The Inland Waterways Protection Society Ltd 

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Newsletter "174" April 2002


Bugsworth Basin Report Tractor Appeal Fund Editorial Diary Dates
Droitwich Canals and Trust Anderton Boat Lift Unlocked and Unlimited Cromford Canal
Obituary - Mrs Rose H Millbrand Large Investment in Waterways News from the IWA Mr Outram and Mr Train
Book Review Bugsworth and Beyond Extracts from 1881 Census Quiz Wars
  Return to 174 Newsletter Archive Index

Go to the IWPS/PFCC Sales Pages


This photograph taken on March 8, 2002, shows the new Tesco supermarket being built at Hogs Yard, Whaley Bridge, flanked on two sides by the Peak Forest Canal, in the foreground heading to Bugsworth, and, to the right, the Whaley Bridge Arm. To the left of the site is the River Goyt and the A6 bypass. The site is accessed via a new bridge built over the Whaley Bridge Arm from the A5004. Plans for a second bridge to be built over the River Goyt for entry into the Bings Wood industrial estate have been delayed due to disputes over funding. This new bridge would greatly relieve the chaos caused in the village by heavy lorries negotiating the exceptionally tight turn off the main street onto Canal Street. 
Photograph: Don Baines

Bugsworth Basin Report

by Ian Edgar MBE   -     Chairman and Hon Site Manager

Due to the appalling weather conditions over the winter, which must have been the wettest ever at Bugsworth, we have now started to make the most of the spring weather. Maintenance will start once again with the weeds on the paths and wharves kept under control and the grass cut regularly for the benefit of our visitors.

Since my last report in the February issue of '174' the retaining wall alongside the old Silk Hill near to the bridge has now been completely rebuilt and the cracked lintel replaced. This work has been completed by Geoff Porritt after the demolition and clearance work was carried out by our own regular volunteers. Funding came from a package negotiated by Don Baines with the Mersey Basin Trust to whom we are very grateful. Whilst not addressing the major problems of leak repairs which will enable the Basins to re-open once again, the continual fight against damage induced by sheer old age as well as that caused by vandalism has to continue. We must be ever vigilant in spotting problems in this 200 year old structure and take steps, once the problem is known, to make the necessary repairs as quickly as possible.

We are also very appreciative of the support given by the Whitbread Action Earth Campaign which aims to foster voluntary environmental work. Because it is 'driven' by participating Societies nation wide there is the possibility to recruit new volunteers under the 'Whitbread Action Earth' banner. To encourage groups such as IWPS to take part IWPS Ltd. took advantage of the £50 grant for equipment and materials available. Unfortunately, despite announcements in the local press prior to the event, we failed to get any new people on site but we will try again next year.

We are now studying the Engineering Report produced for British Waterways by Mott Macdonald which is clearly a very comprehensive and well researched document. Having only just been received from BW within the past few days, we have not yet been able to respond but clearly there are several points we will wish to raise and on which we have exceptional long term knowledge of the site. This report is confidential and I am not at liberty to publish any of the contents or suggested solutions to the problems we have at the Basin. Suffice it to say, on a first quick perusal, there seems to me a very good basis on which to formulate solutions and a strategy for the future. The problems are complex and, as we have always known, not to be cured by a 'quick fix'. Hopefully by the time of the next '174' we will have had further meetings with the BW engineers and will know where we are going.

As regards the funding for the work all partners (IWPS, British Waterways and The Waterways Trust) are frustrated by the Government Office (East Midlands) postponement of decisions on grants to the Summer of this year. If we do get approval then the timescale will probably be

Grant Award                                             July 2002
Ancient Monument Consent Application      July 2002
Ancient Monument Consent Approval         December 2002
Construction                                            Jan 2003 - Mar 2004
Official Opening                                       Easter 2004

However, it has to be stated that these dates are targets and rely so much on other factors such as grants being approved from existing budgets, the engineering solutions having been decided, contracts being let etc. etc. As the Government Office have put back their decision dates then we have had to put back our programme as well. All the partners in the Bugsworth programme feel that we have to work to a realistic programme and allocate resources (like management time, design time, personnel etc. etc.) to that programme. Furthermore grant makers always demand target dates from applicants and favour 'ready to go' projects which will satisfy their own financial criteria. At the time of going to press the above is a realistic programme formulated from information available to all partners at this time.

Much has been said about the costs of the remedial works at Bugsworth. First we indicated £700,000 based on BW best practice estimates. As the magnitude of the problems became clearer this was amended to £1,000,000 which is the figure appearing in the Annual Report of The Waterways Trust. The final costs may be more or less - we do not know at this time. British Waterways, Derbyshire County Council, High Peak Borough Council and the IWPS Ltd. have presently put together a package of funding:

Derelict Land Grant £100,000
ERDF Ob. 5 (Transitional) Bid submitted and awaiting approval £380,000
British Waterways own funding (agreed subject to match
Funding) £240,000
Making a total presently of £720,000

In addition to the above IWPS Ltd. is independently trying to secure at least another £50,000 via a Landfill tax donor.

Elsewhere on the Basin volunteers have been working to clear land, alongside the bypass, which is owned by IWPS Ltd. prior to new tree planting. This is a long term project under the direction of Dr. Martin Whalley and will much improve this hitherto unkempt and unmanaged area at the head of navigation and around the footbridge over the By-Pass. The former tipping area for dredgings is now taking on a more attractive mature look having been regularly mown last year following seeding last spring. Nevertheless we do have problems with thoughtless horse riders galloping on this soft ground oblivious (we assume) to the damage they are causing. Conversations with individual riders bring denials that they are involved and promises to spread the word not to gallop on our grass. It would appear the phantom horseman rides again. IWPS Ltd. policy is to maintain our own land and that of British Waterways to the highest possible standards for the benefit of the Basin and our visitors including horse riders who we welcome as long as they respect the site and our efforts to keep it pristine. Maintenance of a site this size is a hard task and needs people to carry it out. Please come along to help us for as short or long time as you wish.

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Jennifer Thomas

We were pleased to welcome Jennifer Thomas and her daughter Kate on 9th March 2002 to plant a tree as a lasting reminder of her association with the restoration of the basin. Jennifer was a long term volunteer working with Waterway Recovery Group when IWPS Ltd. operated the large scale muck shifting two-day week-end working parties and seven-day work camps. Her visit was a long awaited return to Bugsworth. Poor health now precludes her working there nowadays. Our picture shows myself and Jennifer planting her specially donated tree. Thanks Jennifer for your support and what a nice gesture. If anybody else would like to emulate Jennifer and donate a tree for posterity then please contact me or Martin Whalley.

