What is the 'Stairway to Heaven' Canal Lock

29th November 2022

Locks are located on a stretch of waterway known as the Grand Union Canal. The state-of-the-art locks were originally built in Hatton to fight off tough competition from the roads and railways. The Hatton flight of locks coined its local nickname, ‘Stairway to Heaven’, due to what workers felt was a hard ascent to the top of the steep Hatton lock flight, followed by relief with an easier journey to Camphill where the workmen received their wages at the Grand Union Canal Carrying Company offices.

History of 'Stairway to Heaven' Canal lock

Hatton Locks opened in 1799 and was located on the Warwick & Birmingham Canal, now known as the Grand Union Canal. It was built to carry locally mined coal to the factories and power stations of the Black Country and was a vital trade link in a chain of waterways that connected London with the Midlands. This chain was formed of eight different canals, each one owned by a different company. In 1929, commercial canal carrying became under severe threat from rail and road transport. That’s when one company, the Grand Union Canal Company, took over the entire route and re-named it what it still is today – the Grand Union Canal.

With new ownership, the company embarked on modernising in a bid to make the canal pay. Locks on narrow sections of the route were widened to accommodate two narrow boats side by side or 14-foot wide boats. This allowed twice as much cargo to pass through each lock, which was a welcome improvement to boaters who had to make their way through the ‘Stairway to Heaven’ with boats loaded with coal, spices and sugar.

The Warwickshire Ring from Gayton Marina

This varied route, mixing rural and urban, takes in parts of the Grand Union Main Line where you will wander through the secret countryside, industrial heritage and into the canal capital of Birmingham. Setting sail from Gayton Marina, this journey includes six tunnels, 145 locks and several aqueducts - all of which can be done in 14 nights. Whether you are seeking a quiet getaway with family or looking to take in some exciting attractions, such as climbing the 21 Hatton Locks (also known as the Stairway to Heaven). The Warwickshire Ring has something for everyone.

Find out more about our narrowboat hire in Warwickshire or more information on our featured routes and narrowboat locations today. Alternatively, you can get in touch with our friendly team to book your next canal boat holiday now.

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