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A Short history of the working boat Alton Peak Forest Tramway Resurfacing Bugsworth Basin Report Salvaged valves from Toddbrook Reservoir New Welcome Board for Bugsworth Basin A personal view on the new Charitable Status for BW Model of Bugsworth Basin Transitional Trustees for Waterways Charity 'Foxed' by Linda Goulden The Gloucester and Cheltenham Tramroad Kerridge Wharf and Stone Saw Mill Recent posting on an Irish Waterways website Newsworthy photos and a bit of humour Waterways News Railway Pit, Whaley Bridge Worsley re-visited Erratum and news snippets
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Working boat - Alton
Photo by Don Baines
Chairman's REPORT February 2011
By Ian Edgar MBE Chairman IWPS and Hon. Site Manager
A SHORT HISTORY OF N.B. ‘ALTON’
Those who are familiar with the Upper Peak Forest Canal and the Macclesfield Canal will know n.b. Alton which plies both canals selling coal, fuel, firewood and many other products for boat owners and users. I have just come across an item in ‘Dacorum Canal World’ which is the magazine of the Dacorum Canal Society. Of interest to all at Bugsworth is this item on ‘ALTON’ which is a regular visitor to the Basin. We buy as much Diesel Fuel as we can from the present owners Barry McGuigan’s Renaissance Company. I have permission from the Editor to extract part of the item which is of local interest:
‘In the early 1970’s with BW taking back Willow Wren’s leased boats and adding them to the ‘narrow boat graveyard’ on the Wendover Arm, the newly founded Narrow Boat Trust put in a tender for three boats in the hope of acquiring one. Instead they got all three. The motors Nuneaton and Alton and the butty Satellite for £800, £850 and £400 respectively.
The boats had not been used for some time and had fallen prey to vandals, thieves and bounty hunters. Their engines were not working, all the brass and anything useful had been removed – they were almost complete wrecks.
A 4 h.p. outboard motor was secured to a wooden transom at the back of Nuneaton and headed towards Northampton at between one and one and a half miles per hour in a cloud of blue smoke! To get light when going through Blisworth Tunnel, one person started up a moped in the hold. This generated power for its headlamp which was held up by a second person above the gunwale.
The boats were taken north to Yates’ Boat Yard at Norton Canes, one reason for this being it had a shallow ‘hospital’ section that Satellite could not sink in.
Lack of resources meant that a decision was made to concentrate efforts on getting Alton back in to service but even this took several years. In 1976 the chance arose to use Alton in the Children’s Film Foundation film ‘The Great Zoo Robbery’ which gave the necessary funds for a basic restoration, albeit with a somewhat bizarre paint scheme.
Alton was to trade coal on the Midlands Waterways and the River Weaver for several years with the coal loaded by tipper truck, then weighed and bagged by the crew, usually on the way to unloading – unlike to-day’s pre-bagged loads.
In 1982 the time came to leave Norton Canes and Alton towed Nuneaton to a new base at Papercourt Lock on the River Wey. At the same time, a contentious decision was made to sell Satellite – to Michael Braine who cut her in two. Both halves are still extant.
In 1983 the reluctant decision was made to sell Alton to repay a loan so Alton was sold to George Boyle of the Peak Forest Canal Carrying Co. who continued to trade in coal, diesel, fenders etc. on the Macclesfield and surrounding canals until she was taken over by Barry McGuigan who continues in the same manner.
The Narrow Boat Trust, in the last 30 years, has managed to restore and keep in carrying trim three historic boats with a small voluntary membership and no grants or lottery handouts. Although several one-off carrying opportunities have been offered a lack of crew has scuppered these. This would not have happened in the 1970’s.’
It is very satisfying to know that Alton is still going strong. George Boyle has since retired from boating (too hard on his back humping sacks of coal in the rain he tells us) but he retains his interest in the Canal by skippering the Judith Mary on her regular trips out of Whaley Bridge, into Bugsworth Basin and then down to or beyond New Mills. Long may it continue. Like Bugsworth Basin Alton is now a bit ‘old in the tooth’ and needs constant loving care and attention whilst still keeping the appearance and role of a working boat plying a trade on the canal.
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THE PEAK FOREST TRAMWAY RE-SURFACING WORKS
We have been informed by Derbyshire County Council that work is due to start on improving the track bed of the former Peak Forest Tramway by re-surfacing, clearing vegetation, felling encroaching trees and cutting back others. This length is between the existing metalled surfacing at Lower Crist and close to that at Harpur Cottage. The track will be widened to 3m with a final finish of 75mm thick layer of limestone 20mm to dust. Where sleeper blocks are extant then they will be retained especially around the junction of the track with Whitehough Head Lane. The work has the approval of English Heritage with Consent being secured by Derbyshire County Council. The IWPS has been consulted as we were with the Arcus 2006 Report which documented important archaeological features. These will be protected. Work has been delayed due to the bad weather in January but we are told we will be asked in for consultation when the work starts later this month (February 2011).
Unfortunately the track bed was severely damaged by the laying of a gas main before the area was Scheduled as an Ancient Monument. The sleeper blocks displaced then were delivered to the Basin by the contractor and now form the perimeter of the field which now buries the many track beds to the East of the Navigation Inn. Until such time as the regrading commences we will not know how much, if any, of the lines of sleeper blocks remain.
I hope to report further on the work in the next issue of ‘174’.
BUGSWORTH BASIN REPORT
LOWER BASIN ARM British Waterways have now completed their work and the arm has been on test for some time. There is still some leakage but not nearly so much as before and no sign, yet, of any subsidence or slumping. Both BW and I have agreed that BW will lift the planks at the end of the arm to level the water both sides but these planks will remain in for this season – in other words no entry for boats yet. The reason for this is that I am working on a plan and securing estimates for a contractor to take down and rebuild 125 metres of wharf wash wall from the foot of the ramp of Bridge 59 towards the lime kilns. The plan will include lowering the water level in the Basin so a contractor can work on the wall whilst at the same time leaving some water in the main Basin to protect fish stocks. Planks will be placed at Canal House Stop Place leaving the only feed for the Basin being from the river. The water lowering will be via the box trunk in the Lower Basin Arm with one or more of the planks there lifted.
