Remains of lock keeper’s cottage, Five Locks, Pontnewydd


The wall beside the towpath here is all that remains of the cottage built for the lock keeper, whose work was vital to keeping goods moving along the canal. The upper photo shows Lock Cottage to the right of the towpath. The lower photo shows the view down the flight of locks, with Lock Cottage beyond the woman and children on the towpath.

Old photo of Five Locks showing lock keeper's cottageJust beyond the site of the cottage are the remains of limekilns. They were probably built in 1793-94 to provide lime for mortar to build the locks here and Cwmbrân Tunnel, upstream. The lime may also have been used for locks at Pontnewydd, downstream. They would have been disused by the time the cottage was built.

The lock keeper managed the movement of boats through the locks and organised maintenance. In 1855 boatman Benjamin Powell was fined for strapping his boat to the upper gate at Five Locks. This would have disrupted traffic along the canal.

Old photo of Five Locks showing lock keeper's cottageIn the 1850s the lock keeper here was Charles Edmunds. In 1856 he and another lock keeper gave evidence in the trial of maltster Watkin Herbert, from Pontymoile, for trespassing by riding a horse along the towpath. The canal company said public horse riding could disrupt canal traffic, but the magistrate fined Watkin a nominal one shilling.

In 1911 Lock Cottage was occupied by lock keeper William George Skyrme, 39, and his wife Elizabeth, along with a lodger who was a gardener.

In 1948 the occupant was Thomas Beniams, a labourer who paid 7 shillings 6d (pence) rent per week. In 1950 he was the lock keeper, and his rent had increased to 8s 2d per week.

The locks were derelict after the canal closed. In 1983 the Welsh Development Agency, Torfaen Borough Council and the Gwent land reclamation committee landscaped the area and made structural repairs to the old locks. This included installing the concrete walls which are shaped like lock gates.

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