|Macclesfield Canal Society||IWAAC Report|
|Editorial||Tractor Appeal Fund||Diary Dates||IWPS Website News|
|Peak Forest Canal Co Ltd||News from the IWA||Babblings
by Pete Yearsley
by Keith Holford
The Map that Changed the World
Appeal for volunteers
New Mills Millennium Walkway
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The tramway bridge over the Black Brook looking downstream, December 1977. Left is to Stodhart Tunnel and Chapel Milton, right is to Townend and Chapel-en-le-Frith. It is understood that this fine stone bridge was destroyed in the mid 1980s during the construction of a link road to the Chapel-en-le-Frith and Whaley Bridge bypass. A recent attempt to find either the bridge or its remains proved a failure.
Photograph: Anthony J Whitehead
Bugsworth Basin Report
by Ian Edgar MBE - Chairman and Hon Site Manager
ACCOLADE FOR MACCLESFIELD CANAL SOCIETY
We are pleased to hear that the Macclesfield Canal Society have been given the prestigious Dragonfly Award by the Mersey Basin Campaign. IWPS Ltd. have always worked well with our neighbouring Society and we cannot think of a more deserving society. Quite rightly nominated by British Waterways the Macclesfield Canal Society have, like us, embraced the new era of partnership and we can see the Society's efforts coming to fruition as they work together with British Waterways and the Local Authorities through which the Macclesfield Canal passes. The Macclesfield Canal Society's magazine 'Milestone' is one of the best there is and always has news on what the Society is doing on 'their' waterway whether it is painting bridges, railings or erasing graffiti in the less attractive stretches, or just knowing their patch. It is just such commitment and the will to commit physical effort on the canal that gains respect with authority and the MCS certainly has that.
Congratulations to all whose hard work has gained this recognition. None of us do it to get an award but when one comes it is very very satisfying! Well done!
MACCLESFIELD CANAL SURVEY
What I think is another 'first' from the Macclesfield Canal Society is a Complete Canal Survey on CD-ROM Disc. I quote the note on the sleeve - 'The Macclesfield Canal Society has for some years maintained a web site at www.macc-cs.org.uk. However there are practical limits to the number of photographs that can be downloaded from this internet and so this CD is our attempt at providing easy access to information and large numbers of photographs without having to go on the internet'
If you are deeply in to computers (unlike me) then you will enjoy this. If not then (like me) it will be worth the effort to find out. Tim Boddington is the wizard behind this and he can be reached e-mail on firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively the disc is available to non-members of MCS at £5 from Macclesfield Canal Society, Oak Bank House, Oak Bank Drive, Bollington, Macclesfield SK10 5RJ.
The proceeds from the sale of the CDs will go to the Macclesfield Canal Society and not to any private company. The MCS is very generous in financially supporting other canal societies (more of which later under Tractor Appeal) and IWPS has benefited greatly from this generosity over the years. So send that cheque and order off to Tim right away!
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THE IWPS WEBSITE - www.brocross.com/iwps/index.htm
Don Baines our own computer wizard is putting in many hours enlarging our own IWPS web site. New innovations are the inclusion of the various booklets on Bugsworth on the web as well as new links to supporting organisations (like British Waterways and The Macclesfield Canal Society). Not to be missed out is the link to the IWPS Ltd. trading subsidiary The Peak Forest Canal Company where you can print off the order form to send by mail to me. As of yet we have no facilities for on-line ordering but no doubt this will come when we get connected for credit card transfers. The progress to date is very impressive and a credit to its creator. Thanks also to Dave Kitching with whom Don works so closely on this project.
Just in case you don't know the address go to www.brocross.com/iwps/index.htm and see what it is all about. Look at the sales list and see if you can buy something. Remember the profits of The Peak Forest Canal Co Ltd go to IWPS Ltd. and there is the added advantage that such profits can be transferred as part of Gift Aid and IWPS Ltd. gets another 28%.
THE PEAK FOREST CANAL CO. LTD
Orders by mail still keep coming in but over the winter on site sales are slow especially this year when the snow and ice have meant I have cancelled the working party and consequently Linda and Gordon Anderson have not been on site. They will now be open most working days as on the Schedule sent with the last magazine so hopefully we shall have more towpath walkers buying guides, information leaflets and the other 'goodies' on sale.
Please remember that the Peak Forest Canal Company can obtain trade rates for almost any commodity you may require. The most obvious is book sales where the discount is well worth while so please remember us and your canal Society when next you want a new book. All we need is the title, author, publisher and, if possible, the ISBN number. Please place your order with me as address on the front cover of this issue of '174'.
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THE TRACTOR APPEAL FUND
Great progress has been made with this fund which now stands at around £2000 coming from:
In addition we have been selling off our old redundant plant for which we will never have any further use. The pumps, hoses and connectors have been sold to fellow restorers on The Wilts & Berks. Canal and they have also taken our jack-hammers and pipes to clear the infamous capped locks they have down there - something like the old capped locks which used to be on the Rochdale and Huddersfield. We still have various other items to sell so within the next month we should be up to around £2300 but if our members could give us some more stuff to sell then we would reach our target that much quicker. Look at the items above which sell and see if you have something similar gathering dust in your garage or attic. Please contact me on 01663 732493. We can collect (within reason!).
In the meantime we are applying for grants to make up the shortfall for the new tractor mower but with a strong matching funding input we are better placed to be successful with the grant makers. A lot of credence is gained by self-help and your generosity could certainly bring that about. On the other hand you could always send us a cheque for what you can afford made out to The IWPS Ltd. Equipment Account.
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BUGSWORTH BASIN PROGRESS
Since the last Newsletter in October there is little further to report. The new rebuilt wall between Canalside Cottages (Teapot Row) and Canal House has now been completed. Funded by The Mersey Basin Trust we underspent on this due to the towpath surface being not nearly so bad as we thought. Consequently at my request that underspend has been re-allocated to the reconstruction of the retaining wall alongside the old route of Silk Hill. This wall has suffered vandalism, is badly bulging and has a cracked lintel supporting the wall above the old lime draw tunnel. IWPS Ltd. will take this wall down and Geoff Poritt will rebuild it using the tail pointing method - mortar on the inside of the wall but a drystone appearance outside. This prevents vandals picking out stones and causing further damage by the collapse of the wall above.
The Borough of High Peak has kindly given us four dog muck bins on the condition we erect them, keep them cleared and supply the liner bags. Not a pleasant task but far better than putting your foot in the horrible mess or worse still putting a strimmer through a pile and spreading it everywhere including the operator. We shall have to see if there is any improvement but one cannot help but notice the number of dog walkers who come to the Basin, disgorge their dogs (usually plural) and obviously not equipped with bags to clear up the resultant mess. To date, and we have to be thankful for this, some dog owners have cleared up and put the bags in the skips by the Facility Block. When we see this we make a point of thanking that visitor. Hopefully provision of more receptacles and a bit of education ( and perhaps shame in some instances) will improve the situation. We will have to wait and see. We are not anti-dog. I am a dog-owner myself. We are anti that section of the public who do not care for their environment and permit this filthy mess.
More work has been done on our new Exhibition Unit and we are getting there. Grants are being applied for to progress the photos and graphics side of the venture but the actual conversion is now almost finished. This, as always, has been down mainly to a few people, in this case Don Baines, Andy Eadon, Mike Malzard and Fred Wardle.
