The Inland Waterways Protection Society Ltd 

Campaigning    Restoration    Preservation    Development 

Newsletter "174" March 2012

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Chairman's Report The IWPS New Year's Day Walk
Correspondence with MPs Defra Press Release - funding for the new Canal & River Trust
New Chesterfield Basin in Water Skew Bridges by John Morley
Truss Bridges on the Lower Peak Forest Canal by Peter J Whitehead Wrought-iron lattice bridges on the Western Canal by Peter J Whitehead
Snowdrops in February by Linda Goulden Peter Stevenson - a tribute by Martin Whalley
North American Signal Crayfish by Peter J Whitehead News from the IWA
Unlucky Bridge 13 on the Macclesfield Canal Poster - Extract from the Bye Laws



Fenders, ropes, boat cruises, day boat hire - Phone/Fax 01663 747808 
The IWPS is not responsible for the content of external websites

Need some expert advice? Contact: Paul Johnson
Mobile: 07767 747868


Youth and Experience!

Here we see our long-serving volunteer, Peter Holden, veteran from the ‘Bunker’ days, and our youngest new recruit, Matt Allison, now into the second level of his Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, in the runabout kindly loaned by Mark Hatch.


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Chairman's Report

By Ian Edgar MBE  Chairman & Hon Site Manager Bugsworth Canal basin


In the last issue of ‘174’ our Editor included my letter to the two local MPs in whose constituencies lie the Upper & Lower Peak Forest Canals – Andrew Stunnell MP for Marple and Andrew Bingham MP for High Peak which includes Bugsworth Basin. I have received replies from both with copies of letters they had received from Richard Benyon MP, Minister for Natural Environment and Fisheries one of which our Editor has included on Page 5 of this issue of ‘174’. Clearly my letters have been just two of many, probably thousands, sent by those who cherish our waterways expressing concern for the underfunding of the new Canal & River Trust and urging the Government to do more to get the CRT off with a good chance of succeeding right from the start. On Page 6 our Editor has included the DEFRA Press Release which shows a considerably better contribution by Government with that aim. As Richard Benyon states in his letter ‘The Government will give the new charity the best start it can afford’. Although it would have been nice to have more those who sit at the negotiating table, knowing all the facts and not just some of them, have to do just that – negotiate. To my mind (and again this is my own personal opinion based on my experience of dealing with British Waterways at a senior level) the Trust have probably got the best deal which was available and certainly MUCH BETTER than was at first on offer.

Now this issue will have detractors and supporters and it will always be so right in to the distant future. We could talk about this ad infinitum. I have no intention of going in to this here in detail. That would require the whole of ‘174’. Our members must make up their own minds. Although there are some minor issues still to be ironed out I believe we have to draw the line now and get on with it. We have GOT to make this work. All of us have to change to fit the situation and that includes volunteers, British Waterways, voluntary sector management etc. etc. I see these changes already taking place at middle management level. I see more willingness for open discussion by BW to agree to what we, the volunteers want and need. This is particularly so with the new HLF bid for funding (see later section).

Just one opinion I have heard is that with the new CRT all volunteers restoring canals now should pack up, go home and find something else to do. In other words abandon everything. The degree of this extreme pessimism is only matched by my own optimism that we WILL succeed. This could be seen to be a misplaced optimism but I think not. There are probably 100 volunteer canal restoration projects being undertaken throughout the UK, many of them not even on BW property or with BW involvement. I think the restoration movement, with all their skills and resolve, will hold their ground, make the best of what could be an age of opportunity despite the woes of recession, financial constraints etc. and get on with it. Long may it continue.

I think at this time thanks must go to The Inland Waterways Association for spearheading the negotiations with Government with energy, insight, clear strategy and resolve to achieve the best possible on behalf of all the Societies (like the IWPS) who are just one of over 100 associated members of the IWA. For each to campaign alone would fail, to work in unity we have, to my mind, succeeded.

To conclude the DEFRA Press Releases says the Government has committed £800 million over the next 15 years which we hope will be well spent. It is up to the CRT Trustees to see this is so on behalf of all of us. We voluntary societies as stakeholders will have a voice on the Trust and hopefully influence spending and eliminate waste. It is hoped that Trust Members, who have experience of private sector industry and commerce, will keep track of spending and implement private sector methods, through the Trust staff, to avoid waste and obtain best value for money.

If I live to see the benefits of all this investment I will be 88 – that’s really scary! We will need a new Chairman by then.


Don Baines, Paul Syms and myself (for the IWPS) with Nick Smith (British Waterways) had a meeting with the Heritage Lottery Fund in Nottingham on 8th December 2011. Having submitted a Pre-Application Outline of what we wanted to do this meeting was to determine what the HLF would consider funding as complying with HLF priorities. We would need to provide sufficient evidence of need, value for money etc. etc. We were well received and secured some interesting information on the items we were seeking funding:

HLF will NOT fund the new Blackbrook House Heritage and Visitor Centre but they WILL fund the fitting out, displays, interpretation etc. They will not fund the replica tramway wagons. These replica wagons are very much on the ‘back burner’ for the time being due to more pressing ventures below.

Projects which will fit HLF’s priorities:

  • Fitting out of the building for the heritage centre, including displays, interactives and conservation of artefacts and archives

  • Fitting out of an education room and associated extra facilitiesto enable school parties to visit

  • Rebuilding wash walls in the Middle Basin

  • Rebuilding of Upper Basin Walls

  • Programme of learning and participation activities including water interpretation of the industrial landscape.

Funding for all the above to be provided professionally would attract Grant somewhere in the region of £300 - £500k.

We four are now working with our old friends PLB Consulting on an Activity Plan which is an essential part of any HLF next stage bid. British Waterways are funding this Plan. This in itself takes a lot of time and effort but we believe that we can put a good case to HLF that they should fund the five bullet points above.

We are still left with the task of funding for the new Blackbrook House and we still have the problem of ground conditions and location of the new building to solve. We are taking further advice on this from structural engineers as to the design and additional cost of a remedy. However, with an indication from HLF (without commitment until we finalise our submission) to fund the projects as the bullet points above we can assure another funder that if they back us we are funded to actually putting professional interpretation in our facility.


Due to lack of space in this bumper issue of ’174’ this is a quick update on the projects detailed in the last issue:

  • The cradle for the base of the Toddbrook Valve is now made and fitted. We are waiting for better weather to blast clean and then erection. In the meantime we will prepare the concrete plinth on which the valve will fit. The interpretation plaque will come later.

  • Tree clearing on the Approach Channel and some in the Entrance Basin is almost complete. We still have some cutting back to do on the towpath side and on the track to Canal House.

  • The paving to replace that stolen has now been completed by a contractor after the prep. work undertaken by our volunteers. The contractor work has kindly been funded by British Waterways.

  • Repainting of the present Blackbrook House has been started but now delayed due to the wet and cold weather.

  • Following requests and comments from the general public we have reluctantly as a trial opened up the toilet in Blackbrook House for visitor use without a BW key. The temporary notice on the door (taken down after work each day) says the toilet is available but please leave a donation. I am pleased to say this facility is appreciated by visitors, there has been no mis-use and donations have been left. The only snag now is that with walking parties not one but several wish to use the toilet so there is a queue! Solve one problem and make another!

Hopefully there will be more to report next issue of ‘174’.

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Our Guide this year, as almost every year since I can remember, was David Kitching who is an acknowledged expert on the mining, railways and virtually everything else historic around Poynton and the whole length of the 26 mile Macclesfield Canal. David told us that we were going to search for ‘The Lost Canal of Clayton & Brooke’ which was news to me. I have known the Macclesfield, High Lane and Marple area for many years but never heard of this ‘lost’ canal. Being intrigued I waited until the day to be regaled by David with a mass of knowledge on this long lost section in a wood off the A6 at High Lane. What a revelation!

