Bugsworth Basin Report - Ian Edgar Historic "Cressy" Cruise Re-enactment planned February Walk Report - West Stockwith - Chesterfield Canal-River Trent Timothy West, CBE to Open IWA's 2010 National Festival John Worth, the long-serving Wharfinger at Bugsworth Basin News from the IWA The Price of lime as quoted in the Manchester Times - 1813 Brindley Bank Aqueduct - Trent and Mersey Canal IWPS in Cranford Country - a walk on the Wilts and Berks Canal Features of the Lower Peak Forest Canal Bursting of the Peak Forest Canal - December 17, 1890 Book Review Blackbrook House Visitor Centre Christmas Advice from the Health and Safety Team
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Bugsworth in Winter taken by Armelle Hatch-.
BUGSWORTH BASIN REPORT August 2009
By Ian Edgar MBE Chairman IWPS and Hon. Site Manager
NEW INFORMATION CENTRE
As reported in our last issue of ‘174’ we have been working hard with British Waterways, our Architect John McCall and English Heritage on the design for our new building. Actually choosing a location for this new facility has been very difficult. The centre of the Basin was ruled out early on due to the need to avoid certain disturbance of archaeological features and also because that side of the canal was away from our main visitor route which is along the track between Canal House (also a Public Footpath) and the Navigation Inn.
We did investigate using the site of our present temporary container accommodation but there were serious snags there with expected poor ground conditions, the proximity to the high wall separating the Basin from the Blackbrook and safety issues relating to pedestrians competing with vehicular traffic to Canal House within a very narrow corridor. There were also concerns regarding an adequate safe turning area for the weekly refuse collecting vehicle.
Following a meeting with all the partners which included representatives from the IWPS (Don Baines and myself), our Architect, English Heritage and several British Waterways people we settled on a site straddling the Middle Basin Arm which would have public access to the first floor off the track to Canal House and access for our volunteers and equipment at wharf level. What we all thought was a very innovative and attractive building which would have been a credit to the village let alone the Basin was put before residents at a Consultation meeting on site. What transpired from that meeting was a very decisive split between those who liked the proposal and those who hated it. Our decision was to go ahead and submit a formal Planning Application and see how much of the rhetoric was actually turned in to letters of objection and how many of those supporting the design would actually write to the Council supporting us.
HOWEVER, we had to abandon that design as, quite out of the blue and as a bombshell, English Heritage did not approve of the two storey design. Without English Heritage approval and endorsement the Local Authority would never even consider giving consent so we were back to the drawing board. It was not public objection that killed off our original vision but English Heritage. We never even submitted a Planning Application for that design. Whilst we were all bitterly disappointed we hold no animosity towards our friends and supporters at English Heritage. It was a considered decision on their part and that was it. We real problem was that we were (and are) working to a strict timetable for spending the EMDA Grant. That change of course so late in the proceedings has caused us months of delay.
After much discussion we finally came to the decision that, although the original site was not ideal, it was just about the only place we could put our much needed permanent home. Further investigation of the ground conditions revealed that we could get over this by deep piling. It would be more expensive but by juggling figures and going for a single storey design we could probably still come within budget or nearly so.
John McCall, our architect, pulled out all the stops to get a new Planning Application in super quick. He pulled in Structural Engineers to calculate stresses etc. that SEs do, re-worked the figures and came up with a new design as our illustration as well as undertaking almost continuous work with the officers of the Planning Department. John has done a remarkable job and Don and I are very grateful for his skills and sense of urgency.
The result of all this is that we now have full Planning Consent. The Council wanted a few amendments which can easily be accommodated and will not add that much to the cost. Our Consultant still has to agree with the British Waterways engineer that the retaining was is sound enough to place the building where we want it and more importantly, it is resilient enough to not come down in the foreseeable future. This is ongoing.
HOWEVER, AND THIS IS A BIG THREAT, the Government will call in the EMDA funding which has not been spent by the end of March 2010. We always knew we could not meet this deadline but British Waterways had a good chance of having EMDA roll over the money for perhaps one or two months. This, at the time of writing, apparently, is not that likely and we must assume the worst. A meeting is due early January 2010 with EMDA to make a final request to retain this funding one way or another. If this is successful then we will insert a stop press with your issue of ‘174’ should it happen after we go to print.
A great deal of time and effort has been spent on this project with Don Baines and I having input a great deal of time and expertise as volunteers. This cannot be overlooked and the other partners appreciate this. EMDA will cover all costs so far incurred by our other partners who, of course, have to be remunerated for their input.
Whilst, the new Blackbrook House cannot now be funded, at least from this pot, there will be other opportunities although these are fewer and fewer as the financial situation continues to deteriorate. On our application to EMDA we had to, to some extent, guess at costs but now that we have planning permission, English Heritage approval by means of Ancient Monument Consent, and full specifications we have achieved a lot with the EMDA funding. Add to this the further interpretation and model (shown elsewhere in this ‘174’), the new towpath surface Whaley Bridge to Bugsworth to New Mills (partly funded by Derbyshire County Council) we HAVE gone forward
So it is a case of being optimistic. The IWPS have had many disappointments. This one is a big one but we will overcome it.
Our other frustrations are the problem of leaks in the Lower Basin Arm (which BW have undertaken to repair (and now have English Heritage Consent so to do) and the several collapses of wharf wall in the area of the wide. We had hoped to do this work with volunteers working ‘in the wet’ – i.e. with waders. My memory was that this section had a very shallow wall and we could do it that way. We found out very quickly that the profile had been drastically changed and the water in this area was too deep for waders. Lowering or dropping the water was an option but that raised potential and expensive ecological problems. Gone are the days when we could drain and re-fill the Basin at will!! We no longer have the large numbers of skilled volunteers we would need to do these repairs quickly so we are working with BW on possible alternative solutions and for BW to do the work or at least part of it. Whilst this section of wharf wall was not in that good condition when we re-opened it has been made worse not only by the heavy traffic we have experienced but more so by some boaters insisting on running engines to charge batteries with the propeller in gear.
We hope to have a solution and timetable for this work as soon as possible. The area as it is leaves a very negative impression for our visitors. The Basin does appear to be deteriorating. I am doing my best to turn this round as soon as I possibly can. Generally we do succeed in maintaining the Basin to a very high standard (like the complete repainting of the railings over the past two years). To our small band of regular volunteers, a great thank you for that.
Government Backs-off Immediate Sale of BW’s Assets
All our members will have received my appeal to petition the Government opposing the sale of the BW property assets, the returns on which help fund the waterways. As I have not been able to check through the many thousands of signatories I do not know how many of our members actually signed the petition or wrote to their MP. The national response from the waterways world was very impressive. Many thanks to those who responded.
On the 18th December the Government announced that it was not proposing to immediately sell off British Waterways’ Property Portfolio. The Government also commented that
‘At Budget 2009 it was announced that BW would transfer its property activities (including joint ventures) into a wholly-owned property subsidiary – in order to ensure clear separation of, and focus on, both maximising gains from its property and best management of the waterways’
This process is being taken forward by BW in consultation with HM Treasury, the Shareholder Executive and Defra. However the Government recognises that there may be benefits in considering alternative structures for BW’s business as a whole, including it’s property portfolio. We will therefore consider alternative models for the business as a whole, such as mutual or third sector structures. As part of any such future structure for BW, therefore, there may be opportunities for the private sector to invest in the portfolio’.
This, in my opinion, tells us nothing other than the sale of BW assets is not going to happen for the time being. The rest is ‘government speak’ and does not help BW one little bit in giving BW confidence that they will retain the annual £45m income from property which they need to part cover the annual £125m they need to properly maintain the waterways. The IWPS does not engage in political discussion so we must leave the matter there. One thing is certain that although the BW Executive at the top, with IWA and other Society support, continue to maintain an optimistic stance, the morale of the lower echelons of BW management must be affected.
