The Link
Boston Link
Black Sluice Lock
Pre-Booking Form
Further Information
Navigation Guides
Useful Links
Contact Information
New Fens Waterways Link Update Leaflet

The Environment Agency has recently published an update on the Fens Waterways Link Project.

The leaflet, produced for the 2010-11 financial year, is the fourth in a series of information leaflets going back to 2004.


The Black Sluice Navigation, situated on the South Forty Foot Drain, had not been used for nearly 40 years until it reopened in 2009 after funding from ERDF, emda and Lincolnshire County Council. It is a typical Fen drain, providing 31km (19 miles) of navigation into the west of Boston in Lincolnshire.

The Navigation

To enter the navigation, you will need to pass through the Black Sluice Lock, which was constructed on the site of the original lock. The lock connects the Black Sluice Navigation with the tidal Boston Haven.

When passing from the lock onto the Black Sluice you go under London Road Bridge. Please be aware that there is a height restriction on this arched bridge.

Black Sluice Lock

Length: The lock can accomodate boats 21.00 metres (70 feet) long

Width: 6 metres (20 feet)

Draft: Normal water depth in the lock will be 2.80 metres (9 feet). However this may vary on certain tides.

Airdraft: Headroom in the lock is not restricted. However, London Road Bridge, immediately upstream of the lock has variable headroom. The headroom varies from around 1.70 to 3.40 metres through an arched 'tunnel'.

For dimensions of London Road Bridge, please click Here 

In the old lock-keeper cottages, at Black Sluice Lock, there are showers and toilets available to boater 24 hours a day.  A key can be obtained from the lock-keeper, with a deposit. The cottages will also be home to a cafĂ© and an information centre, with a shop.

Above Donnington Bridge, access is currently only possible for small unpowered craft, such as canoes and kayaks. This is due to the limited water depth, headroom and width above this point and environmental and wildlife considerations.

There are also a few low headroom bridges along the Black Sluice Navigation. On average, at normal summer levels there is about 3.0m of headroom at these bridges.  There are inverted gaugeboards at the lower sites, which show how much headroom is available.  It is the skipper's reponsibility to check that there is enough headroom before passing under the bridge.

Andy woods, Lincolnshire Waterways River Inspector, can be contacted on 07721 390128 if you require any further information.

Booking a place through the Black Sluice Lock

Black Sluice Lock is not permanently manned, so please do not expect to be able to use the lock without prior warning.

Bookings will need to be made a minimum of 24 hours in advance, you can book:

By Telephone

Available during office hours (Mon-Fri 9am to 5pm), the Black Sluice booking line is 01522 78 5041.

You will be asked to provide us with information that will help us to organise your passage and ensure that you will be able to get the most out of your trip. If you are planning to use the Grand Sluice Lock in your journey, we will also be able to assist with this.

Lock-keepers can book passage through both the Grand Sluice Lock and the Black Sluice Lock.

Please note that that your booking does not always guarantee passage through the lock at the time arranged. Occasionally bookings will have to be postponed or cancelled. This could be due to:

  • The Port of Boston requiring the use of the area of water in fron of the lock to turn large seagoing vessels.
  • Flooding incidents; The Black Sluice Lock can be used to discharge flood water from the South Forty Foot Drain. At this time the lock will not be available for use, and red warning flags will be flying at the lock.

We will endeavour to give you as much warning as possible if such a situation occurs, so that alternative arrangements can be made.

Other useful contact numbers are;

Grand Sluice Lock - 07712 010920 or 01205 364864 and Port of Boston - 01205 365571.