Guillotine Locks

Locks with guillotine (vertically rising) gates are rare things on the Trust’s canals and are more associated with East Anglian waterways.

Guillotine Gate, Trench Locks, Shrewsbury Canal Guillotine Gate, Trench Locks, Shrewsbury Canal

We have a few though, the best-known of which is probably the King’s Norton Guillotine Lock, which acted as a stop lock at the junction of the Stratford on Avon and the Worcester & Birmingham canals. It was constructed in the Napoleonic era in 1814 and is now a scheduled monument.

Other examples are found on the Huddersfield Narrow, the Calder & Hebble and the Rochdale Canal and are largely associated with 20th century road-widening schemes.

Another is Stamp End Lock on the Witham Navigation in Lincoln. This has its overhead frame handily dated ‘1950’ and is a visually striking, if little known example of the type.

Guillotine lock gates are more complicated than traditional mitre gates; they need more maintenance and those that survive are usually modern and constructed in steel. Earlier formations, like those on the derelict Shrewsbury tub-boat canal, live on only in scant remains and archive photographs, but they never cease to intrigue.


Last date edited: 10 May 2016

About this blog

Nigel Crowe

As national heritage manager, Nigel’s role is to lead the Canal & River Trust’s team of regional heritage advisers in England and Wales. He has over 25 years’ experience of working in the conservation, archaeology and interpretation of historic buildings and places. He is a member of the editorial board of the Institute of Historic Building Conservation. He has written numerous articles concerning heritage conservation and is the author of several longer published works, including the English Heritage Book of Canals.

See more blogs from this author