The Early Day Motion 233 reads:
INLAND WATERWAYS AND FUNDING
That this house notes that the UK inland waterways are a national treasure which have significantly improved in recent years, (some would take issue with that statement but on balance it would probably have been best to remove’ significantly’ – IE) ; shares the Government’s view that the waterways nevertheless need new investment; further notes that nearly half of the money that British Waterways needs to maintain the network comes from its property portfolio; further notes that funding cuts in British Waterways grant-in-aid from the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs mean that the shortfall British Waterways faces in the money it needs to properly fund its waterways is increased to about £40m; believes the inland waterways should be treated as a national park; supports the Save our System 2010 Campaign launched by the Inland Waterways Association; and further notes that the funding shortfall should be reinstated and the property portfolio protected so that it can provide a secure funding stream to ensure the inland waterways can continue to be enjoyed by millions in years to come’
As at 25th November the EDM had been signed by 53 MPs (out of 600 odd??) including Tom Levitt (at the behest of the IWPS) and Ann and Nicholas Winterton (at the behest of the Macclesfield Canal Society). The other MPs listed I cannot recognise as having waterways within their constituency (there are not that many who do not) so please look at the list on the net and, if your MP is not there, then write, ask him why, and urgently make him aware of the threat to the Waterways System.
BOOKS ON THE UPPER & LOWER PEAK FOREST CANAL
These books were reviewed in the August 2009 issue of ‘174’. Author Olive Bowyer has asked us to mention that she did not privately publish the original versions as stated in ‘174’. These were published by the New Mills Local History Society. Our apologies for this error.
Both publications and many others are available from the Peak Forest Canal Co. Ltd. Please see the IWPS Website or ask for a Price List by post from the Chairman.
THE IWPS WALKING WEEK-END AWAY (OCTOBER 2009)
This was arranged this year with the Wilts. & Berks Canal Trust within the very attractive Lacock/Chippenham Area. What a wonderful week-end it turned out to be. I appreciate very much the time Rachael Banyard spent with me on our planning day which ensured our enjoyment on the week-end. The Wilts and Berks Canal was 52 miles long between Abingdon on the River Thames and Semington Lock on the Kennet and Avon Canal. Because of the length and the sheer magnitude of the restoration the Trust has split the canal in to lengths, each managed separately and each with its own regular volunteers. We were very fortunate in being able to get the ‘inside’ story of the canal and how it is to be restored from John Laverick during a welcome meeting on the Friday evening at the Peterborough Arms at Dauntsey Lock. Almost all of our group were able to attend (most of us had come some distance) to listen to John tell us how the restored canal will go around or through some built up areas (including the centre of Swindon!) and the very successful partnerships they have with local authorities, some landowners etc. etc. From John’s presentation this was clearly a mega task which makes our own Bugsworth Basin project look like a back garden. I was very impressed with the enthusiasm for the task and the commitment John (Ex. BW) had for this retirement project. His delivery on a very complex project was superb, his knowledge amazing, and the whole Powerpoint presentation enthralling and enjoyable. Afterwards we were able to examine old maps of the canal where we would walk the following day and Sunday. With glass in hand and being well fed it was a most convivial evening. My thanks to all who made us so welcome.
The IWPS Week-end Away has been organised for many years now and we have been to so many interesting places and met some wonderful canal restorers and historians. Many of us have been away in October every year and see it as one of the highlights of the year. Anybody is free to attend, there is generally no charge although we usually give a donation to the host Society. You make your own accommodation arrangements. If you are interested in learning more then please contact me, Ian Edgar, address as inside front cover.
This year (2010) we are going to walk some Irish Waterways around Limerick. We have been to Scotland and Wales so why not Ireland?!
I am very grateful to Andy Screen for writing up so many of the IWPS Walks. Being the Secretary of The Towpath Action Group (the IWPS Walks also appear in the TAG Newsletter) Andy has walked hundreds of miles of canal towpaths and is an acknowledged expert with an encyclopaedic knowledge of his world of canals. Most times we manage to get him to some unusual canal places he has not seen before! I think the Wilts & Berks was one of those!
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A brief report by Andy Screen on February’s IWPS walk, with additional pictures, history lessons and musings from Paul Niblett (maroon text). And he hands out sweets !
February’s IWPS walk took us to West Stockwith, the point at which the Chesterfield Canal drops into the River Trent. The morning was a short circular walk of around 4 miles that started at the junction lock (right), where there was much discussion of the difficulty of entering from the tidal river, though no-one claimed to have tried it when the Aegir was in full flow ! We also looked across to East Stockwith; once connected to its neighbour by a winch-operated ferry service, but now a rather convoluted car journey away. As we walked downstream the remains of a bridge, close to the road, were pointed out that used to cross the Mother Drain until the latter was re-routed. The road crosses the River Idle (originally Bykersdike) on a bridge built by Richards of Leicester, adjacent to a large sluice gate, built in 1938 by the River Trent Catchment Board, which can be opened to allow craft to pass up the river towards Bawtry.
|William Richards & Co came into existence in 1844 sharing part of Cort & Bell’s large Britannia Foundry site. As the influence of the canal disappeared and the railway became an important factor in the siting of large engineering works, W Richards moved to new premises in the city in 1874. According to the 1911 Leicester Chamber of Commerce Yearbook their activities had progressed from pure foundry work to the production of steel roofing, railway and road bridges, engine and wagon turntables and stone-crushing machinery. Sadly, there is no mention of snuff-mining equipment.||
The tidal sluice gate at the entrance to the River Idle has the
initials RTCB in its concrete frame, as has the cottage alongside.
This refers to the River Trent Catchment Board, a body created in
1931 and eventually subsumed into the Severn Trent Water Authority
in the 1970s. There’s a conundrum regarding the River Idle in
Bradshaw’s Canals and Navigable Rivers of England and Wales, 1928,
which states: “there is a towing-path throughout the navigation,
which is, however, not always continuous.” When is throughout not
Here we turned away from the Trent, walking up the south bank of the Idle (there is a footpath on the north bank too) past a new pumping station, also with navigation provision alongside the sluices, and on towards Misterton Soss. First we stopped by Foss Mill, which was not a mill but another, earlier, pumping station which has now been cleverly converted to a private residence. The first pumphouse was built in 1828 – a 40hp beam engine across the Mother Drain - but it was unable to cope and a second was added in a building alongside in 1839.
|Soss* Mill is not, and was never, a mill at all – it was a pair of land drainage pumping stations. Having looked at a range of photographs kindly made available in the pub at lunchtime, there is no doubt that the restoration of the two main buildings, now sympathetically joined by a large conservatory, has been completed with much care and attention. (*Charles Hadfield in his book The Canals of the East Midlands suggests it may be derived from the word ‘sos’ used in Iceland for the outlet of a lake, in this case Lake Humber).|
From here it is a short walk to the Soss itself (below) – a former 16th century timber ‘lock’, which was rebuilt in masonry after being destroyed in the Great War.
We retraced or steps to the mill, and then headed south briefly before bearing westward across a field towards the railway line. This has to be crossed at level so care is needed, but that was as nothing compared with the field of gloopy mud that had to be tackled straight after, if we wanted to get to Misterton. Progress was slow and also extremely squelchy, and we quickly dispelled any rumours that Vermuyden (or is that Vermudyen ?) successfully drained this area four centuries ago !
Some dictionary definitions:
mud – ? n. soft, sticky matter consisting of mixed earth and water
mudpack – ? n. collection of IWPS members walking over Misterton fields (but are they soft and sticky too ? – Andy.)
a blue plaque celebrates the longevity of the blacksmith
those Methodists got everywhere !
some local residents keep all their pets indoors in the winter
the road names bear witness to the village’s transport links
We joined the Chesterfield Canal at the southern end of the village by Wharf Bridge, and walked through Misterton Top and Low Locks before encountering the farce of the former Packet House pub. The pub closed, amidst some rancour, many years ago and the site was put up for development.
Builders started work on new residential properties, only to find that they had no right of access along the old pub’s entrance drive, and the owners of the drive, presumably dis-chuffed with the pub’s closure, refused to give them, or any future occupiers of the new properties, permission to use the drive. The partly-built properties remain as they were abandoned almost a decade (?) ago, though with the recent recession, this is sadly not such an uncommon sight. Immediately below here, the canal is crossed by the railway, and then it’s a straight and very slightly muddy straight, through to West Stockwith.
