Liskeard & Looe Union Canal
This extra traffic overloaded the little canal and the horse drawn barges could take up to 8 hours to make the journey through all the locks. As a result, the Canal company decided to update its transport link and built a railway for merchandise between Moorswater and Buller Quay at Looe in 1860 alongside the route of the canal. This railway, the basis of today's Looe branch line, linked up with the Liskeard & Caradon railway and was able to convey minerals far more quickly than the old canal. The Looe line opened for passengers nineteen years later in 1879 and was eventually linked up to Liskeard station in 1901.
Meanwhile, the canal slumbered, largely as a drainage channel alongside the railway and the East Looe River. The route of the canal and a few of its locks, chiefly under bridges, can still be seen by eagle-eyed travellers on the train. But Lock 21, between Coombe Junction and Lodge Farm crossing, was severed by the 1901 link line to Liskeard. As a result, it has survived as the only 'dry' lock on the route, without a constant flow of water. Because the railway was opened by the canal company, almost all of its remains are within land owned by Network Rail. Lock 21 has been quietly dominated by tree growth over the years and last week local volunteers were able to access the site, courtesy of Network Rail, to cut back the trees and vegetation that had been threatening to destroy the stonework of this ancient lock. It is hoped that it will remain a visible reminder of the valley's important transport heritage for many years to come.
Lock 21 can be seen from the branch line, as well as the road that runs parallel, beneath Lodge Hill. Here are some photos, showing the newly rescued lock, together with a view taken 11 months ago in December 2018, when it was almost invisible beneath the vegetation.
A good job well done. Best wishes, Peter.
Many thanks indeed Peter for your article and extensive research.
Stuck in the mud