The Cromford Canal

I was very pleased to hear of a new Society being formed to promote the restoration of the Cromford Canal for it's entire length from Cromford to Langley Mill and then to the junction with the Erewash Canal via a short length of the Nottingham Canal. Even the inclusion of the short 2 miles long Pinxton Branch is a possibility! Joined to the Peak Forest Canal at Whaley Bridge by the Cromford and High Peak Railway, now alas dismantled, this canal is the last 'great' waterway which cries out for restoration. There are some formidable obstacles like the long collapsed Butterley Tunnel and the lost aqueduct at Ambergate, the site of which is now occupied by a gas pumping station. Part of the canal is owned by Derbyshire County Council and is a SSSI.  Most of the rest is in private ownership. Given the current engineering solutions accomplished on the Huddersfield, Rochdale and Ribble Link we should think this could be another major project well worthy of success. Prior to the meeting we walked the short length from Whatstandwell to Ambergate. On a previous IWPS walk some years ago we did the section from Cromford to Leawood and beyond. This is really a wonderful waterway well worth exploring.

I attended the public meeting at Ironville 13th March where the village hall was crowded to capacity with local people. Highly experienced canal restoration stalwarts like John Baylis ( who is part of the steering committee) and Michael Handford were there as was a representative of British Waterways who announced to the meeting that the restoration of the Cromford Canal had the full support of BW. There was overwhelming support and attendees were invited to join on the spot. Such was the response that the Friends of the Cromford Canal got off to a flying start. We wish them well.

The Friends of the Cromford Canal can be contacted by writing to Mike Kelley at 50 Beech Avenue, Alfreton, DE55 7EW or e-mail Mike at

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Anderton Boat Lift

I was delighted to be invited to the Official Opening of the Lift on 26th March and to partake of British Waterways excellent hospitality on a cruise from the Regional Office at Northwich to Anderton. The festivities were well organised with speeches, fireworks, brass bands and, in my case, a trip in the specially converted trip boat down the lift from the Trent & Mersey Canal to the Weaver Navigation. I had the opportunity to meet some old friends from BW and elsewhere and although there were snags with the lift it was a very enjoyable day.

Since that time British Waterways have some serious problems with subsidence on the T&M Canal itself and some technical problems with the lift. I am sure BW will cure these problems in due course and in all honesty I think for the whole show to go absolutely without a hitch the first day would be asking too much. There are still problems on the Huddersfield Canal, no doubt there will be teething troubles on the Rochdale and of course we have problems at Bugsworth after the official re-opening. We are dealing with 200 year old canal structures and the restoration of the 125 year old Anderton Lift has had to have innovative engineering solutions as well as, to my mind, horrendous modern Health & Safety implications and safeguards. Maybe more testing should have been done at Anderton and maybe the opening date was too optimistic given the ground breaking undertaking but nevertheless it has been restored. Now the teething troubles have to be sorted out and I hope this is not going to cost too much. There has been a lot of effort gone in to this project. I am sure it will come right in the end. I for one am not going to knock it.

Anderton Boat Lift - 2002

The Anderton Boat Lift, Lift Lane, Anderton, Northwich, Cheshire, seen here from beside the river Weaver, Saturday, 6th April 2002.

This lift, which is the only one in Britain, was built in 1875 to transfer boats 50 feet between the river Weaver and the Trent & Mersey Canal. In 1975, Josiah Wedgwood and Sons Ltd commissioned a limited edition Queen's Ware plate to commemorate its centenary but by the early 1980s it had become unserviceable and it fell into dereliction.

This Scheduled Ancient Monument, known as the Cathedral of the Waterways and as one of the Seven Wonders of the Waterways, has recently been restored and it opened to the public on Wednesday, 27th March 2002.

This was made possible by a partnership between The Waterways Trust, British Waterways, The Friends of the Anderton Lift and The Anderton Boat Lift Trust, supported by The Inland Waterways Association and The Association of Waterways Cruising Clubs.

Digital Photograph: Peter J Whitehead

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Unlocked and Unlimited

It was with great pleasure I was invited to the British Waterways launch at The Glaziers Hall in London 19th March to hear of the British Waterways plans for the next 10 years of waterway restoration and / or building. Many of our readers will have heard or seen the extensive coverage which BW got for their plans in the press, on TV and on the radio.

Headlined in the BW House Magazine 'Waterfront' as 'The End of the Beginning' (very Churchillian!) I was very pleased to see that the Liverpool Waterfront Scheme now called the Leeds & Liverpool Canal Extension is included and our readers will know how much, as a Liverpudlian, I like that project. In the North we have also the Manchester Bolton & Bury Canal, the Northern Reaches of the Lancaster Canal and the Montgomery Canal in Wales. Further south there are The Cotswolds Canals, The Droitwich, The Bedford and Milton Keynes Link, The Foxton Inclined Plane and the little known, to a Northerner, Bow Back Rivers.

Unlocked and Unlimited is to some extent a 'wish list' for the next 5-10 years for which funding has not yet been secured. However that is not the point. BW have nailed their colours to the mast and they freely admit the programme can only be achieved by the close co-operation of partners in the commercial, government and, probably most important of all, the local voluntary sectors. Raising the sort of money needed, even at today's costs will be formidable and in an area which will be extremely competitive. The about turn by BW from when I first became involved at Bugsworth is amazing. Now BW are driving restoration as opposed to maligning it. Long may this continue. Maybe, with a bit of luck, I will be cruising The Cotswolds Canals in the not too distant future.

Again, and I make no excuse for repeating myself it was the voluntary Societies who preserved and partially restored most of these waterways until better times, as now, returned. Let us not forget that fact and I am pleasantly reassured that BW and The Waterways Trust keep hammering that fact home. Let us hope that 'partnership' under a new chief at British Waterways will continue to grow and prosper for the benefit of us all.

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A Reliable Transport System?

No matter what our individual political persuasions I think everybody agrees that our transport system is in a mess. The passenger railways are unreliable, rail freight is declining and the infrastructure (Railtrack) is a shambles. Nowhere in our transport system is there a success story.