The afternoon saw us joined by members of the West Stockwith Local History Society who took us on a tour of the small town, pointing out many of the buildings that date back to the 18th and 19th century, including the recently extended toll house on the river, malt kilns and St Mary’s Chapel of Ease. Of particular interest were the ‘water lanes’; cuts from the Trent that run straight down through private properties to the main road through the town, and ensured local residents had a decent supply of fresh water. Many of these can be seen from the river path running between the canal lock and the Idle sluice, and looking back from the road itself (left). A number of these have been recently restored through lottery funding.
Izzie and David Turner made excellent arrangements for the walk, together with the afternoon amble around West Stockwith. Despite the cool weather it stayed fine and bracing! Many thanks to everyone involved.
Andy Screen / Paul Niblett
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John Worth, the long-serving Wharfinger at Bugsworth Basin
By Peter J Whitehead
John Worth, the son of Charles Worth and Mary, was born on the 19 April 1834 and he was Christened on the 1 June 1834. Charles Worth was a Tenant Farmer, the farm being situated down Worth’s Lane, Haughton Green, Haughton, Lancashire, the lane taking its name from the Worth family. At this time, the Hyde Clarke family probably owned the land and their family seat, Hyde Hall, was on the other side of the river Tame in Hyde, Cheshire. George Hyde Clarke was a promoter and major shareholder of the Peak Forest Canal Company. Later in the 19th century James Walton, a Yorkshire entrepreneur, became the landowner. James Walton was the owner of Haughton Dale Mills (the Wireworks) and benefactor of the Church of St Mary the Virgin (1876), built between Worth’s Lane and Meadow Lane, and its associated rectory (1882) on Meadow Lane. Nearby, to the north of the farm, the Clinker Pit was mining coal from the Lancashire Coalfield.
Close to the centre of Haughton Green, on Haughton Green Road, the Bay Horse public house opened in 1831 and its first publican was John Worth, who was possibly another member of the family. The public house was named after a favourite pit pony working in the Nibble and Clink Pit, which stood immediately behind the public house.
By the time of the 1841 census, Charles and Mary had six children, William (12), Charles (9), John (7), Elizabeth (5), James (4) and Daniel (1). Shortly afterwards disaster struck the family when both parents died. Charles died in 1844, aged 44 years, and Mary died in 1845, aged 33 years. Another blow came in 1850 when young Elizabeth died, aged 14 years. The 1851 census shows how the resilient Worth family coped with their unfortunate situation.
Their eldest son, William, had become the head of the family and he was both a Shopkeeper (Grocer) and Farmer of nine acres. His brothers, John and James, were assisting him in his work, whereas Charles was a Power Loom Weaver in a Cotton Mill. At 11-years old, Daniel was considered too young to be working. To assist them; the family had engaged the 24-year old Mary Ann Cropley as their Housekeeper.
At some point over the following decade there was a crucial change in John Worth’s situation and by 1861 he had moved from Haughton Green to Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire, where he was boarding with Charles Walton, a Grocer, of Market Street. Here his occupation was recorded as a Bookkeeper but the name of his employer is unknown. On this single occasion, an error was made on the census return in that his place of birth was given as Hyde, Cheshire instead of Haughton, Lancashire. The circumstances surrounding his move from Haughton Green to Chapel-en-le-Frith will never be known but they were certainly fortuitous. Here he met the lady who was to become his wife, Mary Fletcher, and the couple were married at Hayfield, Derbyshire, in 1862.
Following their marriage, John and Mary moved to the Townend district of Chapel-en-le-Frith and by 1871 they had a family of three children, John (8), Elizabeth Ann (7) and Francis (4). By occupation, John was now a Canal Agent. This meant that he was employed by the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway Company, which was then the owner of the Peak Forest Canal Company. Because of his location at Townend, his work was involved with the management of the Peak Forest Tramway, which had a complex of sidings, warehouses and workshops there. Townend lay at the foot of the Chapel-en-le-Frith inclined plane, which raised the tramway to its upper level and connection with the limestone quarries at Dove Holes.
At some point over the following decade he was appointed as the Canal Wharfinger (Manager) of Bugsworth Basin at the terminus of the Peak Forest Canal and by 1881 he was living in the Canal House and Office at Bugsworth Basin. His son, John (18) was described as a Merchandise Porter, whereas Elizabeth Ann (16) and Francis (14) were both still Scholars. It was during the 1880s that he received his soubriquet of ‘Owd’ Worth.
The 1891 census shows he was still living at the Canal House and Office at Bugsworth Basin but he had reverted to his original occupational title of Canal Agent. His son, John (28), was a Canal Labourer and son, Francis (24), was a Railway Clerk. This suggests that Francis was better placed in the employ of the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway Company than was his brother. Elizabeth Ann Worth was not at home, possibly she was away visiting or had got married, although the record of a marriage (or death) has not been found. The 1891 census also records the arrival of John and Mary’s last child, Mary Annie, who was born in 1883.
Son, Francis Worth, married Margaret Hannah Stanfield at St Bartholomew’s Church, Wilmslow, Cheshire, in 1899 and at the time of the 1901 census they were living with Margaret’s father, Richard Stanfield, a Farmer, at The Firs, Dean Row, Wilmslow. Francis Worth died at Wilmslow in 1924, aged 75 years. As will be seen, it is of interest to note that Richard Stanfield was born at Rainow, Cheshire.
On the other hand, son, John Worth Junior, married the twice-widowed Maria Lowe Brocklehurst late Hawley formerly (?) in 1899 and by the 1901 census he was living at Leaden Knowl, Chinley, Bugsworth and Brownside. In this census, John’s occupation was then a Railway Labourer (on the Peak Forest Tramway). Living with the couple were John’s two stepsons, James William Hawley (13) and George Samuel Brocklehurst (8) and two boarders, John Holland (40) and John Westby (27). John Worth Junior died at Rainow, aged 61 years, in 1924.
On the 1 August 1897 the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway Company changed its name to the Great Central Railway Company and henceforth John Worth was the Canal Agent (Wharfinger) at Bugsworth for this company.
The 1901 census shows that John Worth (67) was still the Canal Agent at Bugsworth and his younger daughter Mary Annie (18) was at home, employed as a Milliner’s Assistant. Mary Annie Worth went on to marry Charles Lowe at Macclesfield in 1904.
John Worth was by now thinking about retirement and on the 1 December 1903 he was succeeded by John Chappell who had the unenviable task of overseeing the rapid decline of limestone, gritstone and lime traffic through Bugsworth Basin. John Chappell also witnessed the demise of the Great Central Railway Company when it merged with other railway companies to form the London and North Eastern Railway Company (LNER Co) on the 1 January 1923. The final blow came on the 31 July 1925 when the LNER Co received the Royal Assent for a Private Bill before Parliament. A clause in this Bill allowed the railway company to legally abandon the Peak Forest Tramway, which, in turn, precipitated the closure of Bugsworth Basin. As a result of the loss of all traffic through Bugsworth Basin, John Chappell transferred to the canal office at Marple on the 20 August 1926.
Meanwhile, John Worth and his wife moved out of the Canal House and Office at Bugsworth Basin and journeyed over the hills, via Whaley Bridge and Kettleshulme, to settle in their retirement home at Rainow, Macclesfield. It can, surely, be no coincidence that they retired at Rainow, which was where the father-in-law of their son, Francis, was born.
Considering that it was in the early years of the 20th century, John and Mary enjoyed a fairly lengthy retirement together. John died at Rainow in 1912, aged 78 years, and Mary died at Rainow in 1919, also aged 78 years.
One of John Worth Junior’s duties was to operate the unique mobile waggon tipplers at Bugsworth Basin. There were four of these, one in the Lower Basin, one in the Middle Basin, by Chinley Road Bridge, and two in the Upper Basin. As their name implies, the purpose of these tipplers was to empty stone from loaded mineral waggons onto the wharfs below from where it was shovelled into boats. It was also recorded that Isaac Worth, believed to be John Worth Junior’s son, was the last person to operate a waggon tippler prior to the closure of the Peak Forest Tramway and Bugsworth Basin but, unfortunately, it has not been possible to verify this.
