Itchen Navigation: Description
Winchester - Tun Bridge

Distance: 0.5 mile

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The official head of navigation is marked by Black Bridge which is situated in College Walk, at the foot of Wharf Hill. This bridge is a single arch of stone built in 1796. This replaced a bridge built c1670 by Bishop Morton which in turn replaced an earlier wooden bridge.

It is documented that barges sometimes travelled about 140 yards upstream of the bridge to Wharf Mill (which has now been converted into flats). It is believed that barges may also discharged their cargoes in Blackbridge Yard which lies on the left immediately upstream of the bridge.

Blackbridge Wharf lies on the east bank of the Navigation immediately below the bridge. The wharf area, now in the hands of Winchester College, contains the former manager's house (now a private house), warehouse (converted to residential use) and stables. In former times, there was also a malthouse and a further warehouse on the site.

On the west side of the waterway are a set of sluices (known as "Seven Hatches") that can be used to control water in this section of the Navigation. These sluices lead into a channel of the river still known to Winchester College as the "Old Barge". This was probably the route used by boats in medieval times before the current Navigation was built.

Immediately below Blackbridge Wharf, Wharf Bridge crosses the Navigation. This single brick span has a headroom of about 6 feet and is the oldest bridge surviving on the waterway, being built in the 1760's. Access to the bridge can made down a footpath which leaves the unmade Domum Road about 30 or 40 yards from College Walk.

Downstream of Wharf Bridge and also on the east bank is the Winchester College boathouse, with its concrete slipway. Next to this are the fairly modern New Barge Cottages. This was also the site of Scard's Wharf in the days of commercial traffic. For half a mile below here to Tun Bridge, there is a public footpath on each bank. However, the eastern one does not pass in front of the boathouse to Wharf Bridge but has a separate access from Domum Road. A short distance below the New Barge Cottages and separated from them by some recent housing, can be found the Old Barge Cottages. These were once lived in by some of the barge masters working the Navigation. Domum Wharf used to be situated just below these cottages, on the bend where the waterway is a little wider. Now occupied by modern houses, no trace of the wharf now remains.

The waterway to St Catherine Lock is reasonably well maintained, being used for rowing by Winchester College and is occasionally dredged to a depth of around 4 feet. On the east bank are the playing fields known as Palmer Field. On the opposite side of the canal are the former water meadows which, adjacent to the Navigation, are now rather overgrown with trees.

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

Text © Southampton Canal Society 1999 - 2010.
Pictures © 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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