Site of Crockherbtown lock, Queen Street, Cardiff

Site of Crockherbtown lock, Queen Street, Cardiff

From the 1790s to the 1950s, there was a canal lock just north of Queen Street. The photo – courtesy of Cardiff Libraries – was taken c.1951, shortly before Crockherbtown lock was filled in.

cardiff_crockherbtown_lockThe building visible in the top left corner is now home to the Principality Building Society and Travelodge. The site of the lock is now occupied by the Queens West shopping centre. Beyond the lock, Queen Street runs left to right in the picture. Queen’s Arcade has replaced the buildings at the top.

Boats from the Pontypridd direction were lowered in the lock before passing beneath Queen Street in a tunnel, 105 metres long. Part of the tunnel was too narrow for a continuous towpath. Boatmen would move their boat by grabbing an iron chain fixed to the tunnel wall, while their horse was led through the streets to the towpath on the far side.

To the left of the lock in the photo, the ground was at the lower level of the canal at the tunnel mouth. The road visible beyond the wall was laid on pillars and steel beams, leaving a void beneath (now home to Pillars restaurant).

The wall to the right of the lock in the photo is a promontory. A weigh lock, where boats were weighed on a cradle, was installed to the right of the promontory in 1850. It was moved to North Road lock in 1894, as you can see in the photo on this page.

About the place-name:

Crockherbtown described what is now the eastern part of Queen Street. It seems to be first recorded in 1348 as Crokarton, then as Crockerton from c.1400. It probably denoted an area where pots were made or sold (crokkere is Middle English for a maker of pots and crockery). Crockerton was eventually re-interpreted as Crockherbtown, apparently through misassociation with “crock herbs” (vegetables or herbs cooked in pots). Some townspeople disliked the name, and in December 1886 the council agreed to change it to Queen Street (a name which already described the street further west). The old name survives in Crockherbtown Lane, behind the shops north of Queen Street.

With thanks to Richard Morgan, of the Welsh Place-Name Society, for place-name information

Postcode: CF10 2AQ    View Location Map

Website of Cardiff Libraries