I have left the most important task on which I am engaged to the last and that is the Engineering Survey and hopefully prospective solution to the leak problem. Since October there has been a long period, the whole of December virtually, when people have been on extended annual leave. At the time of writing the topographical survey has been completed and the report submitted by the consultants Mott MacDonald to British Waterways. Meetings will be held shortly to discuss the next steps. As regards the new arrangements with The Waterways Trust a very productive meeting was held on 1st November last when it was clear there was little difference between the IWPS position and those of The Waterways Trust and British Waterways. There was a degree of clarification needed rather than a divergence of opinion. Further meetings will take place very soon and your Council remains very optimistic for the future. It will not be easy but then we knew that. To find £1 million will not be easy either but I am confident we have good people working with us and people who are committed to success. I will report more in the next issue.
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The current report just received updates the First Report of 1998 where an attempt was made to list and prioritise (for want of a better word) the various canal restoration schemes throughout the country. There is a great divergence - those like the Rochdale, Huddersfield and Bugsworth Basin which are near completion or have been re-opened and others on which Feasibility Studies etc. still have to be started.
I suspect the first thing anybody would do would be to seek out one's own scheme and in this I was shocked to find in the tables absolutely nothing about Bugsworth Basin. Had they forgotten us?
Then I found the reference to Bugsworth Basin:
2.4 Up to the end of 2000 only a handful of projects included in the 1998 Report had been completed. The most significant of these was the nationally important Bugsworth Basin heritage site. Post restoration work is still needed however and this project is being taken over by The Waterways Trust.
I would rather they had not said the project was being 'taken over' by the Waterways Trust because that is certainly not so. Ours is a new partnership and we are viewing it that way but we are not going to take issue over this.
I feel this is a good report but each Society or restoration body will view it by the way their own scheme has been listed, described and categorised. That is only natural but it is also a fact of life that you cannot please all the people all of the time. As regards IWPS and Bugsworth the IWAAC position will help us. What is clear is the new vibrancy of the waterways restoration movement, the new Government position on waterways (and particularly as regards road schemes and planning applications which would affect canal through routes) and the still comparatively new emergence of the Waterways Trust with a very pro-active British Waterways. What is also clear is the voluntary commitment of a large number of very competent people to a diverse range of very large projects throughout the country.
This Newsletter is not the place to go more deeply in to the IWAAC Report but for those wanting a copy it can be obtained from The Inland Waterways Amenity Advisory Council, City Road Lock, 38 Graham Street, London N1 8JX. It is freely available to public bodies, voluntary organisations, students and other individuals: for others a £10 charge is made. If you want one free then convince IWAAC you are worthy of one for nothing!
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DERBY AND DERBYSHIRE JOINT STRUCTURE PLAN
We have just received a copy of the Plan, only a few matters having any relevance to canals and even less having any relevance to Bugsworth Basin. However there are other canals being restored in Derbyshire ( like the Cromford and the Chesterfield) which might need the protection which the Structure Plan is meant to provide:
Transport Policy 16: Disused Transport Routes
5.28 Development should maintain the continuity and facilitate the future use of the routes of disused railway lines and canals.
5.29 Proposals for the reclamation of suitable disused railway and canal facilities as public access routes for walking, cycling and horse riding will normally be supported where this does not preclude proposals for the re-establishment of the former use.
Unfortunately with the Cromford much damage was done many years ago and our Founder, Bessie Bunker, campaigned against the destruction of the Ambergate aqueduct.
With the so-called 'impossible dream' restorations the Cromford has to be a prime canal to be restored in its entirety and the policy statement by the County Council must surely be a help to eventually bring that about.
We must also recognise the tremendous about turn in Government policy secured by the hard work of the Lichfield & Hatherton Canal Society. The Society secured a navigable culvert under the Birmingham Relief Road, and not only that, its hard campaign secured a policy directive that road and development schemes must take in to account presently derelict canal routes and not hamper their future restoration to navigation. This policy was changed after the DCC Structure Plan was drafted so it is gratifying they adopted a policy supportive of restoration rather than merely complying with Government directive.
Under the Section on Leisure and Tourism Policy 3 the Plan advocates ' the development of a wide range of recreational facilities in association with water areas and the development restoration and enhancement of waterways, having regard to water supply and drainage functions and conservation'. Derbyshire County Council are of course working closely with IWPS, British Waterways and soon The Waterways Trust in completing the restoration of Bugsworth Basin by curing the leak problem. The County Council has over recent years secured substantial funding (for the Entrance Canal work and for landscaping) and has employed its own Works Department on our site. The County Council will also, subject to confirmation, be securing substantial funding to go towards the £1 million required for leak repairs. There is nothing new to us therefore in this aspect of the Report but it is good to see it in print as County Council Policy.
The Plan also aims to divert tourists from the present 'honey-pot' and more sensitive locations like Castleton together with the economical local spin-offs they bring, to potentially equally attractive sites like Bugsworth and Whaley Bridge which are presently looking for new incentives to progress.
Copies of the plan can be obtained from Derbyshire County Council, Council Offices, Matlock for a hefty £10 or it can be downloaded from the internet.
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A NEW CONNECTION BETWEEN BUGSWORTH BASIN AND THE BCN?
'Waterways World' in the January 2002 edition carried a story under the heading 'BCN Discovery'. In the Upper Basin at Bugsworth there are timber tie-bars going back in to the stone structure. We do not know what these were for and we considered them to be unique. Until now. For British Waterways have been demolishing a lock on the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal and as a result of the Archaeological Recording whilst the work was being undertaken they have found similar timbers to ours at Bugsworth. So we are not unique.
I think there are lessons to be learned from this. First the fact the lock was to be replaced as part of a road scheme assumes it was considered to be of only minor historical importance. Nevertheless British Waterways engaged the services of an Archaeological Unit to make sure nothing was lost. Such work does not come cheap.
We cannot assume we know it all. Something is there to be learned all the time. Learned papers written years ago can be out of date very quickly due to information learned on the ground. I have recently had to take issue with an article written in 1993, just published and which had glaring errors due to knowledge learned since then, not researched since then and freely available from us for the asking.
As regards this new information Alan Findlow is doing some research to see if there is any connection with the two structures. Whether we find any conclusive information has yet to be seen but this experience does show that IWPS Ltd. is not just restoring the canal. We are, through our volunteers, recording history. That to my mind is very important.
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Editorial by Don Baines
I had a very nice letter from Rear Admiral Graham Davis CB, Chairman of the newly-formed Sussex Ouse Restoration Trust, thanking me for the copy of 174 sent to him and making some very welcome complimentary remarks about it. He goes on to explain that they are in the early days of their project, working towards a full feasibility study to develop their own provisional work, and are presently engaged in applying for charitable status, a process we are well acquainted with. Their newsletter is still at the embryo stage and we look forward to receiving a copy in due course.
The aims of the Trust are to promote a greater awareness of the benefits that the river can bestow on local communities and working in co-operation with other interested agencies for the:
Much of the area beside the Ouse has been subject in recent times to very severe flooding and, although not strictly restoration of the waterway, the Trust's plans include the construction of a tidal barrier downstream of Lewes. This would reduce considerably the present risk of flooding and reduce the tidal effects at Lewes making navigation possible at all states of the tide. Details of these plans are presently under consideration by the Environment Agency and by the consultants investigating the recent floods.