Mrs Martha Barnes (6 April 1871-1970), a Bugsworth resident, recorded in her Memoirs that John ‘Jack’ Worth operated the waggon tipplers. She also mentioned that he was a cripple with one leg shorter than the other and she suggested that he might have had polio.
Regarding John Worth’s four brothers: In 1871 William was a Grocer and Farmer of 14 acres employing one man and a girl. His farm was on Ryding (or Riding) Lane, Haughton Green. He died in 1880, aged 51 years. Charles became the Caretaker of Haughton Green Conservative Club on Haughton Green Road. He died in 1901, aged 68 years. James became a Grocer on Haughton Green Road and he died in 1901, aged 64 years. Daniel became a Coal Dealer on Penny Lane, Heaton Norris, Stockport, and he died in 1906, aged 66 years.
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IWPS in Cranford Country
This year’s IWPS weekend away took us down to the Wilts & Berks Canal, with two separate walks on the length between Wootton Bassett and Melksham.
Saturday saw us meet up at Foxham Village Hall & Reading Rooms (ST980773), not far from the flattened Foxham Arch Bridge, with our guides Rachael Banyard and Di Smurthwaite on hand to take us on our way. After the obligatory car shuffle we headed across the common towards a hedge, behind which were some scant remains of the wing walls above Foxham Lower Lock. The lock has been partly restored once, but has been infilled again by a subsequent landowner. A little further on however, Foxham Upper Lock was far better preserved beyond a restored tailbridge parapet, now incorporated into a garden, and the canal is in water between the top gates and a newish Elm Farm Bascule Bridge. The towpath can be followed north from here though it is not a right of way, through Elm Farm Liftbridge, and the more solid Park Farm Accommodation Bridge which we passed under; the canal bed is clear enough with water pretty much all the way. Beyond the Elephant Spillweir (ST980787), the canal is infilled and the route along the towpath ceases to exist; we backtracked to Elephant Liftbridge (just the deck at present) over the canal, and thenceforth followed the edge of the adjacent field, back on a right of way again.
About 200 yards or so further on, the site of Woodcommon Lock was pointed out, but you could barely make out the change in ground levels (it was a full 9-foot rise), let alone see any sign of a lock. We struggled to work out where the public footpath went (in theory you can return to the line of the towpath, albeit briefly, at the site of the lock), but landowners and highways department seem to fail to see eye-to-eye with each other. Just short of the road near a spot that has long be known as ‘The City’ (now a substantial private residence by the looks of it), there used to be a milepost – signifying 14 miles from Semington, where the canal met the Kennet & Avon Canal – but no sign of it now. We convened on the bridge and tried in vain to work out where we had gone wrong !
A public footpath heads up the edge of a field from City Bridge (ST985796) before bearing north-westward, away from the canal line, towards a bridge over the railway. However, we had permission from the next landowner to continue along the route of the towpath, though we did hold back a bit while a couple of roe deer nibbled at something or other before moving out of our way. Our own onward passage did entail some undignified clambering under a barbed wire fence, enlivened by an enthusiastic lick from Rachael’s dog as we tried to find our feet on the other side ! There is a spillweir just beyond here, built by the Canal Trust some ten years ago. The towpath and canal from here are, relatively, in excellent condition – a testament to the landowner’s enthusiasm for the project – and in time it may be more accessible to the public.
We followed the towpath past one of the Trust’s workboats in front of the beautifully restored canal cottages at the site of Joseph Barnes old coal wharf, to the A420 road at Dauntsey Bridge, and the Peterborough Arms where we stopped for lunchtime ale and baguettes (ST997802). The food here is well regarded, and although we weren’t pushing the boat out on this occasion, there were no complaints. The hamlet here is known as Dauntsey Lock, the village of Dauntsey being a mile further to the north.
There is no right of way beyond the partly restored Dauntsey Lock (the lock, not the hamlet; please keep up !) adjacent to the pub, though there is an obvious path which follows the line of the towpath to the north of the canal as far as Sodom Lane, and our guides had ensured we could use this route. As with earlier sections which the Trust has been unable to work on, there are no physical obstructions to restoration along here, and the main area of interest besides the airborne activity in and out of RAF Lyneham, was Dauntsey North Spillweir. Between Sodom Lane and Bowd’s Lane, there is a right of way a short distance to the south of the canal line, but again our guides had ensured we were able to walk the line of the towpath. A few hundred yards short of Bowd’s Lane are the remains of the first of the Seven Locks flight; the Trust currently has no permission to work the site.
At Bowd’s Lane, Lock No 2 of the flight is right underneath the road and the Trust is working with the council to try and get the road realigned to the west (SU020806). The Trust has rebuilt part of the head of the lock to help emphasise the problem. The Trust has also been able to secure access to the next few hundred yards of the canal’s route and its work parties are restoring the next three locks in the flight. No 3 is complete, No 4 almost done and No 5 is just being worked up into a physical project. Again, there is no formal right of way up the flight but the landowner does allow visitors. Above Lock No 5 the land changes ownership and the existing owner is certainly not welcoming of anyone with an interest in the canal. Thus Locks 6 and 7 are strictly out of bounds to all, as is the pound above the lock flight as far as Trow Lane. So having spent some time viewing the restored locks, we made plans for our evening meal (at the excellent Bell Inn in Lacock) and then dispersed.
After we had gone our separate ways I made a brief diversion to the next accessible section of the canal at Tockenham Wick. From the road at Tockenham Bridge (SU036814), the line of the canal can be followed west all the way back to the aforementioned Trow Lane. Eastwards you can only go a couple of hundred yards as far a brook passing under the canal, whence the footpath cuts south towards the main (A3102) road. To be honest there is not a great deal to see, but these canal routes must be walked !
On Sunday morning we reconvened at the Bell in Lacock, the scene of our Saturday evening repast, and then took half of the cars to Forest Lane, just off Pewsham Way, the South Chippenham bypass. Immediately north of the bypass ran the lock-less Chippenham branch of the canal, two miles long and completely infilled though you can follow the course for much of its route; Jay’s Bridge was immediately north of the Forest Lane junction (ST928717). Having been warned that there were problems with the footpath leading off the bottom of Forest Lane, we walked east along the bypass for a few hundred yards, passing the site of the ‘Semington 8’ milepost, before hitting a Sustrans cycleway which after about 400 yards turns due south* and in a short while brings you to the top of Pewsham Locks. The locks were on the main line of the canal, and the junction with the Chippenham Branch was just above the locks, to the north (ST939714). [There is nothing to be seen of the junction, though purists may wish to try and find a footpath that runs off the bypass a little further up and seems to run to the site of the junction, then follows the main line reasonably closely to just above the locks. *At the point where the cycleway bears south, behind the hedge, there was a drawbridge over the main line, just below the junction, suggesting that this part of the cycleway is an old route, that used to continue to the east.]
There is plenty of evidence of the Trust’s activity on all three locks on the Pewsham flight, with piles of stone and bricks everywhere and odd bits of metalwork from the lock-gates and paddles. A culvert under the canal and spillway have also seen a lot of Trust activity and we were to see more evidence of this aspect of the canal’s engineering as we headed south through Triangle Wood – the Trust seem to be spending as much time on culverts as on the ‘proper’ canal structures.
As we walked it was pointed out that the towpath south of Top Lock, as adopted by Sustrans, is not a right of way, and is in danger of being rescinded by the landowner. Apparently the initial permissive agreement was only for 10 years, and the landowner seems un-inclined to renew. This would be a great loss as it seems to be a very well used path, and we all dutifully signed a petition that some locals in Lacock had put into circulation. After about three quarters of a mile, and the Cocklemore Brook overflow culvert, the Avon comes in on our right and accompanied us to the very recently restored Double Bridge. This was opened by (very) local resident, HRH the Duchess of Cornwall at the end of May, following some very frenetic work by the Trust trying to get it done in time so that they could, temporarily at least, water the canal under the bridge. The cycleway follows a watery, but weedy, canal for a few more hundred yards to the site of Nash Hill Drawbridge (ST926695), before it heads up the hill to the east of the canal line.