In the meantime the fencing around the Lower Basin Arm is about to be taken down and re-erected on this 125 metres of wharf to prevent boats mooring there. This wall is very unstable and more is likely to fall in to the water. All this work has to be agreed with British Waterways, a stoppage will be required and arrangements made for our four permanent moorers. If I can agree everything with British Waterways I would hope to get this work done in October of this year.
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COLLAPSED DRY STONE WALL NEAR TO THE LIME KILNS.
A short section fell down during the recent very cold spell. I believe the damage was caused due to water within the wall freezing and then thawing over several years. This year the whole Basin was covered with 4” or more of ice which must have been the final straw for this section. By agreement with British Waterways, and to avoid the stone ending up in the canal (some must have as we had to import some stone to complete the rebuild) the IWPS employed a specialist team of wallers who completed the repair in 2 days and within two weeks of the actual collapse.
Pete Holden views the collapsed wall brought down by the severe weather conditions of December and January - Photo: Martin Whalley
Collapse expertly repaired by Phil Nickison and his team of wallers
February 2011 - Photo: Don Baines
RE-SURFACING NORTH UPPER BASIN WHARF.
We have cleared a thick layer of mud and soft earth down to the original sub-base and then laid a new layer of limestone chippings. This wharf has always been waterlogged during periods of high rainfall much to the discomfort of visitors and moorers alike. Once this job has been completed (there is still some more to do at the time of writing this report) walking will be much improved.
Contrary to common rumour, we are not converting Bugsworth Basin into a golf course - Thanks to Mark Hatch of Canal House who kindly loaned us this useful caddy which proved invaluable alongside our tractor and trailer in transporting limestone chippings to resurface the Upper Basin tippler wharf. Pete Holden and Matt Allison had a wonderful day crewing the little truck on a cold January work day. Photo: Don Baines
Don Baines and Ian Edgar resurfacing the Upper Basin tippler wharf with limestone chippings - Working day, 9th January 2011. Photo Martin Whalley
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SERIOUS PLUMBING PROBLEMS AT BLACKBROOK HOUSE
When carrying out one of our regular checks on the Basin we found serious frost damage to the water pipes which led to a considerable loss of water. Fortunately this went direct to the floor drain and no other damage was caused. IWPS volunteers, Gordon Anderson and Bev Clarke, repaired this in double quick time at only a fraction of the cost of an out of hours plumber and at a cost to British Waterways of only emergency travel costs and materials. Yet another example of how volunteers can get a skilled job done quickly and at a fraction of the cost to British Waterways. BW were well impressed but, even though the facility was out of action for only a few days, and the canal was un-navigable because of the 4” of ice, I still had to listen to the telephone abuse of an irate female boater who demanded I pumped out her toilet (which we could not do in normal times anyway) and re-instate her water supply. Fortunately there were only two other visiting boats trapped in the Basin and only one had to get a water supply which Mark Hatch in Canal House very kindly supplied.
The real downside of this is that Gordon Anderson sustained a severe laceration to his hand. He and I had to spend three hours at Macclesfield Hospital whilst he had eight stitches inserted. Gordon still does not understand how he came to sustain such an injury.
Needless to say the female who made the abusive telephone call has not renewed her boat licence since 2009………
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SALVAGED VALVES FROM TODDBROOK RESERVOIR
British Waterways have replaced the valves which drain the reservoir with more modern equipment and telephoned me with a few days notice that BW would like the IWPS to accept them as a gift to display at the Basin. This we were prepared to do but we had to accept them from the BW contractors transport within three days. The site was being cleared and we could not have the transport come back. The issue was also complicated by the fact that Whaley Bridge Historical Society wanted two of them to exhibit actually on the headbank but they had no facilities to move theirs or store them. In the end all were moved to Bugsworth where they now lie hidden away. As we all know scrap iron and other metals, due to the high prices being obtained from scrap merchants, is attracting thieves everywhere. Leaving these historically important original valves (c.1800) and weighing in all about 5 tonnes by the roadside and easily accessible was not an option.
One set of two pairs of valves replaced at Toddbrook Reservoir. One of each pair is used to turn the flow on or off as required and the the other is used to regulate the volume flow rate. - Photo: Don Baines
Eventually, once the site is ready at Whaley Bridge, the Historical Society can arrange collection from Bugsworth. I am helping them make the arrangements for transport, cleaning etc.
I have spoken with our Inspector of Ancient Monuments about placing the valves at Bugsworth Basin. He is very enthusiastic but we still need to go through the formalities of applying for Ancient Monument Consent which must be accompanied by a full set of drawings. I am grateful to our ‘174’ Editor Don Baines for agreeing to undertake this task. In the meantime we are costing the blast cleaning, painting etc. needed to complete this interesting project. The valves will have an interpretation board to explain their relevance to the Basin and the whole of the Peak Forest, Ashton, Macclesfield and Trent & Mersey Canals.
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A FEW FACTS ABOUT THE WORKS AT TODDBROOK RESERVOIR
I thought, as an addendum to the information above to our members, it would be useful to pass on the information issued by British Waterways:
The controlled emptying of the reservoir with the fish rescue (over 11,000 lb) of fish taken to Brookfield Pond, Peak Forest, Shropshire Union and Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canals. The fish are due to be replaced at Toddbrook once water levels are back high enough in the New Year (2011).
Repairing pitching to the wall of the dam. Clearing silt and debris from the pipework inlets (upper and lower draw off pipes)
Removing old valves and connections to pipework.
