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all immaculate in Cotswold stone with Stonesfield slate roof

lock house on completion

lock house on completion (6 Apr 1928)

Three bedrooms, two living rooms and kitchen - no bathroom and a chemical toilet adjacent to the back door but access was from the outside.

‘When we arrived 41 years later not a lot had changed! Part of the kitchen had been partitioned for a bathroom but the toilet was in the same location - more or less outside. Kitchen and bathroom were streaked with black mould. Windows and doors didn’t fit properly and there were howling draughts everywhere.

‘The only form of heating was solid fuel. There was an inefficient Rayburn stove in the main living room and open fireplaces in the bedrooms and the sitting room. I don't think we ever lit the bedroom fires too dangerous as we had no idea if the chimneys were safe and in any case we couldn't possibly afford the coal. We did not use the bedroom on the east side for a few years because it was just too cold to put a young child in and when our younger son did move in there Bill lined the walls with a special insulating paper and the curtains had to have a pair of extra thick liners. Bill spent most of that winter and many following foraging for wood to chop up and burn on the Rayburn. The toilet was still in the same place, although the wooden lean-to built as a shop by a previous lock keeper meant access was at least under cover. However in the winter of 1981 when temperatures fell to -22 degrees, we needed to put on coat and gloves to go to the loo in the middle of the night and washing and bathing was not a pleasant experience.

‘It wasn’t done for lock keepers’ wives to complain or write to the management - but I did. I started working for Thames Water in 1979 and by this time the Thames Conservancy had ceased to be and thanks mainly to Thames Water taking over responsibility for housing for a short period in the early 80s the house was brought into the late 20th century. We had to give up one of the three bedrooms in order to have an upstairs bathroom including a toilet but it was worth it. At the same time the sitting room became a bedsit for our elder son and downstairs was extended to make a bigger kitchen and facilities for relief lock staff (though it was never successful and is now used as a utility room for the house).

‘In 1993 full double glazing, oil-fired central heating, a new roof and full insulation finally made Eynsham Lockhouse a very comfortable house but by then of course, the boys had grown up and moved away.’ 

Maureen McCreadie

This photo is part of the Packer collection © Oxfordshire History Centre, ref: POX0191799.

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