View Full Version : Foxton Incline Plane, Leics. 05/05/09 Report

10-05-2009, 09:42 PM
Visited with Bunkerkid on an in-bound return home after ROC Hunting!

This place is one of the marvels of Victorian canal building:thumb

A Bit of history of the site:
In 1900 an inclined plane was built to the side of Foxton locks. The aim was partly to speed up the passage of boats, but also as part of an effort to allow the passage of wide-beam barges instead of just narrowboats.

It was designed by Gordon Cale Thomas and had 2 tanks or caissons, each capable of holding 2 narrowboats or a barge. The caissons were full of water, and so balanced each other. The lift was powered by a 25 horsepower (19 kW) stationary engine. The land for the project was purchased for 1,595 and with the entire project costing 39,244 by 24 June 1900.[4]

The inclined plane had a journey time of 12 minutes for 2 boats up and 2 down and improved the speed of passage up the hill tremendously. Unlike the locks, where water flowed downhill every time a boat passed through, on the inclined plane almost the same amount of water went up and down the hill. Only the displaced water is moved, thus saving a great deal of water and giving better control of this vital resource.

There was a plan to build a similar inclined plane at the Watford Locks at the southern end of the canal's summit level. However, this was never carried through, and as the Watford Locks were never widened, the economic benefits of the plane could not be fully realised. Thus, despite its obvious effectiveness, the Foxton Inclined Plane was mothballed in 1911 to save money. After that date it saw occasional use when the locks were undergoing maintenance.

In 1927, dismantling of the incline began, so that it could be sold for scrap.
The remains of the plane can still be seen, today and the site explored at ones leisure:thumb

In the building alongside the locks, the former boiler house for the plane's steam engine, there is a small museum covering the history of the locks and the plane, and other aspects of the local canal.

The site of the Foxton Inclined Plane Boat Lift has been recognised as a Scheduled Ancient Monument and was on the Monuments at Risk Register. This recognition, together with the steady increase in leisure boating on British canals, means its restoration is now considered a key project in the development of the national waterway network.

The cost of full restoration has been estimated at 9 million (2006 figures), and is to be tackled in a series of stages.

Stage 1 of the project the clearing of the site and restoration of the canal arms above and below the plane was completed in 2008. A grant for 1.7 million was received from the Heritage Lottery Fund towards the 2.8 million cost of this first stage, and its successful completion resulted in the site being removed from the Monuments at Risk register.

Fund-raising is currently underway to raise the money for a full engineering study to determine the best way of recreating a working boat lift at Foxton.

Further details can be found at:


A few pics:


A photo of the incline in its heyday:thumb


Looking down from the top of the incline. The concrete conduits in which the rails and cables ran are still in place:)


Looking across to the canal from the top of the incline. A barge on the right gives an indication of how it would have looked:thumb


The barge at the top of the plane.


Looking across to both inclines from a recently installed viewing gallery.:)

Further pics can be viewed at:


10-05-2009, 09:49 PM
Nice one mate. There is one of these in the Black Country somewhere. I can't remember exactly. Very clever engineering at the time.

10-05-2009, 10:13 PM
what they need is a bunch of victorians to just get out and do it!!! instead of fumbling around with mountains of paperwork :(

I agree more action less words:lol:
Apparently there is another consultation show at the locks some time next month! A BWB rep told me today:coffee

10-05-2009, 11:08 PM
Blimey, this brings back memories. I used to come here with my dad when I was a kid, must be 20 years since I was there last! :w00t

11-05-2009, 10:10 AM
As we always hear-they don't make em like used to! Bet this was great to see when it was working! Nice pics Tankman. :thumb