Bugsworth Basin Report British Waterways and our Region The Annual IWPS get-together Daily Telegraph Correspondence Macclesfield Canal Society Extracts from our Visitor Book and a bit of Humour Three Notable Bridges on the Ashton Canal Email from Sue Day regarding Canal Street, Manchester History of the Canals and Their People Boiler explosion near Hyde Goods carried on the Peak Forest Canal News from Waterscape Three Mills Lock Acts of Parliament relating to canal boats Leaflet - Resilient Places IWPS walk on the Caldon Canal Caldon and Uttoxeter Canals HLF Funding Parallel Universes Blue Plaque for Canal House Forthcoming IWPS walks in Ireland Bugsworth Re-visited Bugsworth Before and After
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Middle Basin - Bugsworth - March 2010
Photo by Martin Whalley
BUGSWORTH BASIN REPORT July 2010
By Ian Edgar MBE Chairman IWPS and Hon. Site Manager
Our work at the Basin has in recent weeks taken on perhaps what can be called a more mundane but nevertheless necessary role in that we have been concentrating on keeping the Basin pristine for our visitors whether they visit in boats, on foot or occasionally on horseback!
One big step forward is that we now have more regular volunteers and we can ‘hit’ the grass cutting and strimming with all our equipment which certainly makes lighter work with a better looking result. For all those who help I must express my thanks. We have recently refurbished most of the benches on the Basin ready for the new season which in itself was quite a task as normally there were many people sitting there enjoying the weather, the boats and the scenery. It is not the done thing to ask them to move on! The seat in the centre of the Basin has been re-dedicated to the Memory of James Abson, an early staunch supporter of the IWPS. His son John has kindly donated 20 copies of James’ book ‘Yeoman’s Home’ to the IWPS for sale in aid of the Basin Fund.. Up to now it has been unavailable. If you want a copy of this rare and excellent history of Bugsworth Hall and the village please order from the Peak Forest Canal Company at £3.00 each plus £1 postage from me at Top Lock House Marple. The earlier seat to James Abson was of the normal garden centre type, not strong enough for the harsh Bugsworth conditions and which was soon vandalised. The refurbished seat is one of many made by our dear friend the late Mike Malzard which, with the new paint, is virtually as good as new after being there for at least three years. It was a nice thought for John to re-kindle the memory of his father in this way and we much appreciate this fine gesture.
Wharf resurfacing - photo: Martin Whalley
The serious leaks around the Lower Basin Arm have still not been cured but we are assured by BW (and I am confident) that this work will start shortly. British Waterways have the funds ring fenced and at BW request we have sprayed the area to clear the weeds so that, in effect, the dog can see the rabbit. BW have requested that we (the IWPS volunteers) return the stone sleeper blocks to their proper position (most of them are now in the collapsed trench) and this we have agreed to do when the BW contractors have completed their work.
The sections of collapsed wash wall present a different problem in that we cannot do this repair without dropping the water level which of course we cannot do at the height of the boating season. We plan therefore to put in planks at Canal House this winter, close the Basin and lower the level so we can get at the walls to rebuild them. This is in itself not a big job. We have done many lengths of similar collapsed wall but only with the Basin dry. By dropping the level we hope to avoid an expensive fish rescue which we would normally have to do if we allowed all the water to drain to the Blackbrook.. We will have a close co-operation with BW on this issue to determine the best time and methods and then get on with the rebuild as soon as possible.
Various other holes have appeared through which not a great deal of water is running. We are keeping an eye on these, informing BW, and then filling them in for visitor and our own safety.
We now have stone slabs on site to replace those stolen from around the Blackbrook House facility block. Unfortunately they are not of as good quality but we will use them to make an acceptable repair. When the new Blackbrook House is built (note I say ‘when’ and not ‘if’) this area will be altered and resurfaced anyway. Hopefully, being of somewhat inferior quality to the Yorkshire paving stolen they will not be such a target for a repeat visit by thieves. At the same time as those at Bugsworth were stolen others disappeared from the Marple Flight.
My main concern is for the financial future of British Waterways which, I believe, in the present era of substantial cuts in Government spending is indeed dire. It is bound to affect what additional co-operation we can expect from British Waterways which will impinge on BW finances. We are assured that the present status quo will be maintained and we will go on as before.
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BRITISH WATERWAYS AND OUR NEW REGION
With the re-organisation of British Waterways Bugsworth Basin now comes within Manchester & Pennine Waterways managed by David Baldacchino based at Red Bull. David organised a User Group meeting at Dukinfield on 27th April 2010 as a ‘getting-to-know-you and us’ event and in this I felt it was extremely successful. Don and I attended a meeting with David and some of his team at Red Bull on 30th June 2010. This meeting I felt was very helpful in that the existing co-operation between the IWPS and BW was confirmed and further areas where we can operate together for mutual advantage of the canals in Manchester & and Pennine Waterways was discussed. The gist of the discussions was that the IWPS will have more autonomy at Bugsworth. This initial meeting raised various issues concerning funding, engineering and extending the volunteer role which will be developed over the coming months. Details will eventually be reported in ‘174’. Under pressure of the Editor this report is being written just one day after the meeting with BW but suffice to say both sides are very satisfied with our partnership working. The memorandum of Agreement for Bugsworth Basin has been agreed and renewed with only minor changes.
At the user group meeting I detected a more ‘open’ approach from British Waterways with a frank discussion of the problems ahead supported by hard facts. Sometimes these meetings degenerate in to splinter groups monopolising the event for their own sectarian aims. This was not so at this meeting. All the members of the BW team gave a realistic view of the engineering difficulties and the cost of same in such detail that I for one was left a bit stunned.
David gave an off-the-cuff talk on the Manchester & Pennine Budget together with a paper summary which we were allowed to take away. I have David’s permission to mention this in ‘174’. The key facts are:
- If M&PW could have all the money needed to maintain and operate the canals in the area it would be £8.5m. Current budget from BW Centre is around £5.4m. M&PW does receive other income of around £1.15m mainly from local authorities. The total amount available to spend after taking in some other contributions is £6.95m which is approx. £700k less than last year.
- One of the key facts about M&PW is the number of locks and structures in the region which are a constant drain on resources due to high maintenance:
- There are 268 locks (537 gate sets of which 166 are recorded as being in ‘poor’ or ‘bad’ condition which cost £1200 each just to maintain without any remedial works should such work be required
There are 13 moving bridges which cost £400 each
There are 76 weirs which cost £190 each
There are 67 aqueducts which cost £432 each
There are 66 sluices, 55 SCADA sites** , 14 reservoirs and 256 Culverts where the cost has not yet been finalised.
