Foxton Locks and Foxton Inclined Plane in England.
Visiting the two sets of Staircase Locks at Foxton Locks and Inclined Plane plus other features from the area in England - with pictures.
How to get too Foxton Locks.
Foxton Locks are located around 3 miles to the northwest of Market Harborough in the English County of Leicestershire - just a little way off the B6047 Kettering to Market Harborough road. There is a Long Stay car park on one side of the road or you can go into the Short Term (for up
to 4 hours) British Waterways car park in their Country Park. If using a satnav to find the way there the postcode is LE16 7RR
. Located as part of the Leicester Section of the Grand Union Canal
, Foxton boasts the largest set (two lots of 5 in fact) of staircase locks on the canal system in
England and has to be a must see place to visit if you enjoy canals and related buildings etc.. The Foxton Locks area has been really smartened up - the paths are all in good condition, as mentioned there is lots of parking available. There are several canal side pubs at the bottom of the lock flight or you can get a cup of coffee if you wish by the lock-keepers
cottage by Foxton Toplock (photo on the right). Foxton Locks old engine house now contains a small canal museum where amongst other things you can see a working model of the old Foxton boat lift.
Below you will find quite a few photographs taken around Foxton Staircase Locks including the lock flight itself plus various canal bridges - also several pictures of where the inclined plane was located. Foxton inclined plane has so far not been restored but hopefully one day narrowboats may yet again have the facility available. At the moment
the only way boats are able to continue along the Leicester (Canal) Section is to use the lock flight - these are narrow locks only able to accommodate one boat at a time and there is only a small basin between the two staircase flights.
Bridge 60 - Gumley Roadbridge
Grand Union Canal - Gumley Road Bridge
Foxton Lock Flight
Top Lock 8
Foxton Lock 9
Footbridge going over Foxton Lock 9
Staircase Lock Gates at Foxton Lock 10
Foxton Lock 11 leading to Lock 12
Foxton Lock 13
Foxton staircase locks
Foxton Lock 14 and a storage pond
Trolley used during the inclined plane constuction
Site of the inclined plane showing the concrete base
Concrete base for the inclined plane
Foxton Lock 16
with Bridge 61
View looking up several
of Foxton's Staircase Locks
Lock 16 with Lock 15 behind it
The short Market Harborough Canal Arm leaves the Leicester Section of the Grand Union Canal from the bottom of Foxton Lock Flight and heads off for around 5 miles to arrive at the really nice town of Market Harborough - this makes a very pleasant walk along the Arm's towpath.
View of Bridge 61 from Foxton Bottom Lock
Leicester Section Bridge 61 at Foxton
Foxton Lock Flight
Bottom Lock 17
Market Harborough Arm - Leicester Section junction
Rainbow Bridge 62
About Foxton Staircase Locks and Foxton Inclined Plane. The two sets of staircase locks were designed by Benjamin Bevin to take the
canal down (or up) a total of 75 feet and comprise of two lots of 5 locks - these were built between 1810 and 1814. Staircase locks are different to normal
canal locks as the intermediate locks share the same gates - the locks at Foxton are just 7 feet wide so cater for only one boat at a time - it can be a lengthy
process traversing the flight. The canals were of course originally designed as highways for transporting goods around the country and because of the delays in
getting through Foxton Locks in 1894 the Grand Junction Canal Company asked an engineer called Gordon Cale Thomas to find a solution to the bottlenecks.
Bridge into the Upper Side Arm - lower channel to the inclined plane
A pulley wheel - pulleys were used to drag the tanks on the inclined plane
Canal Bridge by
Bottom view of where the inclined plane was situated - top to bottom it's 75 feet
The feeder arm bridge at Foxton Locks
The result was the building of an inclined plane counter-balanced boat lift - two massive tanks which could each hold two narrow boats or one up to 10 foot wide barge. Once parked inside the tanks the guillotine gates would be closed trapping a tank full of water. Then a huge winding drum powered by a 25hp steam
engine reeled in the upward moving tank using a heavy steel cable whilst simultaneously letting out the cable which was attached to a descending tank.
View looking up the Staircase Locks at Foxton
View down the inclined plane at Foxton
The old engine house at Foxton Locks
Foxton Lock 14 looking down the flight
Foxton Locks looking up the flight
The boat lift opened in 1900 but although the through-put of boats was much improved at Foxton Locks all that really happened was that the problem was pushed elsewhere along the canal - namely to the set of narrow staircase locks at
Leicester Section Watford Staircase Locks. These locks at Watford Gap were also meant to have be widened but it never happened and eventually the Foxton Boat Lift was closed in 1911 and everyone had to use the staircase locks again.