Itchen Navigation: A Portrait

St Catherine Lock - Hockley

Distance: 0.4 mile (0.6 km)

St Catherine Lock to Hockley

Below St Catherine Lock, in contrast to above the lock, the Navigation is quite neglected and becoming increasingly overgrown. Until the M3 was constructed, this length of the waterway was usually full of water. Since then, the channel may carry water at times of high flow in the river, but often the Navigation is dry especially in summer. Much of the water that flows through St Catherine Lock leaves the Navigation via a side stream just below the lock where former sluices no longer maintain a level in the canal.

The towing path that used to follow the bank of the Navigation is now overgrown and unusable. The now tarmaced modern path (part of the Itchen Way long distance path and National Cycle Route 23) follows the line of Twyford Lane parallel to the Navigation but a few yards to the east.

The tail of St Catherine Lock
The tail of St Catherine Lock

The tail of St Catherine Lock from downstream showing the side stream (on the left) leaving the Navigation.
Image date: 16 Mar 2003. © 2003 Peter Oates. NG Ref: SU480272. WGS84: 51° 02′ 34″ N 1° 18′ 57″ W.

The tail of St Catherine Lock

The tail of St Catherine Lock from downstream showing the side stream leaving the Navigation.
Image date: 16 Mar 2003.
NG Ref: SU480272.
WGS84: 51° 02′ 34″ N 1° 18′ 57″ W.

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Tail of St Catherine Lock
Tail of St Catherine Lock

At the tail of St Catherine Lock and aided by the fallen tree, most of the water is diverted into the side stream leaving the Navigation.
Image date: 15 Feb 2019. © 2019 Peter Oates. NG Ref: SU480272. WGS84: 51° 02′ 35″ N 1° 18′ 56″ W.

Tail of St Catherine Lock

At the tail of St Catherine Lock, most of the water is diverted into the side stream leaving the Navigation.
Image date: 15 Feb 2019.
NG Ref: SU480272.
WGS84: 51° 02′ 35″ N 1° 18′ 56″ W.

(117.3KB)

Below St Catherine Lock
Below St Catherine Lock

The Navigation just below St Catherine Lock. Sixteen years after this picture was taken, the canal is more overgrown.
Image date: 16 Mar 2003. © 2003 Peter Oates. NG Ref: SU480272. WGS84: 51° 02′ 34″ N 1° 18′ 57″ W.

Below St Catherine Lock

The Navigation just below St Catherine Lock, today the canal is more overgrown.
Image date: 16 Mar 2003.
NG Ref: SU480272.
WGS84: 51° 02′ 34″ N 1° 18′ 57″ W.

(119.3KB)

Overgrown, reedy canal
Overgrown, reedy canal

Below St Catherine Lock, in summer the Navigation is often “dry” but in winter after periods of rain some water flows south.
Image date: 15 Feb 2019. © 2019 Peter Oates. NG Ref: SU480270. WGS84: 51° 02′ 28″ N 1° 18′ 59″ W.

Overgrown, reedy canal

Below St Catherine Lock, in summer the Navigation is often “dry” but in winter after periods of rain some water flows south.
Image date: 15 Feb 2019.
NG Ref: SU480270.
WGS84: 51° 02′ 28″ N 1° 18′ 59″ W.

(112.7KB)

Canal full of water
Canal full of water

The Navigation full of water about 100 yards north of the former railway bridge over the waterway.
Image date: c1977. Image scanned from slide. © 2003 Peter Oates. NG Ref: SU479269. WGS84: 51° 02′ 25″ N 1° 19′ 01″ W.

Canal full of water

The Navigation full of water about 100 yards north of the former railway bridge over the waterway.
Image date: c1977.
NG Ref: SU479269.
WGS84: 51° 02′ 25″ N 1° 19′ 01″ W.