Total value in maintenance plans for the above estimated at £0.5m
- M&PW Business Unit priority is to deliver 44 gate leaves in 2010/2011 which is as many as the direct labour team in BW workshops and on the bank can deliver in one winter. National minimum target is for 4% replacement annually, for M&PW 36 leaves. Therefore the team aims for above target. This would mean 210 stoppages.
- Vegetation management, grass cutting etc. costs £291k
- Refuse Disposal £100k
- Experience shows that there will be 5 or 6 bridge strikes in a year (£100k), 4 or 5 emergency grouting sites (£100k) and 2 or 3 blown culverts (£150k).
There is under £1m to spend flexibly to cover a major breach. The Peak Forest Canal is liable to and has a history of breaching which is a cause or worry for the IWPS and Bugsworth Basin as major funding would not be available to undertake remedial work other than by diverting unused funds earmarked for maintenance works elsewhere.
- £60k has been budgeted for providing funding for dedicated volunteer supervision, some material costs and development of volunteering on BW waterways. As a Self Supervised Group the IWPS at Bugsworth Basin does not require supervision so we take almost nothing of the £60k but other newly established groups coming along have to be supervised to ensure safe and reliable working etc.
**SCADA Sites – Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition which is a remotely controlled facility to determine water flow and locate leaks within a section. As much as 60% of reservoir water fed to the canal is lost due to over topping on the feeder due to silting etc. and leaks. BW priority nationwide is to reduce this loss as quickly as possible.
Furthermore, as far as the Peak Forest/Macclesfield Canals are concerned both Toddbrook and Combs Reservoirs are being drawn down to facilitate major maintenance this winter. New valves are being installed to comply with a major directive that any reservoir has to be capable of being drawn down to half full capacity within 5 days. This cannot be done without inserting another valve. This is of course a simplification of the works which may be required. With a 200 year old structure nobody really knows what will be found when the water has gone. Whatever happens this is a major expense for BW, statutorily imposed, and without the possibility of postponement to favour other work. Without the water supply the canal cannot work!
During the winter both the Peak Forest and Macclesfield Canals will rely on Bosley and Sutton Reservoirs. Lets hope it rains a lot for the winter boaters!
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THE ANNUAL IWPS GET TOGETHER
Our annual social gathering is usually held just before Christmas or in the New Year but this past year due to family commitments of our organiser Andy Eadon and the uncertain position of our preferred venue at the Navigation Inn Bugsworth Basin (a new landlord took over in the New Year) we have decided not to have the event this year. We aim to arrange a before Christmas gathering 2010 and will start the arrangements in October 2010. This has always been a well attended and popular event and an opportunity to meet with old friends. Our apologies for not being able to arrange this year and for the disappointment caused. Invitations will be sent in due course as in previous years.
THE DAILY TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENCE COLUMN 12.01.10
Our good friend Derek Brumhead ( an inveterate letter writer to the press himself) has sent me the following cuttings relevant to our navigation interests:
Sir – Val Riches’ letter (January 11) on the pronunciation of the river Nene reminds me of the Buxworth/Bugsworth conundrum at the end of the Upper Peak Forest Canal. The village residents understandably prefer the former name, but the canal users, of which I was one for 12 years, prefer the latter. The restored canal basin is officially Bugsworth Basin.
Sir – In Oxfordshire we have the river Thame, pronounced Tame, and the river Thames, pronounced Tems, except for the stretch flowing through Oxford which is called the Isis. There is also the river Cherwell which is pronounced Cherwell in Banbury, but Charwell in Oxford.
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THE MACCLESFIELD CANAL SOCIETY
Our congratulations go to the Macclesfield Canal Society which was formed in 1984 and which has just celebrated with the 100th Edition of house magazine ‘Milestone’ and a special anniversary souvenir photo past and present supplement. Whilst the Macclesfield Canal was never officially closed and was navigable with difficulty in the ‘dark days’ much credit has to go to the Society for its present condition as one of the most attractive canals on the system. Not only do the MCS volunteers do maintenance work on the canal but the officers work closely with the Local Authorities, BW and others to get things done for the benefit of the canal. A very skilled small group (much like the IWPS at Bugsworth Basin!) have worked hard and still work hard to repair and maintain many of the features of the canal like Ramsden Hall Railings. We look forward to the next 25 years!
Extracts from our Visitor Book at Bugsworth:
Translated from the original written in Portuguese - with thanks to Allan Edgar and Carlos Lopez Gonzales
“Magnificent canal and its surroundings, wonderful ride that reveals the heart of England and his industrial dreams. Friendly people greeted us on the road. Very grateful to their land and its people.”
Let’s spare a thought for Michael O’Leary, Chief Executive of Ryanair.
Arriving in a hotel in Dublin, he went to the bar and asked for a pint of Guiness.
The barman nodded and said, “ That will be one Euro please, Mr O’Leary.”
Michael replied, “ That’s a very competitive price,” and handed over his money.
“Will you be wanting a glass with your Guinness, sir?” enquired the barman.
Three notable Bridges on the Ashton Canal
By Peter J Whitehead
Over a period of 29 years, three elegant towpath bridges were constructed on the Ashton Canal. They were of similar design and the first was built in 1835 at Portland Basin, Ashton-under-Lyne. This was over the entrance to the short arm across the Tame Aqueduct into Dukinfield where it made a head-on junction with the Peak Forest Canal. The second was built in 1838 at Fairfield, Droylsden, and this was over the main line of the canal immediately below lock 18 (actually paired locks). The third was built in 1864 on the Stockport Branch Canal in Gorton and this was over the short arm that accessed the company’s large canal depot and boat dock.
The bridges are of stone construction with low elliptical arches, pronounced string courses and parapets of large rusticated stone slabs with rounded tops. Because the arches are elliptical, some of the vertical forces are dissipated horizontally, which required substantial abutments to withstand these forces. The bridge decks were paved with stone setts to give towing horses a good grip as they walked over them.
The bridge at Ashton carries the towpath of the main line over the short arm of the Ashton Canal across the Tame Aqueduct. The central parapet slab on the aqueduct side of the bridge is incised with the year of construction, 1835. Because of their importance, the bridge (Ref. No. A4/27) and Tame Aqueduct (Ref. No. A4/26) were listed as Grade II on the 14 July 1987.
Bridge over the short arm of the Ashton Canal across the Tame Aqueduct, 9 February 1978.
Detail of the bridge deck showing how it was paved with setts to give horses a good grip as they walked over it, c.1960.
