Southampton and Salisbury Canal: Picture Gallery No 1

Southampton Arm: God's House Tower to Houndwell

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The canal was to connect with the sea at God's House Tower via a lock just inland from the defensive work. God's House Tower was built in early 15th century to protect the sluice gates which controlled the flow of sea water into the town moat. The building was designed for use with artillery and was the headquarters of the Town Gunner, an important official in the 15th century. From 1775 to 1855, the Debtors Prison and Felons Gaol were housed here. It should also be remembered that before the 19th century, tidal water came up to the tower.

The canal company constructed "an arch under the Debtors Gaol in Southampton, wide enough for barges to go out of the lock into open water."

The sea-lock was situated on south end of the site of the modern building behind God's House Tower. The canal continued northwards along the Town Ditches (moat) just outside the remains of the town walls. Although the moat has since been filled in and built over, the line lay between the modern roads/paths of Back of the Walls and Canal Walk (although the latter is not continuous). Outside the town walls in 1800, building development was only just beginning to spread out from East Street and it was still possible to see fields from the canal.

Back of the Walls and Canal Walk do not cross East Street. North of East Street lies the Polymond Tower which was situated at the north east corner of the old town walls. Here the canal left the ditches to continue north across Houndwell.

The former junction with the Northam Branch lies in the part of Houndwell now called Palmerston Park. The site is just west of Palmerston Road almost opposite the Angel public house. It should be remembered that the canal would have been some 10-12 feet lower than the present ground surface. The canal in this area was filled in with spoil from the construction of the railway tunnel in the 1840's. The canal tunnel went off in a north west direction under the rising ground on the left of the picture above whilst the branch to Northam turned east (to the right).

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Page created 22 May 2005 - updated 17 February 2009. Updated layout and content published 7 April 2017.

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