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Devizes Locks

aka Caen Hill Locks

Devizes, Wiltshire

Location Guide


An impressive flight to locks that can be easily photographed.

Caen Hill Locks on the Kennet and Avon Canal at Devizes is a flight of 29 locks, 16 of which form an impressively steep flight in a straight line up the hillside. Normally you would find water pours between locks in a flight, but here the gradient is too step and they have an unusual method to deal with the water storage needs, in that they have a whole series of ponds formed with embankments next to the canal, one pond per level.

The 29 locks have a rise of 237 feet (72m) over 2 miles (3.2km). The locks are in three groups, 7 lower ones spread over 1.2km,  16 locks in a single flight, and 6 more to take the canal into Devizes.

This was the last section of the 87 mile long Kennet and Avon Canal to be completed, before these were in place there was a tram road link, some remains of which can be seen in the tow path. Between 1829-42 they were lit by gas lights at night, useful as it took 5 to 6 hours to get through all these locks.

After the developments of the railways canals started to lose traffic, and this canal was bought by a railway company who raised fees sufficiently to drive over most of the remaining traffic to the railway. The canal fell into disuse, although sections were used for fishing. From the 1960's restoration has been going on and by the mid 80's the canals were open again, being officially reopened by the Queen in 1990. Water supply problems became a problem as the canal became more popular.  In 1996 a new pump was added that could back pump 32 million litres of water a day from the bottom to the top of the flight, the equivalent of a lock full in 11 minutes.

See our Devizes Locks Gallery
for loads more pictures

Photographing the main flight of locks can be achieved from the side of the canal or from a road bridge that crosses the canal. Most of the published photos that you see are taken from the road bridge. There is access from the towpath onto the road at this point. About three quarters the way up the main flight of locks and across the canal is a cafe.

There is quite a lot of wildlife, particularly in the side ponds that are on the opposite side to the towpath, and I have on visits here got quite a lot of decent wildlife photos including close ups on one occasion of a heron.

See our Gallery for more quality pictures of this location, it's wildlife and attractions.

Location: Devizes Locks, Caen Hill, Devizes, Wiltshire

Grid Reference: ST978614 Ceremonial County: Wiltshire

Map Link: Multimap

Multimap closer OS larger scale map

Aerial photo: Multimap

Getting there: Located just to the north of the A361, just over a mile west of Devizes.

Access: FREE

Other Useful Websites: Wikipedia (these locks) Wikipedia  (canal)

geograph   Waterscape

Address: Caen Hill Locks, Rowde, Devizes, Wiltshire or
             Caen Hill Locks
, Avon Road, Devizes, Wiltshire
Postcode: SN10 1PR Telephone: 01452 318000
Opening Times: Open at all times

Charges: FREE

Nearby Locations:
Other Location Pages: Devizes Locks Gallery    Crofton Pump House    
Other Relevant Pages:  Canals              Canals for photographers  

Major Canals and Waterways               Major Canal Features  

Canal Tunnels                                        Lock Flights and Staircases  

Canals in England                                  Non Navigable and Lost Canals  

Further information - canals  


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By: Keith Park Section: Canal and Waterway Section Key:
Page Ref: Devizes_locks Topic: Canals & Waterways  Last Updated: 05/2009


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