From the main part of Lockerley village, Holbury Lane runs north past Holbury Mill. Along the way it crosses the canal immediately downstream of the remains of Lock 4; the bridge is again a modern replacement. This is the “best” preserved of the Southampton and Salisbury Canal’s locks. Most of the northern wall of the lock has been robbed of its bricks but part of the southern side exists almost to its original height. The recess for a bottom gate can be seen, at least when not buried in vegetation. The top end of the lock chamber has disappeared having been cut short by the brick robbers.
On the north side of the lock, a small stream, fed from the River Dun above Holbury Mill, enters the lock chamber between dressed stonework. The origin of this feed to the canal is not known but would seem from Ordnance Survey mapping to have been constructed between 1871 and 1895. It was probably intended to provide a water flow in the canal east of the lock. There is another more copious feed from the river downstream just above Lockerley Mill.
Lock 4 to East Dean
Above Lock 4, the canal runs inside the edge of a wooded area with a public footpath in the adjacent field. This was not the towing path which was constructed on the north side of the waterway. After about 250 yards (230m), the canal turns to the north-west, away from the field and the public road NG Ref: SU287267. WGS84: 51° 02′ 21″ N, 1° 35′ 29″ W., to run just to the south of the River Dun. The bed is mainly overgrown, sometimes occupied by a stream but at other times “dry”.
In less than half a mile, the road and canal converge with the remains of the latter below the modern road embankment on the approach to East Dean Level Crossing where the railway is on a low embankment. West of the crossing, the railway encroached upon a southward loop of the old canal for some 100 yards between NG Ref: SU279267. WGS84: 51° 02′ 23″ N, 1° 36′ 09″ W. and NG Ref: SU278268. WGS84: 51° 02′ 24″ N, 1° 36′ 15″ W.. Lock 5 was situated somewhere in this area.
On the north side of the railway in part of the grounds of East Dean House, the owner dredged out around 250 yards of the canal in about 2004. Although probably a few feet narrower than it would originally have been (the 1795 Act specified a top width of 27 feet), it does give a impression of what the canal may have looked like some 200 years ago. At the east end of the restored section is an earthen dam retaining the water level. From the height difference between the ground levels on either side, this could be on or near the site of Lock 5. Please note that this section of canal is on private land and was viewed by special invitation.
About two hundred yards west of the restored section, the canal’s channel was slightly realigned when a railway bridge NG Ref: SU274268. WGS84: 51° 02′ 25″ N, 1° 36′ 37″ W. was built over the waterway which passed to the south side. For the next 700 yards or so, the canal has become the major channel of the River Dun, a change which seems to have happened around the time the railway was constructed in the 1840s. Old maps and aerial photographs seem to show parts of the old course of the river. Most of the water in the canal is returned to the old course of the river at the railway bridge. The erstwhile canal passes north of the settlement of East Dean, running between the railway and the rear of properties along the road from Lockerley to West Dean. It is crossed by a number of footbridges.
East Dean to West Dean
Shortly before reaching Frenchmoor Lane at the west end of East Dean, the railway crosses the line of the canal once more at an oblique angle. On the west side of the lane, the original course of the canal has been infilled and the present river runs about 15 yards to the north. However, the canal used to run in a left hand curve from the lane to cross the line of the railway about 160 yards west of the lane just before the present bridge over the River Dun NG Ref: SU266269. WGS84: 51° 02′ 28″ N, 1° 37′ 17″ W..
It should be noted that vehicles cannot cross the railway at Frenchmoor Lane - this is now only a pedestrian level crossing.
Upstream of the railway bridge, the River Dun and the canal share the channel share a common course and do so until the village of West Dean. The tithe maps for East and West Dean dating from 1840 and 1843 (before the railway was built), both show two water channels running side by side along this stretch. The Ordnance Survey 1:2500 maps surveyed in 1870-1 show only parts of the northernmost channel near West Dean. It is now all just a slight, sometimes boggy, depression in the ground about 20 yards from the canal. The site of Lock 6 NG Ref: SU262268. WGS84: 51° 02′ 25″ N, 1° 37′ 37″ W. can be seen from the road between East and West Dean but there are scant remains with most of the brickwork robbed in the last 200 years.
About quarter of a mile (400m) east of Dean station, the railway obliterated about 125 yards (115m) of the old canal between NG Ref: SU261270. WGS84: 51° 02′ 30″ N, 1° 37′ 41″ W. and NG Ref: SU260270. WGS84: 51° 02′ 31″ N, 1° 37′ 47″ W.. The river/canal was diverted to run along its southern boundary.
It seems that fairly extensive changes to the River Dun along much of the valley, but particularly in the West and East Dean area, occurred as a result of the construction of the railway in the 1840s.
It was announced in April 1802 that the canal was navigable to West Dean from Kimbridge Junction. On 8 December 1802 the section from Redbridge to the west end of the tunnel at Southampton was reported open.
From the Tithe Map of 1843 for West Dean, it is clear that the river and canal passed through the village green as two separate channels which have since been combined in part. The present day channel which approaches from East Dean that has a footbridge over it is the alignment of the canal. The river lay to the north and this is confirmed by the remains of it shown just to the east of the village on the Ordnance Survey map surveyed in 1871. This map shows that the two channels through the village had been combined by this date. The southern end of the barn standing between the canal and the former Red Lion public house was built over the former course of the river and, despite appearances, is not shown on any map surveyed before 1895. We pass from Hampshire into Wiltshire just west of the barn. Indeed, the boundary passed right through the middle of the bar of the Red Lion! Unfortunately, the pub was closed in November 1995.
Whilst the canal was under construction and after a period of heavy rain, the River Dun flooded in February 1799 and swept away the new two-arched road bridge over the canal and river. The flood also badly damaged a lock and other canal works down the valley. The famous canal engineer John Rennie designed a replacement bridge, again with two arches. This in turn was replaced by the current single-arched road bridge by Wiltshire County Council in 1931.