Lock Cottage

Stoke Pound, Worcestershire


This cottage on the Worcester and Birmingham Canal is a rare survivor of its type built between 1790 and 1815. Many such handsome and unpretentious buildings remained until the 1950s when they were ruthlessly demolished.

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Beds 1 Twin, 1 Double

4 nights from
£344 equivalent to £21.50 per person, per night

The start of an era

Lock Cottage is a good example of Sir John Smith’s core purpose in founding the Landmark Trust in 1965. He was so maddened by the destruction of Thomas Telford's Junction House on the Shropshire Union Canal that he set up the Trust with the aim of restoring historic buildings. This particular survivor lies on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal, built between 1790 and 1815, which runs for 30 miles from Diglis Basin in Worcester to Gas Street in Birmingham.

Life on the towpath

Canals are a wonderful demonstration that beauty and utility can be combined. Today only narrow boats and towpath-walkers will pass by Lock Cottage. As the parking is a little walk away a wheelbarrow is provided to help transport your provisions. We hope that this lock cottage will give you a taste for travel by canal, which is the prime way to see England at walking pace without actually having to walk. Bromsgrove isn't far away at all and Lock Cottage is in a perfect position for exploring some beautiful historic properties.

Floor plan


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Map & local info

Lock Cottage sits alone between locks 31 and 32, by bridge 49 - a bridge as beautiful as all the others along the Worcester & Birmingham Canal.  It combines a lovely countryside setting in the countryside with close proximity to the Tardebigge flight of locks, which means that you are constantly meeting boaters and people passing on the towpath.

Bromsgrove is within walking distance. To experience more of the Midlands, take a short drive to Avoncroft Museum of Buildings, set among 19 acres of beautiful countryside, displaying over 700 years of history. 

Yet more delights await you at Brockhampton Estate, where you can visit a traditionally farmed estate and Medieval manor house. 

Lock Cottage is in a perfect position for exploring some beautiful historic properties. Ragley Hall is 30 minutes away, offering plenty of entertainment for children in the Adventure Wood, as well as dog friendly walks. The house itself contains a fantastic collection of art, porcelain and furniture. 

A walk around the park at Hanbury Hall and onto the surrounding countryside comes recommended. The house and grounds are open every day of the year. 

Hartlebury Castle is a 25 minute drive from Lock Cottage, where you can explore the wonderful Hurd Library as well as the house and gardens. 

Coughton Court, a splendid Tudor house and gardens, with a collection of Catholic treasures, is about a twenty minute drive, as is Harvington Hall, a moated medieval and Elizabethan manor house “containing the finest series of priest hides in the country”.

Take a look at our Pinterest Map for more ideas of places to visit and things to do during your stay at Lock Cottage. 

Please Note: The Landmark Trust does not take any responsibility and makes no warranties, representations or undertakings about the content of any website accessed by hypertext link. Links should not be taken as an endorsement of any kind. The Landmark Trust has no control over the availability of the linked pages.

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Ruthlessly demolished by the dozen

Lock Cottage is a good example of Sir John Smith’s core purpose in founding the Landmark Trust in 1965. According to the account of Lock Cottage that John Smith himself wrote for the Landmark Handbook 'Until the 1950s many such handsome, unpretentious buildings served and graced our canal system; but the Transport Commission of that day ruthlessly demolished them by dozens, in spite of everything which I and others had to say. Indeed it was, in particular, the destruction of Thomas Telford's Junction House at Hurlestone on the Shropshire Union canal... which maddened us into starting the Landmark Trust.'

In the event it was not until 1991 that Landmark acquired this, its first canal building and then only after long negotiations over access. Lock Cottage is not one of the most architecturally distinguished of Britain’s canal buildings, but it has the qualities of simple good design so strongly represented on the canal system as a whole. What it lacks in architectural distinction the Cottage has more than enough of in terms of its site, near the foot of the longest flight of narrow locks in Britain, the Tardebigge Thirty. It was at the top of this flight that the idea for the campaign group Inland Waterways Association was first proposed in 1946, on board the narrow boat Cressy then home of the writer Tom Rolt, whose widow Sonia has been involved with Landmark almost since the beginning.

The Worcester and Birmingham canal was built to provide a direct route between the industrial heartland of Birmingham and the Severn at Worcester, cutting 30 miles off the alternative route and avoiding the trickier reaches of the Severn above Worcester. The 1790s saw the first lengths on the Birmingham level completed without too much difficulty despite long tunnels. The scheme even survived the inflation of the years of war with France which slowed work to a crawl, but took the navigable section of the canal to Tardebigge Old Wharf in 1807. Then, in 1809, with new money and an enthusiastic Committee, the Company embarked on planning the final challenge, the descent to Worcester – a fall of 425 feet in 16 miles.

Construction of this last section actually began in 1812. It was a huge undertaking and work progressed slowly. With 58 locks to construct, as well as reservoirs, bridges, wharfs and warehouses, houses for lock-keepers came low on the Company’s agenda. On 4th December 1814 the canal was declared officially open and the evidence suggest that the Cottage at Stoke Pound was not built until 1816, or even 1818.

