Sunday, 30 June 2013
The Itchen Navigation - another disused system
Having reported in an earlier post on the Somerset Coal Canal, Sarah and I recently explored part of the long disused Itchen Navigation while visiting our son and his girlfriend in Winchester. This was a 10.4 mile long navigation that ran from Winchester to Southampton. Originally authorised by Act of Parliament in 1665, it wasn't completed until 1710. It had a total of 17 locks (15 full locks and two single gate locks) and was fed by the River Itchen, which ran parallel to it. In the early years of the 19th century it was carrying over 18,000 tons per year. It ceased to operate as a commercial waterway in 1869 after succumbing to competition from the Winchester to Southampton Railway. Unlike the Somerset Coal Canal, it still has water flowing in it, but all the lock gates have long since disappeared and have essentially become weirs. The old towpath now makes for a delightful footpath. The first photograph shows the upstream entrance to the old lock at Compton, near Twyford, and the second shows the view upstream from almost the same location.