Cleaning, inspecting and repairing old pipework. Re-lining old pipework with an epoxy resin with a ‘sock’ liner cured under pressure using ultra violet lights.
The replacement of valves and testing new system. Replacement of screens to intakes and re-filling.
The pipes are generally used, under normal conditions to feed water stored in the reservoir at a controlled rate into the Peak Forest Canal at Whaley Bridge. This helps (along with the nearby Combs Reservoir) to maximise the length of the boating season on this and connected canals. Excess water can be fed directly via lower draw off or spillway to the brook or in to the Goyt
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A NEW WELCOME BOARD FOR BUGSWORTH BASIN
We have had a welcome board on the footbridge at the junction with the Whaley Bridge Arm for many years. So long in fact that it no longer performed its purpose, it was an eyesore, was rotten and dangerous. Due to the most generous support of firstly, a graphic artist and secondly a sign producer, this new welcome for our visitors will not cost the Society or British Waterways anything. The Editor will include the artwork as it was at the time of going to press but there may be some small alterations particularly as regards the pictograms.
This board does not require Ancient Monument Consent (the bridge is not part of the monument) but it does require Planning Consent for which I am applying. There is a fee involved but I am hopeful the cost of this can be found from sources other than the IWPS reserves.
It was very nice to receive a comment from the Economic Development Officer for High Peak Borough Council:
‘The sign looks great, should make a huge impact’
Here again, everything came together very quickly. The IWPS, the Council and British Waterways all sharing our vision with, I perceive, a new impetus to get things done.
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BAD NEWS FROM BOSTON
All who worked at Bugsworth will remember the patience of Robert & Jackie Barnes who were to operate the ill fated Water Taxi from Whaley Bridge to Bugsworth Basin and who, whilst waiting, painted more than half of the steel railings a gleaming black and white. Unfortunately the taxi project was eventually abandoned but we did enjoy not only the support of Roger and Jackie but their cheerful company as well.
It is therefore very distressing to hear of more misfortune for them in their home town of Spalding. The following appeared on the web site narrowboatworld:
VANDALS ATTACK WATER TAXI
‘Such are the problems with vandals in Spalding that its water taxi service has had to be moved. The service that is owned by South Holland District Council and Broadgate Homes, and run by Spalding Water Taxi (on which the Bugsworth taxi was to be modelled – IE) had its boat vandalised so often that £25,000 is being used to provide new, more secure moorings.
Both the disabled lift and boat moorings have been damaged, but the taxi’s new moorings on the Welland will have new electrical connections and a CCTV camera connected to a control room.
The service is run on a non-profit basis to provide a service and give visitors a different view of the town’.
Having visited Spalding many times whilst I was working it is a delightful waterway town which makes it very depressing to hear of such mindless vandalism. We have our problems at Bugsworth but nothing like this. Robert & Jackie put all their effort in to the Spalding Water Taxi and our commiserations go to them. We hope the new arrangements work out.
And the Bugsworth to Whaley Bridge Water Taxi? I doubt, in the present financial circumstances it will ever happen, but who knows?
A PERSONAL VIEW ON THE NEW CHARITY STATUS FOR BW.
Our Editor has dealt with this elsewhere so I would just like to give a personal view. Don Baines and I attended a meeting in Manchester at which many of the personalities of the North West canal scene were present. Clive Henderson, Chairman of The Inland Waterways Association did his best to summarise what is a very complex project. I felt the general view was that there were many questions still to be resolved with the proposals, many of which were raised from the floor to which definitive answers could not be given. Certainly the present constitution of British Waterways cannot continue. The new solution is really then the only option but a lot of work still has to be done which is causing great concerns not only for the voluntary sector but also for the BW staff who are worried not only for their jobs but for their pensions. I can understand this which makes it encouraging in my opinion in that BW staff with whom I deal are upbeat about the future and will do their best to make it work. We have to support them. Others, perhaps close to pension age, have had enough of change over the past few years and will leave BW.
In the IWA Newsletter Manchester Packet Alan Platt says (quote) ‘The current directors of BW in some cases enjoy benefits packages which are out of step with those applying to national charities’ I agree with that but how to deal with it without getting in to a quagmire of employment legislation and litigation at a cost far higher than the saving in salaries? I maintain that if the new Charity is to succeed then the higher officials must be paid a market remuneration applicable not only to similar charities (like the National Trust) but also to the top most successful people in the private sector.
It is interesting in the past few days (early February 2011) similar Government proposals have been published about the Forestry Commission being made a charity much, although details have not yet been published, on the lines of that proposed for BW. That has led to public demonstrations (I think premature) against the suggestion without firm proposals being put forward and despite Government assurances that rights of access to the forests would be maintained.
English Heritage have also been told that funding will be reduced. Talking to EH people leaves me to the view they too believe the situation is as it is and they have to get on with it. Dealing with English Heritage quite a lot I am not that too pessimistic about the future.
Ian Edgar MBE - February 2011
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A NEW AND EXCITING MODEL OF BUGSWORTH BASIN
Having seen the excellent model of the Kerridge Wharf and Tramway made by Keith Scammell (described in a later item in this issue of ‘174’) I was very pleased to hear from Keith that he wanted to make Bugsworth Basin his next project. We will work closely with Keith who will have access to all our records and photos. As Keith says we have far more information to aid his work than he had at Kerridge as so much of the archaeological features there have disappeared and there are few photographs and what there are of not that good quality.
We have photos of the whole Basin site and of most of the features from several if not all elevations. We also have the 1889 Two-chain survey and Keith has borrowed our actual size photo of this for scaling his models. This survey was done in railway ownership era.
Our version bears the name of the Manchester Sheffield & Lincolnshire Railway but there is another identical version at the Waterways Museum at Gloucester for the Great Central Railway. One thing the railway companies were renowned for was the accuracy of their site plans and land holding documents. A real advantage for the 21st Century modeller!