(80.2KB)

Damp, reedy canal
Damp canal bed

Within a few yards of the previous picture and about 100 yards north of the railway bridge over the waterway, this is the scene four decades later.
Image date: 15 Feb 2019. © 2019 Peter Oates. NG Ref: SU479269. WGS84: 51° 02′ 25″ N 1° 19′ 01″ W.

Damp canal bed

Within a few yards of the previous picture and about 100 yards north of the railway bridge over the waterway, this is the scene four decades later.
Image date: 15 Feb 2019.
NG Ref: SU479269.
WGS84: 51° 02′ 25″ N 1° 19′ 01″ W.

(116.8KB)

Dry canal bed
Dry canal bed

Dry canal bed between St Catherine Lock and the railway bridge.
Image date: 16 Mar 2003. © 2003 Peter Oates. NG Ref: SU480271. WGS84: 51° 02′ 29″ N 1° 18′ 59″ W.

Dry canal bed

Dry canal bed between St Catherine Lock and the railway bridge.
Image date: 16 Mar 2003.
NG Ref: SU480271.
WGS84: 51° 02′ 29″ N 1° 18′ 59″ W.

(123.0KB)

Canal breach
Canal breach

However, even when there is water in the canal, it does not reach the railway bridge as this fallen tree appears to have breached the western bank.
Image date: 15 Feb 2019. © 2019 Peter Oates. NG Ref: SU479269. WGS84: 51° 02′ 24″ N 1° 19′ 02″ W.

Canal breach

However, even when there is water in the canal, it does not reach the railway bridge as this fallen tree appears to have breached the western bank.
Image date: 15 Feb 2019.
NG Ref: SU479269.
WGS84: 51° 02′ 24″ N 1° 19′ 02″ W.

(121.1KB)

Overgrown canal bed
Overgrown canal bed

Looking north from the deck of the railway bridge, the dry canal bed has become quite overgrown.
Image date: 15 Feb 2019. © 2019 Peter Oates. NG Ref: SU479268. WGS84: 51° 02′ 22″ N 1° 19′ 03″ W.

Overgrown canal bed

Looking north from the deck of the railway bridge, the dry canal bed has become quite overgrown.
Image date: 15 Feb 2019.
NG Ref: SU479268.
WGS84: 51° 02′ 22″ N 1° 19′ 03″ W.

(97.7KB)

The embankment of the old railway line has been swept away in the vicinity of St Catherine’s Lock. The Didcot, Newbury and Southampton Railway, which was originally operated by the Great Western Railway, reached Winchester from Newbury in May 1885. However, the connection with the London & South Western Railway at Shawford Junction wasn’t opened until October 1891. The line was very busy during World War II but use of the railway later declined and was officially closed to passenger traffic in March 1960 although there were some summer workings until 1961. Goods traffic ended in 1965 and the rails were lifted the next year.

About 350 yards south of the lock, the old lane turns away from the Navigation and passes under the railway embankment. The waterway itself passes under the line by means of a nearby iron-decked skew bridge. A towing path used to pass under this bridge beside the Navigation but this is now much eroded. As this section of railway was not opened until 1891, it would not have seen any commercial boat traffic pass under it.

Railway bridge over Twyford Lane
Railway bridge over Twyford Lane

Twyford Lane (Itchen Way) passes under this former railway bridge seen here from the north.
Image date: 16 Mar 2003. © 2003 Peter Oates. NG Ref: SU480269. WGS84: 51° 02′ 25″ N 1° 19′ 01″ W.

Railway bridge over Twyford Lane

Twyford Lane (Itchen Way) passes under this former railway bridge seen here from the north.
Image date: 16 Mar 2003.
NG Ref: SU480269.
WGS84: 51° 02′ 25″ N 1° 19′ 01″ W.