The bridge at Droylsden was officially known as the Fairfield Change Bridge because it accessed the towpath of the Hollinwood Branch Canal from the towpath of the Ashton Canal. However, it is known locally as the Jamaica or Camel’s Hump Footbridge. The central parapet slab, on the opposite side to the locks, is incised with the year of construction, 1838. Because of their importance, the bridge (numbered 16, Ref. No. DR4/92), lock 18 (Ref. No. DR4/95), adjoining tollhouse (Ref. No. DR4/93) and boathouse (Ref. No. DR4/94) were all listed as Grade II on the 14 July 1987.
Bridge over the Ashton Canal at Fairfield, Droylsden, 17 July 1976.
The paired locks are visible through the bridge hole. Only the right-hand lock was put back into service in 1974 when the Ashton Canal was restored and re-opened.
Boathouse on the offside of the canal below lock 18,
3 August 1979.
A stone tablet over the canal entrance is incised 1833, its year of construction.
The bridge at Gorton carried the towpath of the Stockport Branch Canal over a short arm into the canal depot and boat dock. The design of this bridge differs from the other two in that the inner (depot side) parapet is a stone wall, with horizontal courses, capped with triangular-shaped coping stones. The central parapet slab on the canal side is incised with the year of construction, 1864. Additionally, the arch keystone has a head carved on it.
Bridge over the entrance to the short canal arm into the Gorton Canal Depot,
2 March 1980.
Detail showing the date, 1864, on the central parapet slab, 2 March 1980.
Detail showing the head carved on the keystone, 2 March 1980.
This depot was the main maintenance depot of the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway Company (later the Great Central Railway Company) for the Ashton, Peak Forest and Macclesfield Canals. It was situated at the eastern end of the railway company’s massive Engineering Works, Ashbury’s Sidings and Gorton Yard and access to it by road was via Ashton Old Road and Cornwall Street. The depot was subsequently demolished and both the Stockport Branch Canal and arm into the depot were filled in. However, the bridge has survived, although presently it is extensively covered with graffiti.
Acknowledgement: All photos are from the author’s collection with the exception of the one showing the deck of the bridge at Ashton, which is from the collection of the late Brian Lamb.
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Chairperson of the Horseboating Society
The attached is an archive photo of a barge being towed along the Rochdale Canal in Manchester, where Canal Street forms part of the towing path.
Please keep the image if you do not already have it for showing others what Canal Street was like. It is in Mike Greenwood's booklet too. Anyone know the date of the photo? Please can it go in the next newsletter of the Rochdale Canal Society, IWA Manchester, and any other canal magazines and websites with an update about what Canal St has become like now.
Here are some of my comments. Sue has a rant now. Laugh if you like, but many people agree with my thoughts.
I was appalled when I walked down Canal Street on Monday, May 10, at about 5pm. I've never seen the street so filthy. Maybe it was bad timing. Maybe litter pickers etc were on their way. Not likely at 5pm, I suggest. I was ashamed of what I saw, and what visitors to Manchester would find who might think that Canal St sounded romantic and a nice place to visit in a busy city. Cigarette ends covered even the lock-side as well as the street.
The towing path is totally blocked by stacked chairs even when they are not in use. The posts warning about the danger of falling have not been removed since the railing went up, so the posts impede haulage by towlines by people or horse. The new gate (in the railings) down to the lock is already not closing properly or easily. I had great difficulty in getting through it as I used to throw my leg over the wall but I cannot do that now in the narrow gateway. Visitors to the area may not realise there is a gate there at all because it blends into the rest of the railing. OK for those of us who know where it is, but not good for visitors. It needs marking up in some way - paintwork, for example. Even boaters knowing its existence will find it hard to locate because the tables and chairs prevent one from getting close to the wall edge to see the lock, which helps locate the gate.
The glass in the new fencing has been placed at an angle. Birds sitting in the trees above deposit their droppings onto the glass. Also the sheets are double so bird droppings can fall between the sheets.
I still say that what wants tidying up is the human behaviour. Give us our Canal Street towpath back! Limit the tables and chairs to the street itself now that that has been allowed. Set up cafe areas in many other parts of Manchester, which can be enjoyed by all, rather than obstructing a pedestrian route and horse towing path. The truth is that people sit with their backs to the water because it is so hard to see the canal below once seated. So plant trees elsewhere to give pleasant leafy cafe areas. Not drunken night club areas open until 4am in the morning. Shame on all the authorities for allowing it to happen.
I'm sure others can add more comments! Shame our objections were ignored.
Canal Street - Manchester
Left: c1910 possibly by a photographer
called A Bradburn who was actively photographing the Rochdale Canal
at this time.
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History of the Canals and their People
The first article below, reproduced from the Derby Mercury 24th February 1875, gives us an insight into the harsh justice meted out for what we today would consider a minor transgression. It also throws some light on what other goods were transported on the Peak Forest Canal other than limestone, lime and gritstone that we know was shipped out of Bugsworth.
Buxton Petty Sessions, Saturday. [Before Dr. Darwin and Captain Greaves].
William Price, of Manchester, the captain of a barge on the Peak Forest Canal, which is owned by the Manchester, Sheffield, and Lincolnshire Railway Company, was charged with stealing one pound of sugar on February 5th. - William Hall deposed that he was agent for the railway Company, had control of the boats on the canal, and was stationed at Bugsworth. On the morning of the day in question he saw the defendant standing at the bow of his boat with a basin of sugar in his hand. He afterwards went to the defendant and told him what he had seen, and the defendant replied, “It’s no transportation job. I’ve thrown it into the river.” Witness observed that one of the sugar bags in the boat had been opened, and that apparently about a pound of sugar had been taken out. Witness new that other goods had been missed of late, but knew nothing against the defendant, neither did the superintendent of police. - Prisoner pleaded guilty to taking about half a pound of sugar. - Mr. Goodman, who appeared for the Company, said the Company required that their property should be protected, and that prisoner should be dealt with in such a manner as would warn others. - Committed to prison for a month with hard labour.
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Derby Mercury 24th January 1877
Racing on the Peak Forest Canal. - A case affecting the traffic on the Peak Forest Canal, the property of the Manchester, Sheffield, and Lincolnshire Railway Company, came before the Ashton magistrates on Wednesday. It appeared that for a considerable time boatmen have been in the habit of racing, or trying to pass each other in order to get first through the locks at Clayton, and on the 19th December last there were nearly a dozen boats together, some of them completely blocking the canal. The defendants, George Potts and James Higginbottom, were in charge of boats on that date, and although warned by the lock-keeper to keep back and take their proper turn they insisted upon going into the lock before others who had been waiting nearly two hours. Potts, in his hurry, ran against a boat in the care of a man named Swires, who, finding he was in a perilous position, gave way, and let him take the lock; Higginbottom also ran into Swires’s boat, and both Potts and Higginbottom passed through the lock before the other boats, all of which arrived previous to them. - Defendants pleaded that they had followed a general custom, and that the Company had no printed notice to guide them in the matter. - Mr Harper, for the Company, said he would undertake that the Company would cause such notices to be posted - Potts was fined 10s. 6d., and Higginbottom 15s.; in default of payment, 14 days’ imprisonment each.