The Macclesfield Canal and the Kerridge Wharf and Tramway came 30 years or so after the Peak Forest Tramway and was constructed with the later profile rails with the flange on the wheel. During his site investigation at Kerridge Keith came across a section of rail with the saddle still attached. We are not aware of any other piece of rail extant. This rail is now on display at our Bugsworth Basin Exhibition and Information Centre.
When completed Keith’s model will be exhibited at Bugsworth and will be an excellent facility for our visitors to further understand how this wonderful place worked. We do of course have our outside cast aluminium model but this new venture will be far more detailed.
Our thanks to Keith for his wonderful offer to model Bugsworth Basin. It will be a great asset.
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New advisory panel to appoint ‘transition trustees’ for new waterways charity
The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) is seeking to appoint seven ‘transition trustees’ to establish a new ‘national trust’ for the waterways in 2012. The news follows the Government’s announcement (14 October 2010) that, as part of its Big Society plans, it would transfer British Waterways as a public body in England and Wales into civil society as a new charitable organisation.
The move, which will create one of the largest charities in the country, is intended to improve the long-term financial sustainability of the nation’s historic canals, rivers and docks and give a greater role to their users and stakeholders. British Waterways cares for the third largest collection of listed structures in the UK and generates investment from a wide range of commercial and partnership projects. There is widespread support for its move into the third sector and strong evidence of the support the country’s waterways are likely to attract under a national charity.
Defra says that "this is a unique opportunity for individuals with significant board level experience in large and complex organisations to contribute to the establishment of a thriving, sustainable waterway network." Details on the vacancies were published in The Sunday Times (30 January) and are also available through the job pages of the Guardian, Cabinet Office and Defra.
The Government is seeking four new Transition Trustees from any sector, but particularly with expertise in: business and finance, heritage, navigation and boating, the environment, civil engineering, volunteering, fundraising and community engagement. A further three members of British Waterways’ existing Non-Executive Board will be selected to ensure continuity. Once the charity is fully functioning, it will need to appoint its own Trustees in accordance with its new governance structure, however it is anticipated that the Transition Trustees will form part of the first Board.
Defra has set up an independent Advisory Panel to provide advice to the Secretary of State for the Environment on the appointment of these first trustees. For further information visit the Defra website: ww2.defra.gov.uk/news/2011/01/26/waterways-charity/.
Source: IWA February News Bulletin
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I heard you on the hill:
that strong, hard,
reedy, reeking call
of lust and hunger
that would fill the valley up.
I knew where you had been:
across the cut,
digging the last rabbit out.
I saw your children:
in their baby softness,
playing on the shore
at hunt and fight.
You knew that I was here:
you looked me in my eye.
I felt the fear:
the wild discovery,
the size of life.
I prized that gaze:
which held until
each to her own side of it.
This morning, on the riverbank,
my neighbour has uncovered you.
I cannot comprehend
of your bones.
Linda Goulden - January 2011
The Gloucester and Cheltenham Tramroad
By Don Baines
In early December 2010 I received an email from Peter Whitehead saying “have a look at this website “ with a link to this interesting article at: http://glostransporthistory.visit-gloucestershire.co.uk/index.html - scroll down to find this picture
There I found this picture together with its caption:
In time for the 200th anniversary of the Gloucester and Cheltenham Tramroad in 2011, two replica end-unloading Chauldron wagons are now gate guardians for Gloucester Docks. Made of pine and oak, these wagons stand on L shaped cast iron rails nailed into stone sleepers and are the result of much effort on the part of David McDougall, who I hope you will join me in thanking for keeping Gloucester's industrial past alive for the future. Interpretation boards for the two wagons - made by Dorothea Restorations of Bristol and based on photographs of those used on Leckhampton Hill a century ago - are expected to be installed by the end of the year.
Searching deeper into the website I found a link to some pages describing the Gloucester and Cheltenham Tramroad, the existence of which I was not previously aware. Having once read the story I thought that an article describing a contemporary to the Peak Forest Tramway would be of interest to readers of 174. I contacted Alan Drewett, author of the Gloucester Transport History website, explained who I was, why I was interested and asked his permission to download his images and text. Back came the reply “….and please feel free to copy my text and picture for the next edition of 174. If you could mention and/or link to Gloucestershire Transport History as well that would be nice too.” No problem there, a link was quickly added to our home page. My thanks to Alan and what follows is mostly his work.
Gloucester and Cheltenham Tramroad
Set at the lowest natural crossing of the River Severn, Gloucester has always been a focus for traders and travellers. Since the time of the Romans, pack mules, carts and animals for market have all met at Gloucester Cross – also known as "The Crossroads of England" – while from the opening of the ship canal to Sharpness in April 1827, produce brought by ocean going vessels has been transferred to northbound barges in Gloucester Docks.
However, before the completion of the Gloucester and Berkeley Canal, Gloucester Docks was also served by an early form of railway known as a tramroad. This was necessary, because the poor state of the roads in the opening years of the Nineteenth Century was holding up trade between Gloucester and Cheltenham. Indeed, the turnpike road of 1756 that was the ancestor of today’s B4063 was in such a bad condition by 1809 that the Postmaster General withdrew the Gloucester to Cheltenham mail coach.
Coal from the Forest of Dean could only be taken by water as far as either the port of Gloucester or the end of the Coombe Hill Canal, which had been opened in 1796. The same was true of Staffordshire coal, which was also unloaded near The Coalhouse Inn near Apperley. Carboniferous limestone from Bristol, used for road building in the newly fashionable spa, also faced the same obstacle and in each case the goods had to be expensively carted several miles to where they were needed.
