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A nice easy stroll along a picturesque part of the Thames Path at Old Windsor
Old Windsor Lock
Jerome K Jerome, in his 1889 book Three Men in a Boat, wrote: ÔFrom Picnic Point [near Runnymede] to Old Windsor Lock is a delightful bit of the river. A shady road, dotted here and there with dainty little cottages, runs by the bank up to the "Bells of Ouseley," a picturesque inn, as most up-river inns are, and a place where a very good glass of ale may be drunk. Today the Bells is a Harvester.
The 1890-built lockside office at Old Windsor was presented by the Environment Agency to the River & Rowing Museum at Henley. Still carrying the name of the then lock keeper (J C Jack Dyer), the small wooden office is a rare reminder of lock keeping memorabilia.
The name Windsor means 'Windles Ora' - a bank with a windlass. This suggests an early type of flash lock or weir, where a windlass could be used to pull barges upstream.
Windsor was originally a fortified centre for the Saxons. Edward the Confessor (1003 - 1066) had his palace only 300 yards from where the lock now stands. Windsor is best known (apart from being the Queen's residence) as the place from where King John travelled to Runnymede to sign the Magna Carta in 1215.
The first 'modern' type of pound lock, a wooden affair, was built here in 1822. During a later rebuilt, the original wooden operating beams were removed to make way for a new electric control system. This proved unsatisfactory and hydraulic controls were fitted in 1965. Today the lock is flanked on both sides with stone steps, giving it the appearance of a roman amphitheatre.
There is a wide variety of wildlife to be found here, including lesser spotted woodpeckers, goshawk, kingfishers and many others. Snakes are frequently seen swimming across the river here.
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