Fourteen Locks Canal Heritage Trail

The Mystery Lock 11 on the Cefn Flight
The Mystery Lock 11 on the Cefn Flight

In 1792 the Act of Parliament passed to build the canal. Thomas Dadford Junior was appointed the engineer.

Our Fourteen locks Heritage Trail is along the Cefn flight which consists a single lock (lock 21), five pairs of locks, and one group of three.

The primary objection was to construct the locks quickly to meet the demands for transport made by the ‘Industrial Revolution’. Coal and pig iron were two of the major products to be carried on the canal.

MBACT Canalside walks 2017
MBACT canal side walks

Opposite lock 17 you will see a ‘byewash’ that was used to channel excess water from the lock. Continue down the lock flight along the towpath to reach Pensarn cottage. The last lock keeper to live here was Jack Brookes, everyone called him ‘Squire Jack’. He was famous for his gardens where he grew most vegetables. The small out building – the ‘ty-bach’ – is believed to be one of the first toilets to have running water. Across the bridge and on your left is a limekiln where limestone was burnt here to make lime, which was used as fertilizer or mixed with sand to make mortar.

A short walk then takes you to Lock 11, known as the ‘Mystery Lock’ because no one knows why the shelves were built or even how the lock gate worked. The last lock before the motorway is lock 8, this marks the start of the Cefn Fight of locks. It raises the water level 168ft in under half a mile making it one of the steepest rises in the UK. Combined with the number of locks it is one of the most significant in the country, an engineering wonder of the industrial revolution.

Fourteen Locks Heritage Trail map
Fourteen Locks Heritage Trail map – click on the map for a larger version