But is that true? All realistic canal enthusiasts acknowledge the fact that inland UK freight by water is limited and for our modern consumer society somewhere along the line we have to have transport by the heavy goods vehicle. It is good to see some expansion of bulk freight traffic on the waterways to the East Coast - a cause on which our founder Bessie Bunker spent so much time without ever seeing any appreciable result for her efforts. I think she would have been very enthusiastic however to see recently on the River Trent a trial cargo of a transformer weighing 270 tons passing under the centre arch of the historic Town Bridge in Newark, it being thought previously impossible to transport such a load beyond the first lock at Cromwell. Wynn's Ltd., the abnormal load carrier cursed by countless road users are to be congratulated on their effort. True, not many of such loads need to be transported, and even fewer could go by water but the challenge need not have been taken up. Full marks to Wynn's this time!

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Gift Aid

We are presently preparing our claim for sending to the Inland Revenue for monies due to us under the Gift Aid Scheme. This is a very remunerative method of raising funds and it costs you, the taxpayer, nothing.

Please consider sending me a completed Gift Aid Form if you have not already done so.

If we already have a completed form from you you will see the letters 'GA' on the address label and at the top right hand corner of the front cover of this Newsletter. If so marked there is nothing more for you to do.

If you see no such letters then please send the form to me immediately as we can then claim from the Government the tax you would normally pay in the last tax year to 5th April 2002.

You can download a form by clicking here, Gift Aid Form , then in the new window, click File, Save as, to save the form on your hard drive to print out later.

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The Late Mrs. Rose H. Millbrand

We have just heard, rather belatedly, of the passing of Mrs. Millbrand whose maiden name was Rose Hannah Swindells. Mrs. Millbrand was amazingly generous to IWPS Ltd. by donating 250 copies of her book 'Except the Lord - Build the House' for sale for Society Funds. A large quantity of these donated books have now been sold but some remain and can be ordered either from me or from the Peak Forest Canal Company Ltd.

'Except the Lord - Build the House' is an enjoyable and interesting record of Hannah Swindells life and times in Bugsworth and Barren Clough during the first half of the last century. A lady of strong Christian beliefs, Hannah Swindells dwells little on these other than to choose the title taken from Psalm 127. Her writing and memory chronicles what went on in her village and life during a very turbulent period when times were changing, the old life never to return. Two World Wars saw to that.

Price of 'Except the Lord - Build the House' is £10.00 including postage and packing. Stock Reference is BK02. 100% of the proceeds go to IWPS Ltd. funds.

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As reported in the last issue of 174, Macclesfield Canal Society have made a very generous contribution of £500 to the Tractor Appeal Fund. The cheque was presented by Tim Dawson, chairman of the Macclesfield Canal Society.

Further to my news in the last issue of 'l74' (February 2002) we have not quite reached the anticipated figure of £2300. Actually, with interest, we now have in the Equipment Account £2163.05 as at today (mid April 2002). Most of the redundant equipment has now been sold but we do have a number of old nursing and surgery textbooks for sale to best offer as well as some engineering and motor manuals. Most of these were published in the 1940s and 1950s and make interesting reading if only to see how far we have travelled in knowledge and technology since then.

I have made two grant applications for the rest of the funding and hopefully we will know more about the result for the next '174'. In the meantime if you would like to make a donation specifically for the 'Tractor Fund' or give us some things to sell then please send the money to me or write me telling me what you have to offer!

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Annual Canal Society Quiz - 7th March 2002

Although poorly attended IWPS fielded two teams for the quiz held at the Queens Hotel in Macclesfield. For the third time an IWPS Team won the cup which was originally donated by The Trent & Mersey Canal Society and is competed for each year. Due to my oversight this event was not publicised in '174' and therefore IWPS members attending was limited to our two teams. Even then we had to 'co-opt' guests for the second team headed up by Mike and Jill Malzard.

Our winning team consisted of Dave Kitching, Pete Yearsley, Sarah and myself but it must be said that Pete and Dave really won the contest on their canal knowledge which is immense.

Other teams were from the Macclesfield Canal Society, T&M Canal Society and British Waterways. Some of the questions were really challenging and a good time was had by all. Thanks to the Macclesfield Canal Society who acted as hosts and who provided an excellent buffet supper.

We at IWPS now have to organise next year's quiz. More about that later.

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With Mist Aches Or The Typesetters Knight Mayor

I have a spelling chequer, It came with my pea sea, It plainly marques four my revue, Miss steaks eye cannot sea.

Eye strike a quay and right a word, And weight four it two say, Weather I am wrong or write, It shows me strait away.

As soon as a mist ache is maid, It nose bee four two late, And eye can put the error rite, Its rarely, rarely grate.

I've run this poem threw it, I'm shore yore pleased to no, Its letter perfect in its weight, My chequer tolled me sew.

Sauce Unknown

(Which explains some of the typing errors that get through on occasions - Editor)

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Editorial by Don Baines

IWPS Web Pages

We are continually developing and improving the IWPS web pages which you can find at:

Inspired by the addition to the website of his historical pages, 'Limestone, the Bugsworth Legacy' and 'The Industrial Archaeology of the Peak Forest Tramway', Peter Whitehead, who has quickly taught himself the process of authoring web pages, produced two more excellent articles. First to arrive was "The Peak Forest Tramway", an illustrated description of the line of the tramway from Dove Holes to Bugsworth, its history, construction, operation and eventual demise. A guided walk along "The Limestone Way which takes the walker up to Chinley and back again, is also included. Second came "Crist and Barren Clough Quarries", a description of the development and working of the two important gritstone quarries which were located close to Bugsworth Basin.

Conversion of the booklets, the story of John Cotton, the Bugsworth wife murderer, and the Memoirs of Martha Barnes have now been completed and added to the website. Once the web page version of a booklet is completed, I zip all the files up and email them to David Kitching who then sends them to the server usually within a couple of days of me transmitting them. I think the record time was a couple of hours from me sending them to them being up on the website. Thanks to David for this very superior service. We have received some very complimentary e-mails regarding the look of our pages so we must be doing something right.

I am still working on a web page version of Martin Whalley's article "Setting the Record Straight", a chronology of events leading up to the reopening of Bugsworth Basin Project at Easter 1999, which appeared in Onward 118, October 1999. Also continuing is work on the web page version of the buff-coloured £1 Bugsworth Guide Leaflet.

Don't forget to look at David Kitching's own very interesting pages on the way at:

You can also see the PFCC/IWPS Sales Brochure, which is also accessible through the IWPS web pages, offering the full range of books, clothing, souvenirs, etc on a new web site at:


Copy for Newsletters - Please note that the deadline for publishing the next newsletter is 1st July 2002 so please try to let me have your copy before that date.