If you would like more information about the Sussex Ouse Restoration Trust, would like to join or send a donation to help this worthy cause please contact the Chairman at: Lynchetts, Lewes Road, Ringmer, Lewes, East Sussex, BN8 5ET or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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Visit by Droitwich Canal Trust, Worcester Birmingham Canal Society, Lapal Canal Trust and possibly others.
Still scheduled for May 19th 2002, is the impending invasion by a whole bus-load of Marauding Midlanders. Led by the inimitable, irrepressible, Jon Axe, this promises to be a very entertaining day. In the last issue I reported Jon as being the editor of the Lapal Trust's newsletter - apologies to David Carson who really does that job.
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IWPS Web Pages
We are continually developing and improving these web pages which you can find at:
Most recent has been the addition of historical pages, in particular, webpage versions of Peter Whitehead's booklets: 'Limestone, the Bugsworth Legacy' and 'The Industrial Archaeology of the Peak Forest Tramway'. The pages are intended as our contribution to the Peakland Heritage website currently under development and will be accessible (apart from normally through our own home page) through a webpage I have provided to the researchers.
The £35,000 Peakland Heritage project will create a website devoted to the area's history and, whilst being designed for use by historians of all ages, it is specifically being designed and presented in a way to appeal to school children.
The project is being promoted by a partnership of Derbyshire County Council, The British Library and the Peak National Park Authority.
Peter Whitehead is working on a new web page covering a guided walk of the Peak Forest Tramway and I am working on a webpage version of Martin Whalley's article "Setting the Record Straight", a chronology of events leading up to the reopening of Bugsworth Basin Project at Easter 1999, which appeared in Onward 118, October 1999. I have started on a webpage version of the buff-coloured £1 Bugsworth Guide Leaflet which will take some time to complete and I also have plans for the story of John Cotton, the Bugsworth wife murderer, and the Memoirs of Martha Barnes.
Don't forget to look at David Kitching's own very interesting pages on the way at:
You can also see the PFCC/IWPS Sales Brochure, which is also accessible through the IWPS webpages, offering the full range of books, clothing, souvenirs, etc on a new web site at:
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Recently, during our chairman's subscription debtors crusade, one member complained that he didn't know what the subscription was and it might be a good idea to publish them in '174'. Well, I am sure the more observant of you will have seen that we already do, on the inside of the front cover, and have done so since the June 1999 issue. So, you have no excuses for not keeping up with your payments, money which is entirely used for funding the printing and postage for '174' and 'Onward'. For those of you who do not already do so, why not fill out a Bankers Order Form, then you wouldn't have to remember and we could save even more postage by not having to send out reminders. And, while your at it, why not complete a Gift Aid Declaration Form as well - every £ you pay or donate to the IWPS is then worth £1.28 to the us. Subscriptions information, Bankers Order and Gift Aid Forms are available from the Chairman or by going to our 'Help the IWPS Pages' from where you can print out the forms.
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Copy for Newsletters - Please note that the deadline for publishing the next newsletter is 1st May 2002 so please try to let me have your copy before that date.
Please send any newsletter input to me, Don Baines, if possible on a 3½" disk (disks will be returned or provided if required). Typed input, photographs, sketches or drawings, can be scanned in.
You can email any input, text or graphics, to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Don Baines - Editor 174
News from the IWA
IWA AWARDS £5,000 FOR THE REPLACEMENT OF BRIGHAM BRIDGE
The Inland Waterways Association (IWA) today announced an award of £5,000 towards the replacement of Brigham Bridge on the Driffield Navigation. The present low-level fixed bridge obstructs navigation. The award has been made from IWA's National Waterways Restoration & Development Fund.
The replacement of the bridge follows nearly 10 years of negotiation between the Driffield Navigation Trust, the Driffield Navigation Amenities Association, local landowners and the local authority. Planning consent has now been granted for a new, manually-operated steel swing bridge.
Richard Drake, IWA's National Chairman, said, "We are pleased to support this project, as it will greatly increase the length of the navigation. With the restoration of Snakeholme Lock due to be completed in spring next year, the new bridge will enable boats to travel unimpeded from Brigham to Wansford Bridge."
The construction of the swing bridge at Brigham will have many subsequent benefits for the navigation. Richard Drake explained, "The local authority has given an undertaking that it will rebuild the fixed bridge at Wansford, which it owns, when navigation is restored to that point. Once this is complete, the Trust will focus on restoring the final 1.5km section, between Wansford Lock and Whinhill Lock, of the 11.5 km navigation.
Driffield Navigation Trust aims to have all the necessary funding in place to allow installation of the bridge to start in June 2002.
For further information, please contact:
Bob Huntsman, Driffield Navigation Trust ( 01964 550320 (anytime)
Ian Wingfield, Public Affairs Officer, IWA Head Office ( 01923 711114 (daytime)
Driffield Navigation was opened in 1770 to extend the navigable River Hull northwards to the town of Driffield. The navigation was moderately successful until the 1850's when railway competition began to take its toll. The navigation became unused in the late 1940's, but in 1968 Driffield Navigation Amenities Association was founded to campaign for restoration of the navigation. In 1978 The Charity Commission appointed new commissioners for the navigation, and steady progress has been made since then in re-opening the waterway as an amenity for all users.
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IWA OBJECTS TO NEW THREAT TO MONTGOMERY CANAL
The Inland Waterways Association (IWA) lodged an objection to The National Assembly for Wales, against its recently revealed plans to improve the B4393 and A483 by construction of a new roundabout at Maerdy Bridge junction. The proposed works will fix the road at a level that will obstruct the Montgomery Canal unless new locks are built each side of the road with a short lowered pound between them.
Tony Harrison, Chairman of IWA's Restoration Committee, said "IWA strongly objects to proposals to fix the road at a level that will block the canal. Installing 'drop locks' would be an unsuitable means of restoring the canal as they are very expensive to construct and maintain, and difficult and slow to operate."
Richard Drake, IWA National Chairman, added, "Aside from the increased costs that would be involved, canal users would be deterred, reducing the economic benefits for the region from the restored canal. Also the proposed scheme does not allow a safe way for walkers and un-powered boaters to cross the busy trunk road."
However, one of IWA's engineers has come up with an alternative solution. He has shown that it would be feasible to raise the road so that water level can be maintained under the bridge, which will save costs in the long-term.
Tony Harrison explained, "IWA has proposed an alternative scheme whereby the roundabout would be placed directly over the canal, centred on the location of the original canal crossing and at a height sufficient to allow boats to pass beneath without the need for 'drop locks'. There would also be a towpath alongside the canal, so pedestrians do not have to negotiate crossing the road, which facilitates better use of the canal by the whole community."
Richard Drake urged support for IWA's objection by saying "It is clear that the National Assembly of Wales has not considered the costs and impacts of the proposed road improvement and has not given proper consideration to alternative plans. IWA encourages all those concerned about the Montgomery Canal and rural regeneration within mid Wales to lodge their objections and help stop these unfortunate plans going ahead, which will otherwise amount to a serious setback to the future of the canal."
