Over Lock … Getting Connected

Getting connected … Over Basin and the H&G to the River Severn and Beyond.

As part of our plans for work at Over Basin, there has been a proposal for a project to reconnect our canal to the main waterways network. At the October meeting of the Trustees, they authorised the creation of a sub-committee to manage the project and undertake negotiations with key organisations on behalf of the Trust.

The first part of the project will be to reconstruct the lock at Over. Very little is known about the 19th-century lock at Over. David Bick’s book has only one sentence about this key element of the canal and that is to suggest that the lock was 30 ft deep. Other sources such as the book “Rowing Holiday by Canal in 1873” also mentions a depth of 30 ft.

If we were to build such a lock now, it would be the deepest lock on the canal system, beating the current deepest lock, Tuel Lane on the Rochdale, by a whopping 10 feet! However, other sources suggest that the lock was actually 13 ft deep.

Our current idea is to replace the existing Bailey bridge at Over with a traditional canal hump back bridge capable of taking machinery to maintain and extend the canal beyond Vineyard Hill.
This is consistent with the historic bridges on the canal, which are all made of stone. The lock beneath the bridge would be capable of seeing full-size narrow boats (70 ft) pass from the Severn into Over basin.

Given the very large variation in river levels, we intend to build two floating pontoons between the lock and the river which will rise and fall with the river levels. We will need to build the lock to such a height that boats will be able to transfer through the lock for 2 hours either side of high tide at summer river levels. The window for use of the lock will be larger during the rest of the year as the river levels increase.

The pontoons will also provide a safe haven for boats transiting the tidal Severn where river conditions can be unpredictable.

We need to undertake a detailed engineering to decide the exact depth of the lock and determine whether we will, in fact, be challenging Tuel Lane for the record.

We will do as much as we can using our band of volunteers, but inevitably the ground works and installation of the pontoons and their supporting pillars may well need a professional team and will not be cheap. We plan to make bids for funds from various agencies, but generally they look to help those who help themselves, so it is important that we raise as much money as possible to support our project in order to take advantage of match funding.

The lock closed to traffic in 1881, and with over 150 years passing since boats passed from the Severn onto the canal at Over, we firmly believe that with our concentrated efforts that we can ensure that phase of its history does not reach 160.

Hopefully getting boats back onto the canal from the main system will provide a major push to enable all the existing restored bits to be joined together.

To volunteer to be part of this significant project, please get in touch.

In the first instance, email Roger Morgan at over-link@h-g-canal.org.uk.

Should you wish to make a financial contribution to help get the project off the ground, that would be great.

You can do so via a BACS transfer marking your donation to be for the Over Link Project – see our Ways to Donate page for more details.

Thank you.