T&S Canal Top
Diagram of a Thames & Severn Canal
Lock and its evolution
The T&S Canal was built to take two very distinct types of boat. Those
using the Stroudwater Canal and the River Severn were Trows which were about
68 feet long and 16 feet wide with a draught of about 5ft. The boats using
the Thames above Oxford were a form of Thames Barge known as the Western
Barge and these were 90ft long and 12ft wide with a draft of 4ft. Both types
of craft had flat bottoms as the unpredictable nature of both the Thames
and the Severn river navigations could cause the craft to become grounded.
The Company of Proprietors of the Thames and Severn Navigation saw an
opportunity to make money through the transhipment of goods between the two
gauges and chose Brimscombe, on their canal, to be the point where the gauges
changed. Western Barges were too long to pass west of Brimscombe and Severn
Trows were too wide to pass Beales Lock east of the port. Just one lock,
Bourne Lock, was both wide enough and long enough to take either type of
craft and this was to allow access to the Company's boat building facilities
just upstream of Brimscombe.
However, it did not take long for people to realise that a narrower Trow
or a shorter Western Barge would be able to achieve through navigation without
transhipment charges. Furthermore, the midland style Narrow Boat (known in
the Stroud area as Long Boats) could also use the whole route.
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