Please send any newsletter input to me, Don Baines, if possible on a 3½" disk (disks will be returned or provided if required). Typed input, photographs, sketches or drawings, can be scanned in.

You can email any input, text or graphics, to me at

Dredging Canal Magazines

From the numerous other Canal Society magazines received on a reciprocal basis I regularly search them for articles which will be of interest to IWPS members. Unfortunately it isn't possible to include everything otherwise we would finish up with a newsletter thicker than the last "Onward" and I would be deep in the mire with our chairman for escalating our publishing costs and postage.

Many of the societies have their own websites where you can keep up to date with restoration and operational matters. Here's a list of just a few:

Grantham Canal Partnership

Surrey and Hampshire Canal Society Ltd

Cotswolds Canal Trust

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Diary Dates

Visit by Droitwich Canal Trust, Worcester Birmingham Canal Society, Lapal Canal Trust and possibly others.

Still scheduled for May 19th 2002, is the impending invasion by a whole bus-load of Marauding Midlanders. Led by the inimitable, irrepressible, Jon Axe, this promises to be a very entertaining day. In the last issue I reported Jon as being the editor of the Lapal Trust's newsletter - apologies to David Carson who really does that job.

I met Jon, in person, for the first time last Friday (8th March) at Bugsworth prior to going with him to a meeting of Furness Vale Boat Club where he gave a humorous and informative slide show about the Droitwich Barge Canal restoration. The canal runs through the beautiful countryside of the Salwarpe valley from its junction with the River Severn to the middle of Droitwich and, when the restoration is completed in about three years time, will add a very attractive seven miles to the navigable waterways of the midlands.

Jon very kindly gave me a copy of the Droitwich Canals Trust's commemorative video entitled "Restoration Winter 2000 - 2001" which runs for about 45 minutes and is well worth viewing.

From the accompanying leaflets I have appropriated the following description of the canals and the restoration project:


In 1767 the town council of Droitwich invited James Brindley to survey a route for a canal to bring salt to the River Severn. Brindley designed a broad canal capable of carry craft 64 ft long, a beam of 14ft 6 ins, with a draught of 5ft 9ins

The Droitwich Canal Act of 1768 allowed work to commence along the 5 miles 1,320 yards and this was completed in 1771

The cost of constructing the Canal was £23,500 and was thought by Brindley to be his most satisfactory work. He used the Droitwich Canal to hone his skills as a canal builder and used experimental ideas, which were later incorporated into other canal schemes. It was one of only three canals completed in Brindley's life time.

The final cargo in 1916 was two hay stacks commandeered, during the 1914-18 Great War, for the Army to feed horses in France. It is claimed men hauled the 'Volunteer' from Mildenham to Hawford singing sea shanties. From here the 'Volunteer' was taken by tug to Chepstow, to have the hay transhipped for France.

Cheap salt produced at Stoke Works on the Worcester Birmingham Canal and competition from the Railways brought about the decline of the Canal. It was abandoned officially in 1939.


The Junction Canal opened in 1853 at a cost of £28,000. It is measured at 1 mile and 880 yards. The last recorded traffic was the 'Englishman' in 1928 carrying a stolen cargo of bricks in the dead of night. She was met by the police in Droitwich.

With the construction of the Junction Canal the locks on the Barge Canal were lengthened to take vessels of 71ft 6ins.

The Junction Canal is the last surviving deep lock canal constructed and has the unique feature of water-conserving side pounds. It links the Worcester Birmingham Canal to the Barge Canal in Droitwich.

Opened in 1853, it was abandoned in 1939.


After many years of discussion and false hopes restoration began under the auspices of the Worcester Birmingham Canal Society and the Inland Waterways Association in the early Seventies. The DCT was incorporated on Sept 5th 1973.

Work has progressed over the years with a three mile section of the Barge Canal being made navigable. Half the locks on both canals have been restored, and much other work completed.

If all goes well the next five years will see restoration completed with funding from Worcestershire County Council and Wychavon District Council already on the table. The Waterways Trust is investigating the possibility of further funding.

You have the opportunity to play a part in this important restoration work, by joining The Droitwich Canals Trust Ltd.

Restoration of the Droitwich Barge Canal and the Junction Canal will complete the link between the Worcester Birmingham Canal and the River Severn. This will form the Mid Worcester ring; a twenty two mile circuit ideal for short break cruising.

If you would like to be a volunteer speak to Jon Axe, Membership Secretary, 0121-608-0296, or Margaret Rowley, Chairman, 01905-345-307, or simply call in at Hampton Road Wharf, near the Railway Inn, and have a chat.

We need volunteers far a variety of work, including office type tasks, arranging meetings and looking after displays and sales, etc

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Commenting on the national announcement on Wednesday March 20, 2002, the IWA made the following comments:


The Inland Waterways Association (IWA), which represents more than 17,000 inland waterway users throughout the country, today endorsed a commitment by British Waterways to proceed with the restoration of more than 100 miles of waterways, ranging from London to the Lake District and including an entirely new canal between Bedford and Milton Keynes.

IWA has worked closely with British Waterways and a wide range of authorities and organisations over many years, raising funds and supplying voluntary labour through its subsidiary Waterway Recovery Group. By the end of 2002, more than 100 miles of inland waterways will have been re-opened within a 2 year period, bringing the total to more than 500 miles of canals and river navigations re-opened to public use since the Association was founded in 1946. This reflects the enormous change from those post-war days, when government policy was to close down and eliminate old canals.

Neil Edwards, IWA's Executive Director, says "The programme of nine further restoration and new waterway schemes that British Waterways has announced is extremely important for the inland waterways and is a sound investment for the future.

The Inland Waterways Association is committed to working with British Waterways, The Waterways Trust and other partners to maximise the potential of all these projects and ensure that restoration takes place as speedily as possible, and to the highest standards, so that the maximum public benefit is achieved. The many thousands of jobs to be created, makes this one of the most significant moves to boost tourism in the U.K."

Liz Payne, IWA Deputy National Chairman comments "This clear commitment by British Waterways demonstrates a belief in investment for the long-term future of our canals and river navigations. The regeneration of inner city waterways has been shown to be a vital catalyst in drawing- in investment along a broad corridor, often being the key factor in reviving run-down areas of town and cities. The effect that the restoration of the Huddersfield and Rochdale Canals has had on the Yorkshire and Lancashire towns through which they run has to be seen to be believed. Now the east end of London, Salford and Liverpool are to realise these benefits through the plans to restore the Bow Back Rivers in Stratford, to restore the Manchester, Bolton & Bury Canal and to extend the Leeds & Liverpool Canal to Liverpool's southern docklands."