Travelling in the other direction though was building stone from the Cotswolds, and in particular from the quarries on Leckhampton Hill near Devils Chimney owned by Mr Charles Brandon Trye, who was also senior surgeon at Gloucester Infirmary. It was Mr Trye who first promoted interest in in a Gloucester and Cheltenham Tramroad in 1806. As it happened, Mr Trye didn’t have to try too hard. His project was authorised by act of Parliament in 1809, and the first stone block was laid by the Earl of Suffolk and Berkshire on 21 November that year. Construction of the nine mile long tramroad was completed in less than 24 months and the first horse drawn wagon train ran along it on 4 June 1811.
Like many other primitive tram roads – or plateways as they are sometimes called – the Gloucester and Cheltenham Tramroad offered a smoother alternative to contemporary highways for horse-drawn waggons. It also guided plain wheeled carts by means of upright flanges on the inside edges of its metal running plates, which themselves rested on stone blocks. In the case of the Gloucester and Cheltenham Tramroad, these flanges were to be set 3’ 6" apart.
Seemingly identical to the early version of the PFT without the use of saddles to restrict sideways motion at the joints. No evidence that saddles were used. Ed.
As you might imagine, Gloucestershire has changed a lot since those days but some physical evidence of the tram road remains. The B4063 has unexpectedly wide verges, and historians believe that some of the tramroad horses were stabled at the former Plough Inn (Now White Lion House of AGD Ltd) at Staverton – one of sixteen hostelries en route.
The iron plates passed behind the pub before crossing Hatherley Brook just East of where Blenheim House now stands on the trackbed. The tramroad bridge next to today’s kennels and cattery has long since disappeared, but a perfect image of it remains supporting the B 4063 itself.
We know this because in January 1818 an advertisement appeared for contractors to build a new road bridge with three arches "to correspond and adjoin with those under the Rail Road."
Deeper still into the Parish of Churchdown, the tramroad passed behind the Hare & Hounds on the corner of Parton Road toward Two Mile Cottage, which was built facing the iron way rather than the road. Today this dwelling is T shaped, but before the addition of an extension in the 1980s the original portion was a simple two storey cottage with the roofline parallel to the plates.
From Two Mile Cottage, the tramroad route would have approached central Gloucester from behind the one time AA office cum kebab van site and over what is now Elmbridge roundabout. Horses would then have hauled their wagons near to the King Edward pub at Longlevens and along Elmbridge Road before the tramroad offers us a more visible clue in the shape of this little spur of Millbrook Street just south of the modern Horton Road level crossing.
This site in Park Road meanwhile was once the Spa Wharf of the tramroad: comprising offices and stores in the buildings with a small marshalling yard and weighbridge in the forecourt. Back on the main line, so to speak, the route of the iron plates is today blocked by buildings at this point but the line re-emerges in…
Old Tram Road before running into Albion Street by the Whitesmiths Arms, over Southgate Street and entering Gloucester Docks through a gateway near what is now the Tall Ships pub.
As you can see, the gateway itself is now blocked up but a plaque has been fixed to the wall to commemorate its existence.
Indeed, until the mid 1980s there was a set of stone sleeper blocks visible on the north side of the barge arm of the Docks marking one of the tramroad sidings. Sadly this has now disappeared under tarmac but I understand there are long term plans to dig it up again for display, just as there were once plans announced to reopen this tramroad entrance and place a replica chauldron wagon in it as a gate guardian for the Docks.
Either way, as a result of the opening of the tramroad, the price of coal and roadstone dropped considerably in Cheltenham while westbound traffic included limestone pipes from Fox Hill near Guiting. From Gloucester Docks these pipes went by barge to Manchester.
Like a privatized railway, all the waggons on the tramroad were privately owned and operated, and toll houses – with the same function as those on contemporary roads – and weighbridges were set up to regulate traffic. Each wagon displayed its unladen weight, owner’s name and registration number for the benefit of company clerks. A typical train consisted of two wagons (carrying a four ton load ) hauled by a single horse and inclusive of loading, unloading and stops in the many passing loops along the single line a round trip from Gloucester to Cheltenham would have taken all day.
[Very different from the gravity operation on the Peak Forest Tramway down from the quarries in gangs of 20 or more wagons and the teams of horses taking the empties back up the line. - Ed.]
The establishment in 1819 of Cheltenham Gasworks – which burned Forest of Dean coal – was a boost for the fortune of the tramroad but when true railways of the type we know today arrived in 1840 it was difficult for plain wheeled carts drawn by horses to compete.
The combination of steam locomotives, flanged wheels running on plain rails and the possibility of longer routes without unloading pushed the Gloucester and Cheltenham Tramroad - by this time part of the Midland Railway - into the red during the 1850s. An Abandonment Act was passed by Parliament in 1859 and on April 16 1861 the tram plates themselves were auctioned off for scrap.
[Much like the fate of the PFT in the 1920s - Ed.]
Unlike the Peak Forest Tramway, the Gloucester & Cheltenham Tramroad had experimented with a steam locomotive in 1831 – just a year after the opening of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway and the introduction of the first steam tug on the River Severn. Patriotically named "Royal William", this six wheeled machine was built at Neath Abbey Ironworks in Wales. However, it was so heavy that it kept breaking the iron plates and its boiler expired before it could run beyond the City boundaries. If you would like to know more about the Gloucester & Cheltenham Tramroad, an excellent and highly readable book of the same name has been written by David Bick and is published by the Oakwood Press.
The last remaining example of a PFT waggon is kept in the Railway Museum in York. Plans are afoot to build a replica for display at Bugsworth Basin
Returning to the subject of the replica wagons; we have on many occasions discussed the desirability of building such replicas of Peak Forest Tramway wagons for display at Bugsworth. Consequently I forwarded this information to our chairman who promptly put pen to paper (or more appropriately digits to keyboard) writing to Dorothea Restoration to open discussions on starting a project - watch this space for developments.
And finally, reading Alan’s pages it seems that the route of the Gloucester and Cheltenham Tramroad ought to be a good venue for an IWPS walk, although, with 16 hostelries on the route, it could take a week to cover the nine miles!