(115.5KB)

Seat beside Twyford Lane
Seat beside Twyford Lane

Just on the north side of the bridge is this seat reflecting the nearby former Didcot, Newbury and Southampton Railway and the Hockley Viaduct.
Image date: 10 Dec 2011. © Peter Trimming (cc-by-sa/2.0). Image from www.geograph.org.uk. NG Ref: SU479269. WGS84: 51° 02′ 25″ N 1° 19′ 01″ W.

Seat beside Twyford Lane

Just north of the bridge is this seat.
Image date: 10 Dec 2011.
NG Ref: SU479269.
WGS84: 51° 02′ 25″ N 1° 19′ 01″ W.

(120.8KB)

Railway bridge from the south
Railway bridge from the south

The old railway bridge over Twyford Lane viewed from the south.
Image date: 27 Mar 2013. © Shazz (cc-by-sa/2.0). Image from www.geograph.org.uk. NG Ref: SU480269. WGS84: 51° 02′ 24″ N 1° 19′ 00″ W.

Railway bridge from the south

The old railway bridge over Twyford Lane viewed from the south.
Image date: 27 Mar 2013.
NG Ref: SU480269.
WGS84: 51° 02′ 24″ N 1° 19′ 00″ W.

(95.3KB)

Railway bridge over the Navigation
Railway bridge over the Navigation

Looking north at the bridge that used to carry the Didcot, Newbury and Southampton Railway over a water-filled Navigation.
Image date: 28 May 1976. © 2003 Peter Oates. Image scanned from slide. NG Ref: SU479268. WGS84: 51° 02′ 21″ N 1° 19′ 03″ W.

Railway bridge over the Navigation

This old bridge used to carry the Didcot, Newbury and Southampton Railway over the Navigation.
Image date: 28 May 1976.
NG Ref: SU479268.
WGS84: 51° 02′ 21″ N 1° 19′ 03″ W.

(90.1KB)

Under the railway bridge
Under the railway bridge

A view north under the railway bridge crossing a dry canal.
Image date: 15 Feb 2019. © 2019 Peter Oates. NG Ref: SU479268. WGS84: 51° 02′ 21″ N 1° 19′ 03″ W.

Under the railway bridge

A view north under the railway bridge crossing a dry canal.
Image date: 15 Feb 2019.
NG Ref: SU479268.
WGS84: 51° 02′ 21″ N 1° 19′ 03″ W.

(86.9KB)

Railway bridge from Twyford Lane
Railway bridge from Twyford Lane

The railway bridge spanning the Navigation seen from Twyford Lane.
Image date: 15 Feb 2019. © 2019 Peter Oates. NG Ref: SU479268. WGS84: 51° 02′ 22″ N 1° 19′ 02″ W.

Railway bridge from Twyford Lane

The railway bridge spanning the Navigation seen from Twyford Lane.
Image date: 15 Feb 2019.
NG Ref: SU479268.
WGS84: 51° 02′ 22″ N 1° 19′ 02″ W.

(112.1KB)

Hockley

Shortly after the railway bridge across the Navigation at Hockley, the waterway today is culverted under the M3 and its associated side-roads. The Navigation used to pass diagonally under Hockley Crossroads on the old Winchester Bypass in a “tunnel” with full headroom. When the M3 was constructed, this 50 yard long “tunnel” was demolished as were the abutments of a former accommodation bridge that (before 1895) crossed the Navigation about 110 yards to the south of it. Any water in the Navigation now passes under the road junction in an unnavigable culvert which is about 250 yards long! The Department of Transport also obtained legal powers to divert the Navigation along the south side of the railway embankment to join the River Itchen close to the Hockley railway viaduct. The diversion (including a lock to replace Twyford Lane End Lock) will only be built by the Department if and when restoration of the adjoining waterway is undertaken.

Hockley Viaduct has 33 spans including one over the River Itchen. Although it appears to be a brick structure, the pillars of the viaduct have a solid concrete core, with the bricks simply performing an aesthetic function. Built in the late 1880s, this makes it amongst the earliest modern structures to have a solid concrete core. The railway was closed in 1966 as part of the “Beeching Axe”. After various attempts at preservation, the newly restored viaduct was officially opened in 2013 to carry National Cycle Network Route 23 across the valley.

