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Hidden Gems

By The Beresfords Marketing Team - 03 August 2009

Looking at some of the best kept secrets our County has to offer

Papermill Lock, Little Baddow

Picturesque lock on the river Chelmer with 12 locks and six bridges all dating from the 1790's. It was completed in 1797 and enabled goods, mostly coal, bricks and timber, to be carried by barge instead of horse drawn wagons from the sea to Chelmsford.

The old millstream leading off to the left creates two islands. In 1792 two mills stood on the lower island, one grinding mica as part of the paper making process and the other corn. On the upper island stood a small brick building (now the office of the Chelmer and Blackwater Navigation Company) which was complete with bunks for bargees to stay overnight. Opposite, next to the towpath, are the former stables for the horses. Just upstream you can see the old clapper gates, designed for containing livestock.

The lock chambers are built to a larger specification than on most other canals, thus enabling broader barges requiring only around two feet to navigate the numerous shallows. The balance beams and gates were made on site from locally grown oak and elm.

Today this attractive site is popular with anglers, boaters and walkers and is a base for pleasure boat trips. From here you can follow the towpath, which is a public right of way, to Chelmsford or Heybridge Basin. (