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Saturday, March 10, 2007


In 1803 a Royal Army Ordnance Depot was built at Weedon Bec. It was made up of 8 storehouses and 4 magazines. Small arms and gunpowder were just two of the things stored here. The magazines had thick walls and between each an additional building that was filled with earth.
During the early part of its 160 year life the depot had barracks for 500 men, a hospital, a military prison (1861 census shows 94 inmates) and just outside the depot still as built accomadation for its own fire brigade.
In 1809 on a saturday an order was recieved for 22,000 muskets. These were packed in cases and on Monday morning they were on there way to London.......are you thinking whats this got to do with his canal travels? has the water gypsy gone senile? is he blogging from the pub?
Noooooooo the Muskets went to London by canal.
When the depot was built they dug a canal from within its walls exiting via a Portculis Gate to join up with the then Gd. Jct. Canal. Going past today you would never know of its existence as there is no sign of it from the canal. I read of it from an old canal book picked up on my travels last year and having missed it going south last year was determined to seek it out this time.
Now this canal transport system was going well and then came the railway passing close to the Gd. Jct. Canal and level with it. Both had passed above the village one each side and come together as they passed by the Ordnance depot. To overcome the problem of allowing boats loaded with gunpowder to access the depot canal a section of rail was removed each time a boat came in & out.This was supervised by the local Stn. master.
Rail lines were added at Weedon Stn. that led into the Ordnance Depot giving it 3 forms of transport, road, rail and water.
Blimey this blog is long i`m supposed to be retired. quick cuppa and i`ll carry on
The Ordnance Depot went on untill the mid 1960`s and during its life was used as a clothing store kitting out Kitcheners Army also it was an army eqeustian school and stabled some of the finest horses in the country. Plus the Army had its bicycle section here.
This place is full of history and interest from who was stationed here to what civilian workers in the depot earnt 100+ years ago. I claim no superior knowledge of this place having read all i tell you in a booklet issued by the Weedon Bec History Society and purchased in the village post office. Don`t miss the village it`s a nice place to walk around and pick up supplies.
Oh just thought going north on the Gd Union under bridge 25 past Weedon Wharf on the Left(port) you see the church. There are a few moorings on the church side but don`t worry if you moor opposite there are steps down to a road passing below the canal and into the village.
The point that the depot canal joined the mainline is further up on the left in the middle of the boatyard before bridge 24.
If you go looking for the depot as you stand outside looking at the portcullis gate behind you is the old engineering works. To the leftof it is a lane and just a few yards along the lane you can walk through the trees past the deserted building and find the canal exit under the railway.
Nice eh!

A view from the canal bank looking across the churchyard showing the railway passing at the same height as the canal. Walk past the church into the village and the road goes gradually uphill to the Ordanance Depot.

Inside the depot the entrance to my left shows a large part of the canal still in water. Further down a now filled in basin allowed the turning of boats.
The entrance to the Depot with the portcullis gate that would raise to allow boats to access.
The canal having exited the depot passes under the rail lines. This is the only part in water outside of the depot. An old engineering works has been built over the rest.

This is the place the Ordanance Depot canal joined the main Gd Jct. Canal. Notice the height of the railway in relation to the canal and the metal railings seen in the picture from the depot side.

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NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs