The Inland Waterways Protection Society Ltd 

Campaigning    Restoration    Preservation    Development 

Newsletter "174" August 2004

Contents

Bugsworth Basin Report Obituaries Greenwatch Award Boat Rally Easter 2005
The Curse of Bugsworth Disability Discrimination Act BW Annual Report Runcorn Locks
Stockport's Lost Canal Basin Bugsworth 1881 Census An odd scene Bridgewater and MS Canals
Sheffield Canal Marple Locks Bi-centenary Countryside Code Ashton Canal
Portobello Engineering CD-ROM Sales    

A welcoming entrance to Bugsworth Canal Basin after completion of the leak repairs but where are the boats?  Waiting for the dredger to clear the approach!
 Photograph: Don Baines

Bugsworth Basin Report

by Ian Edgar MBE   -     Chairman and Hon Site Manager

Since my last report in May 2004 the Contractors (Dew Pitchmastic) have cleared the site and the ‘scars’ of their presence are now grassing over nicely. It is amazing now to be aware that over £1 million has been spent at Bugsworth over the past 9 months or so but to look at the site, as the grass grows again, little can be seen as evidence of such a major intrusion. It is hard to explain to towpath walkers and others what ‘they’ have done. Everything is hidden from view. The ducks continue to trawl the concrete bottom of the Entrance Basin and the Lower Basin Arm without much success. Our happy flock continues to grow and two broods at least have been successfully raised.

The archaeological features and the Milestone have been replaced in their original positions. The unsightly pile of surplus stone and rubble has now gone to reveal the former yard of the stone crusher building and a small area of stone setts still in situ. Some work still has to be done here in clearing away bits of surplus stone too small for the big diggers to handle and then generally grade it so it will grass over and so keep the area safe ready for a full archaeological investigation when time and funding permits. Grassing over with a good pasture mix is a good way to protect the surface and what archaeologically might lie underneath although it does mean we have even greater areas of grass to cut!

The area of the Basin where leak remedial works were undertaken is still under test and will continue to be so whilst the Entrance Canal is repaired and dredged. The opportunity was taken to take advantage of the heavy rain during the second two weeks of August to allow the section to come up to the absolute maximum depth, which would show up top leaks to best advantage. With a survey of the embankment to the Blackbrook River several leaks were positively identified and with engineers from British Waterways a method was decided as to when and how to cure them. At the time of writing (24th August) this work is now in hand with day-to-day progress on the Society web site. The canal wash wall is very shallow between Teapot Row (Canal Side Cottages) and Canal House and in places has slipped in to the channel. Repairs will be carried out, with the leak remedial works, by British Waterways. Once that work has been done and the leakage brought down to acceptable levels British Waterways will engage a specialist dredging contractor to clear the channel in to the Basin and also remove the clay coffer dams left by Dews to enable on-going testing to be undertaken.


Almost the last action for the contractors, Dew Pitchmastic, was to extend the paved area alongside Blackbrook House
Photo: Don Baines

IWPS Archaeologist, Alan Findlow, surveys the temporary bund to be removed by the dredger when it arrives
Photo: Don Baines

With the canal at near full level, this is the view of the Entrance Basin from bridge 59
Photo: Don Baines

And, similarly the view down the Lower Basin from bridge 58
Photo: Don Baines

It is unlikely funding will have been secured to enable repair work to be undertaken in the Upper Basin by the time work on the Entrance Channel is completed. It is likely therefore, for health and safety reasons, that the Upper Basin will be stanked off with a clay bund and will not be opened with the rest of the Basin.

We are very conscious of the fact that as much of the Basin as possible should be accessed by the disabled. The steps at the head of the Middle Basin Arm prevent this so it is planned to convert these in to an access ramp with setts giving a surface with a good grip. Funding is being sought for this job in co-operation with British Waterways and several funding avenues are being explored for this and other work. We are also working with British Waterways to devise disabled access to the towpath by Canal House whilst at the same time denying unacceptable access for motor cycles, horses etc.

Photo: Don Baines

Once again the Upper Basin was host to the well-dressing Group who put on a beautiful display. Many were able to rest on the two seats funded by the Group and built by Mike Malzard and it is very pleasing to see so many people (including families with young children) using the many seats we have provided as well as the picnic table near to Silk Hill Bridge, which was funded by the Rotarians. The restoration of Bugsworth Basin was not only for navigation but also for everybody to enjoy and this is becoming more and more apparent as we get back to something like ‘normal’ but now with a full depth of water!

One of our next tasks is to replace damaged or missing mooring rings ready for when the boats return. There are many original rings still around the Basin and these are important archaeological features, which can still be used. These are easily identifiable. Some of the modern rings funded by Furness Vale Boat Club and the Manchester Branch of the IWA fitted prior to the last re-opening will need refurbishing and we are reviewing different types of ring as available from British Waterways.

Unfortunately most of the Bridge Number Plates funded by a donation from North Cheshire Cruising Club have been almost totally destroyed by vandals so a new type of resin plate is being used which we hope will better withstand a vandal attack. These should be fitted shortly.

Whilst vandalism is not a serious problem at Bugsworth it is very disheartening when it does happen and especially so when funding has been so generously provided. The school holiday period, as everywhere, does mean more damage and mischief and this year has been no exception. Sometimes repairs to dry-stone walls can be carried out by volunteers but sometimes the damage is so great that the wall has to be taken down and rebuilt. We are grateful to British Waterways for funding some of this repair work, which has to be done by a local waller quickly otherwise a large hole, becomes even larger very quickly.

I regret to say that no large amounts of funding have been received as a result of the various grant applications mentioned in the last editions of ‘174’. We continue to work on this and hopefully will have something to report next time.

As usual I have to appeal for members to come and help on site. We are few in number but we are very skilled and we have proper equipment to maintain the Basin. Despite the inclement weather of the past month or so Bugsworth Basin is a wonderful place to work with great satisfaction for a job well done. Please telephone me on 01663 732493 to offer your services!


IWPS was awarded 2nd prize in the Wildlife Conservation category in this year’s Derbyshire Greenwatch Awards. Representing IWPS at the awards ceremony, Jill and Mike Malzard receive the prize from Councillor Charles Cutting.

THE IWPS INAUGURAL BOAT RALLY EASTER 2005

Plans are already in hand for this and booking forms are being prepared. Mike & Jill Malzard are the contacts within the IWPS Ltd. and further information can be obtained from Mike or Jill by ringing 01663 735310. More information hopefully will be in the next issue of ‘174’.

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THE CHAPEL EN LE FRITH REGENERATION PARTNERSHIP

I have been asked by the Vice Chairman, on behalf of all members of his Partnership, to emphasise that it is the Chapel-en-le-Frith Regeneration Partnership, which has taken the initiative regarding the upgrading of the trackbed of the former Peak Forest Tramway in to a cycling/walking route. Some readers of the last edition of ‘174’ have been led to believe that the Whaley Bridge Regeneration Partnership is responsible for this exciting project. The IWPS Ltd. is pleased to emphasise that it is indeed Chapel-en-le-Frith Regeneration Partnership and supports both Partnerships in their endeavours.

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MRS. MILLIE WILD

It is with a great sense of loss that I have to write of the passing of Millie Wild of Canal House, Bugsworth Basin. Millie and her late husband Lloyd resided in Canal House when the volunteers first started the restoration and it was the kindness of them both that we were allowed to store our equipment in the cellar. As we got more and more equipment and then went on to mechanical plant the cellar became impractical but throughout the years Millie kept an eye on us volunteers and was often amused almost to tears at our antics and the tales we told. She was always cheerful despite the sometimes very dirty activities undertaken by volunteers past her front door. Sometimes, because of the very nature of the work we were undertaking, we overstepped the mark and she had cause to complain. I never saw her angry and she always had a smile right up to the end of her life when she was very alert and mentally as sharp and bright as she ever was.

A gentle, kind lady we had the good fortune to know over many years. Our condolences go to Dave and her family at this sad time.

Sarah and I represented the IWPS at her funeral in the Parish Church at Buxworth.

MR. ALAN WATSON

We also have to report the sad passing of Alan Watson of Chinley who was a great friend of the Society over many years. Alan was a local historian of great knowledge and on many occasions I, and others in IWPS sought his advice on matters relating to the canal and the immediate surrounding area. Not for Alan the hoarding of information as some historians. He knew the pleasure of ‘educating’ us ‘young-uns’ with a twinkle in his eye that the information he was about to give you would alter everything you thought you knew. And in many cases it was!

Alan left his records and archive relating to the Basin and Buxworth, to the Society and we are now in the process of evaluating this mass of information and putting it on disk for safety and posterity. For this we are extremely grateful and to his widow, Winnie, our thanks for the gracious way she was able to follow Alan’s wishes and pass on these documents.

Our sympathy goes to Winnie and Alan’s family. A man who was charming, knowledgeable and gentlemanly right up to the end of an interesting life. He will be sadly missed.

MRS. MARGARET GRETASON

We are sorry to have to advise of the passing of Mrs. Margaret Gretason, a long time member of the Society going back to the days of our Founder Bessie Bunker. A one time volunteer on site with her young son Mark, the family moved from Chinley to Worcester, which meant that regular work on site was no longer possible. In later years her mobility suffered and she, with great commitment, still made the effort to attend our AGMs and we remember her fondly for that. Her son, Mark, in his letter telling us of her passing, mentioned that being a member of the IWPS gave her great pleasure over many years. That can be no less than the pleasure it gave us chatting to her at meetings and over refreshments at our Annual Meetings.

A great lady. Our condolences and sympathy to her son, Canon Mark Gretason, and all her family.

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The Curse of Bugsworth strikes again.


Photo: Don Baines

It seems that the “professionals” are no more capable of allaying “the Curse of Bugsworth Basin” than the volunteers who preceded them. This sink hole has appeared at the head of the Lower Basin Arm no more than two months after the contractors left the site. The hole is about 1m x 0.6m x 0.5m deep and water can be seen flowing through the wall and downwards through the hole. At this point, like everywhere else, a trench was excavated some 2½ metres deep, filled with new clay and, at bed level, the wall grouted to complete the seal. What has happened? No doubt we will find out soon as an investigation and yet another repair gets under way. Fortunately a BW team are on site repairing leaks in the Entrance Canal so we should see repairs under way very soon. 

Don Baines 30 August 2004

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Disability Discrimination Act

The Disability Discrimination Act comes into full effect from 1st October 2004 and applies to any organisation that has facilities open to the public - which might include boat clubs, organisations holding events and rallies, waterside businesses and museums, etc.

The purpose of the Act is to eliminate discrimination against people with any form of medically recognised disability. The 'disabled' are often equated solely as users of wheelchairs, but the Act's provisions apply equally in respect of the blind, deaf, those with learning difficulties and those with the full range of disabilities brought on through old age.

Many of the provisions of the Act have been in effect for some years - the final provisions that come into effect on 1st October concern premises, and provide that those in control of premises open to the public should make "reasonable adjustments" in relation to the physical features of their premises to overcome physical barriers to access.

Organisations hiring premises for public meetings should always bear in mind the needs of less able people likely to attend such meetings, and there is also a responsibility of those hiring out premises for public activities to ensure that they are fit for that purpose. The provisions of the Act coming into force on 1st October do not mean, for example, that organisations holding public meetings cannot hire a room that does not have wheelchair access - but meeting organisers should endeavour to hire premises for which access arrangements can be made for all those people likely to wish to attend the meeting.

There are useful information notes about the provisions of the Act, which may be particularly useful to boat clubs with premises and others at:

www.sportengland.org/index/get_resources/disability_discrimination_legislation.htm 

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British Waterways Annual Report

British Waterways published its Annual Report and Accounts for the year ending 31st March 2004 on 19th July. The key theme of the report appears be a drive towards the improved viability of BW in the commercial sense. An accompanying document 'Our Plan for the Future 2004 - 2008' was also published on the same day. Particularly revealing are the much lower planned levels of waterway improvements for the coming year (e.g.: miles of canal dredged, down from 59 miles in 2003-4 to 26 miles in 2004-5).

In an accompanying press release, Robin Evans, British Waterways chief executive, comments: "This year has been about putting the building blocks in place for British Waterways to deliver our vision for the waterways so that by 2012 they are largely self-sufficient and visited by twice as many people as in 2003.

"We've begun the process of creating the 'new public corporation' - one in which our head is commercial but our heart is public. To secure the long-term future for the waterways we need to work towards self-sufficiency. Our 2003/04 Annual Report shows that process is well underway, with our trading income 87% higher than in it was four years ago, marking our transition from an engineering- led organisation to one focussed on customers, and on maximising returns for reinvestment in further waterway improvements."

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Ashton Canal

British Waterways reopened the Ashton Canal to navigation on 18th May following the fire on the late evening of 26th April and subsequent demolition works at Victoria Mill between locks 3 and 4, which closed the canal between the two dates.

At its height, more than sixty fire fighters were called to the four-storey derelict building in Cardroom Road, Ancoats. Building inspectors served a closure notice after inspecting the site on 27th April. A 100m long four-storey high wall was in danger of falling into the canal as the internal floors of the building had either partially or totally collapsed. The canal was reopened once sufficient demolition work had been completed to make passage past the burned out building safe.

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Calls for an historic flight of locks to be reopened

Over the last weekend of June 2004 a rally of canal boats was held on the Bridgewater Canal at Runcorn Old Town, Cheshire. The festival was staged by the Inland Waterways Association to press for the reopening of an historic flight of 18th century locks. Known as the Runcorn old flight of locks, they were closed more than 40 years ago when the route was cut by the construction of the approach road to Runcorn Bridge over the river Mersey at Runcorn Gap. The Association say that plans for a second Mersey road crossing will make it feasible to reopen these locks.

The layout of the Bridgewater Canal at Runcorn in its commercial days is both interesting and somewhat perplexing. There were two flights of locks from the main line of the Bridgewater Canal, which both fell to the Manchester Ship Canal that runs alongside the estuary of the river Mersey at this point. Runcorn old line of locks consisted of 11 locks that formed a direct connection with the Manchester Ship Canal (originally to the river Mersey). Runcorn new line of locks, alternative and parallel to the old line of locks, consisted of 10 locks, and this formed a junction with the Runcorn and Weston Canal, the tidal dock of Runcorn Docks and through the tidal dock to the Manchester Ship Canal.

The Runcorn and Weston Canal commenced at Runcorn Docks, by the junction with the Runcorn new line of locks, and terminated at Weston Point by a junction with the river Weaver Canal from the main line of the navigation of the river Weaver.

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The lost Canal Basin at Stockport 
by Peter J Whitehead

Stockport Basin was at the terminus of the Stockport Branch of the Ashton Canal just beyond Lancashire Hill bridge. It was located in a lozenge-shaped area of land bounded on the east by Lancashire Hill and Gordon Street and on the west by Sheffield Street, and Wharf Street bisected it.

Albion Corn Mill, belonging to W Nelstrop & Company, dominated the entrance to the basin and the whole area was once a scene of considerable activity. Grain bound for this mill was one of the most important cargoes carried on the Stockport Branch . The keystone in the arched canal entrance to this mill was engraved ‘ACCo 1823’. The mill storehouse contained both grain and flour but this had to be demolished after a serious fire to leave the mill standing on your own.

Besides Albion Corn Mill, the map of 1896 shows Wharf Street Mill, a paint works and a hat works plus three coal wharfs and two other wharfs. However, the Canal Distance Tables produced by the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway Company in September 1881 give a clearer indication of the amount of industrial activity at Stockport Basin. This has been reproduced below as accurately as possible and it includes the strikeouts and alterations. The distances are measured from Clayton Junction, which is where the Stockport Branch left the main line of the Ashton Canal between locks 10 and 11. These tables show that the basin was a mere 18 chains (or 396 yards) long and it is hard to believe that so much industry was packed into this short distance.

The Stockport Branch was largely an urban canal that was heavily industrialised for most of its length. However, commercial carrying dwindled during the 1930s and eventually Stockport Basin was closed. Nonetheless, traces of this were still visible in the late 1960s before it was finally filled in. Today the only reminders of the existence the basin are Albion Corn Mill and Wharf Street.

ASHTON CANAL – STOCKPORT BRANCH

 

miles

chains

Distances measured from Clayton Junction

C.W. = Company Wharf

 

 

Lancashire Hill Bridge, Stockport.

 

4

53

Lancashire Hill Warehouse.

 

4

55

W. Nelstrop & Co’s Albion Corn Mill, Stockport.

 

4

55

Company’s Wharf, Stockport.

Junction of Lancashire Hill Branch for

Hayes’ Wharf, Stockport.

Rivett’s

Wilson’s Mill and Wharf, Stockport.

Rivett’s

Norton’s Mill and Wharf, Stockport.

C.W.

4

56

D. Worth’s Coal Wharf, Stockport.

Lee & Booth’s Coal Wharf, Stockport.

C.W.

4

58

Wharf Street Bridge, Stockport.

 

4

59

Company’s New Warehouse, Stockport, and Wharfs on both sides of canal.

C.W.

4

61

Company’s Sand Wharf, Stockport.

Company’s Timber Wharf, Stockport.

C.W.

4

63

Company’s Wharf occupied by A. Hartley, Stockport.

C.W.

4

65

Rhodes & Co’s Works

Denham & Hough’s Machine Works, Stockport.

H. Barlow & Son’s Oil Works, Stockport.

C.W.

4

66

Coal Wharf, Stockport.

Company’s Wharf occupied by L. Maiden & Co., Stockport.

C.W.

4

69

Coal Wharf, Stockport.

C.W.

4

71

 

New Warehouse on the corner of Wharf Street and Sheffield Street, Stockport, 1961. Wharf Street Bridge is on the left, in the foreground, and Sheffield Street is on the extreme right.

Photograph: Author’s collection


Stockport Canal Basin

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Countryside Code

The government is due to launch a new Countryside Code on 12th July, to replace that first issued in 1951 and extensively revised in 1981. The launch of the new code follows concerns expressed in Parliament that today's countryside visitors are less aware of the Countryside Code and of appropriate behaviour when visiting rural areas. The new Code will also take on board the new duties of the Countryside Agency to produce guidance to visitors and owners over access land under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000.

The launch of the Code is due to be accompanied by extensive publicity and a new web site is due to be launched, which will include full details of the new Code. www.countrysideaccess.gov.uk 

Source: IWA

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Residents of Bugsworth - 1881 Census

extracted by Peter J Whitehead

An occasional series of extracts from the 1881 Census taken on Sunday, 3rd April and Monday, 4th April 1881.

Census place: Chinley, Bugsworth and Brownside. Public Record Office Ref. RG11.

These extracts include Chinley, Bugsworth and Brownside, which covers the area to the north of Bugsworth Basin. The area to the south of the basin came under Chapel-en-le-Frith and it included boats waiting at the basin as well as the Rose & Crown Inn, Gnat Hole and Barren Clough. The Census returns for this area give an indication of the importance of the gritstone quarry at Barren Clough to the local economy.

Key: Col. 2, Marital Status. Col. 3, Relationship to Head of Household. Col. 4, Age. Col. 6, Birthplace.

Dwelling: Derby Knowle

 

Henry PROCKTER 1

m

Head

39

Factory Engine Driver

New Mills, Derbys

Mary

m

Wife

34

 

New Mills, Derbys

William

u

Son

14

Bobbiner at Cotton Factory

New Mills, Derbys

George

u

Son

12

Cotton Winder

New Mills, Derbys

Ann

u

Daur

10

Horse Driver

New Mills, Derbys

Harry

 

Son

8

Scholar

Peak Forest, Derbys

Elizabeth

 

Son

6

Scholar

New Mills, Derbys

Tom

 

Son

3

Scholar

Bugsworth, Derbys

Dwelling: Derby Knowle

 

John MELLOR

m

Head

42

Quarryman

Bugsworth, Derbys

Martha

m

Wife

33

Bugsworth, Derbys

Hannah

u

Daur

11

Factory Hand Tex.

Bugsworth, Derbys

Thomas

 

Son

9

Scholar

Bugsworth, Derbys

James

 

Son

8

Scholar

Bugsworth, Derbys

Samuel

 

Son

6

Scholar

Bugsworth, Derbys

William

 

Son

4

 

Bugsworth, Derbys

Elizabeth

 

Daur

2

 

Bugsworth, Derbys

Dwelling: Derby Knowle

 

Thomas BRAMWELL

m

Head

56

Manager in Cotton Mill 2

Tideswell, Derbys

Anne

m

Wife

56

 

Litton, Derbys

Samuel

u

Son

25

Cashier in Bank

Litton, Derbys

Jane

u

Daur

20

 

Litton, Derbys

Elizabeth HALL

m

Daur

33

 

Litton, Derbys

Thomas

m

S in L

32

Commercial Traveller

Saddleworth, Yorks

Samuel

 

G Son

2

 

Calver, Derbys

Dwelling: Bugsworth Toll Bar

 

George LOWE

m

Head

20

Coal Miner 3

Bugsworth, Derbys

Margaret

m

Wife

21

 

Bugsworth, Derbys

Easter 4

 

Daur

1

 

Bugsworth, Derbys

Martha

 

Daur

1m

 

Bugsworth, Derbys

Endnotes

  1. This surname is usually spelt Procter or Proctor, so this could be a transcription error.

  2. This refers to Britannia Mill.

  3. It is likely that George Lowe worked at Bugsworth Hall pit, which was only a short distance away.

  4. This could be Esther.

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An odd scene by Park Lock of the Ashton Canal

by Peter J Whitehead

The photograph of Park Lock (lock 7), dating from c1920, shows four canal employees of the Great Central Railway Company. The question is just precisely what were these workmen doing posing, from left to right, with a shovel, brush, pitch fork and dustbin lid? The spot they are standing on looks clean and tidy enough and it could be that this gang was about to embark on another clean-up operation close by.

In terms of weed removal there would have been little, if anything, for them to do as practically no vegetation could grow in this vicinity as it was dominated by numerous chemical works, Stuart Street Power Station, Bradford Colliery and Bradford Gas Works.

This photograph also shows the lockhouse on the left and Mill Street change bridge lies across the foot of the lock. The Navigation Inn is just about visible in the background on the right. The Navigation Inn was demolished in the 1980s but, following a period of dereliction, the lockhouse was restored by British Waterways. The last person to occupy the lockhouse prior to its dereliction was a Mrs Wood who left it to live with relatives.

Between Bradford Lock (lock 6) and Park Lock the busy Bradford Private Branch (or Colliery Arm) was located on the south side of the canal. This first accessed a Coal Yard on one side and Pritchard’s Mill on the other and then, after passing below Philips Park Road, there was a second Coal Yard. Sharp, Murray & Company’s Mill, Richard Johnson & Nephew’s Iron and Wire Works and finally Bradford Colliery followed this. It is interesting that this arm actually passed through Bradford Iron Works and, for a short distance, it was actually inside the works before it emerged at the wharfs of Bradford Colliery. For a period Bradford Colliery also manufactured bricks using its own kilns so bricks, as well as coal, would have been exported from these wharfs.

Park Lock was so named because of its proximity to Philips Park, which is situated on the other side of Stuart Street off the picture on the right. Philips Park was a credit to a staff that somehow, in spite of adverse atmospheric conditions, managed to make plants grow. The park was (and still is) famous for its display of tulips each spring. The river Medlock, which flows by in an artificial channel constructed entirely of terracotta tiles, forms the northern boundary of Philips Park. Hereabouts this spectacular feature gave rise to the nickname of ‘Red River’. The massive Philips Park Cemetery occupies the opposite bank of the river Medlock.

Mark Philips, who was then the Member of Parliament for Manchester, opened Philips Park in 1846 and the cemetery opened in December 1863. This park was the first municipal park of its kind in the country and it set a standard for others to follow.

Looking upstream at the river Medlock from a bridge that connects Philips Park and the cemetery.

Photograph: the Author - 18 January 2004

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Bridgewater Canal & Manchester Ship Canal

Bridging the Years is the title of a new web site that has been two years being developed. The New Opportunities Lottery Fund financed the work. The web site has many thousands of digitised archives, including photographs, maps and artefacts that cover the Bridgewater Canal, the Manchester Ship Canal, and much of the associated industry, especially Trafford Park. It is part of the www.transportarchive.org.uk  - but can be accessed directly at www.canalarchive.org.uk.

The www.transportarchive.org.uk/  web site also has two other sections, one covering the Great Central Railway in Leicester, and the other aviation history in Gloucester.

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Sheffield Canal

The following appeared in the IWA Headquarters News Bulletin:

On 6th June IWA held a celebration at Victoria Quays in Sheffield to mark the Golden Jubilee of the formation of the Association's former North East Midlands (Sheffield) Branch. The branch, when formed, covered the waterways of South Yorkshire, north Nottinghamshire and the whole of Lincolnshire. It was in the process of splitting into two areas covering Sheffield and Lincolnshire in 1974 when this was overtaken by a national reorganisation, which led to the formation of the Association's present Lincolnshire and South Yorkshire & Dukeries branches.

Nearly fifty committee and ex-committee members and their partners attended a buffet lunch on the passenger boat A39 at Victoria Quays. Members of all the committees since the mid 1960s were present, as was the Association's national chairman, John Fletcher, and his wife Margaret. Frances Lavender, daughter of the branch's original chairman, Cyril Styring, herself a member of the 1954 committee, was also present.

When the branch was formed in 1954, Sheffield Basin, as Victoria Quays was then called, was a thriving commercial area with approaching one million tons of goods brought annually to Sheffield, by Sheffield keels - each carrying about 90 tons. Since restoration by the Sheffield Development Corporation several years ago, Victoria Quays has become more like a Parisian café area than the timber yard it used to be.