We started at the Nelson Pit Visitor Centre Higher Poynton. David told us a little of what to expect and then we set off at a leisurely pace (well it was a very pleasant New Years Day) along the Macclesfield Canal past an interesting WWII pill box with a new use and a Canal Bridge which had subsided by about 6 feet due to coal mining. Malcolm Bower, Secretary of the Macclesfield Canal Society told us how the stringer course on the bridge was now at waist height and when constructed c 1835 it would have been higher than eye level. We were lucky to have two experts to fill us in on a lot of detail.

With his usual generosity Paul Niblett distributed wrapped sweets and we eventually arrived at High Lane Wharf which is a branch and basin off the Macclesfield Canal and now the home of North Cheshire Cruising Club. Entering the arm via the adjoining path we eventually came to where the old Clayton & Brooke Branch took off to the north. David gave us a good guide as to where the branch canal was which we would not have found ourselves. It was closed in 1892 and filled in (probably with colliery waste). It is now covered by undergrowth and trees. We also learned of the railway history of the area which is far more evident. Middlewood Pit not only had a connection to the Macclesfield Canal and later to the North Staffordshire Railway to Macclesfield but also to the Midland Railway Buxton – Stockport Line. All these connections were via an extensive tramway network.

For those walking the Macclesfield Canal it is well worth a diversion to see this area. We walked back to our cars via the Middlewood Way which made a very pleasant outing in fine weather although I must admit the Canal is much more interesting than the almost parallel dismantled railway route. I can recommend it as a walk rich in industrial history. Unlike me though, have a look at the Macclesfield Canal Society web site first!

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Correspondence with MPs

In the last issue of 174 we published our chairman’s letter to local MPs Andrew Stunell and Andrew Bingham regarding funding and other concerns we hold in respect to the new Canal & River Trust. In reply, we have received the following letter via Andrew Stunell and Caroline Spellman at Defra from the minister concerned Richard Benyon MP:

From Richard Benyon MP
Minister for Natural Environment and Fisheries

Dear Caroline

Thank you for your letter of 23 November to the Secretary of State on behalf of a number of your constituents about the transfer of British Waterways into the charitable sector. I am replying as the Minister responsible for this policy area.

I can assure you that the Government remains committed to a sustainable and prosperous future for our inland waterways. This was demonstrated by our announcement in October1 2010 that, subject to parliamentary approval, we would transfer the functions and assets of British Waterways in England and Wales from the state into civil society. The transfer to the new Canal & River Trust (CRT) is expected to take place in April 2012.

This transfer will not only give users and communities more responsibility for governance of the waterways, it will also open up new income streams and public support via donations and volunteering at a time when there is considerable pressure on other sources of income. Potential sources of new revenue include donations, charitable grants, legacies and fundraising activities; in addition, the charity will be able to borrow against its property assets, and develop further its commercial activities. Charitable status will also increase volunteering, enhance local partnership working and generate a range of cost efficiencies.

The Government will give the new charity the best start it can afford. Government has already agreed to transfer a property portfolio (valued at about £460million) and to give the CRT a long term funding agreement. The Government has provided a commitment to £39m per annum from 2012/13 to April 2022. The terms and conditions of the funding agreement are currently subject to negotiation between the Trustees of the charity and the Government. A long-term agreement will enable the Trustees to develop a long-term business plan. You will appreciate that, until those negotiations are concluded, I am unable to indicate the final terms of Government funding for the charity. We will make further announcements in due course.


Comment: It is to be hoped that the negotiations will address the obvious inadequacy of the funding level and the fact that there appears to be no provision for inflationary increases and what happens after 2022! We await the outcome of the negotiations and subsequent announcements with some apprehension.

Thanks to Andrew Stunell MP for his efforts on our behalf and for forwarding the Minister’s reply.

See page 26 for more on the matter of CRT

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DEFRA Press Release - Funding for the Canal and River Trust

A new charity to look after England and Wales’ network of 200-year old canals and rivers will be given over £1 billion of Government help to give it the best possible start, Environment Minister Richard Benyon, announced today.

This unprecedented funding for a new charity paves the way for the launch of the new Canal & River Trust later this year – a new “national trust for the waterways” that will harness the support of thousands of supporters and volunteers to help look after the canals and rivers in England and Wales for the benefit of future generations.

This is a good deal for the taxpayer, the waterways and for the millions of people that enjoy them. Releasing the nation’s waterways from Government control gives more certainty than ever to their financial future. The Canal & River Trust’s charitable status will mean new opportunities for revenue through donations, charitable grants and legacies, increased borrowing powers, efficiencies and volunteering activity.

Environment Minister Richard Benyon said:

“The Canal & River Trust will be a national trust for the waterways, maintaining and restoring 2,000 miles of heritage sites, wildlife habitats and open spaces so that we can all enjoy them for generations to come.

“Bringing our waterways into the Big Society puts decision-making into the hands of the thousands of people who cherish the waterways near their homes. Our £1 billion investment will get this new charity off to the strongest start possible, and let local communities and volunteers shape the future of our world-famous waterways.”

Tony Hales, the chairman of the Trustees of the Canal & River Trust said:

”We congratulate the minister on this settlement which creates a bedrock on which to build the future prosperity of our precious waterways. In the 20th century the network was saved from destruction by committed waterway campaigners, volunteers and staff. In the last decade alone British Waterways has made an enormous contribution to securing the network’s future. In the 21st century they will be held in trust for the nation as a national treasure and a haven for people and wildlife.

“With greater certainty of funding than ever before, we now have the opportunity to attract new investment and new supporters and give a greater role to the millions of people who live alongside and on the waterways.”

In order to help the Canal & River Trust get off to the best possible start, Defra has committed a property endowment worth £460 million and funding of £800 million over the next 15 years to help put the nation’s historic network on a firm footing for the future. In addition the new Trust will give local communities and stakeholders a greater role in caring for their waterways.

The funding deal has the following components:

  • Core grant of £39m per year (index linked to inflation from 2015/16 onwards)

  • From 2015/16, an additional grant of 10m per year (reduced gradually over the last five years of the grant agreement, tied to three performance measures): - satisfactory condition of principal assets - satisfactory condition of towpaths - satisfactory flood risk management measures

  • A £25m one-off grant to be spread across the next few months, and a capped ‘last resort’ Government guarantee in relation to the historic public sector pension liability;

  • The government has already announced that the £460m commercial property endowment used by British Waterways to fund the infrastructure network will be transferred to the CRT for the same purposes.

Subject to satisfactory conclusion of outstanding issues, the Government plans to lay the Transfer Order in Parliament in February. Subject to Parliament’s approval, we hope to see the new charity launched in June.

The inland waterways managed by the Environment Agency will transfer to the new waterways charity from 2015/16, subject to the next spending review and the agreement of the charity’s trustees.

The Scottish Government have decided not to change the status of British Waterways in Scotland and the Scottish canals will therefore remain in public ownership.

A record 13 million people now visit British Waterways’ canals and rivers – and that is only half of the waterways network.

Over half of the population lives within about 10 minutes of a waterway.

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New Chesterfield Canal Basin in Water

Staveley Town Basin is full after being watered for three weeks over the Christmas period using a 6” pipe through a temporary dam. On Thursday 5th January, the dam was dug out allowing the last few inches of water to gush through.

The basin has been years in the planning, but construction started last March. The new basin has been linked back to Mill Green thanks to a washwall nearly 600 metres long that was constructed by the Chesterfield Canal Trust’s volunteer Work Party. The final coping stone was laid on 2nd January this year.

The excavation and insertion of the clay lining was carried out by Killingley’s, the contractors. All of the works have been carried out under the direction of engineers from Derbyshire County Council who supplied some of the funding. However, the bulk of the funds came from a grant from the East Midlands Development Agency. Thanks must also go to Staveley Town Council and WRG.

The next job for the volunteer work party is to build a new lock on the basin site. The foundations have already been laid thanks to grants from Lafarge and IWA. The Chesterfield Canal Trust is running a donate-a-brick scheme as part of the Staveley Town Lock campaign that has already raised £15,000.

The site includes a large events area where the Chesterfield Canal Festival will be held on 30th June and 1st July this summer. This promises to be a terrific event with three tripboats, an entertainment marquee, lots of stalls, rides and food and drink, plus the chance to go on a boat trip, vintage bus ride and steam train ride at Barrow Hill Roundhouse.

For further information about the Festival or donating bricks for the lock or anything to do with the Chesterfield Canal, please call 01246 477569 or email .

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Skew Bridges

by John Morley

This article, sent to me by John Morley who came across Dave Goodwin’s article on the subject whilst researching on the internet makes very interesting reading. - Ed.

I stumbled across your publication quite by accident while Googling for information on skew bridges as part of my on-going task of editing Wikipedia. My name is John Morley and the handle under which I edit is "MegaPedant" (don't laugh! It refers to the very strict self-imposed principle of supplying references and citations for any fact I contribute). I'm the major contributor to a number of Wikipedia articles that relate to the subject, such as: "Skew arch" (, "Peter Nicholson"   and "Hereford Road Skew Bridge" , which may be of interest to your readers.

There is a lot of interesting information in your magazine that has given me a few pointers towards further research for the main Wikipedia article (in particular, the Construction section needs a lot more work) but I'd like to comment on a few points. Firstly, Benjamin Outram did indeed build a skew bridge. After constructing a number of small accommodation bridges on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal in the form of "false" skew arches (an intrinsically weak method, in which the courses are laid parallel with the abutments) he designed the Store Street aqueduct for the Ashton Canal and completed it in 1798. With a skew angle of 45 degrees, it was built with helical stone courses and it still stands and is in use, though the masonry of the arch barrel is no longer visible. Decades of neglect and water leakage through the joints have resulted in the intrados being hidden behind an ugly concrete render. Too late for its 200th anniversary, it would be a worthwhile project to see it restored in time for its 220th anniversary.

Outram's business partner, William Jessop worked as engineer on the Grand Canal of Ireland, of which the Kildare Canal formed a part. It's conjectured that Outram probably got his inspiration for Store Street from conversations with Jessop about the work of William Chapman, who built a skew bridge at Naas on the Kildare Canal as early as 1787, based on the novel principle of laying the courses of stone in such an arrangement that they lay perpendicular to the faces of the bridge. The traditional alternative, laying the courses parallel to the abutments, creates a "false" skew arch, which was known to be a very weak and unsatisfactory and was therefore generally avoided. Chapman's Finlay Bridge at Naas, County Kildare is the earliest helicoidal skew bridge I've been able to identify. I don't know if it still stands or whether photographs or lithographs exist but surely someone out there must know something about it.

These two photos show an example of a false skew arch, taken in October 2011. One is a view of the arch and the other is a view from inside the arch, looking towards the point where I stood to take the other photo. A new bridge across the river Exe was started in 1770 to replace the old mediaeval crossing (the recently discovered approach spans of which are visible from underneath the arch, looking out) and New Bridge Street was built to connect the new bridge directly to historic Fore Street in the centre of Exeter. The construction was completed in 1778 but it was fraught with difficulty. In 1775 the partly built Exe bridge was washed away in a flood and the long sloping viaduct that was to become New Bridge Street had several obstacles to span. Amongst these obstacles were the Upper and Lower Leats - canals, though not navigable ones, that were used to channel water from a weir a short distance upstream on the river to power mills in the industrial area known as Exe Island, which New Bridge Street was to cut in two. The arch in the photograph was turned over the Lower Leat in c. 1776 and has an angle of skew of rather more than 25 degrees. It's a "false" skew arch and the courses of brick can clearly be seen running parallel with the abutments. It's inherently weak but seems to be coping with the modern local traffic. The Lower Leat has since been filled in and the bridge is now used by pedestrians. The Upper Leat, located 100m or so to the right of this location still contains water. The river is about 20m to the left. The Georgian bridge was demolished at the beginning of the 20th Century and replaced with a wider bridge and that in turn was replaced by a pair of concrete bridges that now form part of a large traffic roundabout.

I consider Chapman to be the true pioneer, the one who thought laterally and had a "eureka moment". In a regular "square" arch, where the faces are perpendicular to the abutments, if you lay the courses of the arch barrel parallel with the abutments the case of them being perpendicular to the faces is automatically satisfied. With a skew arch, only one of these conditions can be satisfied in any one design. The obvious solution results in a weak false skew arch. It took true genius to visualise the alternative solution. But the decision to lay the stones in courses perpendicular to the bridge faces led to them following a complex helical path, the mathematics of which was beyond Chapman and Outram. They were forced, therefore, to construct their bridges empirically, by drawing lines on the laggings of the arch's centring and employing masons to cut the stones in situ.

Peter Nicholson's contribution was to understand the geometry of a skew arch. He did this by considering the development of the intrados of the arch, effectively unrolling it and laying it out flat. He invented a method for constructing templates, by which stones could be cut more accurately and away from the construction site, if necessary. The timing of Nicholson's first publication on the subject ("A Popular and Practical Treatise on Masonry and Stone-cutting", 1828 - a scanned version is available on-line at Google Books, though the all-important diagrams are often missing) is interesting as canals were still being built at the time but the railway age was looming.

Technically speaking, Nicholson's approach was an over-simplification, as pointed out by Charles Fox in 1836. Nicholson considered only the inside surface, the intrados of the arch barrel. Fox developed the outside surface (the extrados) as well, and then went on to determine the dimensions of a theoretical, intermediate surface, allowing him to calculate the position of the centre of each stone, not just the position of its inner surface. In comparison, Nicholson's calculations had assumed the barrel to be paper thin. By taking his method one stage further, Fox was able to calculate an arbitrary number of intermediate surfaces within the arch barrel, allowing it to be constructed from mass-produced bricks, and therefore much more cheaply.

It was George Buck who put the finishing touches to the art of skew arch building in 1839 by being the first to apply trigonometry to the problem. He also paid attention to small details like the vulnerability to damage of the acutely angled quoins in arches of great obliquity and he devised a method of chamfering them that both protected them and looked aesthetically pleasing. He also advocated cutting the quoin stones to give a stepped extrados, so as to provide a horizontal bed upon which to build the spandrel walls, which have a tendency to slide off a curved extrados.

These are the four names who made significant advances in the field of the helicoidal (commonly, though less accurately referred to as "spiral") skew arch. It's probably fair to include George Stephenson as well. As far as can be determined, he designed Rainhill skew bridge from scratch, using first a turnip and a pen knife to fashion a simple model, then a full scale model in wood in an adjacent field, which was cut up into pieces and each piece copied in stone.

These two photos reproduced by kind permission of Peter Robinson from the Towpath Treks website ( ) show the logarithmic bridge over the Leeds & Liverpool Canal. The railway line over it is going to be electrified over the next few years so its appearance is going to change, though being a Grade II structure it should receive sympathetic treatment.

You'll find that names such as Parry and Ballard are absent from the Wikipedia article because they simply continued the art, as opposed to advancing it. In his biography of Outram (2000), Reg Schofield claims that it is Brindley who shied away from all attempts at building a skew bridge.

It is Buck's publication that became the standard textbook on the subject for railway engineers until the end of the nineteenth century. I find it so sad that the skill is now almost completely lost. Skew bridges are as much in demand today as ever, of course, as any new road or railway has to be shoe-horned in amongst existing thoroughfares, but a modern skew bridge generally consist of poured concrete abutments and a pre-fabricated steel or concrete deck. Although the UK has many hundreds of surviving brick and stone skew bridges, many have been destroyed and many railway overbridges have been changed out of all recognition by electrification projects. To allow for the extra headroom needed by the overhead equipment many arch bridges have been partly demolished and the brick or stone barrel replaced with pre-fabricated concrete lintels (custom made to the appropriate skew), then the parapet walls and roadway rebuilt on top. Brick skew bridges were still being built in the 1930s, evidence of which can be seen on the London Underground's Central Line extension to West Ruislip. Though it wasn't opened until 1948, the works were substantially completed before the war. Skew brickwork can be seen at Hanger Lane and Northolt stations. It would appear that few, if any, brick arch bridges have been constructed since the war.

Finally, if you want a real treat, visit bridge 74A on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal near Chorley. It wasn't built by the canal company but by Alexander James Adie, Jr. for the Bolton and Preston Railway in 1838. It's a rare example of the logarithmic method of building skew arches. Theoretically it's as perfect a design as is possible for a skew arch, in which the residual shear forces are completely cancelled out, just as is the case with a regular "square" arch. Useful though they are, helicoidal skew arches are at best a good approximation, the problem being that the further away you move from the crown (where the courses are perpendicular to the faces), the worse they approximate that perpendicularity. The situation is worst at the springing line where, in an arch of significant skew, the courses meet the faces at anything but a right angle, giving a jagged dog-tooth pattern if the bricks are left uncut. This deviation from the ideal causes shear stresses within the brickwork that is only resisted by friction and the adhesion of the mortar. The logarithmic method solves this mathematical problem perfectly but at a high price. The courses within the arch barrel are no longer parallel and every stone needs an individual template. This precludes the use of brick and increases the cost and complexity so Buck advocated a simpler solution, namely to stick with the helicoidal method but only to build the area of the arch that's close to the crown. In other words, instead of building a semi-circular skew arch, build a larger radius, and hence flatter, segmental arch.

There are other variations on the skew arch, such as the ribbed or stepped method of construction, where multiple narrow regular arches approximate the vault of a true skew arch, and one based on the principle of the hyperbolic paraboloid (a mathematical term for a particular surface, which many people will recognise as the shape of the Pringles potato snack) that requires the use of tapered bricks. Anyone who is interested is invited to visit the Wikipedia article and follow up any of the cited texts. Anyone is free to edit any of Wikipedia's pages, provided they follow the guidelines, remain neutral and back up any assertions with references. I'm especially interested to learn more about Finlay Bridge in Naas as it is important historically, or about arches of extreme obliquity.

John Morley. Contact John at

December 2011

Bridge 60 - Upper Peak Forest Canal - Bugsworth Basin - carries the road to Canal House over the Middle Basin Arm.  Photo Don Baines. August 9, 2005


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Truss Bridges on the Lower Peak Forest Canal

By Peter J Whitehead

A truss bridge is constructed of components, which may be stressed in compression, tension or both in response to dynamic loads. Bridges of this type were developed in the 19th and early 20th centuries and they were extensively used on railways.

There were two truss bridges on the Lower Peak Forest Canal, only one of which is now extant.

Raglan Street Footbridge, Hyde, 25 February 1979.

This view is looking towards Hyde with Raglan Street off the picture to the left. It connected Raglan Street and Croft Street.

Technically, this bridge is known as a Through Pratt Truss.


Private Footbridge, Hyde, 25 February 1979.

This view is looking towards Hyde, the bridge being situated a short distance beyond Raglan Street Footbridge. It is no longer extant. It was provided for the private use of Joseph Adamson & Co Ltd, Engineers and Boiler Makers, whose works is off the picture to the right. Technically, it is a Bailey bridge, which is a prefabricated truss bridge developed in Britain during the Second World War for military use. In the background, Hyde Gas Works and Barnfield Mill can be seen but neither of these features is now extant.

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Wrought-iron Lattice Bridges on the Western Canal

By Peter J Whitehead

As Britain’s railways expanded during the 19th century, lattice bridges became a features of the network. Subsequently, railway companies began taking over the older canal companies and soon lattice bridges were being constructed on canals as well.

The Ashton, Peak Forest and Macclesfield Canals were acquired by the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway Company on the 1 January 1847 to become collectively known as the Western Canal. An undertaking of the new owner was to replace several original wooden footbridges with lattice footbridges. The dates of when this work was done are unknown. Six of these bridges have been identified but this does not preclude the former existence of others, especially on the Macclesfield Canal.

  1. Jeremy Brook Footbridge on the Ashton Canal at the bottom of Pottinger Street, Ashton-under-Lyne. This is an arched lattice bridge in contrast to the others whose decks were constructed with very shallow bows. This bridge is still extant.

  2. Pinch Farm (or Occupation) Footbridge on the Hollinwood Branch of the Ashton Canal above Waterhouses Locks, Daisy Nook Country Park. This bridge is still extant but is at severe risk.

  3. Stanley Footbridge on the Lower Peak Forest Canal, off Astley Street and Charles Street, Dukinfield. This bridge has been demolished.

  4. Apethorn Footbridge on the Lower Peak Forest Canal at the bottom of Apethorn Lane, Hyde. This bridge has been demolished and replaced.

  5. Whaley Bridge Junction Footbridge on the Upper Peak Forest Canal at Bridgemont. This bridge has been demolished and replaced.

  6. Hagg Farm Footbridge, with accompanying swivel bridge, south of Higher Poynton on the approach to Red Acre Aqueduct. This bridge is still extant but the swivel bridge was demolished in the 1970s.

Stanley Footbridge was demolished sometime between 1965 and 1974 and was not replaced. Whaley Bridge Junction Footbridge was demolished in April 1978 and then replaced with a modern one. This was followed a while later by Apethorn Footbridge, which was demolished and replaced by a modern one.

In 2011, vandals visited Pinch Farm Footbridge and removed the wooden decking at one end of the bridge. Return visits were made until the entire decking had been removed and dropped into the canal.

This bridge is owned by Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council and in August council officials examined the bridge and alleged that the wrought-iron structure was in a critical condition. They considered that the beams, cross braces and lattice sides were extensively corroded. Consequently, they recommended that the bridge should either be removed or replaced. However, although the bridge is not a public right of way, there is a legal obligation to provide a connection over the canal between the two parts of the property. It is estimated that remedial work could cost in the region of £25,000 to £40,000.

Three options appear to be available:

  1. Restore the original bridge

  2. Demolish the bridge and replace it with a bridge of similar appearance and design

  3. Demolish the bridge and replace it with a modern one.

While Option 1 is the most desirable it may not be possible if it is too badly corroded and in any event this might be the most expensive option. Whichever option is finally decided upon, costs could be reduced by having the bridge abutments repaired by the Hollinwood Canal Society, possibly with the assistance of the Waterway Recovery Group.


Acknowledgement and thanks are due to Martin Clark, Membership Secretary and Newsletter Editor of the Hollinwood Canal Society, for information about damage to Pinch Farm Footbridge.

Jeremy Brook Footbridge on the Ashton Canal at the bottom of Pottinger Street, Ashton-under-Lyne, 4 February 2006. This view is looking towards Guide Bridge.

Stanley Footbridge, which connects to Astley Street and Charles Street, Dukinfield, 20 June 1965. This view is looking towards Ashton-under-Lyne with Stanley Swivel Bridge in the background.

Acknowledgement: The late Brian Lamb.


Pinch Farm (or Occupation) Footbridge on the Hollinwood Branch of the Ashton Canal above Waterhouses Locks, Daisy Nook Country Park, 31 March 1983.

This view is looking towards Iron Aqueduct over Crime Lane, which is just beyond the bridge.


Pinch Farm (or Occupation) Footbridge looking towards Waterhouses Junction and Waterhouses Top Lock, 20 July 2006.

Note how overgrown the canal has become in the 23-year interval between this photo and the earlier one.


Whaley Bridge Junction Footbridge on the Upper Peak Forest Canal at Bridgemont, 17 September 1977.

Below the footbridge is the main line of the canal leading to Bugsworth Basin.

Seven months later, this bridge was demolished by British Waterways.


Apethorn Footbridge on the Lower Peak Forest Canal at the bottom of Apethorn Lane, Hyde, 25 February 1979.

This view is looking towards Hyde.


Hagg Farm Footbridge on the Macclesfield Canal at Higher Poynton, looking south, 27 December 2011.

A short distance beyond this bridge there was formerly a towpath bridge over the short Red Acre Arm of the canal.


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Snowdrops in February

Winds have tattered prayer-flagged stalks
and chased the mist-shrouds from the cut.

As old sun's candle flickers on,
a blood-red tooths the thinnest thorn.

Green-armed soldiers spring from earth
but peace, snow-helmeted, prevails.

Linda Goulden

Photo from

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Peter Stevenson: a tribute.

by Martin Whalley

In late December, Ian Edgar asked me to write a few words about Peter, who passed away May 2011: “You and I remember him, old son, but a lot of the present membership won’t have heard his name.”

Going back to mid-summer 1969, however, matters were very different. Progress at Bugsworth Basin had slowed to something of a snail’s pace, despite a promising start at Bingswood pinch during the previous September. Would the society ever progress beyond the First Hundred Yards, so-called in the then terminology of the British Waterways Board? Their instructions could be summarised thus: clear and excavate a hundred yards of channel, test that hydraulically, after building a terminal dam, but only continue to a following length if the previous length holds water. This was backbreaking physical work of a kind never envisioned by many a volunteer, who had signed up so enthusiastically after the first sod was cut. Leaks sprang in the canal bed with depressing regularity. The weather sometimes turned nasty. Put another way, most of the original workforce had since found “better things to do.”

Against this backdrop, John Greenway and I arrived one Saturday morning as usual, at the site-hut caravan that was parked in a small field beside the First Hundred Yards. John it was some weeks before who persuaded me to come and see Bugsworth Basin, so beginning a habit that has since lasted almost 43 years! Another side of his activities was the sheer volume of entertaining but hard-hitting articles he wrote for the waterway’s press: superb campaigning material. He might have ruffled a few feathers, but what an inspiration it proved, and not just for me.

Bessie Bunker, feisty co-founder of the society and the original Hon. Secretary, leaned out of the caravan doorway, “Ah, good to see you. Mr. Bunker [her devoted husband, Hon. Site Manager and known to us all as PJB] is down at Mr. Wilde’s cellar [the cellar of Canal House beside the Entrance Basin] and will need you to help with bringing the sheer legs up here.” It went without saying that the Bunkers reacted strongly against the use of mechanical plant.

Beside Bessie stood a tall gentleman, mid-30s perhaps, quietly smiling and dressed in the light-blue boiler suit that became very much his “uniform” over the next ten years.

“This is Peter Stevenson,” she announced briefly looking at me, before disappearing back into the caravan, from where the sound of her typewriter quickly resumed.

He and John had already met. As with all new acquaintances, we shared a little about each other’s present employment beyond the canals. John worked for the Manchester Evening News, in the Accounts’ Department as I recollect, but more than a little of the style of the journalists, with whom he mixed socially, had clearly rubbed off. Peter immediately sang the praises of London, having grown up in the district of Holloway, where he presently lived.

“I like to be near the centre of things: all the great buildings, the history and the libraries, especially the reading room of the British Library,” he said.

Right away, we saw that Peter did not relish small talk. He worked as a postman, something he enjoyed, because it gave him time to think; for example enabling him to imagine what life must have been like in London back in Roman times, or especially during the Great Fire. We never knew whether or not he was evacuated to a place of safety, as a child during the wartime blitz. Either way, he must have lived amongst the ruins and general devastation, seen in many parts of the city during the immediate post-war years.

Mauling those heavy sheer legs, on what had been a GPO [General Post Office] hand-operated mail truck, with large wooden-wheels plus iron tyres, of a kind once used on railway station platforms, we reached the First Hundred Yards. The job was to lift a large towpath edge copingstone to expose a leak, right behind the wall where that stone had been placed.

Peter had caught an early morning train from London and changed at Stockport, before reaching the Basin shortly before 10 am. He did his best to make this journey as often “as my wallet allows.” As with the Bunkers, he evangelised on the subject of waterway modernisation, writing to Members of Parliament, nobility and many others in positions of power.

“I wouldn’t put it past you to write to the Queen,” joked John, whereupon Peter smiled an inscrutable smile!

In parallel with the typewriter of Bessie, his letters in longhand demanded an upgrading of UK waterways to a standard at least as high as that common in Europe; or even better to equal the dimensions of some in North America. Every large city in England ought to be connected to a major waterway, he insisted, possibly via a national canal, following the 100-foot contour. What he liked about the IWPS was how it strived at the same time to conserve historic canals, such as the Peak Forest and with it, of course, Bugsworth Basin.

Soon after this our first meeting, changes to railway timetables meant that a low-cost weekend return ticket was no longer available on a Saturday. His only option then was to finish a Friday afternoon shift for the GPO and immediately begin the journey to Bugsworth.

Meanwhile on a Saturday morning, John and I boarded our train in Manchester for Whaley Bridge, the train we knew as the breakfast special. The arrival of Bessie and non-driver PJB had of course to be more dramatic. She would grip the wheel of a dark green Hillman Hunter saloon and sweep into the Caravan Field, spraying mud in winter, raising dust in summer. Sometimes, in response to the sound, a sack-like form beneath the caravan would jerk and twitch, before a bald head emerged from its sleeping bag surrounded by a rime of frost.

“Peter Stevenson, have you been sleeping here again?” Bessie would ask, door key in hand.

This was the IWPS caravan, photographed in February 1970 with the Bunker’s car in the background.

Over a period leading up to 1973, more people of a younger age than the Bunkers joined in to help with the project. Examples were the Edgar brothers (Ian and Allan), Peter Holden, Ken Mullins, Greg Bartlam, Dave Moxon, Fred Wardle, Dave Turner and Gary Whitfield. Peter continued with his regular support, working on site as often as possible, and also once attending an Annual Dinner in Chesterfield: “Because it gave me a chance to hear Bessie in full flow with one of her fighting speeches.” Meanwhile he produced a series of learned articles for the Onward magazine, then the major organ of publicity for the IWPS. Again these dealt mainly with the subject of waterway development and the need for a national transport policy.

Peter faces the camera from beside a dam, then under construction between the 3rd and 4th Hundred Yards of the Entrance Canal. The dam was designed according to the coffer principle, with a clay seal packed between two rows of steel piling. Peter’s task involved throwing lumps of clay between the rows to the packers. Peter Holden wears the soft trilby-style hat. Next in line Allan and Ian Edgar clutch the long handles of clay-punning tools; followed by Martin, son of Peter Holden, extreme right.
Photo: November 1, 1970

Along comes another barrow-load of clay, ready for Peter’s attention on the same day.

February 1972 finds Peter white-helmeted and shovelling hard in the foreground with Dave Turner, Denny Lomas and Fred Wardle (yellow jacket) further away. The gauging lock is visible in the right background for this is the Entrance Basin and thus the last part of the channel of Bugsworth Basin to be totally cleared by hand under the Bunker regime.

Unfortunately, as we later learned, Peter lost his job as a postman during the 1970s, a time of major re-organisation within the GPO, coincident with strikes by the workforce and the operation of a trades’ union closed shop. Many times, Peter told us that he would never go on strike.

Whatever his personal circumstances, which he chose not to mention, occasional correspondence continued between him and some of his old friends in the IWPS. Sometimes, my wife would pick up a letter from the mat and say, “It looks like it’s from Peter.” Such was the handwriting, recognisable from several yards.

Invariably, the subject was waterway’s policy, the hint being that the IWPS ought to resume the mantle of Bessie and thus her campaigning zeal. Alas we had in the years since her death become de facto the Bugsworth Basin Society. There were insufficient hours in a day for the leadership of the society to rush about the country, as well as conducting a complex restoration project, as our redoubtable founder had previously done. This disappointed Peter somewhat but Ian and I did manage to persuade him to attend the IWPS work camp week of August 1979. A week’s stay meant, in Peter’s own words that he “could enjoy meeting his old friends again, be fed and watered at economical rates three times a day, and accommodated at a very reasonable cost in the War Memorial Hall in Kettleshulme.”

Always something of a loner and throughout that week, he worked single-handedly, clearing every copingstone on the southern wharf of the Lower Basin; starting alongside the ruins of the stone-crusher complex, and finishing six days later at the point where, within a few years, a re-constructed Bridge 58 would be seen to rise.

Left: August 1979: Peter begins the job of clearing off those copingstones beside the Lower Basin. The area covered by brambles to his left marks the site of the stone-crusher complex.

Right: Soon afterwards on the same day, Peter stands more or less dead centre in the picture, clad as usual in his light blue boiler suit. The grassed-over line of wharf edge coping stones, he is due to re-expose for the first time in many a year, stretches to a point well beyond the dam near the end of this basin.

Often as I walk along that same wharf, I think of Peter, a truly singular man. He was highly intelligent. Quite likely, because of his age at the time of the Second World War and in its immediate aftermath, he was unable to continue studying at school beyond the age of 14 or 15 years, or of ever going on to university. I can see him now poring over a series of books devoted to the English counties, written by Arthur Mee. Ideal for reading on a train, he said, adding how they were his treasure trove. Many passages within one example he held were underlined. Obviously, he knew them inside out.

On behalf of the IWPS and Peter’s friends within it, I send our deepest sympathies to his family in their loss.

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North American Signal Crayfish (Pasifasticus leniusculus)

By Peter J Whitehead

The red underside of the claws and pale blue-green patch near the claw hinges of adult males were considered to be like the flags that signalmen once used to direct trains in America – hence the name. Typically, a Signal Crayfish is about 15cm long but they can grow up to 30cm long.

This particular crayfish is a highly invasive alien species that poses a huge threat to native species in rivers, canals, lakes and ponds across Britain. It is rapidly annihilating the smaller native White-Clawed Crayfish (Austropotamobius pallipes), which is typically 10 to 12cm long, but this aggressive predator is omnivorous in that it can naturally eat both meat and plants. It will eat practically anything that stands in its way, including small fish, fish eggs, snails, invertebrates and plants. It can live on land as well as in water and it is capable of walking several miles in search of new territory to colonise. Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981, it is illegal to release or allow to escape into the wild any non-native crayfish species.

It is also illegal to injure, sell or advertise to sell the native White-Clawed Crayfish and any person found guilty of any of these offences will be required to pay a fine of £5,000. This species is now listed as ‘endangered’ in the Red List of Threatened Species drawn up by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

A North American Signal Crayfish (Pasifasticus leniusculus), minus its left claw, caught in the Macclesfield Canal at Higher Poynton, 27 December 2011.

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News from the IWA

The All Party Waterways Group Questions the Minister

The All Party Parliamentary Waterways Group had a hearing on 8 December to give the Waterways Minister, Richard Benyon MP, the opportunity to inform the group of progress on the Canal & River Trust coming into being next year and for group members to be able to question him. The hearing, chaired by the Rt Hon Alun Michael MP, was well attended by group members and waterways stakeholders.

The Minister reported that progress had been made on what both Government and the Canal & River Trust Transition Trustees believed was the right model on governance for the Canal & River Trust to begin life. There was now a target for 50% of the Council to be elected over time. On membership, the Trustees had decided that the charity should not have a membership for fund-raising purposes, believing that other means of raising funds and stimulating voluntary giving were more effective for fundraising than a formal membership.

He could not say what government funding was going to be for the Canal & River Trust since negotiations had not yet finished. But he did reveal that the negotiations were complex, including the issues of adequate maintenance of the canal network, mitigation of possible future liabilities arising from environmental or other legislative requirements and the Canal & River Trust’s pension arrangements; and he repeated that the Government was committed to a sustainable and prosperous future for the waterways, wanting to give the Canal & River Trust the best possible start that it could. He expected to be able to make announcements in the New Year.

Waterways classification had become an issue. IWA had raised concerns about the proposed amendments to the system for classifying waterways in the Transport Act 1968 because it was concerned that the Canal & River Trust would seek to reclassify “cruising” waterways to “remainder” waterways. He gave an assurance that any application from the Canal & River Trust to reclassify a waterway would be subject to a full cost benefit analysis and wide consultation with those likely to be affected as required by the Transport Act.  In addition, he was sure that the Trustees would consult the charity’s Council and the relevant Waterways Partnership before embarking on such a significant course of action that would impact on a large number of its users.  These mechanisms would help to ensure a robust and transparent process on a re-classification of any of the charity’s waterways.

In answer to questions from the Rt Hon Alun Michael and other MPs present, Richard Benyon said that he did not want or expect to see closures of any waterways, as that would not be constructive. The Government wanted to ensure that in the medium term there was scope for a reduction in the percentage of assets that were in poor and very poor condition. He added that the Government wanted the existing network to be both maintained and enhanced.

On ownership, Alun Michael, whilst recognising what the Minister had said about fund raising, suggested that in his experience, part ownership of a charity under for example, co-operative arrangements, delivered local ownership and commitment. Richard Benyon commented that he could see that possibility, locally and as a part of natural evolution.

Some Transition Trustees were present, including the chairman, Tony Hales. They were invited to comment. Tony Hales said that that the Canal & River Trust would be reviewing it’s governance in 3 years and that would be the time to reflect on the suggestions made. On finance, he said that commercial activity would be the most significant contributor, outweighing the government contribution by some margin, and that the Trustees were comfortable about the future prospects for this commercial activity. The Trustees were also confident about the forecasts for the contribution for voluntary income and donations, which were expected to reach £6-8m after 10 years. There were also contributions to be made by other government departments, local government and bodies such as Transport for London and the Olympic Delivery Authority. It was a question of determining the benefits they receive from the network so that they recognised that a contribution was justified. However, he reiterated the view of the Trustees that the £39m per annum offered by central government was not enough. The finance package overall needed to be enough to secure the network’s assets in the long term and ensure that day to day maintenance was carried out together with network dredging; and to ensure that pensions were safeguarded. He recognised the duty of Trustees to be in a position to satisfy the Charity Commission that the Trust was sustainable.

Lynne Berry, one of the Transition Trustees, reported on public benefit. It had evaluated at around £500millon but that didn’t fully reflect issues such as the social return and the well being benefit etc. Trustees were currently developing the public benefit model to embrace these wider issues.