Winchester Bypass under construction
Winchester Bypass under construction

The Winchester Bypass under construction looking north from near Hockley Crossroads. The nearest railway bridge is the one that still crosses Twyford Lane.
Image date: c1939. NG Ref: SU479267. WGS84: 51° 02′ 20″ N 1° 19′ 01″ W.

Winchester Bypass under construction

The Winchester Bypass under construction looking north from near Hockley Crossroads.
Image date: c1939.
NG Ref: SU479267.
WGS84: 51° 02′ 20″ N 1° 19′ 01″ W.

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Winchester Bypass c1980
Winchester Bypass c1980

The Winchester Bypass looking north from near Hockley Crossroads. The railway has been dismantled and trees obscure the view.
Image date: c1980. NG Ref: SU479267. WGS84: 51° 02′ 20″ N 1° 19′ 01″ W.

Winchester Bypass c1980

The Winchester Bypass looking north from near Hockley Crossroads.
Image date: c1980.
NG Ref: SU479267.
WGS84: 51° 02′ 20″ N 1° 19′ 01″ W.

(47.5KB)

Hockley Crossroads
Hockley Crossroads

Hockley Crossroads on the former Winchester Bypass on a Bank Holiday Friday afternoon. Known to many as “Hockley Lights”, the traffic lights infamously caused long queues.
Image date: 28 May 1976. Image scanned from slide. © 2003 Peter Oates. NG Ref: SU479268. WGS84: 51° 02′ 20″ N 1° 19′ 02″ W.

Hockley Crossroads

Hockley Crossroads on the former Winchester Bypass.
Image date: 28 May 1976.
NG Ref: SU479268.
WGS84: 51° 02′ 20″ N 1° 19′ 02″ W.

(59.2KB)

Tunnel at Hockley
Tunnel at Hockley

The north end of the former “tunnel” carrying the Navigation under Hockley Crossroads.
Image date: 28 May 1976. Image scanned from slide. © 2003 Peter Oates. NG Ref: SU479268. WGS84: 51° 02′ 20″ N 1° 19′ 03″ W.

Tunnel at Hockley

The north end of former “tunnel” under Hockley Crossroads.
Image date: 28 May 1976.
NG Ref: SU479268.
WGS84: 51° 02′ 20″ N 1° 19′ 03″ W.

(72.2KB)

Under the crossroads
Under the crossroads

The Navigation in the “tunnel” under Hockley Crossroads.
Image date: c1970. Image scanned from slide. © 2019 Geoff Crosley. NG Ref: SU479268. WGS84: 51° 02′ 19″ N 1° 19′ 04″ W.

Under the crossroads

The Navigation in the “tunnel” under Hockley Crossroads.
Image date: c1970.
NG Ref: SU479268.
WGS84: 51° 02′ 19″ N 1° 19′ 04″ W.

(66.9KB)

Motorway culvert
Motorway culvert

The north end of the modern culvert designed to carry water in the Navigation about 250 yards under the M3 motorway interchange. This end is in approximately the same position as the north end of the former “tunnel”.
Image date: 16 Mar 2003. © 2003 Peter Oates. NG Ref: SU479268. WGS84: 51° 02′ 20″ N 1° 19′ 04″ W.

Motorway culvert

North end of the modern culvert designed to carry water in the Navigation under M3 motorway.
Image date: 16 Mar 2003.
NG Ref: SU479268.
WGS84: 51° 02′ 20″ N 1° 19′ 04″ W.

(94.2KB)

M3 Motorway
M3 Motorway

M3 crossing the Itchen Valley looking south west from Twyford Down with Navigation culvert on the right. Hockley Crossroads used to lie at the centre of this picture.
Image date: 16 Mar 2003. © 2003 Peter Oates. NG Ref: SU480268. WGS84: 51° 02′ 21″ N 1° 18′ 59″ W.