We took a reasonably obvious path a little further along the canal line, which took us to a field. The route across here was not obvious (the canal line and Fry’s Bridge have been completely obliterated) but we did come out at the site of Rey Mill Drawbridge (pictured in Dalby; see References). However when I tried to come back this way later in the day, I was politely but firmly advised that there was no pedestrian route across the field (the OS maps conform this) and that the cycleway route should be used instead (at least while it is still open !). From the site of Rey Mill Bridge, the canal line can be lawfully followed for a couple of hundred yards through the next field, before you are forced east onto Bewley Lane, as the canal line passes into the private grounds of Bewley Court; Bewley Bridge may or may not still exist within those walls. The last few yards of the canal on the approach to the main road now form the access drive to Bewley Court – preservation of a sort. This area was known as Lacock Wharf (the village is about a mile down the hill) and across the road, the car park of the Bell Inn marks the site of the wharf (ST927680). This was the end of our walk – no prizes for guessing where we had lunch !
For those interested in following the Chippenham Branch, a line of trees running west from the junction of Pewsham Way and King Henry Drive is your best starting point (ST932715). Follow this through the site of Jay’s Bridge to Canal Road, the site of Deep Cutting Bridge. Just beyond here the canal line is more or less taken over by the bypass; follow it round to Webbington Road (the site of England’s Bridge) and to the junction with Avenue la Fleche (ST922727). Cross over (with care) and a footpath keeps reasonably close to the line from here to Wood Lane; there was a short tunnel just to the south of Wood Lane, but there is no sign of it now. The Branch ended in a wharf on Timber Street (now the bus station), between Wood Lane and The Causeway, just short of the Market Place, and you can vaguely follow the route through the car park and access roads.
The Wilts & Berks Canal – LJ Dalby
Chippenham Canal Trail (Old Wilts & Berks Canal Amenity Group leaflet)
OS Landranger Map 173; Swindon & Devizes
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IWA Members Plan Historic "Cressy" Cruise Re-Enactment
August 1939 saw a young, newly married couple, Tom & Angela Rolt, leave Banbury to cruise the inland waterways with their narrowboat "Cressy". Tom's book "Narrowboat", chronicles their experiences and its publication in 1945 received so much popular acclaim that it led to the formation of The Inland Waterways Association (IWA) in 1946. The aims were to campaign for proper management, conservation, funding and restoration of the inland waterways - aims which are just as vital today as they were in 1946.
2010 will be the Centenary of the birth of Tom Rolt and as part of the IWA's celebrations, Ron & Mary Heritage from IWA Oxfordshire Branch will attempt to re-enact the iconic "Cressy" cruise, leaving Tooley's Boatyard in Banbury at mid-day on 24 April 2010 in their narrowboat "Heron".
Tom Rolt was also a founder member of the Talyllyn Steam Railway and the Vintage Sports Car Club and it is hoped to have representatives from the latter - helping to give "Heron" a good send-off. Local dignitaries have already offered their support to the occasion.
Pupils from the North Oxford Academy are planning to track the cruise route and also produce displays, carry out interviews and design publicity for the event as part of their International Baccalaureate studies.
So where will the cruise take them?
From Banbury, the cruise heads north towards Braunston - the heart of the inland waterways system. Then on to the Leicester arm of the Grand Union Canal and descending through Foxton Locks to Market Harborough, site of IWA's first National Rally in 1950.
From Market Harborough she travels north through Loughborough and the River Soar, and joins the Trent & Mersey Canal near Trent Bridge. Following the line northwards, 'Heron' will reach Middlewich in time for the Middlewich Folk & Boat Festival 18 - 20 June 2010. From there she will cruise to Chester to join in the celebrations that IWA Chester Branch is planning for the weekend of 25 - 27 June 2010. Tom was actually born in Chester in 1910 so it is fitting that a Centenary Celebration Dinner is also planned for that weekend in the historic Chester Guildhall.
"Heron" will then rejoin the original "Cressy" route and cruise down the Shropshire Union Canal, up the Staffordshire & Worcester before rejoining the Trent & Mersey. From there the route will take her along the Coventry Canal, down the Oxford Canal passing again through Banbury and on towards the Thames. "Heron"s cruise will finish at the IWA's National Festival & Boat Show (The Tom Rolt Centenary Event) at Beale Park on the River Thames over the August Bank Holiday weekend.
"Heron" will be decorated appropriately during her travels, promoting the Rolt story and the IWA. Any boaters or other enthusiasts who may wish to join Ron & Mary for all, or part of the journey would be most welcome.
For further information about details of the cruise please contact email@example.com.
For further Festivals media information contact:
Gillian Bolt: Marketing Director, IWA Festivals: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Timothy West, CBE to Open IWA's 2010 National Festival at Beale Park
The Inland Waterways Association's Festival Team is delighted to announce that Timothy West, CBE has kindly agreed to open their National Festival & Boat Show at Beale Park on the River Thames in 2010 -subject to filming commitments.
Timothy is, of course, well known for many roles in stage, film and television productions. However, the general public may not be so aware of his love of boating and the waterways.
Along with his wife, Prunella Scales, Timothy has owned a craft since 1979 and was the first boat to cruise the full extent of the newly re-opened Kennet & Avon Canal in 1990. He is also a Vice President for The Waterways Trust, the Kennet & Avon Canal Trust and a patron of the Huddersfield Canal Society. However, his interests are not just confined to canals as he has also been involved in the restoration of The Waverley, the world's last ocean going paddle steamer.
The Beale Park Festival will take place alongside the Beale Park estate, Lower Basildon, Berkshire on the River Thames over the August Bank Holiday weekend, 28 - 30 August 2010 and is a great three day celebration of the inland waterways.
Attracting up to 600 visiting craft, including many historic vessels, with hundreds of trade exhibitors and live entertainment, the National Festival is a great day out for everyone. The 2010 National will also celebrate the Centenary of the birth of Tom Rolt, one of IWA's founding fathers who was passionate about waterways, steam railways and vintage cars and the organisers hope to reflect this during the Festival.
For further information visit : www.waterways.org.uk/Events/NationalFestival2010
Or contact: email@example.com
News from the IWA
BW Moorings Policy Consultation
British Waterways (BW) has launched a three month consultation inviting views on its proposed policy for both leisure and residential moorings in England and Wales. Addressing some of the challenges arising from the sustained growth and popularity in boating, the consultation primarily considers how mooring space along the waterways should be managed.
This consultation is about three related areas of moorings policy:
Where, and for how long, boats should be permitted to moor in areas of particularly high usage. This could see rules pertaining to length of stay being set through a process of local, stakeholder-led mooring strategies in areas where problems are most pressing. It could also include the levying of daily charges for overstaying boats at particularly congested short term moorings;
BW's commitment to control expansion of long term mooring along the line of the canal and to reduce it when new offline marinas are opened;
Managing growth in residential boating and sets out BW policy, including the encouragement of further official residential moorings at suitably located and well managed mooring sites.
Comments are invited by 31st January 2010. For more information go to :- www.britishwaterways.co.uk/mooringconsultation09 .
British Waterways Volunteering
British Waterways has recognised ten groups across the regions whose work has dramatically benefited the waterways over the past 12 months.
As an organisation, British Waterways hopes to demonstrate that volunteering plays a vital role in its duty to maintain and protect its inland waterways network. The annual presentation of these 'acknowledgement' awards is to be made this year to ten projects that have illustrated the successful partnership between volunteer groups and British Waterways.
South East - The Inland Waterways Association Milton Keynes Branch for canal clean ups.
Central - IWA's Waterway Recovery Group for the Droitwich Barge Lock restoration.
West Midlands - Birmingham Canal Navigation Society for various reactive and planned projects, public events and festivals.
East Midlands - The Grantham Canal Society for helping to sustain the waterway and engage more volunteers.