Richard Benyon offered to return to the group to give a further report when the financial negotiations were concluded. That was welcomed by the group. It is likely to take place early in the New Year.

Alun Michael ended the hearing by saying that it was not unheard of for charities to go wrong, volunteer led or otherwise. It would not be an easy transition. It was going to be very challenging and there was profound interest from MPs on all sides of the House. The transition would be scrutinised with great interest.
IWA views this to have been be a very constructive hearing. It was helpful to hear that the Minister was considering the need for adequate maintenance of the canal network, mitigation of possible future liabilities arising from environmental or other legislative requirements and the Canal & River Trust’s pension arrangements – all points of concern that IWA has raised with central government and that IWA members have raised with their constituency MPs. It was also good to hear that Tony Hales wanted to see a financial arrangement that secured the network’s assets in the long term, day to day maintenance, and network dredging, recognising the need for Trustees to satisfy the Charity Commission on sustainability.

The Minister’s response to IWA on waterways classification was also seen to be a helpful clarification.

Chairs appointed for Canal & River Trust Waterway Partnerships

The Canal & River Trust, has appointed chairs to a number of the Waterway Partnerships that will play a role in the management of canals and rivers across the network.

Chairs have been appointed in Manchester & Pennine, North Wales & Borders, South Wales & Severn and Kennet & Avon. The chairs for the Partnerships in the West Midlands and North West, who have, to date, been trials, have been asked to and have agreed to continue. A chair has also been recruited for the Museums Partnership, which will be the successor to The Waterways Trust Museums Management Board.

Chairs are now being sought for the remaining Waterway Partnerships in the North East, Central Shires, East Midlands, South East and London and recruitment for the All Wales Partnership is continuing.

Appointed chairs of Waterway Partnerships:

Manchester & Pennine: Professor Walter Menzies. Previously chief executive of the Mersey Basin Campaign.
North Wales & Borders: Jim Forrester. Jim is currently director at Imperial War Museum North in Manchester.
South Wales & Severn: Jack Hegarty. Jack has been managing director of Wychavon District Council since 2004.
Kennet & Avon: Fleur de Rhe Philipe. Fleur has been a member of Wiltshire Council since 1997, currently as cabinet member for economic development and strategic planning.
North West: Professor Steven Broomhead. Currently professor of entrepreneurial education at Liverpool Hope University.
West Midlands: Peter Mathews CMG. Peter is past chair of the Black Country Consortium.
Museums: Laurence Newman. Chairman, Epsom & St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust.

See full press release on the British Waterways website

IWA Lichfield Branch Work Party Uncovers a Piece of Local History

The latest in IWA Lichfield Branch's work parties on the Trent & Mersey Canal took place on Sunday 4th December. Volunteers continued the improvements to the canalside at Brindley Bank in Rugeley.

Led by Stuart Collins of British Waterways, the 12 volunteers turned amateur archaeologists uncovered more of the canal wharf and tramway and revealed one of the original 'bloody steps'.

Digging out some stubborn tree roots and a covering of soil revealed a length of the brick paved wharf with its 2 foot gauge tramway, once used to take coal to the boilerhouse of Brindley Bank pumping station. The spoil was used to backfill and level the ground behind the canal edge piling.

Another team removed dead trees and tackled undergrowth alongside the present steps, where a trial excavation uncovered one of the sandstone blocks from the original 'bloody steps'; a piece of local history rediscovered.

Broads Given £800,000 Dredging Research Grant

The Norfolk and Suffolk Broads is to be given an £800,000 grant to help find new ways of removing sediment which builds up in the waterways.
The money from the EU will fund research into new methods of dredging sediment and recycling it.

The Broads Authority said the money would also help fund an extension to the sediment island at Duck Broad.

The project is expected to run until 2014.

Waterway Recovery Group Working Holidays 2012

Waterway Recovery Group (WRG) has launched its new programme of unique weeklong holidays, known as ‘Canal Camps’ designed to restore England’s derelict canals to their former glory.

Jobs include the restoration of structures, operation of plant and machinery, stonework, vegetation clearance. Skills learnt may include heritage restoration, machinery operation, teamwork, conservation techniques, and demolition.

Canal Camps also meet all the criteria for the Duke of Edinburgh's Award scheme residential project.

It’s a totally unique holiday which only costs £56 per week (includes food & basic accommodation). Volunteers need no previous experience - all they require is a willingness to get involved and a good sense of fun.

For more information about the holidays please see  or to request a brochure email Jenny on  or call 01494 783 453 ext 604

Cromford Canal Aqueduct Reopened

The restored historic cast-iron aqueduct carrying the Cromford Canal over the railway at Leawood, near High Peak Junction was reopened on the 28th November by Councillor Simon Spencer, Deputy Leader of Derbyshire County Council (DCC).

Throughout the summer the towpath was closed while contactors worked to restore this structure.

This aqueduct is a scheduled monument and is the only surviving example of a suspension girder bridge left in the country. Repairs are needed to address the corrosion and there are concerns about its long term stability.

The restoration has been funded by DCC in such a manner that it does not prevent restoration in future, and the Friends of the Cromford Canal (FCC) look forward to making use of it for boat traffic. It will also allow better access for working parties on the canal south of the aqueduct. he Cromford Canal, built in the 1790’s, sought to unlock Derbyshire’s immense mineral wealth, especially its limestone, lead and coal. The canal had a profound influence on the economic growth of central Derbyshire.

Suspected Arson at Fourteen Locks Canal Centre

The cause of a fire at the Fourteen Locks Canal Centre in Newport is being investigated.

Three appliances, including a water bowser, tackled the blaze in the early hours of the morning on Saturday 12th November. South Wales Fire and Rescue say they found two separate seats of fire in the café and office at the centre in Rogerstone.

The Monmouthshire, Brecon and Abergavenny Canals Trust, which is restoring the locks, runs the centre which attracts around 50,000 visitors a year.

The trust and council have secured more than £1m from the Heritage Lottery Fund and other groups to restore two pairs of locks, originally named Cefn Flight which served the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal.

The full article and video footage is available on the BBC website.

Chasewater Reservoir Repairs Nearing Completion

Staffordshire County Council has reported that most of the main works to the north of the Wyrley & Essington canal are now complete, and the repair works to the canal basin are also nearing completion.

Water levels in the reservoir are reported to be rising.

Subject to weather conditions over the winter, it is planned that the works will be completed and the site cleared by late March/early April 2012.

200 Year Old Bridge Saved as Part of Buckingham Arm Restoration

Buckingham Canal Society continues in its work to restore the Buckingham Arm of the Grand Union Canal and has completed the re-pointing and repair of one of the remaining original bridges over the canal. The sympathetic brick and stone restoration by skilled craft members of the Society included hand making clay bricks to achieve the original shape and size. The bridge provides a farmer’s access across the canal as part of that section.

Since its opening in 1801, the canal has previously been used to transport bricks, coal and manufactured goods as well as imports from the London Docks. It also provided transport for agricultural produce from the farms and villages along its route.

The waterway to Buckingham ran for just under 11 miles from the Grand Union Canal at Cosgrove Lock along the Stony Stratford and Buckingham Arms. The original route passed through Old Stratford, Deanshanger, Thornton, Leckhampstead Wharf, Thornborough Mill, Maids Moreton Mill and Bourton Meadow. Much of the canal is now dry, and parts have been built over. Certain sections of the route would need to be created anew due to the development that has taken place in and around villages since the canal’s closure. 

Early in 2010, BCS commissioned an outline feasibility study regarding the restoration of the entire length of the canal arm. The report concluded that it was a feasible project, although significant funding and commitment will be required.

