Itchen Navigation: Description
Brambridge - Allbrook

Distance: 0.9 mile


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Proceeding south, the towing path swaps from the west to the east bank at the road bridge in Kiln Lane, Brambridge. After a short distance, the river and Navigation approach each other although they do not join. The two flow side by side for nearly a quarter of a mile with the towing path separating them.

As part of the Itchen Navigation Heritage Trail Project, repairs to this length of the footpath were undertaken during 2010.

The second half-lock on the Navigation, Brambridge Single Gates, is reached about 200 yards from Kiln Lane. It is marked by a constriction in the canal's banks and some of the brickwork can be seen but no weir has been inserted to replace the gates. As at Shawford, it is believed that this structure's original purpose was to retain water levels for a mill that drew water from the Navigation. According to old documents there was a Brambridge Mill in the early 18th century but all trace has since disappeared.

At the point where the main river and canal part company are some modern hatches discharging surplus water from the Navigation. A short distance south of these hatches, the waterway begins to run on top of an embankment for over quarter of a mile. This feature, although not very conspicuous, is the biggest earthwork encountered along the Navigation. At its greatest height, this embankment is about 5 or 6 feet high. Whilst not as high as the London to Southampton railway embankment a little way to the west, it was a considerable feat of engineering for the early 18th century. The towing path along here is in reasonably good condition. However, in April 2003, the water was overflowing the offside bank in four or five places - there is a serious danger that the embankment could breach and badly damage the waterway. In the winter of 2012/3, overflowing water caused a small breach in the towing path bank a little south of the sluices at a point that has been prone to such breaches in the past. Let us hope that the repairs completed in October(!) will last for a good while. Flooding from rains during the Christmas period 2013 threatened to undo some of this work.

Apart from the presence of the railway, this stretch is quite remote.

At the southern end of this stretch lies Allbrook Lock. This structure is quite different from the locks encountered elsewhere on this Navigation being constructed in the late 1830's to replace the original lock obliterated by the construction of the railway. It is constructed in the more normal manner entirely of brick and until recently was in reasonably good condition. A weir that is used to measure the flow of water in the Navigation now replaces the top gates but the anchors in the stonework that secured the gates are still present. A few years ago, the water authority installed a fish ladder in the lock chamber and in the process caused considerable damage to the wall on the west side of the chamber although this seems to have been re-instated. Allbrook Bridge, carrying the main road from Eastleigh to Twyford, has been reconstructed and encroaches upon the tail of the lock.

To continue south along the waterway, pedestrians have to cross the main road. Great care should be exercised as the road bends quite sharply as it crosses the Navigation and passes under the railway. There used to be a public house (the Victoria) just the other side of the railway bridge but this is now closed.

Pictures relating to the breach and flooding north of Allbrook Lock are shown here by kind permission of Marie Keates. She has written and illustrated several attempts to walk the full length of the Navigation during 2013 in her blog. These pictures feature in her entries for 17 July and 3 January 2014


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Text © Southampton Canal Society 1999 - 2014.
Pictures © Peter Oates and Marie Keates 2003 - 2014. Pictures on or accessed through this page may not be reproduced without the express permission of the Web Site manager.

Page created 15 June 1999 - picture gallery created 25 April 2003 - description and pictures combined and expanded with new layout 23 January 2010 - content updated 12 January 2014.


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