Itchen Navigation: Description
Sandy Lock - Mans Bridge

Distance: 1.1 mile

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The canal south of Sandy Lock is in places dry, in others boggy and reedy. The path has been removed in parts. Some 200 yards from the lock an overgrown earth ramp has replaced the wooden Cow Pasture Bridge. About a half mile from Sandy Lock, the Navigation is blocked by the M27 motorway which was opened to traffic in 1985. The path is diverted east along the north side of the motorway until it passes under a bridge built for the North Stoneham Carrier (a stream draining the water meadows) and returns along the south side. This adds about 700 yards to the length of the original route. As with the blockage of the Navigation for the M3 near Winchester, legal powers have been taken to enable a new route for the waterway to be built, but construction will not commence until restoration of the canal is under way. Indeed, land has been set aside for the diversion.

South of the motorway, about 150 yards of the canal were dredged in the early 1990's to about the original dimensions but through lack of further work this stretch is now reed filled again.

At the south end of this length are the remains of Mansbridge Lock. These were the subject of an archaeological excavation by the Southampton City Archaeological Unit in the early 1990's. Parts of the floor of the lock, particularly the top cill were found to be lined with wooden boards. These have now been covered up again for protection. The lock chamber is quite eroded. The footpath now crosses the lock on a new footbridge built across, but independent of, the stonework that marks the tail of the lock. A wooden occupation bridge used to exist below the bottom gates in the days of Navigation and this carried the towing path to the west bank. Having been cleared of vegetation during the archaeological dig, some ten years later the lock had almost disappeared under bushes and other vegetation.

In October and November 2007, the local branch of the Inland Waterways Association (IWA) again undertook working parties on Mansbridge Lock in connection with the Itchen Navigation Heritage Trail Project. The work involved manual clearance of brush and small trees from around the lock in order to carry out further archaeological investigations of the remains. Further information about IWA work with the project may be obtained from Brendan Whelan on 01903 816012 or email It is hoped that stabilising the remains of the lock will be undertaken soon.

A track leads south from the lock, but where this veers off to the right, walkers following the Navigation should carry on straight ahead through the trees onto an open area. The remains of the canal run along the east edge in amongst the trees. The waterway is usually quite waterlogged. Shortly the canal joins the main river just upstream of the new Mans Bridge.

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

Text © Southampton Canal Society 1999 - 2010.
Pictures © Peter Oates & Peter Boyce 2003 - 2010. Pictures on or accessed through this page may not be reproduced without the express permission of the Web Site manager.

Original page covering Bishopstoke to Mansbridge created 16 June 1999 - split into three pages 28/29 October 2003 - picture gallery created 29 October 2003 - description and pictures combined and expanded with new layout 25 January 2010 - content updated 25 January 2010.

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