BCS is actively seeking new members to join the existing membership of around 200 and welcomes participation at all levels from the community. BCS is also actively seeking grant and other funding to progress its restoration activities working in partnership with local authorities in the area as well as other private companies. 

Further work is planned for the Cosgrove and Buckingham end sections of the canal route. New volunteers are always welcome and the society runs three work parties a month on alternate Thursdays and on the second Sunday of each month. No experience necessary!
For more details, please visit the BCS website at   or email

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Unlucky Bridge 13 on the Macclesfield Canal

By Peter J Whitehead

This bridge is known as Bullock’s Girder Bridge and it is sited at the former Bullock’s Bridge Wharf, 0.8 miles to the north of Higher Poynton. It received its name from James Bullock who was a tenant farmer of Thomas Legh at the nearby Hilltop Farm around 1850.

When the Macclesfield Canal opened in 1831 a swivel bridge was provided at this point but at an unknown date this was replaced by the present bridge. To a casual observer all seems well with this bridge but recently it has suffered some misfortune as the photos demonstrate, all dated the 27 December 2011.

Bullock’s Girder Bridge looking northwards towards Marple. In the foreground on the right, notice the saplings growing at the edge of the canal. As these grow their roots will displace the coping stones at the edge of the canal and their roots will penetrate the clay puddle that keeps the canal watertight. This is now a serious problem across the canal network.


Damage to the retaining wall of the approach ramp on the towpath side of the canal.

Vandal damage to the parapet of the retaining wall of the approach ramp. In addition to this, another short section of the parapet was similarly damaged.


A sinkhole in the towpath below the bridge deck. This shows that water from the canal is leaking into a void below the towpath.

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Extract from the Bye Laws

In the December issue of 174, Ian Edgar asked if anyone could throw light on the fact that the notice had been issued by the LNER. I have now received several replies on the subject, all giving the same information which now puts that subject well and truly to bed. The first came from David Kitching:

The poster that appeared in the December issue of '174' was issued by the London & North Eastern Railway as successor to the Great Central Railway at
the grouping of railway companies in 1923. The powers under the canal byelaws would have also been transferred to the LNER. As for the date of this particular poster, it is given at the bottom as 9/29 - September 1929. DK

In quick succession came these emails: The first one from Barry Whitehouse.

The LNER Poster feature in the current issue of 174 was intriguing.

The poster couldn't have been issued before January 1923, as this was when the LNER was officially formed, following the Railways Act of 1921. Prior to that date, the railways had been under state control during and immediately after the First World War, and previously there had been intense competition between the various independent companies, hence the attempted blocking of Acts of Parliament and building of duplicate lines to avoid high charges or delaying tactics on shared lines, etc.

As an ex-printer, my guess at de-coding the fairly typical series of numbers on the bottom line, to the left of the printer's details would be:

TB56 - probably a code or reference for this particular item, perhaps something like 'Trade Bill No 56'.

Remember that traditionally these items were called 'Bills' and were pasted up up 'bill posters'.

250 - the likely print run, a quite reasonable number for a poster like this, bearing in mind that they would have been displayed far and wide to deter what must have been a significant problem, otherwise, why bother?

9.29 - signifying the order or printing date of the ninth month (September) of 1929.

The article didn't mention the size of the original, but it's likely to have been 15" x 20" (Crown), or 20" x 30" (Double Crown) - which were popular bill and poster sizes, in the good old fashioned Imperial sized days of my printing apprenticeship.

I hope this helps de-mystify this item a little.

Regards. Barry Whitehouse.

Next from Tony Longshaw

Don. It is clear that this actual document is post grouping into 4 major companies in 1923. There was a policy of getting rid of all reference to old companies as quickly as possible. Repainting, partial or complete of all locos and carriages was to be completed within 12 months. Fairly obviously the policy for stationary, posters etc. was to scrap and reprint with L.N.E.R. heading. A centralised printer was obviously also regarded as a good idea, hence transfer of contract to Dysons of Peterborough at the foot of the handbill. The wording on your poster is probably as you suggest about 1900 by Great Central, and earlier printings should show a local printer too.

I always enjoy the magazine. Incidentally, I could supply a root of Orange Hawkweed if anyone wants this rather attractive wild flower.  Best wishes for Christmas and New Year

Tony Longshaw (Modern PC Correspondent for Railway Postcard Collectors Circle)

From Peter Whitehead came this snippet:

The poster reviewed in the last issue of 174 dates from sometime after 1 January 1923 when the London and North Eastern Railway Company was incorporated.

It refers to Bye Law No. 32 of the Western Canal Bye Laws published in 1878 by the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway Company. The Ashton, Peak Forest and Macclesfield Canals were collectively known by the railway company as the Western Canal. The fine of 40 shillings for infringement of this bye law had remained unchanged since 1878. Bye laws would have been published prior to 1878 but it is not known if any copies of these have survived.

The Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway Company changed its name to the Great Central Railway Company on the 1 August 1897 and on the 1 January 1923 it became an integral part of the London and North Eastern Railway Company.

From Malcolm Bower came this one:

FA few more words on the LNER notice if you need more! Sorry but I didn't take photos though I think David Rushton and Tony Barber took some at the time.

The notice on Page 32 of the December 174 would have been issued by the LNER during their 25 year custody of the APM, the Ashton, Peak Forest and Macclesfield Canals, between 1923 and transport nationalisation of 1948. The LNER was one of the Big Four companies and took over the APM canals from the Great Central.

In the late 1980s the Macclesfield Canal Society helped a more enlightened BW management in checking the feeders into the canal and reservoirs along the summit level of the canal. After seeing during the IWPS 2012 New Year Day walk how the coal mining subsidence in the Higher Poynton area had caused some canal bridges to subside, it is not surprising to find the feeder inlet to the canal at Redacre close to the Poynton to Shrigley road aqueduct has dropped substantially. A good length of the feeder is now lower than the canal, so plans to revive the feed were abandoned.

However some feeders such as the Shell Brook bring down water from well into the uplands. The Shell Brook is a tributary of the River Dane above Rushton Spencer and is one feed into Bosley Reservoir; it is now abandoned at the lower part by Bosley Minn, but it provided splendid exploration with fine views from an easily identifiable line, and there are intriguing stone access bridges just like the canal bridges but in miniature. Some even smaller tributary cloughs off the Shell Brook are crossed by embankments and one had obviously been breached by floods after some earlier repairs. Scattered around below the breach were some pipes which had the letters LNER cast on them!

It is interesting that in the 1923 to 1948 period the railway owners had felt it worthwhile to make such repairs so far from the line of the canal. Perhaps it was to provide some competition with the LMS, who owned the T&M Canal, although any limestone traffic still running would have used both the Macclesfield and the T&M to Northwich. And yet the abandonment of the Peak Forest Tramway in 1926 closely followed the LNER takeover; perhaps this was the "new broom" having a clear-out!

And finally, I met Dave Dawson in the supermarket in New Mills replenishing their supplies with the boat frozen up in the canal further up the road. He gave me exactly the same information. Just shows how knowledgeable and well-informed our members are.


Reproductions of the poster on the page 30 are available in A3 size at a cost of £2.00 on good quality paper for framing or £3 encapsulated plus postage in a paper tube to prevent damage £1.50. Please send your order and cheque made out in favour of The Peak Forest Canal Co. Ltd. to Ian Edgar MBE at Top Lock House, 7 Lime Kiln Lane, Marple, Stockport SK6 6BX.


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Quote by Petronius Arbiter about 200 B.C.:

'We tend to meet any new situation by re-organising, and a wonderful method it can be by creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency and demoralisation'

Now, who do think that might apply to in 2012?

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