My thanks again to Alan Drewett - please visit his very interesting website:
There you will find a wealth of railway, nautical and aviation transport history that will keep you engrossed for hours if not days.
IWPS Chairman and Walks Programme Organiser, Ian Edgar MBE, has intimated that the Gloucester and Cheltenham Tramway is an option to be included in the 2012 programme, possibly as a weekend event - Editor
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Kerridge Wharf and Stone Saw Mill
Wharf brought to life in a model
Today Kerridge wharf looks like a modern industrial shed surrounded by a piece of unused land. 150 years ago it was a hive of activity receiving newly quarried stone from Kerridge quarries, brought down along the Rally Road (tramway), sawing this stone into useable pieces, and dispatching them by canal boat to all corners of the kingdom.
Such activity required facilities and these amounted to a main shed within which the sawing took place, and a range of smaller buildings housing, we know, a smithy and carpenter's workshop. What is today a dry dock was then used as a loading dock which could hold two narrow boats side by side. Also on the site in later years was a trio of kilns -shown on the 1909 OS map as an old limekiln - and another building positioned away from the others and the tramway. The purpose of this is not known.
This interesting site has now been brought to life by retired craft skills teacher, Keith Scammell. Keith has built a scale model (several pictures below) of the whole site as it seems to have been in the 1870s, providing a fascinating insight into this little hive of industry on the canalside. The rest of this article is taken from Keith's description of his project reproduced with his very kind permission.
The idea of making a model of Kerridge Saw mill started a number of years ago when John Jackson, owner of the Dry Dock , showed me photographs of the 1912 breach of the Macclesfield canal. These show in the distance the mill with its chimney, the row of cottages and a crane. Malcolm Bower found large scale Ordnance Survey maps of the area dating back to the 1870’s and these have provided most of the information for the model. John’s recollections from when he was reclaiming the wharf to convert it into the Dry dock have been invaluable.
Sadly in 1942 the American Air force bull-dozed what remained of the buildings and took the stone away to make runways at Burton Wood. There is today nothing left of the mill or cottages but luckily the wharf was not destroyed. This has taken on a new life as the Dry dock.
The line of the old tramway from the wharf up to the steep incline under Windmill lane can still be seen today. The track has long since gone but we unearthed two six foot lengths of wrought iron double fish belly track still wedged to their chairs and pinned to stone slabs. These showed it to have been forty two inch gauge. We don’t know how junctions were made between the radiating lines and the main tramway.
Were there small turntables or just a hard flat area that enabled individual wagons to be shoved round on to the new track?
None of the maps show any track on the north side of the dock. However when John Jackson was clearing the dock area around the narrow entrance he removed a number of very large stones from each side. One on the north side had holes that could have pinned rail chairs while on the south side he unearthed a thirty inch diameter cast iron base ring for a turn table. This is now held in stone sets a few feet from where it was found. We have found no evidence of track going anywhere north of the dock though Dennis Sulleman in his book On the Level had a line going up to the Beehive Mill.
Stone Saw Mill and Chimney
From the 1874 O S Map the outline of the building and feint internal lines suggest a T shape plan with an extension on the south side. I have interpreted this as a lean- to. The 1891map implies an addition on the north side. Ground space between building and dock edge has been halved. I have drawn the conclusion that some time after 1874 improvements were made to the mill including installation of steam power and extension of the western travelling crane. Unfortunately the 1909 map seems to go back almost to the 1874 plan but adds a small rectangular structure on the north western corner. If this is the chimney its position does not seem to match the photographs. In 1909 the mill is described as disused I have therefore placed more credence on the photograph and put the chimney on the north east side of the gable end.
The photographs were taken from a considerable distance and although of high quality I am unable for certain to see any entrances. I have therefore assumed where they might have been. Likewise I have no evidence of the track going in to the mill.
The 1912 photographs give a clear view of the north elevation of the cottages. They are clearly unoccupied; a factor born out by the lack of any entry in the 1911 National Census. There had been families living in the Wharf Cottages in all previous National Census including 1901. John’s information was that the two wagon doors housed the blacksmith’s and carpenter’s workshops. The single story building east of these might have been stables. A trough is marked on the 1891 map. Is this a horse trough or the main drinking water supply?
Two types of crane can be seen on both maps and photographs.
The 1874 map shows a pair of parallel lines at each end of the saw mill. The 1894 map labels them “travelling cranes” and shows the western one extending across the entrance to the dock, presumably to allow loading straight into boats. The 1912 photograph confirms these to be overhead travelling cranes .When enlarged to its maximum the eastern crane appears to have both north / south travel and some east / west travel. The blurred structure on top is probably a windlass operated drum winch. This was common. As many as four men would climb up to the gantry to operate large windlasses on each side of the drum . Men below would drag the crane along by means of ropes or chains.
The western crane is largely demolished but at least fourteen vertical posts can be seen.
The 1874 map labels three small circles with a C and there are three more small circles unlabelled which could also be cranes. The 1912 photograph of the cottages has a back braced crane near the edge of the wharf . There is still today one remaining crane base. It is a five foot high tapering cast iron pillar embedded in solid stone foundation. The pillar is ten feet from the wharf edge so to load a boat the crane’s jib would need to be at least fourteen feet long ; a large crane. I have installed a cantilever crane here. The other cranes were probably smaller so I have based these on cranes similar to the one in the photograph of Stypersons Wharf.
The 1874 map does not show one; 1891 marks a brick kiln; 1909 says it is an old lime kiln. John Jackson in clearing this area in the 1970’s unearthed the circular bases of three kilns. Interestingly he also found they had underground flues radiating out from them. I have interpreted these as lime kilns but I understand that it was not unusual for lime kilns to be used for firing bricks.
