A lock by any other name, but which?
JUST RECENTLY, WE were on a trip around the Northern BCN when we came upon a stoppage notice that mentioned Saltley Locks on the Birmingham & Warwick Junction Canal.
In the years that I’ve been boating (35 plus) I have always believed that they were called Garrison Locks and that they were on the Grand Union Canal. My current Nicholson’s Guide (published 2014) refers to them thus, but my older Nicholson’s (published 1995) still refers to Garrison Locks, but this time they are on the Birmingham & Warwick Junction Canal.
I assume that the Canal & River Trust is responsible for the naming of the components of the canal system, but are we to revert to the original names from when the actual waterway was built or stick with the names they ended up with when it was run by British Waterways?
I think we should be told what the official designation of each canal is so that we don’t get confused by new/old alternative names. late 1920s / early 1930s, and it was known to working boat people as the Saltley Cut.
As for the locks, I’ve heard them referred to as Garrison more often than Saltley, and personally I’d use Garrison.
I’m not sure there’s a ‘bible’ that can be trusted as a reference. Bradshaw’s Canals & Navigable Rivers (1904) gives some idea of what was used during the canals’ working life, but I suspect that, at times, he made things up (particularly lock numbers). Also several canals changed names as a result of amalgamations and takeovers. And anyway, there were often official company names which were different from those used by the working boat community. I’ve seen a list of GU locks with two or three names for each one.
I don’t see any great need for an official set of standard names – to me, part of the charm of the waterways is its complicated history, its lack of standardisation, and its general quirkiness. And if a discussion about the correct name leads to a lesson in waterways heritage, that’s a good thing.
Do beware of the perils of using the term ‘Llangollen Canal’, though. Every time you call it anything other than ‘Ellesmere Canal’, you’re directly contravening the 1793 Act of Parliament. And I’ve seen a letter to a magazine suggesting that BWB (it was a few years back) should be “reminded of its duty to obey the law of the land”. Yes, really!”