Manchester Times 29 June 1844
Wilfully Wasting Water. - At the county petty sessions, held in the Court House [Stockport] on Thursday, a man named David Barnes, of Bugsworth, was fine 40s., and in default was committed to prison for two months, for wilfully wasting by letting off the water in No. 15 lock of the Peak Forest Canal, Marple.
Manchester Times 22 February 1845
Damage to a Boat. - On Wednesday, at the Town Hall, Ashton, W. Walton, captain of a boat on the Peak Forest Canal, was brought up under a warrant, charging him with having wilfully damaged a packet boat, the property of Mr. J. Boulton, on the 3rd of December last. It appeared from evidence that the prisoner, who had been out of the way for some time, had command of a boat on the day in question, when he run it against a packet boat which was lying near the Ashton Junction, and broke the stern. - A witness named Hyde proved that he had seen the prisoner do the damage, which Mr. Boulton, jun., stated was about 15s. - The prisoner who had no defence to offer, was ordered to pay all damage and costs.
Manchester Times 14 December 1878
LABOUR DISPUTES AND THE STATE OF TRADE
Reduction of Wages. - The boatman in the employment of the Peak Forest Canal Company and its various branches have received an intimation that at an early date their earnings will be reduced at the rate of 5s., per boat weekly. The lime boats have also been notified of a reduction of 3s per boat. In the quarries, both at Bugsworth and Doveholes, the pavier getters and the limestone getters have received notice of a reduction of 2d per ton in their next payment, about Christmas. Already the labourers and other employees have been reduced at the rate of 1s per week. [Nothing’s new then - Ed]
[It wasn’t just canal workers who were hit by the hard times of 1878 - Ed]
Reduction of Wages in the Engineering and Iron Trades. - We are informed that more than 20 of the leading engineers, machinists, and iron founders in this district will today put up notices in their respective establishments of a reduction of wages in all departments of their works to the extent of 7½ per cent. The aggregate number of men employed by the several firms is not less than 10,000, so by that reduction, which the masters say is inevitable, will be felt over a wide area of our industrial population. In this case, as in the case of the steam boiler manufacturers, the notices allege the high rates of wages paid in this district and the great depression of trade as motives which have forced employers to take the steps they have now done for lowering the cost of production.
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Manchester Times 10 September 1887
BOILER EXPLOSION NEAR HYDE.
On Wednesday evening (7 September 1887) an explosion, with disastrous results, occurred at Apethorn Mill, the property of Mr. Benjamin Ashton, situate on the borders of the Peak Forest Canal, between Hyde and Stockport. The mills are built in a triangular form†, in the centre being the boiler house and engine rooms. One of the mills has been stopped for a considerable time, and lately recommenced, and on Wednesday evening the workpeople were suddenly startled by a terrific explosion. On rushing into the triangular yard they saw that the outer boiler had burst. The boiler, about 30ft. in length, was shattered into fragments and flung enormous distances, one end only resting in the canal; the adjoining boiler was bulged in and rendered useless; one flue was flung against a storeroom, and the other right across the canal, smashing the telegraph wires. The boiler house was completely wrecked, and bricks and slates were precipitated through the roof and windows of the adjoining mills and hurled for considerable distances. The canal was completely blocked, and the traffic impeded. Among the debris was found the fireman, William Shore, who was wheeling a barrow into the shed at the moment the explosion occurred. Both were blown for some distance, and the barrow overturned and rested on Shore, undoubtedly saving his life. He escaped with several contusions, and several of the workpeople were also slightly injured. A portion of the works are in ruins.
You can read more interesting historical articles on Peter Whitehead’s own website at: http://www.pittdixon.go-plus.net/
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Vole-au-Vent: Water voles spotted
enjoying classic French cuisine
British Waterways’ ecologists have discovered some unusual feeding habits of the normally herbivorous water vole after finding evidence of them eating the well known French delicacy – frogs’ legs.
The water vole, better known as ‘Ratty’ from The Wind in the Willows, is the UK’s fastest declining mammal and is known to have a largely vegetarian diet consisting of grass and plants. However, a recent survey along the Kennet & Avon Canal in Berkshire has revealed that these shy, fury animals have developed a taste for the Continent and have been snacking on frogs’ legs, as well as the odd snail.
British Waterways’ ecologists Robert Randall and Oda Dijksterhuis carried out the surveys. Robert explains: “We found a number of typical water vole feeding areas that were littered with dead frogs, minus their legs. As a water vole’s diet is normally vegetarian, this rather gruesome scene isn’t what we’d expect to find at all.
“We’re not really sure why it’s happening, but as the evidence coincides with the water voles breeding season we think it may be that pregnant mothers are snacking on frogs’ leg as they lack protein in their diet. This is incredibly unusual behaviour and as far as we know this is the first recorded evidence we have of them eating frogs’ legs, so it’s a really exciting discovery. We’ll be keeping an eye on what happens next over the coming months.”
If you see a water vole, frog or any other wildlife on your local canal or river, British Waterways wants to hear about it. Just make a note of what you see and where, and log your sighting at www.waterscape.com/wildlifesurvey
Watch a short video about this on YouTube
Canals help offenders make a clean start
As Summer gets closer, walks along Nottingham’s canal will be more inviting - thanks to a group of offenders who have volunteered to clean up two local stretches of towpath in a joint venture with British Waterways.
The group are from Nottinghamshire Probation Trust’s Fit for Work project, which helps those sentenced to a community order or released from prison move away from a life of crime by developing physical and mental fitness and learning practical and team working skills.
Areas of towpath running from Trent Bridge to Castle Marina, and from Trent Lock to Long Eaton Fire Station in Derbyshire have been adopted by the team, who are working on a regular basis to litter pick, remove graffiti, paint and maintain locks as well as the looking after the general upkeep of the overflows and waterways.
British Waterways will supply work references for Fit for work volunteers attending a set number of sessions, increasing their chances of gaining and sustaining employment, a vital step in breaking the cycle of reoffending.
"They have made a real difference"
Simon Gent, Waterway Supervisor for British Waterways, said; “We’re keen for community groups to become more involved with their local canal or river and we’ve been really impressed with the enthusiasm the team have shown here in Nottinghamshire. They have made a real difference in making the county’s canals more attractive and we wish them luck for the future."