Richard Drake added "I hope that waterway enthusiasts will join local residents and lodge an objection to the scheme by writing to: National Assembly of Wales Transport Directorate, Cathays Park, CARDIFF, CF10 3NQ, quoting 'A483 Maerdy Bridge Junction Improvement - ref BZ 936051-3 1 1-1. Any submission should include reasons for objecting, although these do not have to be detailed. Objections should arrive no later than 11th January 2002."
The draft scheme is contrary to the policy of The National Assembly for Wales and to guidelines set by the Government:
The draft Welsh Assembly Technical Advice Note 18 March 2001 reads:
70. Development proposals, UDP policies, or the construction or improvement infrastructure including roads should not adversely affect inland waterways. In particular, care should be taken to avoid severing or adversely affecting inland waterways. Local authorities should, where appropriate, consult the British Waterways Board (BWB), or other relevant navigation authority. They should also consult the Environment Agency, local waterway interest groups and the Inland Waterway Association (IWA).
In July 2001, Transport Minister John Spellar and Inland Waterways Minister Lord Whitty, announced new guidelines to safeguard the restoration of derelict canals. The Highways Agency must now take waterway restoration projects into account when designing road improvements, or building new roads. Also provision must be made, such as navigable crossings, so as not to block the path of waterways that have a realistic chance of being restored.
A 'drop lock' works as follows: A boat enters a lock chamber and the water is pumped out. The boat passes under the road in a culvert and then into another lock where water is admitted to raise the boat to the original level. Sophisticated safety features, requiring paid staff to operate it, will be needed to ensure that water does not flood into the lower level and raise the boat into the roof of the culvert. A similar scheme on the Union Canal in Scotland cost £1,900,000. It takes 40 minutes for a boat to pass through.
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IWA AWARDS £10,000 FOR RESTORATION OF NEWHOUSE LOCK
The Inland Waterways Association (IWA) today announced a grant of £10,000 towards the Newhouse Lock Restoration Project on the Montgomery Canal, near Newtown. The project involves the total restoration of the lock chamber, including new gates and paddle gear, as well as restoration of the bridge and weir at the site.
The Shropshire Union Canal Society is organising the restoration of Newhouse Lock and is aiming to complete the project within three years, depending on funding and amount of volunteer labour available. Tony Harrison, IWA Restoration Committee Chairman, said, "IWA is pleased to support this project, which is an important step in the eventual re-opening of the Montgomery Canal. We hope that IWA's restoration grant will encourage other potential sources of funding to give their support to this worthwhile project."
Paul Mills of Shropshire Union Canal Society said "As well as the structural restoration, the project also involves landscaping the surrounding area, with provisions for a recreational picnic area, car park and mooring areas at the top and bottom of the lock. Once completed, Newhouse Lock will be an added amenity for the area, not just for boaters, but for everybody to enjoy."
Newhouse Lock will be the 10th lock to be restored by the Shropshire Union Canal Society. It is the last lock in need of restoration below the point where the feeder river enters the canal from the River Severn, leaving only the locks on the two mile dry section leading into Newtown to be tackled.
The Montgomery Canal has been under restoration for the past 30 years on both the English and Welsh lengths. British Waterways has listed the restoration of the canal as one of its six priority restoration studies and estimates that its completion will produce £2.5 million additional spend in the canal corridor per annum and over 1 million extra visitor days, resulting in the creation of 102 new local jobs.
The complete restoration of Newhouse Lock, including the weir and bridge, is estimated to cost around £110,000, with approximately one third of that amount being provided through volunteer labour. It is being organised by Shropshire Union Canal Society with support from British Waterways.
For 50 years the Inland Waterways Association, and its thousands of members, campaigned in the face of Government indifference for the retention, restoration, conservation and development of Britain's navigable canals and rivers.
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Babblings by Pete Yearsley
Pottering Around Stoke upon Trent
The last Inland Waterways Protection Society walk of 2001 took a figure-of-eight course around the nether regions of Stoke on Trent. Led by the inimitable Paul and Kathy Niblett we started from Michelin's Campbell Road car park and made our way across to London Road, to find the course of the Newcastle under Lyme Canal, now entirely infilled but discernible in the Coronation Gardens section. Here too is the memorial to Timothy Trow who died saving a child from drowning in the cut 1921.
The walk was titled "A Picturesque Perambulation Pictured in Potteries' Postcards" and Paul's copious notes reproduced several old scenes along the way for us to compare with the present day vistas, the first two being Coronation Gardens and the swingbridge by Boothen school. We passed 'The Villas', an artists' colony built for continental designers and artists in the pottery industry by Mintons. Of Italianate style, they were amongst the first in the country to feature indoor lavatories and bathrooms, as well as servants' accommodation. Corporation Street Bridge was the next marker for the canal, then the line becomes lost under new(er) building.
A diversion up Sturgess Street took us to see the reasonably complete remains of Goss' Pottery. Now empty and owned by Portmeiron Pottery, it is earmarked as their visitor centre. The Goss logo, the goshawk, could be seen on a tablet on the gable end of the building. Returning to the main road, we passed two striking buildings, the Public Free Library of 1878 and the gothic Stoke School of Science & Art, where many of the great pottery designers honed their craft. A suspicious hump in the road as we approached Campbell Place gave the position of the tunnel under the town before we diverted again for a flying visit to the Spode factory. Successfully avoiding the many and varied retail opportunities we entered the museum to observe a ceramic model of the factory, which showed its relationship to the Newcastle and Trent & Mersey canals. Back to Campbell Place and into Church Street, we progressed with the canal line to our left, past the Town Hall, the parish church where Josiah Wedgwood is buried, to Glebe Street Bridge over the A500. From here we descended to the towpath of the Trent & Mersey, a few yards from the junction with the Newcastle. A widened towpath and plaque mark the spot.
Northwards we walked, ascending the Stoke flight of five locks, passing the sad remains of Twyfords sanitary works and Shirley's Bone & Flint Mill, now under restoration and a potential venue for an IWPS visit when it re-opens. On to the Caldon Branch, then off by the new bridge at the foot of the staircase locks to find the Duke of Bridgewater pub for our lunch break. Suitably refreshed we regained the Caldon towpath and followed its sinuous curves past Planet Lock, which was put in in 1909 to compensate for mining subsidence and named after the first boat to pass through it. The canal passes through Hanley Park, and here we left the towpath to wander down through this green oasis. Designed by Thomas Mawson, it must have been a 'prentice piece before his magnum opus, New York's Central Park.
Leaving the park, we headed through the student ghetto to arrive at Winton Square where a statue of Josiah Wedgwood stands 'twixt the railway station and the North Staffs Hotel. An impromptu excursion into the hotel was organised to view the fine art-nouveau tile work in the gents' lavatories and splendid painted tile hunting scene which graces the kitchen staff's rest room ! After admiring the architecture of the area, we turned into Glebe Street and rejoined the Trent & Mersey once again. Now we headed southwards, passing our fifth bottle-oven of the day, a tiny aqueduct over the embryonic River Trent and the sites of Kerr Stuart's California works where Tom Rolt served his apprenticeship, and (you couldn't make it up) Winkle & Wood's Colonial Pottery works. We left the towpath by the waste incineration plant and, re-crossing the Trent and the A50, made our way back to the car park where thanks were heaped on the heads of our guides for such an excellent exploration of the Potteries.