The scale of my model is 1 : 150. This was arrived at as a compromise between showing the maximum detail and not having a too ungainly board to handle. Where I have had hard evidence I have complied with it otherwise I have tried to imagine how things would have worked. For instance, “raw stone” coming down the tramway would be in trucks with sides ( because of the steep gradient at the top of the incline).
It would be lifted off by the first travelling crane , transferred to a flat bed truck and taken into the mill for sawing and dressing. It would be lifted off at the west end and either put straight into a boat or put on the “diagonal” track and stacked on the outer wharf for later shipment. Much stone dressing would be done in the open air because of the dust created and the need for good light. I have assumed that a lot of the dressing would take place in the south facing “lean too”. This I have made with large open doorways.
It is interesting to note that the cill at the entrance to the present day Dry Dock will only just allow boats with a two foot six inch draught to enter. This was only raised six inches from the original when the present gate was installed. Boats needing a greater draught than this would have been loaded on the outer wharfs.
Things we don’t know
How trucks were manoeuvred at tramway junctions
Why there was a swing bridge carrying track across the narrows of the dock.
The purpose of the large building shown on the 1891 map near the lime kilns.
Where horses or mules that were on the tow path on the other side of the canal were stabled
The purpose of a crane at the top end of the dock.
Two sheets of birch ply form the base and wharfs. The buildings are any wood I had available faced with maple and roofed with one sixteenth model ply. The track is one millimetre welding wire soldered on to brass pins every inch or so. The cranes and small items like trucks and wheel barrows are made of brass and silver soldered together.
Keith Scammell - 2010
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Recently posted on Brian Goggin's Irish Waterways History website
Photographed 11 December 2010 from Noggus Bridge (N62) on the Grand Canal, south of Ferbane. As the Swiss Army Knife has been parked there for some time, I presume its function is to block boat access to Shannon Harbour while work is under way there. But wouldn't some planks, or a couple of padlocks at Lock 32, have been cheaper?
If it is parked there for some other reason, I would be glad to know of it.
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Newsworthy Photos and a bit of Humour
Astley Green Colliery
Astley Green Colliery in Astley near Tyldesley, Lancashire, produced coal from 1912 until 1970. It is now a museum run by the Red Rose Steam Society and it is a Scheduled Monument. The museum occupies a 15 acre site by the Bridgewater Canal and it has the only surviving pit headgear on the Lancashire Coalfield.
The Bridgewater Canal was important to the working of the colliery. It provided a means of transporting coal by barge to a number of destinations, including Barton Power Station by the canal in Trafford Park. Barges were loaded with coal at the wharf side using steam cranes.
Barton Power Station opened in 1923 and it closed in 1974.
BW's alternative resources !
With BW having to suffer cuts in their funding they are having to resort to drastic measures to meet their commitments. Here we see the latest Norwegian Ice-breaker employed to keep Bugsworth open during the harsh December freeze-up.
Lock 13 of the Marple flight of locks on the Peak Forest Canal, 1980s.
Photograph: Jack Brady Archive Collection
Chirk Aqueduct, 1980s.
This structure is a large compound aqueduct built by Thomas Telford and it carries the Llangollen Canal (formerly the Ellesmere Canal) over the river Ceiriog at Chirk near Ruabon.
Although it is of masonry construction, the water is carried in a cast-iron trough. The canal is around 70 feet above the river and the aqueduct opened in 1801.
The railway viaduct in the background is both higher and longer than the aqueduct.
Photograph: Jack Brady Archive Collection
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Railway Pit, Whaley Bridge
Railway Pit was located on the hillside above the valley of the river Goyt immediately to the north of Whaley Bridge town centre and to the west of the London and North Western Railway line, the A6 trunk road and the Whaley Bridge Branch of the Peak Forest Canal. The shaft was sunk to replace older pits just to the north that had become exhausted. Its location was good, with communication by road and canal within easy reach but, in spite of its name, there was no rail connection to the LNWR.
The older coal shafts were situated in a field called Lower Gnat Hole and the plot where they were sunk became known as Coal Bank. They were extant in c.1845 when the occupier was Joseph Wilde and the landowner was Richard Gaskell. At this time, Whaley Bridge was known as Yeardsley-cum-Whaley in the county of Cheshire.
Referring to the diagram showing the section of the shaft of Railway Pit, several observations can be made. It was sunk through five seams (called mines) of coal, the most important ones being Red Ash Mine (1 foot 4 inches thick), White Ash Mine (1 foot 8 inches thick) and Yard Mine (4 feet 8 inches thick). It is known that these three seams were also exploited from other pits in the vicinity. The two unnamed seams were about 9 inches and 12 inches thick, respectively, but whether or not these were worked is unknown. The three worked seams were thin when compared with those in the Lancashire coalfield, some of which were up to 10 feet thick. The most documented seam was the Roger Mine that stretched across Lancashire and into the Yorkshire Coalfield. At Denton Colliery the Roger Mine was 4 feet thick but the Big Mine above it was 6 feet thick.
At just under 120 yards deep, the shaft of Railway Pit was shallow when compared with other coal mines in the North West. For example, Denton Colliery was 251 yards deep, Astley Deep Pit (Dukinfield) was 686 yards deep and Bradford Colliery (Manchester) was 900 yards deep.
Geologically, the Whaley Bridge area consists of shale, sandstones and thin seams of coal collectively known as the Lower Coal Measures or Lower Westphalian. Coal extracted was generally thin, shaley and sulphurous and some of it was considered to be only suitable for lime burning. Consequently, coal from Railway Pit was generally of low quality with a high sulphur content that produced large quantities of yellowish smoke when burned. Of the three worked mines, coal from the Red Ash and White Ash Mines was possibly of a slightly better quality and might, therefore, have been used for industrial and domestic purposes. Coal from the Yard Mine was more sulphurous and dirty and was only considered to be suitable for lime burning. The alternative name for the Yard Mine was Kiln Seam, which confirms that coal from it was of poor quality only considered to be suitable for lime burning.