Any local businesses interested in offering support for this project should contact Steve Hampton, Health and Training co-ordinator at Nottinghamshire Probation Trust on 07921 937814
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Bradford project aims to have long-term unemployed back in work after clean-up
Source: Bradford Telegraph and Argus
Long-term unemployed people in Bradford will join a project clearing up the Leeds-Liverpool canal in a bid to get them back into work.
They will be painting, clearing rubbish, resurfacing tow paths and dry stone walling among jobs to make the waterway more attractive.
A partnership, led by Bradford Council and supported by career service Aspire-i and housing trust Incommunities, aims to work with employers to create 1,000 jobs in the district.
A five-strong team, led by British Waterways in partnership with the Bradford Motor Education Project (BMEP), will be responsible for carrying out maintenance such as painting, litter clearance, minor towpath resurfacing, and dry stone walling.
Kevin Metcalfe, operations manager for Bradford Motor Education Project said: “I’m sure the team involved will get a great sense of pride and satisfaction as they complete these vital maintenance tasks and be able to build on these skills and take them on to their future careers.”
The scheme is part of the Government’s Future Jobs Fund scheme which aims to create 150,000 jobs in unemployment hotspots.
Jane Thomson, regeneration manager for British Waterways (BW) North, said: “The benefits the waterways bring to society are wide reaching and the public now have a greater opportunity to take more ownership of their local canal or river and help us maintain a cleaner, more attractive waterway environment.”
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Three Mills Lock on the river Lee in London
Three Mills Lock, also known as Prescott Lock after Sir William Prescott, a former chairman of Lee Conservancy Board, is located in the Prescott Channel of the river Lee (or Lea) in Tower Hamlets, Greater London. It was built during 2008-09 in a project led by British Waterways and it opened on the 5 June 2009.
The lock is 62 metres long x 8 metres wide x 2.4 metres deep and it can accommodate two 350-tonne barges. Its purpose was to facilitate the supply of building materials for two building sites, namely the 2012 Olympics and the Westfield Stratford City Shopping Centre in Newham, as well as the removal of waste from the sites.
So far, the lock has not lived up to expectations in the delivery of materials but it has seen some use in removing waste for disposal at refuse sites on the Thames Estuary.
Acts of Parliament concerning Boats and Barges on Inland Waterways
A Parliamentary Act of 1795 required the registration of all boats, barges and other vessels of certain descriptions, exceeding 13 tons in weight, used on navigable rivers and inland waterways. The details were required to be registered with Courts of Quarter Sessions that were held in each County and County Borough, four times a year.
Details required to be registered included: boat name, description, net weight in tons, capacity in tons, name of the owner and his/her residence, name of the master/captain, number and names of persons required to navigate the boat and the route navigated and the total distance in miles.
Further Acts of 1877 and 1884 introduced the registration of canal boats to ensure that only the registered number of people lived on them. These Acts were concerned that living conditions on each boat was maintained at a level considered fit for human occupation. They resulted in the creation of Canal Inspectors’ Books and these books contained details such as: date of inspection, boat name, boat Registration Number, date and place of registration, name and address of the owner, name and address of the master/captain (the address is not necessarily the boat itself), number of persons (adults and children) that the boat is registered to house, number of males, females and children actually occupying the boat, as well as details about the general condition and cleanliness of the boat.
It is not known how many of these registration details and canal inspectors’ books have survived but it is likely to be patchy across the country. Anyone wishing to research this aspect of inland waterways heritage should contact his or her county record office.
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Towns, cities and landscapes are haunted by the ghosts of networks past. Disused railways, old routeways and quiet canals remain leftovers from the industry and commerce of yesteryear. Too often, these are dismissed as outdated or as the parochial interests of a few. In contrast, this pamphlet argues that the heritage infrastructure of the public realm can play an important part in addressing the challenges of today.
Infrastructural networks shape the way that we think about place. They govern the way that we connect to our physical environment and how places within it connect with one another. The networks of the past comprise a visible and everyday heritage that people can adapt and to which they can respond. Railways, canals, sewers and industrial routeways can be reappraised, repurposed and reused to meet emerging and future needs.
In a world in which financial and material resources are short, this pamphlet examines detailed examples of how communities, businesses and local government have come together to make use of heritage infrastructure, and looks at lessons that they might hold more generally. The recession need not lead to a halt to development: it can prompt us to alter practice and behaviours.
Samuel Jones, Melissa Mean
ISBN 978 1 906693 43 5
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IWPS Walk - Caldon Canal - 5th June 2010.
The walk, planned by Ron Toothill, started from Denford Car Park and followed the canal down the Churnet Valley to Froghall. IWPS walkers had last visited this most attractive canal on the 6th June 1992 and so, virtually 18 years to the day, we gathered in the car park at Deep Hayes Country Park where the rangers were just opening the visitor centre providing a welcome relief stop and the opportunity to purchase a Mars Bar survival kit. It was a good time for a re-visit to see the changes at Froghall, the rest of the canal, and the now-restored first lock and basin of the Uttoxeter Canal.
By way of an introduction, we include this report from Mark Tiddy, first published in the Huntley Bugle, to set the scene at the beginning of the walk.
Ron's Sporty Car - Huntley Bugle Stop Press
Ahoy to all friends and acquaintances of Ron Toothill,
For those of you who were not privileged to have attended the walk that Ron led on the Caldon canal yesterday, in glorious summer weather, it was felt the following information might be of interest.
We were all waiting at Froghall Basin and as the start time approached, with no sign of our leader’s silver coloured Renault, and we were becoming slightly concerned. Suddenly we became aware of the distinctive sound of a burbling V8 and a British Racing Green sporty car with hood down hove into view driven by our hero Ron. Greeted with a great deal of surprise and not a little green eyed jealously Ron chose to ignore queries regarding an unannounced lottery win and proceeded to pass out instructions for his walk.
Only when the walk was underway and our inquisitive reporter was able to subject the walk leader to some thorough and persistent interrogation were the following facts revealed. Ron had apparently been considering the purchase of a sporty car for sometime and had considered the possibility of purchasing an MG F. However, when he mentioned this to our mutual friend Andy Bell it was implied that such a vehicle might be considered, in certain quarters, to be more suitable for a female rather than a mature male driver. Andy helped focus Ron’s attention on what he considered would be more suitable vehicles with the eventual result that Ron has very recently become the proud owner of an MG RV8. This particular car had been originally exported to Japan but like a large metallic homing pigeon it had found its way back to the UK. Ron will restrict the use of his new toy to the summer months and will retain his Renault for everyday use. Apparently when he informed his work colleagues of his purchase there were some comments about ‘a mid-life crisis’, however, Ron’s response was if a mid-life crisis could provide so much fun then bring it on.
