Tim's One Photograph a Day

Hillmorton Locks at Dusk.

Hillmorton Locks.

Hillmorton Locks: A rare survivor of duplicated flight of locks.

A rare survivor of duplicated flight of locks.

We have moved again, and are now on the outskirts of Rugby. Once again, I am indulging myself in some night time photography. This is of the middle pair of Hillmorton Locks.

The Oxford Canal was built as a contour canal. This means that it meanders around like a drunk from a pub! Cheaper to build, but hardly efficient. As time progressed, this became a burden. Much of the traffic was from Coventry to London.  This used the Oxford Canal as far as Braunston, then it diverted onto the newer and straighter Grand Union Canal. The section from Coventry to Braunston was therefore straightened out, reducing the distance by some 15 miles!

Locks, of course, are another bottleneck. They are effectively a pinch point, allowing boats only in one direction at a time. With the new straightened line, the canal became busy, so the Hillmorton Locks were “duplicated”. They were also fitted with paddle gear which enabled water from one lock to flow into the other of the pair. If one lock of the pair was filled as the other emptied, then this halved the amount of water used.

As canals lost traffic to the railways in later years, many duplicated locks fell into disrepair. Often today, only one of the two is in operation. The Hillmorton Locks are a rare survivor of a complete flight (albeit only three pairs) to survive still in use. With the current popularity of boating – particularly in this area – they still see heavy use. However, as it happens, one of each pair is currently out of use for maintenance reasons. This is another advantage of duplicated locks – work can still be done without closing the navigation.

Tonight’s photograph of Hillmorton Locks is similar in style to yesterday’s shot of the shared Oxford and Grand Union Canals. Taken at dusk, the lighting is just superb. To the naked at the time, not a lot could be seen. But, with a 4 minute exposure, the camera can pick out some fantastic detail and colouring. Just marvel at the beauty of that perfectly smooth reflection!

Photograph Details:

  • Taken: 26 October 2017
  • Camera: Canon 5D MkIII
  • Lens: Canon EF 16-35mm 1:4 L IS USM
  • Focal Length 17mm
  • F/7.4
  • 241 Sec
  • ISO 400

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