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Dodging Foot and Mouth on the Mon & Brec Canal by Andy Screen
A year ago, when I "volunteered" to organise the IWPS October weekend in South Wales (in what must have been an alcohol-induced lapse of common sense) most of us would probably have had to get the dictionaries out to see what "foot and mouth" was. Sadly, it has become all too common a phrase in 2001, and it certainly put paid to my plans for enjoying the delights of the Brecon Beacons. Not to be put off however, we decided to concentrate on the southern end of the canal around Cwmbran for our Saturday walk and the Crumlin Arm for Sunday.
The Monmouthshire Canal Company was authorised in 1793 to build a canal from Pontnewynydd to Newport, and having been built under the supervision of Thomas Dadford Jnr, they ran it until they were taken over by Monmouthshire Railway & Canal Company in 1865, which was when the Brecknock & Abergavenny Canal also came into the family fold. After amalgamation with GWR in 1880 until nationalisation in 1947, the canal then passed through to British Transport Commission, and then BW.
The B&A was built from Gilwern (with a tramroad from the Clydach mines at Gellifelen) to Brecon, also with Dadford Jnr as engineer. After authorisation in 1793 work started in 1796 and it fully opened in 1801, but then extended south to join the Monmouthshire at Pontymoile by 1812, the B&A company having been persuaded (or maybe more appropriately, bribed) not to make their own independent way to Newport. By this time the section of the Monmouthshire from Pontymoile north-westwards to Pontnewynydd was already looking short-lived and by the 1850s it had already been supplanted by a railway. After the closure of the bottom end of the Monmouthshire, the rest of the Mon & Brec was maintained principally as a water feeder; the limit of navigation since the early 1950's being Crown Bridge (48) at Sebastopol, just south of Pontypool. That has now been lifted and it is possible to navigate the full length of the twenty-three mile pound to Five Locks near Cwmbran.
There were 32 locks and two tunnels (Cwmbran and Barrack Hill, Newport) on the Monmouthshire main line, plus 32 locks on the Crumlin branch. On the B&A there were six locks (one at Brynich and five at Llangynidr) and Ashford Tunnel. Potter Street Lock in Newport was already out of use and infilled before the numbering system of the amalgamated canals so there are now 69 locks in all. Ironically, the mileposts are measured from Potter Street Lock, though as we discovered there are a variety of styles of milepost on the canals.
The eleven miles of the Crumlin Arm of the Monmouthshire, which ran from Malpas Junction in Crindau (north of Newport) to Crumlin in the Ebbw valley. Completed by 1796 - before the main line - but not opened till 1798, it was moribund by the start of 20th century, but eight and a half miles and 20 locks survive, the main area of interest being the visitors centre at Cefn Locks in Rogerstone. Earlier this year, Caerphilly County Borough Council were under pressure to do something with the canal after a number of minor flooding incidents, but a well-attended public meeting proved they had misjudged the locals' thoughts on the matter. The meeting was "expanded" from a church hall to open air to accommodate all the attendees, and even then the police had to re-route traffic as people were spilling out onto the road. Rather than full scale closure, it transpired that full-scale restoration was what everyone wanted and there are now regular meetings of interested bodies to take this forward.
Saturday's walk was from Mamhilad, at the bottom end of the Brecon Beacons National Park to Ty Coch, south of Cwmbran, starting on the old B&A and ending on the old Monmouthshire. We parked up at the Star Inn in Mamhilad (the price of using their car park being the promise of our company for our Saturday night meal) and joined the canal at High Bridge 62 (OS ref SO303033). The high land quickly falls away and there are good views to the east, particularly if you ignore the handful of factories in the immediate foreground. We noted the steel strengthening ribs on Govera Bridge 60, and between Keeper's Bridge 59 and Upper Wern Bridge 58 looked back for a glimpse of Sugar Loaf. Jockey Bridge 55 marks the very outskirts of Pontypool and the southernmost tip of the Brecon Beacons National Park (though the park is entirely on the non-towpath side of the section just walked). Cabbage Bridge 54 has been demolished (though it is not difficult to work out where it stood) but a rather ungainly pipe bridge just before Pontypool Road Bridge 53 maintains the aggregate bridge number.
Just before the gauging stop and toll-house at Pontymoile Junction (SO293002), the canal passes over Afon Lwyd and here we made a brief diversion to two tramway tunnels under the canal that led to tinplate works. Sadly, the one adopted a s a footpath was under a few inches of water following an earlier deluge from the skies, and we had to limbo under a bar to utilise the rather better-hidden tunnel. Unlikely story of the day - the actor Ray Milland once worked at the tinplate works and it was his job as mill-hand there that gave the idea for his screen name.
Pontymoile Bridge 52 marks the end of the B&A. The stub of canal leading to a slipway is all that remains of the long-forgotten stretch of the Monmouthshire up to Pontnewynydd (all but impossible to ascertain the route) and to all intents and purposes, Pontymoile is an end-to-end junction. After the new road crossing, it is a short walk to Bridge 51, which in better light would have been very photogenic. It is dwarfed by a high railway crossing whose embankment then dominates the towing path for two hundred yards or so, and the roadway over Bridge 51 passes through a railway arch immediately west of the bridge itself. From the unseemly Bridge 50 through to Bridge 49 in Panteg is a slightly run down section, but beyond Bridge 49 (rebuilt without towpath provision, note) it is considerably better; enlivened by the presence of the canalside Open Hearth pub with its considerable car park, considerable range of real ales, and more than adequate menu. Don't miss one of the surviving "from Potter Street Lock" mileposts just before reaching the pub (ST293987).
Bridge 48 by the Crown pub was the limit of navigation for many years until the mid-90's when it was lifted after pressure from IWA, the canal trust and Torfaen Borough Council. After Bridge 47 there is a nice line into the only remaining tunnel of the Monmouthshire, Cwmbran Tunnel at 87 yards. There is no through towpath, but a very pleasant stroll over the top, from where we were tempted to say "why didn't they just open out a cutting ?". The steps down to the southern portal are almost over-the-top given the rural context but none the worse for all that.
The current end of navigation is at the top of Five (or Pontnewydd) Locks in Cwmbran, and there is at least a winding hole-cum-offline mooring here (ST287969) - there was none at Crown. The five locks (63 to 59) have been given a horrible Sixties concrete treatment, as have the first three of the ten (58 to 49) on the Cwmbran flight, though these latter ones have been prettified (i.e. largely hidden) with shrubs and bushes. If nothing else, a wide canal corridor has at least been retained, with plenty of greenery. Bridge 44 used to pass round the bottom of Lock 56, but the road has now been straightened and passes straight across the infilled chamber - the old road is still there, with a pub on it. Locks 55 to 49 on the flight are easily discernible, in varying states of infill etc. through to Forge Hammer, where there was some interest in the remains of the old stone furnace in the middle of the new retail park. Beyond the stores, the canal disappears for a few hundred yards; its course between bridges 42 and 41 being supplanted by a path that runs closely parallel to the new dual-carriageway (ST292950).
