA
19th December 2000

1. Introduction
Recording of a canalside feature adjacent to Lock 24 on the Lichfield Canal (Fig.1) was undertaken at the request of Mr John Horton (Project Engineer Lichfield Canal). The canal is being restored by the Lichfield and Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust Ltd in partnership with Lichfield District Council and Lichfield City Council, with the assistance of the Waterway Recovery Group.

Fig.1 Location of site

2. Aims
The recording is intended to preserve by record a feature of the canal that, it is anticipated, will have no functional role to play in the restored canal.

3. Methods
The fieldwork

The fieldwork took place on the 7th December 2000. The feature had already been substantially uncovered and it was cleaned, brushed and photographed with a suitable scale.

4. Documentary Evidence
The feature is shown on the tithe map of Lichfield of 1863 (Fig.2). This is drawn at too small a scale to show detail but, on the southern side of the canal, it depicts what appears to be a circular feature at the western end (head) of Lock 24 with an attached rectangular feature to the east. At the eastern (tail) end of the lock is a small rectangular building.

Fig.2 Extract from the tithe map of Lichfield of 1863

5. Description and interpretation of the feature
The feature comprises a brick structure describing a quarter circle (Fig.3), giving access to a cill (Fig.4). The cill was clearly intended to be set at the optimum canal water level and, if this was exceeded, permitted the discharge of water to a brick-lined apron in front of a brick-arched culvert. This culvert led the water to the bottom of the lock and discharged it to the pound below. The small rectangular building shown on the map of 1863 survives as a low mound, still covered with vegetation.

Weirs and culverts were described in Rees Cyclopaedia in 1819:
  "Weirs must be provided for letting off the superfluous water of a canal in wet times, for keeping the water to one certain height, or drawing it off in case any repairs may be wanting. For letting a proper quantity of the surplus water of a canal forwards into the ponds below, a small weir is generally constructed in the walls at the head of each lock, which lets water down into the paddle holes or crooked arches that convey the water for filling the locks and hence such are called paddle-weirs or lock-weirs" (Farley 1819).

The feature is a weir of the kind described by Farley. The nature and function of the small rectangular building remains unknown.

Fig.3 View of the head of the by-weir looking south-east
Fig.4 Detail of the weir cill, apron and culvert

6. Conclusion
The weir and its culvert is an interesting original feature of the canal. Features of this kind were once very common on many canals but are rapidly disappearing as low maintenance alternatives take their place. A recent survey of the Tame Valley Canal identified a single surviving brick weir and culvert along its whole length.

In the immediate vicinity of this weir are a number of other canalside features which survive in whole or in part. These are Lock 24 itself, the small rectangular building referred to above, a wharf, a cottage and the footings of Cricket Lane Bridge. These may be considered to form a group of features which throw light on the original disposition and functioning of the canal.

7. The archive
The archive consists of:
  1 black and white print film
  1 colour print film

8. Bibliography
Farley, J. 1819 Canals in Rees, A. Cyclopaedia

9. Acknowledgments
The author would like to thank Mr and Mrs Horton for their assistance in the completion of this project.

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