M3 Motorway

M3 crossing the Itchen Valley looking south west with Navigation culvert on the right.
Image date: 16 Mar 2003.
NG Ref: SU480268.
WGS84: 51° 02′ 21″ N 1° 18′ 59″ W.

(55.0KB)

M3 Motorway
M3 Motorway

M3 crossing the Itchen Valley photographed from the same spot as the previous picture but 6½ years later.
Image date: 25 Sep 2009. © 2010 Peter Oates. NG Ref: SU480268. WGS84: 51° 02′ 21″ N 1° 18′ 59″ W.

M3 Motorway

M3 crossing the Itchen Valley photographed from the same spot as the previous picture.
Image date: 25 Sep 2009.
NG Ref: SU480268.
WGS84: 51° 02′ 21″ N 1° 18′ 59″ W.

(91.9KB)

Five Bridges Road
Five Bridges Road

The old railway bridge’s abutments frame Five Bridges Road, once the A333 from Winchester to Portsmouth but now a bridleway. On the left, the newer cycleway that crosses Hockley Viaduct.
Image date: 1 Apr 2013. © 2013 Clive Richardson (cc-by-nc-nd/2.0). Image from www.flickr.com. NG Ref: SU479267. WGS84: 51° 02′ 19″ N 1° 19′ 04″ W.

Five Bridges Road

Five Bridges Road, now merely a bridleway, and the newer Hockley Viaduct cycleway.
Image date: 1 Apr 2013.
NG Ref: SU479267.
WGS84: 51° 02′ 19″ N 1° 19′ 04″ W.

(79.2KB)

Twyford Lane near the M3
Twyford Lane near the M3

Looking back from the end of Five Bridges Road towards St Catherine Lock along Twyford Lane.
Image date: 16 Jul 2013. © 2013 Marie Keates. Image from www.iwalkalone.co.uk. NG Ref: SU479267. WGS84: 51° 02′ 19″ N 1° 19′ 04″ W.

Twyford Lane near the M3

Looking back from the end of Five Bridges Road towards St Catherine Lock along Twyford Lane.
Image date: 16 Jul 2013.
NG Ref: SU479267.
WGS84: 51° 02′ 19″ N 1° 19′ 04″ W.

(61.6KB)

Hockley Viaduct
Hockley Viaduct

The renovated railway viaduct was opened as part of the National Cycle network in 2013.
Image date: 10 Mar 2015. © 2015 Marie Keates. Image from www.iwalkalone.co.uk. NG Ref: SU477267. WGS84: 51° 02′ 16″ N 1° 19′ 11″ W.

Hockley Viaduct

The renovated railway viaduct was opened as part of the National Cycle network in 2013.
Image date: 10 Mar 2015.
NG Ref: SU477267.
WGS84: 51° 02′ 16″ N 1° 19′ 11″ W.

(72.0KB)

River Itchen
River Itchen

Point where a restored Navigation would join the River Itchen, viewed from Hockley railway viaduct with the notorious cutting for the M3 through Twyford Down in the background.
Image date: 16 Mar 2003. © 2003 Peter Oates. NG Ref: SU477266. WGS84: 51° 02′ 15″ N 1° 19′ 14″ W.

River Itchen

Point where a restored Navigation would join the River Itchen, viewed from Hockley railway viaduct.
Image date: 16 Mar 2003.
NG Ref: SU477266.
WGS84: 51° 02′ 15″ N 1° 19′ 14″ W.

(73.1KB)

Several of the pictures on this page are shown by kind permission of Marie Keates. A keen walker, she has written about and illustrated several attempts to walk the full length of the Navigation during 2013 in her blog at http://www.iwalkalone.co.uk. She has walked along all or parts of the Navigation often since then: all illustrated with some excellent photographs.