So be warned, if you venture out on to our roads in the summer months and in good weather, do not be surprised if you hear a burble, a toot toot, see a flash of BRG and are greeted with a hearty 'Ronty Ho'.
Having left the car
park at Deep Hayes Country Park, the first halt was at Cheddleton
Flint Mill. The earliest record of a mill on the site is dated 1253
when it was used to grind corn and was powered by water from the
River Churnet. In the 18th century the mills were converted to grind
flint for the pottery industry.
Here the IWPS party
are given a well-informed talk on the mill, it’s processes, and the
uses of its products by Paul and Kath Niblett both extremely
knowledgeable about the pottery industry.
|Cheddleton Wharf where BW’s
buildings straddle the canal.
Photo: Mark Tiddy
Black Lion Inn at Consall and our lunchtime break. At this point, the Churnet Valley Steam Railway track runs between the inn and the canal which it crosses just a few yards further on. Great place for lunch where the service was quick despite the large numbers of visitors and the portions more than ample.
CVSR’s Stanier 8F, resplendent in very nearly authentic LMS maroon livery, departing Consall station heading for Cheddleton. We would later catch this train at Froghall returning to Denford car park. Photo: Don Baines.
On the right , Consall station’s platform cantilevered out over the canal. Photo: Mark Tiddy
embarkation of the next set of passengers at Froghall Station,
CVSR’s Stanier 8F stands ready for departure. What a splendid way to
end another superb IWPS walk with a steam-hauled train journey.
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Caldon & Uttoxeter Canals - Staffordshire Moorlands Heritage Lottery Funding announcement
The Heritage Lottery Fund has announced 10 earmarked first-round passes totalling £17m made through its Landscape Partnership programme.
One of the ten landscapes receiving support is Staffordshire Moorlands LP with a first-round pass of £1,999,000 including £100,000 development funding.
Local people will learn new heritage skills such as dry stone walling and hedge laying with the potential for both paid and voluntary job opportunities.
The Staffordshire Moorlands Landscape Partnership project area runs to the Peak District National Park to the east and encompasses Biddulph Moor and Consall to the west; north-south it stretches from Rushton Spencer to Alton. It includes the market town of Leek and distinctive landscapes such as the Weaver Hills, Ipstones Edge and Churnet Valley.
The Caldon & Uttoxeter Canals Trust was introduced to the partnership via our involvement in the Churnet Valley Forum, and submitted a number of the specific projects that include key themes of the scheme – conserving built and natural heritage, improving access and developing skills plus training opportunities in local communities for volunteers and other workers. British Waterways also submitted proposal.
Following are some of the initiatives that relate to the local waterways which will be researched and costed during the development phase, to establish the feasibility of various projects and work. In turn these will become part of a Staffordshire Moorlands Landscape Partnership scheme that it is hoped that HLF will make a full award to.
• Conservation / restoration of Bridge 70, Uttoxeter Canal
• Froghall Connection: walking route between Froghall Wharf and station
• Churnet Valley Interpretation Plan
• New heritage trails
• Studies and assessments of landscape, woodland management and built heritage
• Canal vegetation study, towpath access and condition audit
• Rights of way audit.
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By Malcolm Bower
Last year I was in my loft sorting out boxes of treasured items that are partway between being at hand and being thrown away. This was to be ready for an upgrade in loft insulation, and once again I paused over the collection of Waterways Worlds that stretch back to the 1970s when issues were in black and white. Nearby were 2 boxes I had almost forgotten about that contained some 12 years’ worth of Motorcycle Sport, from 1962, when it had changed from newspaper to magazine format, until 1974. Early on in 1963 I recalled the new magazine suffered with production problems in the bitterly cold winter and the March and April editions had to be combined. However in 1974 the bike went and a latent interest in canals, which seemed always to be under threat, took over. Now the pages of 174 might not seem the place to mention 2 and 3 wheel sporting antics in the midst of articles on the calm at Bugsworth Basin or the sedate means of cruising to visit it. But the editor and I have discovered on our travels to attend meetings of the Northern Canals Association that we have a common interest, that of motorcycles and their racing around the 1960s. There’s nothing like nostalgia, although it’s a nuisance when it makes you miss crucial road junctions! I was an interested spectator almost 50 years ago, but Don was a sidecar passenger, and he rubbed shoulders with the stars of the time, socially in the paddock and literally on the track. So pardon us for a spot of self-indulgence.
At that time there were the weekly magazines with road tests of the ride-to-work machines, both solos and sidecar outfits before the Minis had eaten into that market, but there was an emergent need of a monthly magazine to follow the sporting side, not unlike some 15 years later when WW started to cover the increasing interest in the waterways. Whereas today there is much coverage of early waterways restoration and cruising and the characters involved, there were reminiscences in MS of the early 2 wheel road and racing machines. Don’s participation covered a period when, in the quest for speed and manoeuverability, sidecar outfits changed from something vaguely resembling a road-going outfit to a 3 wheel high-powered platform that required the passenger to possess the agility of a gymnast and keep all wheels on the ground and so provide adhesion. Car and Formula One racing might be more popular, but I felt that motorcycle and sidecar racing was far more skillful and demanding (still do). Four wheel racing becomes processional, yet the bikes are almost balletic and the sidecars are something else – steering one’s vehicle in a controlled drift by pointing into the bend many yards beforehand requires much skill and courage. Don witnessed the advent of the BMW-powered outfits where the flat-twins allowed the driver even to lay over the engine and so keep a lower profile, compared with the British upright twins. Powerful though they were, these teutonic engines were no good for solo racing as the rocker boxes got damaged when the bike was canted over for bends.
Now you are perhaps saying, “Is this the same Don, who ensures we work at the Basin safely and who administers our Health & Safety? When did he have his Road to Damascus experience?” Yes, it is, and yet the disciplines are closer than you might think. First, racing vehicles of all types are subjected to exacting inspections by specialists, and this is very important where modifications are often made to sidecar outfits. Most motorcycle races begin with a “bump” start, and the sidecars have an important drill for this to ensure both driver and passenger are aboard as soon as the engine fires, or else the outfit will make a high speed tour of the surrounding countryside at the first bend. Don would also ensure his grips and handles were ergonomically correct for him to keep his balance and yet adopt odd postures around the projectile and so keep the maximum tyre profile onto the tarmac. However these measures would be less formal and undocumented, and as in the early days of IWPS would rely on trust and an innate understanding between all participants.
Don Baines with his driver, Alan Rhodes, in action, 1961, on their BMW outfit.