IWPS WEEK-END AWAY IN SOUTH WALES, OCTOBER 6th & 7th, 2001
Here we see our energetic and enthusiastic walkers at the junction of the Monmouth Canal with the Breckon & Abergavenny Canal on Saturday 6th October 2001 having enjoyed a fine mornings walk through magnificent scenery on these wonderful contour canals. The IWPS Week-ends away are a fine opportunity to meet and enjoy the company of friends from all over the country. Thanks to Andy Screen for so expertly organising this one despite several changes having to be made for foot-and-mouth restrictions. Excellent weather on the Saturday but Andy lost his touch on the Sunday when the heavens opened just before lunch and we all got very wet some miles from the dry and warmth of our cars. Nevertheless a wonderful week-end. This year we are on the Forth & Clyde - the first time in Scotland. Everybody is welcome to come and join us. Details later in the year.
We rejoined the canal just south of Bridge 41 (close to a memorial to the local ironworks) which continues in a rather cosmetic form as it passes through a slightly scruffy residential area, culminating in a lock either side of the appropriately named Two Locks Road. The landscaping is rather better below Two Locks as the canal sweeps through to Ty Coch (ST292935) where a long flight of ten locks (46 to 37) have all fared rather better (i.e untouched and growing old gracefully, or all but fully restored). The first four of the flight are all within a few hundred yards of Ty Coch, and while the drivers were returned to Mamhilad to retrieve their cars, a few of the party continued down the flight. As luck would have it, everyone was back in their cars before the heavens opened - we had certainly beaten the weather today.
On Sunday we started at the Forest Drive Countryside Centre and campsite above Cwmcarn (ST230936), and followed a pleasant path back down the hill to the town and the uppermost reaches of the shortened Crumlin Arm. On route we passed the houses on Feeder Row, named after the canal feeder that runs out of the Nant Carn stream. The current terminus of the canal is just short of Lock 22, at the bottom of Forest Drive and could not have been busier, with a boat rally in full swing. We spent a good half hour or so amidst the marquees of BW, the Mon & Brec canal trust and the recently formed Islwyn Canal Association (essentially the locals who want the canal restored) and I think the visitors' book looked rather less parochial after our visit than it might have done before.
We joined the towpath and passed a former colliery railway then under the main road at Pont-y-Waun Bridge 18 to run alongside Halls Road Terrace by the slipway, funded largely by Caerphilly council I believe, and to where boats for the rally had been trailed in (ST220925). The canal through Cross Keys is extremely attractive and the towpath wide enough for the odd cyclist not to pose any problem - much of the towpath is part of Route 47 of the National Cycle Network. That said, when a cyclist came up behind us and rang his bell, the sound was so alien to us that we didn't recognise it for what it was and carried on regardless ! Greenmeadow Bridge 17 features an old GWR restriction plate (we had seen a few the day before on the Monmouthshire too) and then the canal stops at Bridge 16, known as Darren Bridge, close to the sites of Risca and Daren brickworks. In common with other spots we would see later on, the problem with canals clinging to the hillside is that when people start building roads up the hill, the angles are all wrong to try and accommodate a disused canal. The answer is inevitably dam up the canal and cut the road through the canal embankment. The path crosses the bridge and runs down to the road, and the canal re-appears on the other side. We entered Risca at the culverted Fernlea Bridge 15 (ST238912), and the first sign of what we had been warned about back at the rally - contractors dredging the canal and a closed towpath. Of all the things I had made allowance for on this walk, canal works closing the path was not one of them. With the skies overhead beginning to look threatening, we decided that the detour into Risca would be a sensible excuse for lunch, and even though the recommended establishment did not promise the full menu which we had been led to believe (Sunday lunches were deemed a bit heavy by many after a full breakfast) those who did partake were extremely complimentary.
We rejoined the canal at Moriah Bridge 13, and with the rain coming down quite heavily there was little enthusiasm to track back to Pen Rhiw Bridge 14 at the end of the towpath closure. Elm Drive and Thistle Way both cross at culverted bridges, and then we reached the site of Gile Aqueduct (ST248904) which was demolished in 1973 to provide additional road access (Manor Way) to a housing estate, though the existing road through the aqueduct would by all accounts have been adequate enough. The 51/2 and 51/4 mileposts are both in situ beyond here. Passing through Pont-y-mister, the next two bridges - Pontygraig 11 and Roberts 10 - are typical of the canal, the stone wall with mooring ring just before Pontygraig marking the site of the former Tyn-y-Cwm quarry wharf. Pont-y-mason Bridge 9 takes a major road diagonally across the canal at rather a low level, and despite the weather, we enjoyed the spectacle of a cyclist trying to get through a chicane gate there without dismounting, and almost coming a cropper just when he looked like he'd made it. The rather nice Culvert Cottage at Bridge 8 was passed with barely a sideways glance from under the umbrellas and kagouls, and as we passed from the Ebbw Vale to the Lwyd Valley near the Rising Sun pub, we were definitely counting down the minutes to being re-united with the dry interiors of our cars. The first lock (21) of the Cefn flight and Bridge 6 mark the approach to the visitor centre in Rogerstone, opened in 1976 on the site of Cefn wharf and we were there at last (ST279886). Strictly the plan had been to continue down the flight and back up to the cars, but the weather had conspired against us after our moral victory over it on Saturday, and not surprising people were more interested in getting home.
For completeness though, the flight is known as Fourteen Locks - 21 to 8 - though strictly it includes Lock 7, now isolated on the south side of the M4. There are four lock "pairs", 20 to 13, then the towpath changes sides by the nice lock-keeper's cottage at Pen-y-sarn Bridge 5. There are then three more locks, 12 to 10. Lock 11 shelves for boats to pass each other, saving lockages and water. The final lock pair are 9 and 8, then its under the M4 (the canal has been infilled here so the tunnel is all path) to the single lock 7 at the bottom of the flight by the Allt-yr-Yn brickworks site - Allt-yr-Yn apparently translates as "the declivity in the ash trees". Five more locks on the Allt-yr-Yn flight take the canal to Malpas Junction where it meets the main line, and there is maybe just under a mile to the northern portal of Barrack Hill Tunnel (ST308892) - almost definitely the southern terminus of any restored canal. The IWA's National Trailboat Festival for 2003 will be held on the Monmouthshire just above Malpas Junction.
References: Brecknock & Abergavenny and Monmouthshire Canals Towpath Guide No 2 (Stevens)
The Brecknock & Abergavenny Canal (Norris)
Lost canals of England and Wales (Russell)
Maps: OS Landranger Sheet 171 (Cardiff & Newport)
Cardiff & Newport A-Z
Islwyn Canal Association can be contacted at 38 Vale View, Risca NP11 6HS
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Photo: Gerald Leach
Here are the answers to "Return of the Bugii", how did you fare?
This issue's quiz has, once again, been contributed by Jennifer Thomas, with a little southern bias!
According to London Cabbies:
Answers next time.
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Bugsworth and Beyond by Keith Holford
Trawling old local newspapers for Bugsworth items one comes across items that shed light on the hazards, happenings and horrors associated with the Bugsworth Basin. The first extracts in the series concerns the misfortunes of the Hall family.
27th August 1870. Glossopdale Chronicle. Bugsworth News. Drowning.
Thomas Hall, 15 years of age, son of James Hall of Under Eccles, was in charge of of his father's boats at one of the locks in Manchester, when from some cause or other, he fell into the water and before he could be got out he drowned. His parents are particularly distressed, he was their only son and had just begun to become useful in assisting them in their boating operations.
2lst January 1888. Ashton Reporter. Inquest into a double drowning in Bugsworth Basin
The inquest was held in the Navigation Inn, Bugsworth. Dr. Bennett, was the coroner, and John Handford , was the jury foreman.