John Fletcher thanked all the past committee members for their work over fifty years and said that they should be very pleased with the results - Sheffield Basin is now a thriving public open space, the Sheffield & South Yorkshire Navigation has been improved to carry 400-ton boats to Rotherham from Hull and Goole. The Chesterfield Canal, which was nearly abandoned in the early 1960s, was restored from Worksop to Kiveton Park and plans are now afoot for total restoration to Chesterfield with a possible link down the river Rother to Rotherham, and many other restoration schemes in the area were progressing well.

IWA's former North East Midlands Branch split in 1974 to become the South Yorkshire & Dukeries and Lincolnshire branches. They joined with Nottingham, Leicestershire & Derbyshire Branch from IWA's old West Midlands Branch to form the East Midlands Region. Since then the latter has been re-formed into the Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire & Derbyshire branches.

IWPS Chairman’s Comment

Whilst it would be churlish not to acknowledge the splendid work done by the IWA for the survival of Sheffield Basin it should not be forgotten that the IWA did not do it alone. Our own Founder, Bessie Bunker, with many early members of the IWPS, campaigned tirelessly for not only the retention and development of the S&SYN and Sheffield Basin but for modernisation for freight traffic on the final length in to the city. Sheffield was at that time already experiencing severe traffic congestion and she was one of the first to champion the cause of heavy bulk traffic off the roads on to the canals. Shortly after I first met this indomitable lady she had me doing the same campaigning for the Liverpool end of the L&L Canal. With her close friend Vic Waddington Bessie championed the Sheffield cause repeatedly and to very good effect. She was not to live long enough to see even the first work on the restoration but the masses of correspondence in the IWPS Archive will long testify to her ceaseless energy in fighting whoever failed to understand her reasoning.

The result achieved at Victoria Quays (why must historic names be changed – The Three Graces at Liverpool is another invented example) is pleasing but on a recent visit (the first I must admit for many years) I did not find a ‘thriving open space’ as described by John Fletcher. We visited on a pleasant spring afternoon. One bar was open and we were able to enjoy our coffee outside. The enterprise had one other couple as customers but hardly enough to even warrant opening although full marks to them for commitment and trying. Vacant properties dominate and one cannot help but notice that the Basin is outside the main area of the city. Maybe it is different in the evening but one wonders if Bessie’s freight aspirations or even a mixed use development of freight and leisure would have been better.

A number of our now non-active members worked with Bessie and were press ganged in the nicest possible way in to helping ram home the message. Would any of them like to comment on Sheffield Basin (sorry Victoria Quays) now and perhaps give an alternative view to my own?

Ian Edgar MBE

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Marple Locks Bi-centenary

Samuel Oldknow (aka Trevor Jones) and Barbara Holmes pose by lock 12 of Marple locks during the bicentenary celebrations for their opening held on the 3 July 2004. Just visible in the background is Posset Bridge, so named after Samuel gave the workmen posset to drink in order to get the locks finished on time.

Samuel must have been proud to see that these locks, one of the most beautiful flights in the country, were still being used 200 years later.

 

Maria, the sole surviving working boat from the Peak Forest Canal, moored opposite Black Wharf, between locks 12 and 13 at Marple.
She is seen here resplendent in the livery of the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway Company after recently being refitted as a working boat. Grateful thanks are extended to David Kitching and Peter Whitehead for their work in discovering what the original livery actually looked like.
She was celebrating her 150th birthday as James ‘Jimmy’ Jinks Senior built her at his Top Lock boatyard in July 1854. She was named after the daughter of James and his wife, Alice Robinson, who was born at Well Cottage, Marple, on the 7th May 1839. During her working life, Maria was stationed at the Limestone Crusher House at Bugsworth Basin.

Three young canal enthusiasts discovering what life is like on the working canal boat, Maria. From left to right, Muraad Bashir, Subah Bashir and their cousin Blaze Gardner.

 

As soon as Bugsworth Basin reopens, Maria will return to where she worked 150 years ago. 20 tons of limestone aggregate now awaits her arrival. This will be loaded in the old way with shovels and hard graft and will probably be used for towpath maintenance on the Peak Forest or Macclesfield canals. Hopefully more news in the next 174 or watch the IWPS website for details.

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