North West - Lancaster Canal Trust for numerous projects including the restoration of Hincaster Horse Path (a Scheduled Ancient Monument).
Yorkshire - Project Pugwash for the Towpath Tidy at Fall Ings near Wakefield.
Wales & Border Counties - Volunteers from the Macclesfield Canal Society for the Ramsdell Hall railings restoration.
South West - Young Gloucestershire for improving the presentation of Gloucester Docks.
London - GlaxoSmithKline for the Orange Day Events on the Grand Union Canal.
Scotland - Caol in Bloom, for improvements to the area and working with the community to take pride in the Caledonian Canal.
According to BW , last year volunteer-led projects contributed over 16,000 volunteer days to the promotion and upkeep of the waterways.
Horse Riding On Towpaths
IWA plans Tom Rolt centenary celebration events
2010 is the centenary of the birth of Tom Rolt.
Born in Chester in 1910, Tom trained as an engineer and had a passion for Victorian engineering of all kinds. As well as campaigning for the waterways he was also a lifelong vintage car and steam railway enthusiast.
From working within the engineering sector, Tom moved on to become a prolific author of both fiction and non-fiction. His first book to be published, 'Narrowboat', chronicled his tour of the inland waterways in 1939 with his first wife, Angela. The cruise, on the restored Shropshire Union narrowboat, Cressy ended up prompting the formation of The Inland Waterways Association in 1946.
To celebrate this centenary, several events are currently being planned, and two have already been confirmed.
IWA Chester & District Branch plan to stage a Tom Rolt Centenary Celebration Rally at Tower Wharf in Chester. This will take place during the weekend 26-7th June 2010.
The Talyllyn Railway will be represented during the weekend and hopefully local representatives from the Vintage Sports Car Club will bring their cars - enabling the Rally to celebrate Tom's wide ranging interests throughout his life.
There will also be a Centenary Celebration Dinner taking place, with further details available soon. For further information about the Chester celebrations, please contact Lesley Taylor on 0151 342 6651.
At the other end of the country, IWA's National Festival & Boat Show at Beale Park has also been earmarked as a Tom Rolt centenary celebration event. The National will take place over the August Bank Holiday weekend as usual, from 28-30th August 2010.
Milton Keynes Branch Canal Clean-Up
At the September meeting of the Milton Keynes branch of the Inland Waterways Association, British Waterways' presented a 'Volunteer Recognition Award' in recognition of the branch's longstanding efforts in conducting canal clean ups over many years.
The award presented by Jeff Whyatt, General Manager South East Waterways, British Waterways; was accepted by Milton Keynes Branch vice chairman John Herrick.
38 members of the branch additionally took part in the clean up that took place on the Grand Union Canal over the weekend of 25th October 2009; during which at least 5 motor-bikes, 30 bicycles and 35 shopping trolleys (amongst many other items) were removed from the canal using a trawl of four grappling hooks from the back of the floating hopper used to hold recovered items (resulting in a more successful 'strike rate, than traditional tactics of throwing hooks in from the bankside). Photos of the exercise and the 'haul' are available at:
SOS campaign banners and posters were also displayed on boats taking part and workers handed out leaflets to passers-by. The branch was assisted by 8 boats including one from Wyvern Shipping.
Minister Makes British Waterways Board Appointments
Environment Minister, Huw Irranca-Davies, has announced the re-appointment of John Bridgeman and Nigel Hugill to the Board of British Waterways.
John Bridgeman has also been appointed vice chairman of the British Waterways Board, following Richard Bowker's resignation from the Board. He has been a member of the British Waterways Board since September 2006 and acts as director with special responsibility for Wales and is establishing a British Waterways Welsh Advisory Council.
Nigel Hugill has been a member of the Board since September 2006. He is chairman of the Audit Committee and a member of the Property Committee of the board.
The appointments are for three years, running until 24 September 2012.
Polluter Fined for Red Diesel Spill
A man was ordered to pay £12,000 after thieves damaged a tanker on his land, causing oil to seep into ditches and damage wildlife.
Fluid from E and S Forklift Sales and Hire seeped into drains at Donington, Lincolnshire, in February, harming a swan and causing the death of invertebrates living in the water.
Business owner Eric Elam was fined £8,000 and ordered to pay Environment Agency costs of £4,003 by Spalding Magistrates' Court on 30th September 2009 after admitting polluting a tributary of Hammond Beck Drain.
Mr Elam told investigating officers that an oil tank had been vandalised on the site on February 11 and a pipe had been ripped off.
He thought his staff had cleaned up all the oil without realising there was a surface water drain underneath the area where the tank had stood -and so he did not notify the agency of the spill.
This incident and the resultant fine is a timely reminder of the risks associated with decanting Red Diesel from 'Jerry' cans on to boats.
Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council has been urged by Chesterfield Canal Trust to fully recognise the Chesterfield Canal regeneration - a project which would bring thousands of jobs and millions of pounds in tourism to the south of the borough.
The £16million restoration of the remaining nine miles would include a new route and marina at Kiveton and strong links with Rother Valley Country Park. But council has not accommodated the plan in the Local Development Framework- a document which sets out where 24,500 new homes will be built by 2026.
Chesterfield Canal Trust believes that restoring the last few miles would be a boost to the local economy, pointing out that it would not just benefit boaters but the whole community - including anglers, birdwatchers, walkers and cyclists. However, without being in the Councils plans the full restoration could be hampered by a housing development or a factory on the route of the canal.
1,500 jobs could be created within 12 months of having the canal restored, rising to 4,000 permanent positions. There would also be hundreds of construction opportunities.
Towns and villages across nearby north Notts are already enjoying the economic benefits of a usable canal. There is a two-year waiting list to moor a boat in Shireoaks.
Over three days, almost 10,000 people attended the Chesterfield Canal Festival in Kiveton earlier this year.
The Council's existing planning policies in the Unitary Development Plan are supportive of the canal's restoration and, as a guide to the deciding of planning applications, protect the line of the canal from any harmful development. It is investigating whether to show the line on the 'Proposals Map' of the new Framework which will replace the old plan.
However, the Council has said that Government Planning Guidance now requires that for the Framework to recognise the line the Council needs to be convinced that future restoration before 2026 is realistic. If that cannot be demonstrated the chances of its successfully passing the public examination into the Framework are low.
A riparian resident has criticised the felling of trees on a riverbank at the bottom of his garden as part of an Environment Agency project to reduce flooding at Malin Bridge, where the Loxley and Rivelin merge before flowing into the Don.
He has accused the Environment Agency of having "blatant disregard" for his property and claims his title deeds give him 'riparian rights' - ownership of the land up to the middle of the river.
The owner claims he should have been asked permission. Whilst the Agency has apologised for not asking his permission they have defended the work, indicating that the work would still have been required but at the owners expense.
Although not a navigable waterway, the line adopted by the Agency is one which the Association would endorse when landowners fail to maintain their trees under control and thus obstruct the river, either for the purposes of maintaining flood control ( as here) or navigation.
Droitwich Canals Trust held its annual open day on the restored lock flight at Hanbury Wharf on Sunday, 11th October.
Free boat trips were available throughout the event, along with free canoe taster sessions sponsored by Sport England .
Following the opening of the towpath alongside the newly constructed section of the Junction Canal, guided walks were arranged from the Hanbury Gateway site.
The Canals Trust has undertaken to make the locks available for navigation at least once a year until the whole length of the Droitwich Barge and Junction Canals are restored.
The restoration of the Junction Canal Locks was made possible by a grant of £100,000 from the Inland Waterways Association using the legacy of local waterway enthusiast Neil Pitts, and involved the restoration of the lock chambers and side ponds, the fitting of new paddle gear and lock gates.
The Hanbury locks are of particular historic interest as they exhibit the operation of a sophisticated water conservation system that was developed towards the end of the Canal Age. The restoration has retained the historic features, providing replica fittings where the originals have been lost, and maintained a high standard of workmanship.
Gloucester & Sharpness Canal
Archaeologists have begun excavating boats from Britain's largest "ships' graveyard" using 3D laser technology.
The barges, known as the Purton Hulks, line the River Severn near Sharpness.
