These look similar to old stop locks – a narrowing to just over boat size – but you won’t see any sign of gates. They are where toll-keepers ‘gauged’ boats i.e. measured how low in the water they were, and calculated the weight of cargo (using a book with a table of weight against depth for every boat) and therefore the toll. Common on the BCN (often in the form of an island with space for a boat each side, as per our picture), they can be seen elsewhere – for example Stretton Stop on the Oxford.
These are just 20 of the many sometimes quirky examples of surviving canal heritage. There are many more – feel free to send us any pictures you have of your favourites. Our favourites include the old-fashioned railway-style semaphore signals on the River Weaver locks, and a sign marking an award-winning piece of pile-driving on the southern Grand Union Canal. Happy heritage-spotting.