Eerie goings-on at Claydon Top
AT THE END of the 70s, the old workshops at Claydon Top Lock on the southern Oxford canal were falling into rack and ruin, which presented me with an opportunity to start a woodworking business. My builder brother-inlaw, Roger, had offered to help out and we stayed on a boat moored up beside the workshops.
One evening, I found Roger looking very shaky, and jokingly said: ‘You look like you’ve seen a ghost!’ His reply took me aback. “I think I just have.” Roger said he saw a man in what he described as old-fashioned trousers and just a short-sleeved shirt.
A week or two later, I was in the galley when I heard a splash outside. I raced to the cockpit and there was Roger’s head disappearing under the water. Grabbing the bow line, I managed to drag him out. He had fallen in just above the top gate where the water is deep.
Having changed into dry clothes, he thawed out in front of the fire, and I asked him how he had managed to fall in. “I didn’t fall in. I was pushed!” he stated.
Time passed and one day, a young woman friend, who was something of an artist, set up her easel at the Top Lock. She produced a beautiful rendition of the lock and workshops but for some reason, she included a man, up to his shoulders in the water, just above the top gate. When asked why she had drawn him, her response was “it just felt right”.
I became friendly a local farmer and broached the strange tales with him. He came back to see me a few days later. He told me he had been to have a look at the parish records. He went on to tell me that a lock-keeper had been drowned in the 1930s, in summer, just above the top lock gate at Claydon Top.
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Claydon Top nowadays