John Fletcher, IWA's North West Region Chairman comments "Regeneration in rural areas is equally important. That is why we are so pleased to see British Waterways' undertaking to advance full restoration of the Cotswold Canals, the Droitwich Canals, the Montgomery Canal and the northern reaches of the Lancaster Canal, the last of which will create 2,000 jobs alone. IWA's Waterway Recovery Group has invested a great deal of time on these waterways in recent years and it is heartening that the many hundreds of volunteers who have worked long hours to demonstrate the benefits and practicability of restoration are to be rewarded."

Neil Edwards adds "The Inland Waterways Association is working with partners to progress over one hundred waterway restoration and development schemes across the country that will provide thousands of full-time jobs and bring regeneration to many needy areas. Whilst British Waterways and The Waterways Trust are arranging multi- million pound finance to progress waterway restoration schemes at an unprecedented rate, many more projects are advancing through the efforts of thousands of volunteers supported by local authorities and other agencies from Cornwall to Scotland."

The nine new projects, which British Waterways plans to ensure restoration are:

* Bedford to Milton Keynes Waterway, a new broad 21st century 20-mile waterway linking the Grand Union Canal at Milton Keynes on the national canal network with the River Great Ouse at Bedford and other East Anglian rivers.

* Bow Back Rivers, the revival of a waterway network, based on tributaries of the River Lee Navigation, around Stratford, in east London.

* Cotswold Canals, reconnecting the River Severn to the River Thames via Stroud by 37 miles of waterway, including restoration of Sapperton Tunnel, the longest broad canal tunnel in the country. The Stroudwater Navigation runs from the River Severn to Stroud, whilst the Thames & Severn Canal runs from Stroud to the Thames at Lechlade - together they are known as the Cotswold Canals.

* Droitwich Canals, creating a new 21-mile waterway cruising ring connected to the River Severn. The Droitwich Barge Canal is one of the country's oldest, connecting the River Severn to Droitwich. The Droitwich Junction Canal - a short cut between Droitwich and the Worcester & Birmingham Canal was built nearly 80 years later.

* Foxton Inclined Plane, near Market Harborough - the only inclined plane in the UK on a navigable waterway (the Leicester line of the Grand Union Canal). It was originally built in 1900 to replace a flight of 10 locks but closed through lack of trade on the canal. The site is already a substantial tourist venue, but has enormous potential when the Lift is rebuilt back to working order.

* Liverpool Extension to Leeds & Liverpool Canal, a vibrant new waterfront for Liverpool, connecting the docks. British Waterways launched a consultation amongst local people for this new canal in 2001 - it appears to enjoy overwhelming support and looks set to become a much-loved Liverpool landmark.

* Manchester Bolton & Bury Canal, broad 12-mile canal linking Bolton and Bury to the River Irwell at Salford, and thus the connected national waterway network. This canal provides the key to economic regeneration along much of its route.

* Montgomery Canal, a cross-border waterway that once linked Newtown in Powys with the Shropshire Union Canal and the rest of the connected network in England. It includes nationally important conservation sites. Part of this canal has already been rebuilt and re-opened by volunteers.

* Northern Reaches of Lancaster Canal, extending the national waterway network a further 14 miles north to the Lake District and providing £14 million a year for the local rural economy, hard hit by the recent outbreak of Foot & Mouth Disease.

Editorial comment: "How gratifying it is that the majority of projects and investment is in areas to the north of Watford and which, when included with The Rochdale, Huddersfield Narrow, Ashton, Ribble Link, Chesterfield, Anderton Lift, Falkirk Wheel and Millennium Link, makes a welcome change from the customary bias towards the south-east. But then, they haven't got much in the way of canals down there anyway."

Don Baines - Editor 174

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News from the IWA

About People

British Waterways has announced that its Chief Executive, Dave Fletcher, will retire in December 2002. Despite occasional differences, most waterways users will be in little doubt that Dave Fletcher has made a vast improvement to BW during his term of office, particularly in promoting and securing restoration projects. The BW Board has begun the process of searching for a successor and BW's Chairman has indicated that he would be pleased to hear comments from user groups.

Canal Camps 2002

IWA's Waterway Recovery Group has launched its 2002 programme of Canal Camps. A copy of the Camps 2002 booklet is enclosed with postal editions of this Bulletin and is available on WRG's web site, and can be downloaded in full as .pdf file

Sites chosen for 2002 include most of the 'old favourite' sites, including Basingstoke, Cotswold, Droitwich, Ipswich & Stowmarket, Lichfield & Hatherton, Montgomery, Sleaford, Wey & Arun and Wilts & Berks Canals, where real progress can be seen as each year passes.

2002 also sees the return to 3 sites where WRG has been less active in recent years: Grantham, Grand Western and Monmouthshire Canals. There are two festival camps this year - the usual 'tour de force' at the IWA National Waterways Festival and Inland Boat Show at Huddersfield in August, and at Saul Boat Gathering on the Stroudwater Canal in July.

Mooring Charges on BW Waterways

British Waterways has announced that its Mooring Matrix, used for the past 6 years to determine mooring charges following extensive negotiations with user groups, is to be replaced by a new charging formula that will be based more on what the local market for any particular moorings can stand.

Whilst BW has indicated that it does not expect to substantially increase its overall moorings income through the new system of charges, it appears most likely that mooring charges on BW controlled sites in the southeast and some other popular areas are likely to rise substantially beyond the rate of inflation. As mooring charges are the biggest cost for many boaters with older boats, there are fears amongst some boaters that they could be priced off the inland waterways, or into areas which are beyond their means of access.

BW has said that each waterway manager was due to complete a review of local moorings by 1st February, after which existing customers and local user groups would be notified of proposed charges for the coming year. Waterway managers are then due to publish details of mooring prices and availability by 1st April, taking into account any comments from the initial notifications. These details are due to be made available on BW's Internet site.

BW says that publication of all mooring charges and its availability to all existing and potential customers will provide transparency for the new system. BW hopes that private moorings operators will also make such information available. BW has also committed to publish occupancy rates and the lengths of waiting lists as part of an annual local consultation, to further demonstrate that the system is correctly tuned to local demand.

Despite the assurances of increased availability of information and transparency of the new arrangements, IWA believes that scrapping the old Moorings Matrix is unlikely to be beneficial to the waterways and their users because all BW's proposed advantages were present in the original scheme.

