Thursday 5 October 2023

Barrel roofed cottages of the Stratford Canal

Unique to the Stratford-upon-Avon Canal in Warwickshire are a number of barrel roofed cottages [1]. These were built for the lock keepers or lengthsmen of the canal in the early 19th century.

While the Stratford Canal was under construction in the late 18th century (work began in 1793) the British economy was running into trouble due to the financial and resource pressures of the Napoleonic War because of this work on the canal was suspended for a number of years before resuming in about 1809 [2].

Land owner William James helped save the canal project and came up with a number of ways to save costs in order to help complete the Southern section of the canal and to reach Stratford-upon-Avon. One of the ways to save money was these lock keepers cottages. They were simply built single storey rectangular buildings with the "barrel" roof made from a series of arches more akin to a bridge than a house. Six were built on the stretch of the canal between Lapworth and Yarningale Common.

Lowsonford Lock 31 cottage

Bucket Lock Cottage near Yarningale Aqueduct

Another view of Bucket Lock Cottage

Barrel roof cottage at Kingswood

[1] Ray Shill, West Midland Canals Through Time: Severn, Avon & Birmingham (Amberley, 2012) 

[2] J.R Ward, The Finance of Canal Building in Eighteenth-Century England (Oxford University Press, 1974) p. 49