Itchen Navigation: Description
Tun Bridge - St Catherine Lock

Distance: 0.5 mile

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Tun Bridge carries Garnier Road (formerly Bull Drove) over the Navigation and consists of a single concrete arch built in 1926 to replace the original wooden bridge. There is a car park on the east bank just south of the bridge.

From here to St Catherine Lock, the way south is now restricted to the towing path on the east bank and, in places, is quite narrow although some work has been done in recent years to widen the path. The path is backed by a fairly steep bank but above this there is a public bridleway parallel to the canal and a few yards to the east. This is Twyford Lane and is the remains of what was once the road from Winchester to Twyford and Portsmouth. This in turn is backed by the site of the former Didcot, Newbury and Southampton Railway. Before the M3 was constructed, the notorious and busy Winchester Bypass lay beyond the railway. But the road and some of the course of the railway have now been eliminated and the environs of the waterway are reasonably peaceful once more.

Just before reaching St Catherine Lock, there used to be a bridge under the railway and bypass, but this has now been removed opening up a vista of Plague Pits Valley and St Catherine's Hill rising over 200 feet above the canal. The fort on top of the hill was constructed in the 3rd century BC and deserted after it was sacked in the 1st century BC. A Norman chapel dedicated to St Catherine was built in the 12th century (no remains). The hill is now a nature reserve.

A mile from Black Bridge lies the summit lock of the Itchen Navigation which begins the descent of about 105 feet (32 metres) to the sea. Usually known by the name St Catherine's Lock, an Ordnance Survey map of 1870 gives the more prosaic name "Lock No 1". Like the majority of locks on the waterway, it was turf-sided which means that the water within the lock chamber was retained by sloping earthen or "turf" banks rather than the more usual stone or brick walls. Usually, the only brickwork / masonry to be found in such locks is at each end where the lock gates were hung. On the Itchen Navigation, these areas were about 100 feet apart.

A modern sluice has been built across the head of the lock in place of the top gates to retain water in the section of canal above. The lock is very unusual in that during the middle of the 19th Century, there was a sawmill on the west side of the lock. This mill was powered by a waterwheel that drew water from above the lock gates, discharging it into the lock chamber. The remains of some of the brickwork for the wheelpit can still be seen, on the offside, just downstream of the older brickwork associated with the top gates.

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© Peter Oates 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 Winchester to St Catherine Lock created 11 June 1999 - split into two pages 10 April 2003 - picture gallery created 10 April 2003 - description and pictures combined and expanded with new layout 19 January 2010 - content updated 19 January 2010.

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