Red and White Ash Mines were given these names from the type of ash produced when their coal was burned. Red Ash coal produced a reddish coloured ash when burned whereas White Ash coal produced a light coloured ash. Yard Mine was so named because, in general, this was the minimum thickness of the seam. In the case of Railway Pit, it was actually around 4 feet 8 inches thick.
A fourth seam in the area was called the Ganister Mine but this was not identified in the section of the shaft of Railway Pit. The name refers to the seat-earth below the seam. The plants that formed this coal in the Carboniferous Period grew on sand rather than mud, which resulted in a seat-earth of hard, fine-grained sandstone called ganister, often containing fossil roots. Ganister is used in the manufacture of silica bricks, typically to line furnaces.
In common with many other pits, there are few surviving records about it. In spite of its good position, it was not a particularly large pit and the most striking thing was the absence of a rail connection with the LNWR, which suggests that all its output was consumed locally.
Most of the coal from the Yard Mine would have been burned in the lime kilns situated around the nearby Bugsworth Canal Basin. There were two possible methods of transporting this to Bugsworth. It could have been carted to the wharf at Whaley Bridge for forward shipment by boat or it could have been carted directly there by road. There is also a possibility that coal from Yard Mine was transported up the Cromford & High Peak Railway to lime kilns at Harpur Hill limestone quarry but this is conjectural.
Coal from the Red Ash and White Ash Mines would have been consumed in Whaley Bridge and the surrounding area and this would have been carted to its destination by road.
The known extent of Yard Mine in the district was on a north-south axis. Northwards, it extended through Bridgemont as far as Dolly Pit on the hillside above Bugsworth. Southwards, it extended through Whaley Bridge, Wharf Colliery and Horwich End to terminate just beyond Shallcross Yard of the Cromford and High Peak Railway. Eastwards, it extended from Railway Pit through Bugsworth Hall Pit as far as the village of Bugsworth. Its extent westwards of Railway Pit was not recorded even though there were several older and disused pits in this area. This suggests that the shafts of the older pits were not sunk down to the level of Yard Mine. From north to south, Yard Mine extended over a distance of about 1 mile 62 chains and the maximum width, east to west, was about 62 chains.
Acknowledgement and thanks are due to Mrs J McDermott.
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BW Awards Dredging Contract
British Waterways has awarded a national dredging contract to marine-based civil engineer Land & Water Services Ltd.
The initial contract from December 2010 to March 2015, will run up to and beyond the launch of the new waterways charity which is scheduled to take over the custodianship of British Waterways' canals and rivers in 2012.
Increasing the forecast spend on dredging in each of the next two financial years to £5m, the award of a single national contract to Land & Water will allow British Waterways to deliver more dredging for the investment available. Whilst still to be finalised, 2011 dredging priorities are likely to include the Leeds & Liverpool Canal between Farnhill and Bingley, stretches of the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal and the Aylesbury Arm of the Grand Union Canal.
Stoke Waterways Partnership Launched
A landmark partnership to improve Stoke-on-Trent waterways has been launched. Stoke-on-Trent City Council and waterway groups have come together in partnership leading to the start of a joint plan to ensure canals are an important part of regeneration work in the city, strengthening their appeal to residents and tourists.
The partnership will work to:
Install welcome signs at the three gateways into the city by water, incorporating an information box with information, literature and maps outlining the heritage and tourism opportunities available for boat visitors to the city. The works will be completed by March 2011 to take advantage of the full duration of the leisure boating season.
Establish interpretation plaques at heritage and tourism destinations to ensure boaters can easily find their way to selected points of interest.
Implement local planning policies that identify development sites that can bring forward high quality waterside environments. The planning guidance, which will be put before the council’s planning committee by Christmas, will help ensure that private sector development promotes a distinctive and positive identity for visitors to the city.
Review the boundary of the Trent and Mersey Canal conservation area in consultation with local groups and residents in early 2011. The work will support regeneration work in the area such as the volunteer-led Burslem Port Project which aims to reopen the Burslem Branch Canal which closed almost 50 years ago.
The partnership will see the authority work with: IWA, British Waterways, Caldon and Uttoxeter Canals Trust, English Heritage, RENEW North Staffordshire, Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, Stoke-on-Trent Boat Club, and Trent and Mersey Canal Society.
Droitwich Missing Link Secured
Wychavon District Council has announced that it has secured land representing a missing link needed to reconnect the Barge and Junction Canals in Droitwich, Worcestershire.
The navigation was officially abandoned in 1939. British Waterways is expected to begin work on the connection during late October. This will involve converting a stretch of the River to form the final link for the canals. On completion the works will allow the canals to be fully opened in 2011, creating a new 21 mile cruising ring around the scenic heart of Worcestershire.
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Worsley Delph in circa 1890.
This view shows disused mine boats (starvationers) in the delph following closure of the coal mines.
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John Worth, the long-serving Wharfinger at Bugsworth Basin
Referring to the January 2010 issue of 174, page 10, it was stated that John Worth was the son of Charles Worth and Mary. It should have stated that he was the son of Charles Worth and Elizabeth.
Marple Lime Works, Mineral Mill and Brick Works
Referring to the August 2009 issue of 174, page 8, Noel Brindley has contacted the Society to inform us that his ancestor, Francis Brindley, ran this mill, as a Corn Mill, in the early to mid 1800s. He also advised us that the original mill, built by Samuel Oldknow, was powered by a 25hp steam engine.
The Society is indebted to Noel for this most useful information, which has contributed to our understanding of this mill.
Update on the Lower Peak Forest Canal Towpath Guide
Oakwood Hall, Romiley, that features in Olive Boyer's Guide to the Lower Peak Forest Canal has been rebuilt and is currently for sale at £1,850,000. The hall dates from 1845 and it has 43 rooms set in 23 acres of land with views towards Lyme Park. It has planning permission for a leisure complex.
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