The history of the various makes of motorcycle and the characters involved in their development reminded me of the waterways. Compared with the growth of the car industry, the improvement of motorcycles seemed much more modest, although in the early days manufacturers often made both cars and motorcycles, sometimes cycles as well. This was very similar to those who began the IWA and IWPS and the boat makers and hirers who tried to meet the lukewarm demand for craft. The e Brough motorcycles were made in Nottingham were like the Jaguars and Bentleys of the 30s, and purchasers had what was really an interview to ensure they got a tailor-made machine. Not what we would now call a commercial operation, but it was what was wanted and what George Brough said his machines deserved. His father also made motorcycles in Nottingham and there was family trouble when George made the famous Brough Superiors; his father said it implied his bikes were inferior. He also had trouble with Rolls Royce as the advertisements said his bikes were the Rolls Royce of motorcycles, but GB maintained he was only quoting road tests. The upshot was that one day a gentleman in bowler hat and rolled umbrella (from RR) visited the factory to have words. However the visit happened to coincide with some machines being assembled for an exhibition in London and the operators were wearing gloves to ensure the bikes were kept in pristine condition. The RR gentleman was so impressed that he said it was obvious both firms had the same standards and there was no problem making the reference. With a touch of irony, Broughs had a lot of precision engineering subcontracts for RR aero engines during the war and did not resume making motorcycles afterwards.
There is some passion over the sounds associated with both these interests. Many will pause on their towpath walk or stop their boat chores simply to hear a Bollinder or Gardner powered craft pass by – and smile. Perhaps you think the traffic-light start of motorcycles is like howling banshees, but there are subtleties. Years ago, race enthusiasts would be exasperated to see TV newsreels of the TT races with big Nortons on the screen accompanied by a sound-track of a GPO telegraph boy’s Bantam. This is like having a full-length narrowboat powered by an Evinrude outboard. Also the next time you see the film Lawrence of Arabia, note the sad sequence near the start of TE Lawrence’s last ride on his Brough Superior. It was typical of David Lean’s scrupulous attention to detail that the soundtrack used a genuine JAP engine (that’s JA Prestwich; nothing oriental then). For myself, I recall riding one sunny evening through Chatsworth on the way from Sheffield to Leicester (when the M1 only came north to Crick) and cars were parked on the grass opposite Edensor village. I was riding my Vincent Rapide that had a large V-twin and some distance ahead I noticed a BSA twin parked by the road and a couple canoodling in the grass. I was about 100 yards away when the chap must have heard my lolloping engine, and he sprang to his feet casting the girl aside merely to wave me through. No doubt she wasn’t impressed, but there are times you need to get your priorities right!
I owned my Vincent for around 14 years and it was an interesting time, both riding it and the people I met, often at garage forecourts and when parked. There is still a Vincent Owners Rally which reminds me very much of the IWA National Rally in its early days. The Vincents seemed to take over the mantle of the Broughs as a quality machine, and the Vincent Black Shadow 1000cc was famous as the fastest production motorcycle in about 1947 – and powered on the pool petrol of the time! This record (about 122mph, though one tester confessed he couldn’t find a straight long enough) stood for around 30 years, until Nortons upgraded their 650cc Commando engines to 750cc. A friend in Leicester said they were first tested on police motorcycles, and he was caught by one when out on his own Black Shadow. He complimented the officer on his 650 machine, only to find it was one of the first 750s. Fair cop, he commented sportingly. Legend has it that riders in the US used to attend and win sprints and hill-climbs events on the same machine. The Vincents finished production in the mid-50s and they were a sporty machine and technically quite advanced. One unit in the early 50s did over 100,000 miles before the cylinder heads were lifted, quite an achievement at the time. The strong alloy engine formed the frame to get the centre of gravity even lower, but the sophistication of the last models, with enclosed crankcase almost like a scooter, meant the cost of over £600 priced them out of existence.
There were of course many other makes that have disappeared from the roads except where enthusiasts lavish tlc on their machines. Rarely are they now used as ride-to-work transport and the lack of investment of profits in new models is often blamed for their downfall, as indeed with the British car industry. Most of the names are consigned to history, although the Triumph make survived as a cooperative in the 70s, and is now manufactured with some success in Leicestershire. But the others are just memories, like the Panther and Ariel Square Four that had considerable torque for sidecar use and were said to be able to climb the side of a house and the Scotts with their large capacity two-stroke engines and infamous yowl. Those magazines of 50 years ago feared the end of motorcycling by legal and financial means and the loss of individual choice, due to the 70mph blanket speed limit, compulsory passenger insurance and wearing of helmets. On reflection these had little effect and it was a pity that car drivers did not take to wearing seat belts as motorcyclists did to crash helmets. These became almost fashion items especially with the advent of the US space project and manufacture of space helmets.
When choosing between canals/railways and motorcycles/cars & F1, it’s perhaps significant that I chose the more modest, unassuming and, yes, cheaper option, although I have been interested in them all. Charles Hadfield said he devoted himself to research into canals because the railways had the lion’s share of studies and publications, and yet the canals had led the way in developing civil engineering expertise and overcoming legal difficulties in their construction. After the Beeching exercise on the railways, the restoration of steam locos and re-opening of lines took off much faster than did the restoration of disused canals. It is extremely sad that those who started work on the K&A, Rochdale, Huddersfield Narrow and Bugsworth itself did not live to see them restored. The millennium and the associated funding came too late, yet it was appropriate that these voluntary projects qualified for support whereas business schemes did not.
No mention of two-wheeled transport in 174 would be complete without reference to the exploits of the Honorary Secretary and how he used to attend IWPS committee meetings many moons ago in Sheffield. He has told me this was by way of the old road from Whaley Bridge to Castleton under Mam Tor and the Surprise View above Hathersage, in all weathers and all seasons, by motorcycle. After that, Martin must have found digging out the Basin at Bugsworth the easy part.
The Hon Secretary's venerable BSA Bantam that he rode many miles on IWPS business.
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Blue Plaque for Canal House
We have, with the kind permission of Mark and Armelle Hatch, now owners of Canal House, put in place a commemorative Blue Plaque celebrating the lives of three important people associated with the construction and operation of the Peak Forest Canal and Tramway. Benjamin Outram was the Consulting Engineer; Thomas Brown, the Resident Engineer; and German Wheatcroft, the first Wharfinger at Bugsworth Basin. Funded entirely by the IWPS, the plaque was designed by Peter Whitehead, consents and permissions negotiated by Don Baines, and manufactured by Leander Architectural at Dove Holes. An official unveiling will be held later.