A lock cottage had to be roughly in the middle of the length of canal for which a lock keeper was responsible. As a result, each cottage was slightly different, for reasons of site and the land available to the company to build on – this cottage is a particularly good example of how the engineers overcame such difficulties, even faced with a narrow strip above a steep embankment. When first built this one was smaller than it is now, with just two rooms – the kitchen and present dining room – on the ground floor and perhaps an attic bedroom above. There was probably always a yard at the west end and a smaller one at the east end with a low cellar under it for coal. Under the west yard was a well but this may not have been original. Later an upper floor with two bedrooms was added using a slightly different coloured brick. The stair was where it is now, but it may have been little more than a ladder at first, leading into the smaller bedroom.

Some years later again, the house was enlarged at the east end, with a taller cellar, a room above it under a lean-to roof and a new yard beyond, complete with pigsty and shed. The cellar was equipped with a salting bench, for the pigs, at a later stage. The new room, with its own outside door, was a workshop and store, known in canal language as a 'Hovel.' The slot in the back wall, to the left of the window, was to allow ladders or long boat-hooks to be hung on the brackets at the side.

At the same time as the addition at the east end, and in the same mix of red and blue brick, a wash-house was built on at the other end (now the sitting room). The wall in front of the Cottage, built to give some protection from flooding, probably belongs to this same phase of general improvement, as perhaps does the paving of the west yard. On its steep site there was no room for anything more than the two yards beside the Cottage. In such cases, it was common for a lock-keeper to have his bit of garden on the other bank.

Finally, perhaps at the turn of the century, a third bedroom was added above the workshop. The last lock-keeper to live here moved in in 1953 and if improvements were made for him, little was done thereafter.

A short history of Lock Cottage

Read the full history album for Lock Cottage

Download the children's Explorer pack for Lock Cottage


Significant structural works were required

The uncertainty surrounding the future of Lock Cottage after the death of the last tenant in 1986 lay not in its rather decayed state but in the lack of any access for a car. The Cottage had electricity of sorts, but it had no running water, nor plumbing of any kind. A water main was brought along the track and a septic tank put in the field below – it took three years to negotiate these steps. Significant structural works were required: neither the wash-house nor the Cottage had been built with adequate foundations and were showing signs of movement.

New foundations were laid, the yard dug up and the rebuilt outer wall tied to a concrete slab behind. The wash-house was also rebuilt, using a mixture of the old and second hand bricks. The walls of the lower east yard and its outbuildings also needed rebuilding. The main roof needed new battens and felt. The surviving tiles were then relaid, all exactly as before. The chimneys were also rebuilt and the roofs of the wash-house and outbuildings had to be renewed entirely.

Cement repointing to the back wall was raked out and the joints repointed with lime mortar. The steps to the cellar were reconstructed and the cellar door repaired. The windows and doors themselves were repaired where possible, but where they were too decayed the new work copied the old.

As the two downstairs rooms were very small, the wash-house on the west end became the sitting room. The original idea was to keep the wash-house chimney, with its hearth and copper, but the chimney fell down before we finally bought the Cottage, so a new central fireplace was made in the existing main chimney breast. The 1950s kitchen range was falling to pieces and so was replaced. A new window was inserted to light the stairs once the bathroom had been inserted. Overall, the Cottage retains the feel of a simple working man’s dwelling.