The abandonment of the national system of the 'Bollard' score for facilities could result in local higher charges and a return to a 'free for all' charging, for which the Moorings Matrix provided an easy, transparent and universal answer. Boaters in some areas will be disadvantaged and less-well-off boaters risk being priced out.

IWA has also expressed concern to BW that the navigation authority appears to be controlling too great a proportion of the available moorings in some areas, and is therefore in a position to force up prices, or to exclude particular boaters, if it were to wish to do so. Some areas in BW's northeast region have been cited as particular examples of where such a policy could have the ability to occur. However, BW maintains that it has only moved to provide adequate moorings in a particular area where the private sector has been unable and unwilling to invest. In some instances, BW has rescued marinas from closure, which IWA recognises as having been beneficial to the waterways and users.

Caldon Canal

The final 2 miles of the Caldon Canal, from Flint Mill Lock to Froghall Basin has been closed following collapsed waterway walls and a landslip after recent heavy rains. BW is undertaking ground investigations and expect that substantial repairs will be necessary. This part of the canal is unlikely to re-opened before June 2002. There is a winding hole just before the lock.

Chesterfield Canal

IWA has announced a grant of £5,000 from its Restoration Grants Fund towards the construction a new bridge on the Derbyshire County Council owned length of the Chesterfield Canal at Bilby Lane, between Brimington and New Whittington. The original bridge over the canal was demolished in the 1960s and replaced by a concrete slab too low for boats pass under.

The new bridge has been designed to have a low maintenance and a long life span and will keep Bilby Lane as an 'Access for All' route linking the canal towpath as part of a wider network of fully accessible trails. IWA has contributed engineering advice on the bridge design and construction, which has helped to reduce costs.

The European Regional Development Fund and the Landfill Tax Credit Scheme have recently awarded grants to the project, which is estimated will cost £100,000 in total. Derbyshire County Council is managing out the project with support from Chesterfield Borough Council.

The Derbyshire County Council owned section of the Chesterfield Canal is the venue of IWA's National Trailboat Festival over the weekend of July 13th/14th when up to fifty small craft from all over the country are expected.

The completion of this section will allow members of the Chesterfield Canal Partnership to address the restoration of the next section of canal north from Staveley. Future projects include the reopening of the Norwood Tunnel and a new link to the Sheffield and South Yorkshire Navigation.

The Chesterfield Canal runs from Chesterfield north to Killamarsh where it turns east towards Worksop and Retford before heading north again to join the tidal part of the River Trent at West Stockwith, a total of 46 miles. The canal has had navigation problems since the partial collapse of the Norwood Tunnel in 1907. This was followed by a prolonged period of slow decline.

Chesterfield Canal Society (now Chesterfield Canal Trust) was formed in 1977 and in 1995 was instrumental in bringing together local authorities and canal owners to form the Chesterfield Canal Partnership with the long-term goal to restore navigation to the whole canal.

Progress has been made over the years, and by the turn of the Millennium the useable navigation had been restored from the River Trent to a new marina at Shireoaks. During 2002, BW's contractors are carrying out a 54-week programme to use Heritage Lottery Grant funding to restore and re-gate all 16 lock-chambers on the Turner Wood and Thorpe Salvin flights. Until the work is completed in November, the towing path will be part of the contractors' site and 'out of bounds' between the new County Lock and Kiveton Station bridge.

Between Norwood and Staveley the canal is in various stages of disuse from 'filled-in and built over' to 'isolated and rewatered'.

Over the past fifteen years, volunteers from Chesterfield Canal Trust and Waterway Recovery Group have restored five locks between Staveley and Chesterfield. However, through navigation was impossible because three demolished bridges blocked the canal. In 2000, work on new bridges at Newbridge Lane and Station Road became possible through the Chesterfield Greenway Project and Derbyshire County Council's Reclamation Programme leaving Bilby Lane as the final obstacle to navigation on this section of the canal.

Huddersfield Narrow Canal

At a User Groups' meeting held at the end of February, British Waterways confirmed that there are six locks on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal that have significant pinch points, besides a number in Standedge Tunnel. As necessary re-building takes place, these pinch points will be removed and 'shaving' has taken place in the tunnel over the winter.

BW cannot guarantee tunnel passage without any damage to boats, but the damage that has occurred has been substantially reduced recently. The time of passage through the tunnel has been reduced to a little over two hours from the three hours plus that earlier trips took.

During 2002, Diggle Flight will be managed "to prevent selfish boaters draining pounds".

BW is aware of IWA's expectation of passage demand for the IWA National Waterways Festival and Inland Boat Show, due to take place on the Huddersfield Broad Canal at the end of August. BW intends to arrange for volunteers to help manage the canal in the lead up to the event and will be training additional staff, including some office staff as well as operatives, to help operate passages through Standedge Tunnel, which requires considerable training to ensure safety.

BW also advises that it expects permanent additional facilities for rubbish disposal, elsan and pump-out to be provided by summer 2002, but in case they are not ready in time, then temporary provision will be made for the heaviest periods of usage.

Rochdale Canal

All sixteen remaining contracts to complete the restoration of the Rochdale Canal are now underway and the £25 million project includes 12 new major road bridges, 24 locks, nearly a kilometre of new canal channel and 50,000m3 of dredging. The following notes are a summary of current progress:

Ben Healey Bridge, Littleborough, is due to be completed and re-opened to road traffic by the end of March. The dredging that is currently being undertaken on the Rochdale side will then be extended under the new bridge.

At Firgrove Bridge in Milnrow, although one direction of traffic is now using a newly constructed part bridge, in the other direction a temporary embankment is still being used and there are delays while telecom fibre optic cables are diverted.

The Sealocrete diversion of the canal has started and at Hartley Green Bridge, which was to have become a compressed wood footbridge, remains of the old arch have been uncovered close to the unnavigable culvert and the bridge is being re-designed to utilise these historic remains as the foundation for the new bridge.

At the largest contract, the northern terminus of the A627(M),the navigable culvert is now complete and road traffic patterns will be considerably altered during March in a number of overnight traffic management changes from roundabout configuration to traffic light controlled cross roads and slips.

Work has started on the M62 crossing, although there remain some negotiations to be completed with two landowners, despite the Secretary of State's ruling on the Compulsory Purchase Order.

Lock refurbishment through Rochdale continues.

A stream culvert under Slattocks embankment was in poor condition and is being re-lined.