PRELIMINARY WALK INFORMATION
This year’s weekend away is our first foray `abroad´ and we shall be visiting the Irish Republic to walk some of the disused waterways associated with the Lower Shannon navigation. Our hosts will be O'Briensbridge Community Association who have been keen to promote the attractions of the waterways heritage of the area. We shall be accompanied by local waterways historian Brian Goggin who has spent many years researching the Shannon Navigation and associated waterways
Friday 1st October
Saturday 2nd October
Sunday 3rd October
Monday 4th October
David Kitching email@example.com 01625 423249
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by Steve and Lynn Barrett
I first saw Bugsworth Basin in 1981. I was 27, newly married to Judith, and living in Sheffield. We had been hire boating for a number of years, and were now keen to give something back to canals. We had read about Waterway Recovery Group in various magazines, but had been having difficulty in finding out exactly how to go about tracking them down. This was long before the days of the Internet and the ready access to overwhelming amounts of information that we have today. Eventually we joined the local IWA branch and got to know the likes of Ruth Hawkins, Mark Tiddy and Vern Brown. It was then only a matter of time before we found ourselves in the back of Mark's venerable Land Rover and making the seemingly interminable journey over to Welsh Frankton, and to what I soon learned to call Buggy. Little did I know, as they say in all the best stories, that I was going to be involved in the Basin for the next twenty years or more, and would be working on Waterway Recovery Group projects all over the country right up to the present day.
Work Camp 1985 and Steve moving muck from A to B to C
Photo: Don Baines
Fast forward ten years or so. Now divorced, I had realised a bit of an ambition and actually moved to Buggy to live in the second oldest house in the village with my partner Lynn. I found myself acting as a sort of ambassador, trying to convince the local sceptics that we would succeed in our long-term project and that we were not a bunch of hopeless romantics. It was easy to understand their doubts: after all they had seen people toiling away since the sixties and making what seemed, superficially at least, to be not much progress. It was a standing joke among the volunteers that we moved stuff from A, to B, to C and then back to A again. But we knew that there was an underlying reason for what we were doing….most of the time! Of course there had been setbacks, but, under Ian Edgar's chairmanship, we seemed to get through them all and, indeed, turn them to our own advantage. By Easter 1999 it seemed that we had finally achieved our decades-old goal. The Basin was officially reopened, boats were in and that was pretty much that. I enjoyed playing the 'I told you so' game with my neighbours and life continued.
As we know the Basin had to be closed, de-watered and the many leaks cleared once and for all. By now Lynn and I had moved over to Saddleworth, eventually getting married. I continued to work with Waterway Recovery Group but my involvement in Buggy had ceased. I had gone from having the place on my doorstep to being some distance away, work and family commitments made it rather difficult to attend the working parties. Obviously I kept in touch with developments but I could no longer call myself an active volunteer.
It is now June 2010. I have taken early retirement from my job as an academic publisher's rep, and Lynn has retired as Academic Librarian at the University of Huddersfield. We are now in a position to contemplate a boating trip longer than the two weeks that we had always been limited to previously. When we originally started planning we both wanted to include Buggy in the itinerary, Lynn had also made her own contribution to its restoration and we were keen to go back there and see what changes had taken place. So on June 18th I found myself steering our boat Chalford along the Peak Forest Canal towards Bugsworth Basin, going through places that once I knew so well but have not seen for nearly ten years. Did I really get up at silly o'clock to run the three miles to New Mills and back most mornings, before driving to Liverpool or Birmingham? It seems impossible now but that is exactly what I used to do. Other memories kept coming back as we got closer and closer to the Basin: the mud-soaked work camp when we cleared the sand that had slipped into the entrance canal from the by-pass; the caravan field where we tipped untold tons of silt, and the occasional dumper, over the edge; the gate posts that Don and I erected; being told off by Milly for allowing my dog Gyp into her field to chase sticks; the long lengths of wall that we painstakingly took down and re-built in our attempts at leak curing. I had expected to feel a bit emotional, after all it was half a lifetime ago that I first set eyes on what was then a lunar landscape, but I was surprised at just how choked up I actually felt. Then came the moment when we passed through the gauging lock and into the Basin itself and, to my surprise, the overriding emotion then was one of triumph. And then, to cap it all, there were Don and Gordon. It was fantastic to see them both, and, to my laughing delight, I was able to lend them a 19mm socket to help fix the lawnmower. I backed Chalford under the first horse bridge, tied up, and there we were, we had arrived.
Chalford moored up in the Lower Basin close to Bridge 58.
Photo: Steve Barrett
Later that evening we went to the Navigation Inn, our old local, to watch the England-Algeria game. But even that miserable performance could not spoil my pleasure at finally having made it into the Basin. When we got back to the boat I found it difficult to settle, and sat outside for a while. I could see the past so clearly, twenty five year old memories as if it was only yesterday. Gyp jumping off the edge of the wharf in his relentless pursuit of a stick, or running alongside my dumper trying to get on board. The construction we called Fred's House, built over a length of wall we were rebuilding in an attempt to keep the rain from washing out all the mortar. The point in the Wide where I put a dumper over the edge, self and dumper landing disturbingly close together. Excavating the wooden tramway near the Stone Crusher, or the excitement at uncovering the tramway sleeper stones and being able to trace their exact path. And the people, most still around, some no longer alive. But mostly what I remembered were the laughs, we all seemed to have a remarkably good time despite working in conditions that would not be tolerated in industry. I am trying very hard to avoid rose-tinted spectacles: there were times when it was miserable, we were soaked through, freezing and thoroughly fed up. When you have to light a small fire under a dumper in order to thaw out the fuel line then you know that it is cold, and you seriously question your own sanity in being there. But, when I stand on the horse transfer bridge and look out at the Basin bathed in sunlight, filled with boats and boaters, then I know why we did it, and give a silent cheer that, despite all the odds, we succeeded.
Lower Basin (or 'New Drop') as seen from bridge 58.
Photo: Steve Barrett
An Addendum: As we chugged slowly past Teapot Row, me at the pointy bit poised with camera, my thoughts were only with what an emotional occasion this must be for Steve. It took me completely by surprise when my own eyes filled with tears as I saw the Basin full of water and boats and realised that I too, since meeting Steve, had taken part in WRG weekends and IWPS Sundays, had puddled clay in the 'leak branch', cleared vegetation, painted and gardened and, of course, lived here for 8 years. And now we were bringing in our boat and current dog, the sun was shining and Don and Gordon were there to welcome us. What more could any volunteer want! Lynn
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Before and After pictures of Bugsworth Canal Basin by Martin Whalley
Upper Basin in the 1970s
Upper Basin taken in 2008
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