Around 100 years ago, locals started deliberately beaching the vessels in the mud to stop the banks of the Gloucester Sharpness canal being eroded by tides on the River Severn.
The practice continued until the 1970s and now there are 81 boats lying derelict, making it the largest "ships' graveyard" to be found on mainland Britain.
A group of conservationists called the Friends of Purton are documenting all of the vessels and have undertaken their first archaeological dig.
For more information go to www.friendsofpurton.org.uk
Huddersfield Narrow Canal
The 71 million gallon (323 million litres) capacity reservoir at March Haigh has been brought back into use following essential repairs. Located on the hills above Marsden; the reservoir, which dates back more than 170 years and which is essential to keep the Huddersfield Narrow Canal flowing; had to be drained because of a faulty valve.
The leak which was discovered earlier this year caused a massive variety of logistical difficulties to be overcome before repair works could be carried out to the failed valve.
The damaged valve provides an integral part of the safety of the dam but was deemed inoperable earlier this year following a detailed inspection.
The reservoir, which is owned and operated by British Waterways, is located around two miles above Marsden and is only accessible by foot, involving a one-mile walk over open moorland.
That meant it was impossible for engineers to get their equipment to the site so a helicopter was used to fly in the materials, including the new valve, operational pipework and ducting.
The reservoir was built in the 1830s to supply water to the Huddersfield Narrow Canal. The reservoir outlet pipe passes through a 300m long, 23m high earth embankment in a 30m long valve tunnel that emerges at the downstream toe.The reservoir can hold 71 million gallons of water.
Construction of the canal was sanctioned by an Act of Parliament in 1794 and when it finally opened to navigation in 1811, it became the third trans-Pennine waterway after the Leeds & Liverpool and Rochdale canals.
Leeds and Liverpool Canal.
A £12m civil engineering contract has been awarded by the public sector to Birse Civils to prepare the former Bickershaw Colliery in Leigh for redevelopment.
The site is owned by the North West Development Agency and the works are being funded by the Homes & Communities Agency under its National Coalfields Programme.
Birse will clean up derelict land within the site, divert the existing Plank Lane, provide site road infrastructure and build a 40-berth marina on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.
Once ready, the intention is to make the 56-acre site available for up to 650 homes and 30,000 sq ft of employment space.
Works are expected to take around two years.
Liverpool Canal Link
The Liverpool Canal Link team was announced as the winner of the Regeneration Award at the British Construction Industry Awards (BCIA).
The £22m project, which was led by British Waterways and delivered by Arup, Balfour Beatty and BAM Nuttall, was recognised for the significant impact and regeneration of derelict land in North Liverpool and creating a world class waterfront facility for all to enjoy.
Re-establishing an historic connection between the city's currently underused South Docks and the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, the canal link opens up the city's waterfront to the previously untapped leisure and tourism industry.
For the first time in over a century the 30,000 boats on Britain's inland waterways will be able to navigate the current 127 mile Leeds & Liverpool Canal straight into the heart of Liverpool. Cutting a course through the World Heritage Site in front of the famous Three Graces - the Liver, Cunard and Port of Liverpool buildings - the new 1½ mile canal link is estimated to generate 200,000 extra visitors annually to Liverpool's waterfront with an additional tourism spend of £1.9 million.
The Liverpool Canal Link was funded by Objective 1 (European Regional Development Fund), Northwest Regional Development Agency, Homes and Communities Agency (previously English Partnerships), Peel Holdings and British Waterways.
Manchester Bolton & Bury Canal
Burys's largest reservoir is being transformed as work progresses on an £800,000 improvement project. British Waterways started draining Elton Reservoir in July and the 203
million gallons (923 million litres) of water have finally been removed.
Elton Reservoir is 56 acres in area and best known for fishing and sailing. The reservoir, serves as a feeder for the Manchester Bolton & Bury Canal which is in the process of being partially restored.
The operation meant that 8,500lbs of fish had to be removed over two weeks and moved to an Environment Agency holding facility. Contractors then began work to strengthen the walls and replace vital drains and valves in the reservoir, which is a popular beauty spot off Bolton Road.
Repairs have also been made to the stone-facing on the dam and an eroded section of the spillway channel.
The project is due to be completed this month, though it could be December before the reservoir is full of water again.
Shropshire Union Canal
Boat owners and businesses at Audlem are concerned over a new British Waterways policy which will see the village's permanent moorings removed. Fears have been expressed that trade will be hit as part of the organisation's plans to reduce the number of moorings along the country's waterways, which they claim are not popular and cause obstructions.
British Waterways has commented that no boater was being forced to leave their mooring. Their policy is to reduce, not eliminate entirely, the number of boats moored long term along the waterway. Where a new marina opens (one opens at Hankelow shortly), they aim to reduce one berth on the canal itself for every 10 that open.
A thick green layer of 'slime' has formed on Chester's Canal basin.
An infestation of common duckweed has covered the section between the Shropshire Union Canal and River Dee, creating the unique colour.
With the locks closed, duckweed is continuing to fill the area of stagnant water, near shops at South View Road off Sealand Road.
Articles of rubbish including beer cans, plastic bottles and sweet wrappers have been caught in the weed.
A spokesperson for British Waterways said that plans were being made to clear the duckweed by the end of November.
Crossrail has confirmed that more than 5 million tonnes of excavated material will be transported by water along the Thames for use in landscaping projects including the creation of a new nature reserve at Wallasea Island in Essex.
Crossrail has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Port of London Authority to confirm its commitment to use barges and ships along the Thames to move its excavated materials.
It is thought that excavated material from tunnelling will generally be removed by rail and water while construction material from stations and station related work such as permanent access and ventilation shafts will generally be initially removed by road and then transferred to the river.
Excavated materials from eastern tunnelling sites will go direct by river to Wallasea Island in Essex and to two regeneration sites in Kent. Material from the western tunnelling site at Royal Oak near Paddington will go by rail to the sites in Kent while some material will go by river to Wallasea Island. The Grand Union Canal is located in close proximity to the Royal Oak tunnelling site and Crossrail is considering what potential role it can play with the transfer of excavated material and the delivery of construction materials.
Trent & Mersey Canal - Burslem Port
The Burslem Port project which aims to "bring boats back to Burslem" has received funding through the Renew programme to employ up to 20 young people on a six month training opportunity in environmental management and ground work skills.
The Project team has joined up with PM Training, a social enterprise with a focus on tackling unemployment amongst young people, to begin the clearance of the site that runs from Furlong Lane along the length of Newport Lane.
It is hoped that the end result will be that the old canal arm that ran along the site will be cleared of undergrowth and rubbish and will be able to be used again as a community space. It will also allow investigation work to be carried out to see how feasible it would be to rebuild the canal along its historic route.
This project has been supported via the master planning process undertaken by Renew North Staffordshire and as a result received funding from the Renew programme.
The clearance work will be launched with a volunteer day and an opportunity for the wider community to get involved.
Roger Savage, Chair of the Stoke-on-Trent branch of the Inland Waterways Association is leading the Association's local input, and the project is actively supported by local MP and patron Joan Walley.
Wyrley and Essington Canal.
The cause for more freight on the waterways took a slight knock when it was revealed that metal thieves set up a makeshift jetty and used a canal barge to make off with five tons of aluminium from a Black Country firm.
Workers at Impalloy Ltd in Bloxwich discovered that the metal had been carried from outside the foundry down a steep embankment, through a fence and loaded on to a boat on the
Wyrley and Essington Canal.
Despite the weight of the metal, which would have taken hours to load, the thieves managed to get away undetected.
The unusual nature of the theft was revealed because a trail of metal had been dropped by the thieves and was found leading to a hole cut in the fence continuing down to the canal, where a makeshift jetty was discovered.
It is not known what type of boat was used for the getaway, (or if it exceeded the speed limit).
York Council has announced that a major programme of work will get underway in late October. Health and safety concerns have been growing over the state of riverbanks in the city, amid fears that a collapse could lead to a serious injury of a member of the public.