Essential info
What you need to know about this building
  • No.
  • Via a long track across fields which has a number of gates that have to be opened and closed when accessing the property.
  • Bromsgrove – 1 mile.
  • Yes – there are two parking spaces about 70m from the property.
  • There are electric night storage radiators and an open fire.
  • Unfortunately, there is no arrangement for the purchase and delivery of logs, however details of local sources will be provided with your booking confirmation.
  • To check up-to-date mobile network coverage in the area, visit signalchecker.co.uk. Due to the location and structure of many of our buildings, signal strength may differ to those indicated.
  • The kitchen is fully equipped with all plates, cutlery, fridge etc. There is also an electric cooker.
  • There is one bathroom with a bath.
  • The stairs are relatively steep and narrow.
  • There is a small enclosed yard. Please note the close proximity to the canal at the front of the property (unfenced). The public towpath runs past the front of the Landmark.
Booking and Payment
  • If the weather is bad, please contact our booking office who will be able to tell you whether the Landmark is accessible. If the housekeeper can safely get to the building to prepare it then we consider that it is open and available for guests. However if we cannot undertake a changeover then we will do our utmost to transfer your stay to another Landmark, depending on what we have available. It may not be of a similar size or in the same part of the country as your original booking. If the building is accessible but the customer cannot travel due to poor weather in his/her local area then please be aware that Landmark will not provide a refund. However the customer may be able to claim on his/her own travel insurance. We recommend that all guests take out travel insurance when they first secure a booking.
  • We accept Maestro (if issued in the UK), Visa, MasterCard, direct transfer and sterling cheques drawn on a UK bank. Cheques should be made payable to the Landmark Trust except for Lundy stays and boat/helicopter tickets which should be payable to The Lundy Company Ltd. All payments must be in sterling.
  • The key arrangements will be included in the Further Infomation document which will be sent to you prior to your stay.
  • If your stay starts more than two months from the date you make the booking, you are required to pay a deposit of one third of the cost of your stay (or £100 per booking, if greater) at the time of booking. Camping on Lundy and The Bunk House at Llwyn Celyn must be paid for in full at the time of booking.
  • If you wish to cancel or change your booking, please contact our Booking Office on 01628 825925
  • At the moment we only accept payment in sterling.
  • Our housekeeper will leave the key in a suitable place, the details of which will be sent to you prior to your stay.
  • It depends. Some of our most popular Landmarks are booked up a long time in advance, but many can be booked at short notice. We will always have Landmarks free for the coming weekend so it’s always worth checking our availability list.
  • No, Landmarks are available to be booked for anyone.
  • No, all the information you need can be found on our website, although we’d like you to buy one anyway as it will be a pleasure to own!
Staying at a Landmark
  • Some of our Landmarks are suitable for people with disabilities or limited mobility. However, many Landmarks have steep or narrow staircases, uneven floors and thresholds, changes of level, low ceilings or beams, as well as indistinct colours on steps and in corridors. We recommend that you call Booking Enquiries on 01628 825925 if you would like to find out the suitability of a particular Landmark for anyone with a specific disability.  Further information on access when visiting Lundy can also be found here.
  • Yes, Landmarks are only available as self-catering accommodation. We do not offer bed and breakfast.
  • Landmark does not provide catering, but we can recommend Greycoat Lumleys who can arrange for expert and well-trained staff to cater for one evening or for your entire holiday. Their cooks and chefs are able to work with you to meet your specific requirements
  • You may bring up to two dogs to properties where dogs are allowed (please see specific property details for exemptions however dogs are not permitted on Lundy except assistance dogs). They must be kept off the furniture and under proper control. A charge of £20 per stay is made for each dog. Please contact booking enquiries if a registered assistance dog is supporting one of the guests, for which there is no charge.
  • Apart from two dogs (see above) no other pets are permitted.
  • Arrival is from 4pm and departure is by 10am.
  • We do not carry insurance for breakages. However we appreciate that accidents do sometimes happen. If you have a breakage during your stay, please let the housekeeper know and if appropriate we reserve the right to invoice you accordingly.
  • Yes, most of our Landmarks are perfect for children, with gardens to play in and secret places to discover. Our furniture is surprisingly robust and we positively encourage families to stay. However, some of our buildings may not be suitable for small children; for example, some of them have steep or uneven spiral staircases. We recommend that you call the Booking Enquiries team if you would like to find out the suitability of any of our Landmarks for young children.
  • Unfortunately, most of our Landmarks are not licensed for weddings. However, you may get married on Lundy.
  • All our larger Landmarks are perfect for gatherings of family or friends. You may invite an additional two guests to visit you during your stay, however they must not stay overnight. This is very important because our fire regulations specifically note the maximum number of people in any one building. In addition our properties are prepared, furnished and equipped for the number of people specified and greater numbers cause damage and excessive wear and tear to vulnerable buildings. Should this condition be ignored we shall make a retrospective charge per person per day (whether or not they stay overnight) for each guest over the permitted limit, the charge being pro-rated on the total cost of your booking.
  • We deliberately do not provide televisions and find that most people appreciate this.
  • One of the challenges of restoring unloved buildings is gaining access to them. We frequently have to negotiate rights with our neighbours and share tracks with them. In many cases tracks do not belong to us and we have no right to maintain them. Wherever possible we work with our neighbours to provide you with a good quality surface, but where this is a problem then you will be warned at the time of booking.
  • Yes, we have standard electricity sockets for UK appliances. If you are coming from outside the UK, you will need to bring your own adaptor plug(s). If you are visiting one of our European properties we have standard European electricity sockets. If you are visiting from the UK, you will need to bring your own adapter plug (s).
  • Landmark’s electrical systems have not been designed to provide continuous power from one socket over several hours.  If an ordinary socket is used to charge an electric vehicle, there is significant risk of an electrical fire and consequent danger to life.  Therefore, we are unable to allow electric vehicle charging from most of our Landmarks at present.

    We are working to provide Type 2 Electric Vehicle charge points at our properties where there is private parking.  Where this is available, please request this facility when booking the property to ensure the outlet is enabled on your arrival.  There is a small charge to cover the cost of electricity provided.  Please book this facility in advance.
  • No, we do not allow smoking in any Landmark.
Availability & booking

Select a changeover day to start your booking...

What's a changeover day? and Why can't I select other dates?Explain MoreQuestion

A changeover day is a particular day of the week when holidays start and end at our properties. These tend to be on a Friday or a Monday but can sometimes vary. All stays run from one changeover day until another changeover day.