Hawkesbury Junction

Recently, I spent some time near Hawkesbury Junction, Warwickshire, where the North Oxford Canal and the Coventry Canal meet.  The layout is unusual, which makes for interesting navigation, especially when busy, and for novices in particular.

Hawkesbry Junction os 1886 1887
Hawkesbury Junction. Ordnance Survey: surveyed 1886, published 1887.  Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland.

There has been little change in well over 150 years, though the adjoining areas have seen much development, so that the area is now at the edge of Bedworth.  I entered the area shown on the North Oxford Canal, bottom right.  There are moorings before the junction, but I wanted water, and stopped just before the stop lock.  This only changes the water levels by seven inches (18 cm).  Another crew operated the lock for me, so all that remained was to do a U-turn to get onto the Coventry Canal, and moor somewhere near the top of the map.  I guess this can be tricky, but having done it twice quite smoothly, it holds no fears.  None of the boats I saw had a problem, but they were all seasoned boaters.  This next image gives an idea of what faces the modern boater.

Hawkesbury Junction
Hawkesbury Junction from the footbridge over the Coventry Canal looking south. The Oxford Canal enters left, into the basin, more or less parallel, necessitating a U-turn, or chicane to go towards Coventry. The whole area is dominated by electricity transmission lines.

As one approaches the junction from the north (Nuneaton direction) the first obvious canalside feature is the Engine House.

Hawkesbury Engine House n
Approaching Hawkesbury Junction and its Engine House, which was used to pump water into the canal from below ground.

The blue panel reads:

“The Engine House opposite housed the “Earl of Mercia” steam engine that pumped water from a deep well into the canal between 1837 and 1913. This engine worked alongside an earlier Newcomen engine, which functioned as follows:

Steam entered the cylinder, allowing the piston to be raised by the weight on the other end of the beam. When cold water was injected, the steam condensed creating a vacuum in the cylinder. This pulled the piston down, rocked the beam and raised the pump rods in the well, lifting water to the surface.”

A few more images from around the junction:

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