The Environmental Agency has decided to keep lock keepers’ cottages
along the banks of the Thames. This example is at Sonning
The Environment Agency has decided it now wishes to maintain the chain of resident lock and weir keepers at each of its 45 lock sites along the River Thames.
The organisation changed its mind after staff, MPs, river users and those who live in the flood plain raised objections to earlier proposals to sell off ten of the lock keepers’ cottages.
It still plans to sell some houses, but these will be properties that are not either on or adjacent to locks and weirs.
‘We are confident that this proposal will address the concerns raised previously, while ensuring that we are able to use the assets we no longer need to raise money which we can reinvest in managing the river,’ said EA regional director Howard Davidson.
He added that no lock and weir staff will be made homeless or redundant as a result of any decision on lock houses and that staff in the five off-site houses due to be sold will be moved into houses at or adjacent to a lock in due course.
The EA says that it currently own 57 lock houses, and that of these, 52 are on or adjacent to lock sites.
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Built by James Weir of Arbroath, the Isabella was launched on the 15th September 1890. With an overall length of 45ft, 13ft 9in beam and a draught of 6ft, the vessel was built for line and drift-net fishing, and powered by two big lug sails, a jib and five oars.
In 1919 a 15hp Kelvin engine was fitted but by 1928 greater power was needed for seine-netting and a Kelvin K2 44hp engine was installed. This was upgraded again in 1932 when a Kelvin K3 66hp engine was fitted, and this engine continues to power the boat today. At that same time the name was changed to Fortuna.
In 1997 the Wick Society bought the boat, which by this time had been renamed Isabella Fortuna. A pictorial record of the vessel and the restoration is available from The Wick Society link below.
The Isabella Fortuna is normally berthed in Wick Harbour but during the winter she is housed in the old Lifeboat Shed on the South shore of Wick Bay. With a voluntary crew the vessel visits ports for festivals and other sea-based events. By the way, there really are coracles (tiny skin boats) in the photo below…
Wick Heritage Museum site:
Isabella Fortuna at the Caithness Community website:
If you can add to this story – perhaps links to more photos, details of the restoration or the boat’s history – please email us at email@example.com .