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Old Bedford Sluice/Lock, Salters Lode

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Old Bedford Sluice


There are two locks at Salters Lode, both connecting with the tidal Great Ouse River, but from different non-tidal sources. This has caused confusion to some writers.

Salters Lode Lock is at the end of Well Creek and is owned & operated by the MLC (see link at bottom right of page).

Old Bedford Sluice cum Lock, the subject of this page, is at the end of the Counter Drain/Old Bedford River (CD/OBR) and owned by the EA who also control its use as a sluice, but operated for navigation purposes by the MLC lock-keeper at Salters Lode Lock on behalf of the EA.

Old Bedford Sluice

According to Samuel Wells, the Register of the Bedford Level Corporation (BLC) a sluice was built here in 1630, and re-built in 1828, both times by BLC.(Samuel Wells, 1830, Vol 1 page 724). When the sluice became a navigable lock is not clear, but  seems a possibility.

Below is the northern, downstream, end of the CD/OBR and the inner steel vertical gate of the lock/sluice leading into the River Great Ouse, all owned and managed by the Environment Agency (EA). This gate was fitted in 1995 by the EA's predecessor's, the National Rivers Authority (NRA) replacing timber flap gates.
Strangely, it is the MLC-employed Salter's Lode Lock-keeper who operates Old Bedford Lock.

inner gate of OB lock in 2007 by Eddy Edwards Photo: EE, Aug 2007
On the extreme far left can be seen the bridge over Well Creek and Salters Lode Lock and the lock keepers cottage, clearly showing how close Well Creek and the CD/OBR are. I used to wonder why the two were not joined together to avoid navigators wishing to go from one to the other having to go out into the tidal river. More of that later .....

The original sluice here, known as the Bedford Sluice, was opened in 1632 when Vermuyden cut the Bedford River from Earith to re-join the River Great Ouse here. After 1652 when the New Bedford River was dug, the sluice and river had the prefix Old added.

In winter the lock is primarily used to provide gravity drainage of excess water into the tidal river, when levels - and siltation - permit. In summer, it can allow water to enter from the tidal river to provide irrigation for the Washes and adjacent fens but only when salinity is below an acceptable level. 

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Google satellite view.
River Great Ouse on right.
Well Creek bottom left to topright.
Old Bedford River below, looking black

Control box
control box of OB lock in 2008 by Eddy Edwards
Photo: EE, July 2008.
Outer wooden flap gates
outer gates at OB lock in 2008 by Eddy Edwards
Photo: EE, July 2008.
Text and photos except where noted © Eddy Edwards, 2008-12

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Related pages on this website
Salters's Lode Lock
Old Bedford to Well Creek weir
Related pages on external websites
2009 repair works Poject Hereward
Well Creek Trust
Middle Level Commissioners