At Grimshaw Lane, which used to boast a vertical lift bridge, a new hydraulic vertical lift bridge is to be provided.

In Failsworth, the invert of a new bridge has been cast where the Co-operative Supermarket used to be and new channel construction is commencing. Work continues on the reconstruction of the 13 Manchester locks.

Upgrading work has been undertaken on both the "Rochdale 9" in the centre of Manchester and on the flight between Summit and Littleborough to improve water management. BW has reviewed the proposal for back pumping; water source and management enhancement works have replaced the former proposals, with significant improvements having been achieved over the past winter. Work is on schedule to be completed by the end of June but some contracts will run right to the final date.

New and currently rebuilt structures will accommodate craft of 74 feet by 14 feet 2 inches. However, BW is not guaranteeing these dimensions on the previously restored sections and BW advise boaters intending bringing craft approaching maximum dimensions to contact the South Pennine Waterway Office before making the trip.

BW hopes that negotiations will be completed for it to take over the Calderdale section of the Canal by the beginning of April, but this remains slightly uncertain. From the takeover date, only a British Waterways licence will be needed to cruise the whole canal and no additional charge will be made.

There are currently around 100 boats licensed on the Calderdale section - they pay no mooring charges. British Waterways proposes that these boat owners should purchase full British Waterways licence from next renewal. As far as mooring is concerned, BW propose that these boaters should enjoy one year of free mooring, followed by a year of 50% of normal British Waterways mooring charges before being raised to the full rate. No objections to these proposals were voiced at the recent South Pennine user groups' meeting.

Ashton Canal

British Waterways held a press day on the Ashton Canal, near the site of the Commonwealth Games stadium, in January. BW is anxious to dispel old images of the Ashton Canal, which gained a reputation for poor surroundings and the occasional unfriendly reception, over a number of years. BW has continued and developed the work to which IWA's Manchester Branch made a significant contribution with its "Cheshire Ring Campaign Cruise" in 1997.

The press day was to showcase the many improvements made in recent years and also improvements BW plan to implement after the Games have happened. The main message is: "Manchester, and the Ashton Canal are great. Everybody is working together. Come and visit us and the Commonwealth Games.

The Games baton will be carried from Salford Quays along the Rochdale Canal, through the city centre, by boat on the opening day of the commonwealth Games.

British Waterways is expecting more than 600 boats to converge on Manchester to enjoy the Commonwealth Games and "Aquafest" - a festival of events by the water. Because of boat numbers moorings will be carefully managed and BW is working with Manchester Ship Canal Company and Salford City to promote three main mooring sites: Salford Quays, Castlefield and Piccadilly Basin.

As well as all being linked by water, they are all linked by "Metrolink" the local tram system, and other public transport. Subject to final approval, BW expects to provide up to 1,500 moorings. Details will soon be available on-line at and booking forms will provide a wide range of information. BW state that "Most facilities will be provided free of charge with only a small administration fee at the time of booking. "

Extra security has been included as part of the improvements, with widespread use of closed circuit television cameras, improved lighting and better access. In July and August, the main traffic-free thoroughfare from the city centre to the Commonwealth Games stadium will be along the Ashton Canal towpath, which has been reconstructed in York stone.

The local authority has introduced City Centre wardens to welcome and assist visitors, including those arriving by water. Canalside businesses are encouraged to take a positive interest in the environment in which they operate, through an awards scheme. There will be a canalside arena (similar to the one by the Castlefield basins) close to the Commonwealth Games arena stadium bridge.

There are also plans, as yet at concept stage, for a new canal linking the Rochdale and Ashton Canals, starting at the Ashton end by re-opening the former Ancoats Hospital Arm between locks 2 and 3, and with a marina half way to the Rochdale Canal. BW's preference appears to be for a narrow canal from the Ashton to the proposed marina, and a broad canal from there to the Rochdale Canal. BW also proposed a new 'village' around the marina as part of the development.

Manchester city centre residential population has grown to 5,000 and it is expected to rise to 10,000 by 2005, almost exclusively beside the city's inland waterways.

A press release also confirmed the British Waterways has had preliminary discussions over the feasibility of restoring the Stockport branch of the Ashton Canal.

Manchester Bolton & Bury Canal

According to an interview with Chris Davies MEP (Member of the European Parliament), reported in a regional newspaper, he is involved in meetings to discuss European funding for restoration of the Manchester Bolton and Bury Canal.

The article also stated that British Waterways has allocated five engineers, an ecologist and an accountant to work on the project and that Derek Cochrane, British Waterways' Northwest Region Director had told the MEP that the plan to restore the canal offers "greater potential for regeneration and job creation than any other similar project.

Bridgewater Canal

Associated with both the Steam Coal and Canal charity and in preparation for the Manchester and Salford World Heritage site nomination, but separate from both of these, the Coal Authority has applied to Salford City Council for planning permission to set up a system for cleaning the poisonous deposits out of the mine water discharge through the underground mines at Worsley into the Bridgewater Canal.

If approved, reed beds will be created in the angle bounded to the north by the canal and to the east by the M60, at Worsley. A route of piping from the mine entrance at Worsley Delph to the reed bed site has been worked out causing minimal visual disturbance to the historically sensitive site. Subject to approvals, the completion of this pipeline is expected to cause a stoppage of about 4 weeks during the winter of 2002/3 while piping is installed under the canal.

Alternative funding sources will be investigated for removing the existing ochre deposits in the canal in the same area, which have already blocked the Delph and are threatening navigation on the main canal.

Once both schemes are working serious investigation of the possibility of public access to the underground canals may be considered. This is one aspect of the proposals inherent in the Steam Coal and Canal project. The others include Astley Colliery, with its extant pithead gear, and Barton Aqueduct over the Manchester Ship Canal. All except Astley Colliery occur in the proposed World Heritage site area.

IWA's North West Region has objected to an outline planning application to build 52 dwellings ("Boatman's Wharf") overlooking Bedford Canal Basin in Leigh (including a working boatyard) and alongside two engineering factories that operate 24 hours a day.

It seems to the Region that the developers are trying to capitalise on the waterside location without any consideration to the well being of potential future residents and the development is seen as inappropriate to this particular part of the Bridgewater Canal conservation area. The Region also consider the application to be badly flawed with inaccuracies, from identifying the Bridgewater Canal as the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, to labelling the south elevation as the "west elevation" and safety faults in the design.

