Work Party – November 2014
Lock House Update
The Work Party held on Saturday 15 November 2014 focused on the site of the former Lock House and locating any foundations.
The ground floor had consisted of four rooms: Living Room and Washhouse at the front, with Kitchen and Pantry at the back. According to Olive Price (n�e Shaw), who grew up in the Lock House in the 1940s and 1950s, the Living Room was usually known as the Front Kitchen by the family, while the Kitchen was called the Back Kitchen. The house had been occupied until September 1956 and was demolished soon after.
It is likely that much of the demolition rubble from the house would have been left in-situ or scattered nearby. Of course, there is the possibility that some of the debris found here may have come from the Roving Bridge or the Aqueduct or the Lock, but this is probably less likely.
Demolition debris still littered the site – red bricks (broken and unbroken), pieces of broken blue-black slate, and roof tiles – together with a variable covering of soil, grass and other plant matter including roots of bushes and small trees. This would need to be removed to uncover any remains of the house.
The foundation wall of the whole of the east side of the Lock House was uncovered first. This is the side closest to the hawthorn hedge. The wall is about 20 feet long. The fireplace and range sections were clearly seen, as was the position of the dividing wall between the Living Room and the Pantry, about 9 feet from the back wall of the building.
Parts of the quarry stone floor in the Living Room were revealed – mainly dark red tiles with some dark blue tiles arranged “square-on” to the wall, just as Olive had described. Some of the tiles were badly cracked but others were in excellent condition.
There were traces of coal (near the fireplace) and fragments of plaster (mostly white but some with a blue wash). The position of the front (south) wall and back (north) wall of the house were identified.
Outside the house, at the front, part of the grey-blue brick path in the yard was revealed. The bricks were in excellent condition.
The foundation wall of the whole of the north side (the back) of the house was uncovered next, delineating the extent of the Pantry and Kitchen. This section is about 16� feet long. There was evidence of the dividing wall between the Kitchen and the Pantry.
The position of part of the west (left) wall of the Kitchen was identified and some dark blue-black quarry stone floor tiles were uncovered in that top left hand corner of the Kitchen. They were also in excellent condition.
Outside this wall, a small amount of a grey, clay-like material was found and there was speculation that this might be puddle-clay used to line canals to provide an impervious layer.
From what has been uncovered so far, it would appear that the rooms on the ground floor had approximately the following dimensions:
Living Room: 16� feet x 11 feet depth,
(Back) Kitchen: 10� feet x 9 feet depth,
Pantry: 6 feet x 9 feet depth.
From these measurements, it is probable that the Washhouse, as yet uncovered, was approximately 9 feet x 13� feet depth.
Various artefacts were found, including pieces of broken glass bottles, broken pottery, a galvanised iron bucket and more parts of a cast iron Range. Two of these parts bore the number “17”, possibly a model number. It was serendipitous that Yvonne Plant and Geoff Hales identified the same parts on their Range at home – and the dimensions seemed correct too. It is probable that the Range dates from the late 1800s and was most likely cast in the Birmingham/Black Country area.
Everyone who took part in this Work Party was thanked for contributing to the success of the day: Paul Bryan, Philippa Bryan, Sheila Cook, Barbara Cooper, Norman Cooper, Alan Gossage, Geoff Hales, Ivor Hind, David Jones, John Mountfort, Peter Moore, Yvonne Plant, John Potter (Work Party Coordinator), Vee Potter and Alistair Proffitt.
An article about the Lock House (written in 2010) is on the History Page.
D.J.Jones: November 2014.