James Hall, who has been in illhealth for some time, lived in a cottage near the tramway leading to the limekilns. At about 8 o'clock at night, a dense fog had enveloped Bugsworth, when Hannah Hall, his wife, left the cottage to visit her mother, who lived in cottages near the canal offices. Elizabeth Jane and Maud May Hannah, her young daughters (no ages given ) later decided to follow their mother. They had somehow obtained a lighted candle and they first called on Mrs. Hartle, knowing that it was their mothers intention to call there for some milk. Mrs. Hartle tried to dissuade them from attempting to reach their grandmothers home. The route past the canal office is a most dangerous path, due to the several arms and tramway waggons, even when there is no fog. At about 11 o'clock at night, the children were missed and although the search went on throughout the night, it was daybreak before their dead bodies were found in the canal.
Hannah Hall, said , "I left home at about 8 o'clock to visit my mother, calling first at Mrs. Hartle's for some milk, which I arranged to collect on the way home. At about 11 o'clock at night, on arriving back at Mrs. Hartle's, I was told that my children were out looking for me. Mrs. Hartle and her daughter then accompanied me home and not finding the children, we all then went in search of the children. We continued the search until daybreak. At about 8 o'clock that morning, l heard that their bodies had been taken from the canal at a place called the 'New Arm'."
Mrs. Hartle, said, "That at about 8-30 p.m. Mrs. Hall called for some milk, which she said she would collect on her way home. About three quarters of an hour later, the two children called for their mother. Not finding their mother at Mrs. Hartle's, one of the children said, 'I know where she's gone, she has gone to grand mother's.' "
Mrs. Hartle, "You must not go, or you will be getting into the canal or some other danger. Then she heard one of the children say, 'Come on. we'll go!'"
Mrs. Hartle, continued, "They left and I saw them no more. It was dark, with a very thick fog, it was a dangerous night, even for grownups . Then at a little before 11 o'clock, Mrs. Hall came for the milk. I asked her, where are the children? She replied 'I haven't seen them.' I then said, 'Well the children have gone after you!' Mrs. Hall then replied, 'They must have gone up the New Road, and I came up the "cut" side and I should have missed them.' "
Mrs. Hartle, then continued, "We then made our way to Mrs. Hall's home. But finding that the children had not returned home, I then told Mrs. Hall , that I felt uneasy about the children. We all went to the grandmother's home and found that the children had not been there. Along with others we made a diligent search for the children all night, without success. About 7 o'clock next morning I went to the crusher and told the men at work there, that I feared that 2 children had got into the canal, and asked if some of them would search. They didn't say they would, so I went up to Barren Clough and told my fears to Joseph Thomas Winterbottom, who at once went to the canal and found the bodies."
In answer to the Coroner, Mrs. Hartle, said, "That there was no protective between the canal and the public footpath, it was unsafe and extremely dangerous for anyone to travel in the dark and especially in the fog."
Mr Worth, for the Canal Company, said, "that it was not: a public footpath and that the children must have been trespassing, to have got where they drowned. There was a board up to that effect."
Joseph Thomas Winterbottom, said, "Mrs. Hartle came to my house and told me that 2 children had been missing since 11 o'clock the previous night and that she thought that they were either in the brook or in the canal. I finished my breakfast in 5 minutes, calling for my brother, who lives a short distance away. We got a pole and we searched the river, not finding anything, we then went to the canal. I was told by the workmen, that a man I know as 'Wigan Bill', had pulled a scarf and a handkerchief out of the 'cut' earlier that morning. We searched the canal and found the bodies of the 2 children, they were within 2 to 3 yards of each other. I examined the side of the canal and could see no sign of any struggle having taken place."
The Coroner, "The question of the canal being unprotected, we have got rid of, but whether the place was proper protected or not, it was a dangerous place, out of humanity and kindness it would be only right for the Canal Company to do their best to protect the lives of their workmen, their wives and children and he doubted not, that the proper steps would be taken to make the place safe as possible."
Mr Worth, "The canal could not be protected on account of having horses to work the boats."
The jury brought in a verdict of "Accidental death."
The Coroner, Dr Bennett, expressed his sympathy to Mrs. Hall and gave her 5 shillings. The Chairman of the Jury, also gave her 5 shillings. All the jurymen gave Mrs. Hall their fees of 1/6 each.
12th October 1889. Ashton Reporter. Bugsworth News. Drowning of Bugsworth Boatman.
On Monday week a boatman of Bugsworth, Alfred Hall, 34 years of age, left with a boat load of stone for Manchester. All went well until he got to his destination, and in the evening with comrades, he began to drink. From what has been learned, he became intoxicated, and went to his boat for sleep. After being there for about 2 hours he left, and in the company of a female named Sarah Ann Wood, he was seen in the Bridgewater Hotel. After he left that place he was not seen again, and when he did not turn up next day, it was feared that something had befallen him.
Search was made by his friends but nothing could be learned of his whereabouts. On Monday morning last, a man named Eli Harrop, was inspecting some boats when he perceived a body in the water. The police appraised the situation and the body was taken to the mortuary. When his body was searched a silver watch and £10-16s-6d was found upon it. Upon his head and face were some ugly bruises, but whether they were caused before after death has not transpired. On Wednesday at a Coroners Court in Manchester by Mr. S. Smelt, the body was identified by Mr Jas. Ellis of the Goyt Inn at Whaley Bridge. Evidence of the finding of the body was given and the woman Wood deposed to being in the company of the deceased on the night he was missed. The jury returned a verdict of " Found drowned. " The body was brought back to Bugsworth, and buried at Chapel Parish Church. The deceased leaves a wife and a child.
31st August 1901. Ashton Reporter. Bugsworth News.
Edward Hall of Barren Clough, a horsedriver on the widening works, was caught by the foot, and fast approaching waggons ran over him. One leg was horribly cut and crushed, so that amputation was necessary. He also had serious internal injuries.
21st September 1901. Ashton Reporter.Bugsworth News.
Death of James Hall, who lived Under Eccles, he worked on the canal and for the Grt Cen Rly it was known as the M.S. & L. Rly
3rd April 1904. Ashton Reporter. Bugsworth News.
James Hall , boatman of Barren Clough, Bugsworth was fined 5s and costs for removing swine from Lancashire to Derbyshire without obtaining a permit.
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NATIONAL WORK CAMP TO LAUNCH CANAL RESTORATION IN BIRMINGHAM
Lapal Canal Trust, which is actively promoting the restoration of the derelict stretch of the Dudley No. 2 Canal between Halesowen and the Worcester & Birmingham Canal in Birmingham, will hold a massive clean-up along the mile long infilled stretch from Weoley Castle to Selly Oak over the weekend of 23rd and 24th March, 2002.
The Work Camp aims to "kick-start" restoration over in Birmingham and, by drafting in volunteers from all over the country, the Trust hopes that the event will demonstrate how widely the project is supported. The Trust's General Secretary David Carson commented that "there is a very real prospect that the former junction with the Worcester & Birmingham Canal, together with a significant stretch in the Selly Oak area will be restored as part of a sizeable redevelopment of the former Birmingham Battery Site being promoted by Sainsbury's. Whilst these proposals are very much in the balance at the moment, a further complication is the threat that a relief road proposed to unlock the site for redevelopment will sever the line of the Canal. We really need as many volunteers as possible to turn up to help with the clearance work so as to demonstrate that the project is commanding a great deal of both national and local support."
