Itchen Navigation: Description
College Mead - Brambridge

Distance: 0.7 mile

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The public footpath crosses the Navigation back to the site of the towing path on west bank at the bridge at the downstream end of College Mead Lock. This overgrown and badly eroded lock can just about be seen from the bridge but there is no further public access. The Navigation is very shallow just before entering the main River Itchen below College Mead Bridge.

The river swings in from the east and on the west bank there is an intake feeding Otterbourne Waterworks. Below the intake, the river flows under a pipe bridge bringing further water supplies from a number of boreholes situated in the water meadows to the east.

Almost by stealth, the main river leaves the waterway through a series of hatches and weirs on the east bank, so that south of the sharp bend in the Navigation the channel is more like a canal than a river. This is very pleasant stretch of waterway. Downs Bridge is the next feature of note, being a fairly modern concrete replacement of the original structure.

South of this bridge, the Navigation is sheltered on both sides by mature trees. The artificial origin of this section of waterway is betrayed by the straightness of the channel with a sudden bend. Near that bend the remains of three hatches controlling culverts under the towing path were cleared during 2008 by volunteers helping with the Itchen Navigation Heritage Trail Project. These hatches may have been used to drown the water meadows in the area. An idea of how these hatches looked may be gained from this picture of a similar, former structure north of Shawford.

A disused fish weir straddles the waterway just to the north of Brambridge Lock. The lock itself lies a few yards downstream. A substantial amount of brickwork remains at both the head and the tail of this lock. However, most of the earthen banks once forming this turf-sided lock have been reduced to the lower water level. Unusually, the courses of brickwork at the offside tail of the lock was laid at a considerable angle from the horizontal.

The Navigation and the east bank are screened from view from the path south of the lock by fencing and dense vegetation. Kiln Lane at Brambridge is soon reached.

The picture of the reinforced hatch north of Brambridge Lock is shown here by kind permission of Marie Keates. She has written about and illustrated several attempts to walk the full length of the Navigation during 2013 in her blog. This picture originally featured in her entry for 11 September: but it now seems to be missing. She has walked along all or parts of the Navigation often since then: all illustrated with some excellent photographs.

Send your comments to the Southampton Canal Society Web Site manager (Peter Oates).

Text © Southampton Canal Society 1999 - 2017.
Pictures © Peter Oates and Marie Keates 2003 - 2013. Pictures on or accessed through this page may not be reproduced without the express permission of the Web Site manager.

Original page covering Shawford to Brambridge created 11 June 1999 - split into two pages 26 April 2003 - picture gallery created 25 April 2003 - description and pictures combined and expanded with new layout 22 January 2010 - content updated 15 December 2013 and 3 September 2017.

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