Repairs will be carried out to a 160ft stretch of the banks along the River Ouse downstream of Clifton Bridge, which has been designated as one of the areas most in need of work. Contractors will also remove silt .
The work , which is expected to last 10 weeks, is not expected to affect navigation. However, the riverside footpath and cycle route will be temporarily closed at designated times to allow the work to be carried out, and diversions will be in place.
Contractors from Land and Water Services Limited will be using vibro-piling to restore stability to the riverbank.
The last major programme of repairs to be carried out on the river bank walls in the area was during the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Brindley Bank Aqueduct - Trent and Mersey Canal
This major feat of civil engineering by Brindley was achieved by first building half the structure on dry land and then excavating a channel used to divert the river under the new structure. This enabled the other half to be built on dry land and when complete the river was let go so that it could flow along both its natural and man-made channels. This technique had the advantage of increasing the size of the channel to provide capacity for floodwater.
Brindley’s aqueducts are characterised by being very broad and sturdy structures because they had to withstand the weight of water as well as the mass of clay puddle used to contain it. The canal was designed to follow the natural contours of the land as much as possible and at this point the river Trent should have been crossed on the slant. Instead, the crossing was made at 90° because the technology to build skew arches, that could transmit lateral thrust to the abutments, had not been developed at that time. Consequently, Brindley always made river crossings at 90° and in this instance the canal also has a 90° bend in it at one end.
Although this aqueduct is substantial it was not the longest that he built on the Trent and Mersey Canal. His longest was the nine-arched aqueduct, which takes the canal over the river Dove at Clay Mills, near Burton-upon-Trent, Staffordshire.
Photograph: Jack Brady Archive Collection
Features of the Lower Peak Forest Canal
Bridge 5, Bowler’s (or Throstle Bank) Bridge over the Lower Peak Forest Canal in Hyde, 7 June 1963.
Throstle Bank Mill stands in the background on the right. Note the remains of a travelling crane on the mill wall. It is likely that this crane was mostly used to unload raw cotton brought by boat from Manchester.
Bowler’s Bridge was demolished in April 1976 to make way for the M67 motorway and subsequently Throstle Bank Mill was also demolished.
Photograph: The late Brian Lamb
|English Canals Explained by Stan Yorke (England’s Living History Series) £6.95|
|Narrowboats Explained by Trevor York (Britain’s Living History Series) £7.99|
There have been hundreds of books written on Britain’s Canal System but these two will be particularly useful for anybody looking for basic well-written reference works about Canals and Narrowboats, especially for those about to take a canal holiday or thinking about buying their own boat. In ‘Narrowboats Explained’ there are very informative sections on Hiring & Cruising as well as Buying & Living on a Narrow Boat. Written by the father and son team of Stan and Trevor Yorke they more than adequately cover areas often neglected in other works.
There are a very small number of mistakes but nothing important. I would like to have seen some reference to the voluntary societies throughout the country who have restored many miles and helped to keep the canals navigable as we see them today. Also I would have liked to have seen some reference to NOT using the engine to charge batteries with the propeller in gear. I have first hand knowledge that that causes untold damage to the bank. That said my view is that these books have been written by a team who know about canals and boats and who can entertain and inform with the quality of their writing. I can recommend them.
The production (210x148mm paperback) is excellent with good quality printing, fine drawings and illustrations and some carefully selected old photographs. I recognised several photos of my own area of High Peak.
Cover prices are not cheap. You can buy similar books cheaper elsewhere but not as good in production, knowledge or presentation. ‘English Canals Explained’ is £6.95 (mono throughout) and ‘Narrowboats Explained’ £7.99 (full colour throughout).
Available at all good bookshops or by mail order from
The Peak Forest Canal Co. Ltd., Top Lock House, 7 Lime Kiln Lane, Marple, SK6 6BX
Our congratulations to Derek, Ken and Jean on the presentation of the award - this excellent book is available from The Peak Forest Canal Co. Ltd., Top Lock House, 7 Lime Kiln Lane, Marple, SK6 6BX
Blackbrook House Visitor Centre - what might be!
These are the latest visualisations for the proposed Visitor Centre , destined to replace our existing block of unsightly shipping containers, which were successfully submitted to High Peak Borough Council and English Heritage for consents. See Ian Edgar's Bugsworth Basin Report for more information.
At the western end of the
building, closest to the existing small facility block, the
original Blackbrook House, there will be two fully disabled
standard public toilets with daylight hours access controlled by
electronic time locks.
The eastern end of the building will serve as a garage and store room for our collection of tools, plant and machinery, materials and consumables. The unit will also serve as a workshop and crew room.
The layout is
as shown here and will provide us with a much greater area to
display our collection of artifacts, photographs etc. Similarly
the sales/vending area will be more spacious.
Christmas Advice from the Health and Safety Team
When singing carols - just bear the following in mind!!
The Rocking Carol
Little Jesus, sweetly sleep, do not stir;
We will lend a coat of fur,
We will rock you, rock you, rock you,
We will rock you, rock you, rock you:
Fur is no longer appropriate wear for small infants, both due to risk of allergy to animal fur, and for ethical reasons.
Therefore faux fur, a nice cellular blanket or perhaps micro-fleece material should be considered a suitable alternative.
Please note, only persons who have been subject to a Criminal Records Bureau check and have enhanced clearance will be permitted to rock baby Jesus.
Persons must carry their CRB disclosure with them at all times, and be prepared to provide three forms of identification before rocking commences.
Dashing through the snow
In a one horse open sleigh
O'er the fields we go
Laughing all the way
A risk assessment must be submitted before an open sleigh is considered safe for members of the public to travel on.
The risk assessment must also consider whether it is appropriate to use only one horse for such a venture, particularly if passengers are of larger proportions.
Please note, permission must be gained from landowners before entering their fields. To avoid offending those not participating in celebrations, we would request that laughter is moderate only and not loud enough to be considered a noise nuisance.
While Shepherds Watched
While shepherds watched their flocks by night
All seated on the ground,
The angel of the Lord came down
And glory shone around.
The Union of Shepherds has complained that it breaches health and safety regulations to insist that shepherds watch their flocks without appropriate seating arrangements being provided, therefore benches, stools and orthopaedic chairs are now available. Shepherds have also requested that due to the inclement weather conditions at this time of year they should watch their flocks via cctv cameras from centrally heated shepherd observation huts.
Please note, the Angel of the Lord is reminded that before shining his / her glory all around she / he must ascertain that all shepherds have been issued with glasses capable of filtering out the harmful effects of UVA, UVB and the overwhelming effects of Glory.
Little donkey, little donkey on the dusty road
Got to keep on plodding onwards with your precious load
The RSPCA have issued strict guidelines with regard to how heavy a load a donkey of small stature is permitted to carry, also guidance regarding how often to feed the donkey and how many rest breaks are required over a four hour plodding period.
Please note that due to the increased risk of pollution from the dusty road, Mary and Joseph are required to wear face masks to prevent inhalation of any airborne particles.
The donkey has expressed his discomfort at being labelled 'little' and would prefer just to be simply referred to as Mr. Donkey. To comment upon his height or lack thereof may be considered an infringement of his equine rights.
We Three Kings
We three kings of Orient are
Bearing gifts we traverse afar
Field and fountain, moor and mountain
Following yonder star
Whilst the gift of gold is still considered acceptable - as it may be redeemed at a later date through such organisations as 'Cash for Gold' etc, gifts of frankincense and myrrh are not appropriate due to the potential risk of oils and fragrances causing allergic reactions. A suggested gift alternative would be to make a donation to a worthy cause in the recipient's name or perhaps give a gift voucher.
We would not advise that the traversing kings rely on navigation by stars in order to reach their destinations and suggest the use of RAC Routefinder or satellite navigation, which will provide the quickest route and advice regarding fuel consumption. Please note as per the guidelines from the RSPCA for Mr Donkey, the camels carrying the three kings of Orient will require regular food and rest breaks. Face masks for the three kings are also advisable due to the likelihood of dust from the camels' feet.
Away in a Manger
Away in a manger
No Crib for a Bed -
This is definitely one for Social Services!