"BITM", part of the national Waterway Recovery Group, have already pledged its support for the Work Camp which will take place on the weekend following the Inland Waterways Association's annual clean-up on the nearby Walsall Canal.
The Trust is appealing for able bodied volunteers and financial assistance to ensure the Work Camp is a success.
Elsewhere along the line of the canal, restoration is well under way. This has added greatly to the workload of the Trust and has led to an appeal for more to assist with planning and administration as well as the practical "hands on" restoration of the Canal. In particular, the Trust is keen to appoint a Fund- raiser and a Publicity/Media Manager to the Board. Anyone interested in getting involved with this exciting project, or who would like to learn more about the work of the Trust generally, should call David Carson on 020 8293 9744, Stephen Glynn on 0121 444 7270 or Stan Thomas on 01785 713862.
All those wishing to attend the work party need only bring a hard hat, stout footwear and a suitable pair of gloves. Tools to assist with tree cutting and scrub clearance would be useful. For planning and insurance purposes, volunteers will need to register beforehand by contacting any of the above persons.
The Lapal Canal Trust is a registered charity based in the West Midlands and a corporate member of the Inland Waterways Association.
The 10 mile Dudley No. 2 Canal was opened in 1798 and subsequently became part of the intricate web of waterways in the West Midlands known as the Birmingham Canal Navigations (or the "BCN"). The 5 mile stretch of Canal between Selly Oak and Halesowen gradually fell into disrepair during the course of the mid-twentieth century, and is now largely infilled. The Canal's most notable feature was the mighty Lapal Tunnel which, at 3,795 yards, was the fourth longest canal tunnel in the UK.
The Trust propose to open the redundant canal incrementally working towards the Tunnel from both directions, leaving restoration of Lapal Tunnel as the crowning achievement. Progress on the Halesowen side of the Tunnel has been made and the 600 yard stretch across the Leasowes Embankment has been restored and awaits-watering. The Trust's consulting engineers have produced an engineering feasibility study which proves that reopening the Canal and the Tunnel is technically possible.
Canal enthusiast Fred Dibnah was filming on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal for his new series 'The Building of Britain' due to be screened on BBC early this year.
More than 100 boats on BW waterways are named after characters from J R R Tolkien's 'The Hobbit' and 'Lord of the Rings'.
Thanks to 'BW Monthly'
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BOOK REVIEW by Derek Brumhead
The map that changed the world
By Simon Winchester. Published by Viking, 2001, 32 text illus., ISBN 0-670-88407-3, £12.99.
In the summer of 1815, an extraordinary hand-painted map was published in London. Some eight feet tall and six feet wide, it was brightly covered in blue, green, yellow, orange and umber and presented England and Wales in a never-before-seen pattern of lines and patches. It was the first geological map of any country to be published and it was the culmination of twenty years works by a mining and canal engineer and surveyor, William Smith.
This book is written by the author of 'The surgeon of Crowthorne' (the surgeon was a prisoner who was a prolific contributor to the OED). The author, an Oxford geology graduate of the 1960s, writes for the layman about the subject with panache. The principles of rock succession and the fossil record are laid out here simply and effectively, serving as a good introduction to the subject. The author sets Smith's achievements against the intellectual background of the times and the social history of the industrial and transport revolutions, including a close look at coal mines and canals, (particularly the Somerset Coal Canal) with which Smith was professionally involved as a surveyor and which gave him the necessary geological sections and fossil evidence to piece together. Smith was a polymath and a practical one at that. It was not just canals and coal mines He was constantly sought after as a drainage expert (eg the Fens), a millwright, a pumping engineer, and for years was in correspondence with Richard Trevithick. The chapter on the birth of the map is stunning, but it is shocking to read that for twenty years he was cheated out of his rightful recognition by the 'gentlemen' of the Geological Society of London, who produced their own map (based on Smith's, of course). He even had a spell in a debtor's prison, turned out of his home, and was forced to sell to the British Museum his precious and immaculate collection of 2,657 fossils, ranging across 693 different species. The collection is still housed in drawers in the Natural History Museum, and apparently rarely looked at these days.
But at least recognition graced the last years of his life, and he was the first recipient of the Wollaston Medal in 1831, awarded paradoxically by the Geological Society. He came to be called the 'Father of English Geology' and the government granted him a life pension. The book's best-seller genre inevitably produces some cliches outbreaks of purple prose, and over dramatisation, but overall the book is comfortable to read, placing the subject in the context of the scientific revolution, and good value for a hardback. The book's end papers are distinguished by reproductions of Smith's map and the modern geological map of the British Isles opposite each other. The author generously acknowledges his debt to Professor Hugh Torrens (University of Keele), geologist, industrial archaeologist and historian, who is preparing a definitive history of William Smith, so we must look out for that.
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The New Mills Millennium Walkway and the Torrs gorge
The town of New Mills, Derbyshire, is in area of spectacular natural beauty standing astride the river Goyt at its confluence with the river Sett, both rivers being deeply incised into an impressive sandstone gorge 30m deep, known as the Torrs. The gorge, geologically, is quite recent. It was formed about 15,000 - 20,000 years ago by meltwater from a glacier which occupied the Goyt valley. When the ice melted, the river Goyt was diverted from its original course into this newly formed gorge.
The Millennium Walkway in the Torrs was finally completed just before Christmas 1999. Costing over half a million pounds, it was supported by the Millennium Commission and a number of local and national businesses. It attracted enormous interest in the national press, won several national awards including the British Construction Industry Awards 2000, and the Civic Trust Awards 2001, and has been featured on the National Lottery. In January 2000, a 44p stamp was issued as part of a series of stamps highlighting projects built using Lottery awards (A first day cover is still available in the Heritage Centre). The 175-yard long elevated steel walkway spans what The Guardian described somewhat dramatically as 'the last inaccessible place in England', a rocky wall in the gorge, cantilevered out over the fast running river Goyt. Visitors are now able to inspect close at hand not only the sandstone cliffs and the enormous railway retaining wall above the walkway, but also the historic Torr Vale Mill on the opposite bank, listed by English Heritage Grade II*, which finally ceased production about a year ago.
The gorge forms parts of the recreational area known as The Torrs Riverside Park. Until the walkway was built, walkers had to retrace their steps from this point and climb back out of the gorge. The walkway now completes this gap in the Goyt Way (Whaley Bridge-Compstall), which is part of the longer Mid-Shires Way (Leicestershire - Stockport), itself part of path E2 the premier walking route in Europe which runs from Nice to Stranraer. It also links with the Trans Pennine Trail, path E8. The walkway provides a spectacular attraction and a direct route through this historic gorge with its splendid heritage of bridges and mills. It also provides another route for visitors to reach the town's heritage centre, sited at the top of one of the paths leading down into the gorge
The Millennium Walkway as seen in winter 2000 - Photo: Don Baines
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Once upon a time, there were four people.
Their names were Everybody, Somebody, Nobody and Anybody.
Whenever there was an important job to be done, Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it.
Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it.
When Nobody did it, Everybody got angry because it was Everybody's job.
Everybody thought that Somebody would do it, but Nobody realized that Nobody would do it.
So consequently Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done in the first place
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