New Publications

Greater Manchester District Tourism Forum 'Experience Greater Manchester' - a free guide to discovering the canals and waterways of Greater Manchester Claire Duffy, 01942 747648,

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Mr Outram and Mr Train - contrasting Protagonists of Tramways

by Peter J Whitehead

Mr Outram

Benjamin Outram, the Consulting Engineer to the Peak Forest Canal Company, was born at Alfreton in the Amber Valley district of Derbyshire in 1764 and he became one of the most distinguished surveyors, engineers and iron masters of his day.

In 1790 Francis Beresford, a lawyer and landowner, who had been Outram's tutor as a surveyor, purchased the freehold of the Butterley Hall Estate in the Amber valley. This estate was about 200 acres in extent and it lay on the line of the Cromford Canal near Ripley. Outram was aware that this estate had excellent deposits of ironstone and coal, so he went into partnership with Beresford in order that these deposits could be developed. Their initial arrangement was that Outram leased a moiety from Beresford until such time as he could purchase his half share.

Mining for ironstone and coal commenced at once and a blast furnace was soon built to smelt the ironstone. Limestone, for use as flux, was obtained from a quarry on land purchased by Beresford at nearby Crich and before long a battery of lime kilns and a wharf had been built beside the Cromford Canal.

Meanwhile the inclusion of John Wright, a Nottingham banker, and William Jessop, a leading civil engineer of the day, increased the partnership. It is believed that they joined the partnership around June 1791 but the Deed of Partnership, which formally established the firm of Benjamin Outram & Company, is dated Monday, 10th December 1792. The company traded under this name until 1806, at which time it was changed to the better-known Butterley Company. The Deed shows that the four partners held equal shares but in fact Outram and Jessop both held theirs in the form of mortgages from Wright and they were only to become full partners when they had paid off a capital of £3,000 plus interest at 8%.

Until his premature death in 1805, Outram worked as the general manager, engineer and sole active partner of Benjamin Outram & Company. In 1796 Benjamin's brother, Joseph, took over some of his responsibilities in order to allow him to develop his private practice as a canal and tramway engineer. However, by 1801 the firm had expanded to such an extent that he was obliged to devote an increasing amount of his time to the administration of the company. This thriving company was ultimately to send iron products all over Britain and the British Empire.

During the 1790s, Outram enhanced an already existing transport system, introduced by John Curr, which consisted of laying cast-iron L-section rails that carried horse-drawn mineral wagons1. (See numbered end notes) Outram's wagons are considered to be the first appearance of a 'container system' because the bodies (with contents) could be lifted from the chassis and lowered into barges. It is said by some that Outram gave his name to 'trams' and 'tramways' but this is incorrect, as we shall see later.

Mr Train

During the 1850s, a certain George Francis Train of Boston, USA, developed a transport system that was initially known as a street railroad. His horse-drawn vehicles carried passengers and were called 'streetcars'. Train was a shrewd businessman and he had an idea that Europe, and his bank balance, would profit from his invention. Accordingly, he arrived in England in October 1859 where he first tried to sell his transport system in London and then in Liverpool but in a demonstration of typical English reserve neither place was interested. On looking across the river Mersey he noticed the Laird shipbuilding yards at Birkenhead, so he crossed over the Mersey for discussions with John Laird, who also happened to be Chairman of the Commissioners who governed Birkenhead's affairs.

John Laird and the Corporation fathers were initially cautious but they did express an interest and they asked Train to pay for any damage done. He gave them his guarantee and even offered to lift the rails should they be considered to be an irritation. A guarantee of £3,000 was agreed.

Work started immediately on the construction of Britain's first street railroad system for carrying passengers and it opened for business on Tuesday, 10th July 1860. The finished line was just less than two miles long and the gauge was 5ft 2in. The streetcars or 'trams' as they were quickly to be known were 24ft long by 7ft wide and a Mr Main, who was a Birkenhead carriage builder, supplied them. Each tram was hauled by two horses and could carry 48 passengers, 24 inside and 24 outside, who paid 3d each for a journey. About 350 people attended the opening ceremony, most of whom were civic heads and other public figures.

What is a Tramway?

Mention tramways to the general public and they will immediately think of electric trams and possibly horse-drawn trams as well, especially if they have visited the Isle of Man where they are still used. They will also understand that such trams are used to carry passengers. However, as we have seen, it was a Mr Train who first developed this system of transport.

Mention tramways to industrial archaeologists and they will immediately think of wagons carrying minerals, such as coal, limestone and ironstone, along L-section rails. They will most likely agree that Mr Outram enhanced this transport system but that he did not create it2.

Origin and use of the word 'Tramway'

By the 12th century coal was being obtained by opencast methods. At its most basic, this meant that it was simply picked up on beaches where coal seams close to the earth's surface were subject to erosion by wave action. Simultaneously, small quarries and even ditches were being dug in order to win increasing quantities of coal. In more hilly districts, coal seams were occasionally exposed on hillsides and early colliers would dig along these seams to form drift mines. With the passage of time, bell-pits began to appear. These were sunk vertically into the ground and they were so called because when viewed in section they were the shape of a bell. The next development was known as pillar-and-stall working and this involved digging 'stalls' or 'bords' along the seam from the pit bottom. To prevent the roof collapsing, pillars of coal were left as the colliers progressed along the seam. The distance that could be travelled by this means was limited and eventually the colliers had to retreat back towards the shaft bottom and as they did so they removed the pillars to allow the roof to collapse behind them. The final stage of development was to sink shafts to much greater depths and today only a few pits of this type are still worked in Britain.

Whichever method of coal extraction was used there was a common problem and this was, how was the coal going to be transported away? As soon as it was extracted from the coalface it had to be removed, first to the pit bottom and then away from the pit head after it had been raised. In the case of a drift mine this problem was not as difficult because the coal could be hauled up the drift. The solution to this general problem was to use a railway of some kind and ideally it had to be the same both underground and on the surface.

Initially, the lines for these railways consisted of baulks, which were roughly squared timber beams3. The wagons were also made of wood, as were the wheels. The baulks and wheels rapidly wore away but by the second quarter of the 18th century cast iron was increasingly becoming available. Accordingly, cast-iron wheels were substituted for wooden ones and the baulks were retained but in order to reduce the wear on these they were faced with iron plates. The name 'plateway' was given to this arrangement of 'edge' I-section rails, which was designed for use with flanged wheels4. In some pits the wagons had no wheels and in effect they were simply sledges, which were hauled over the baulks5.

Dialect words have long been used in Britain and these were usually derived from Continental languages. In Dutch and Low German the word 'trame' means a beam of wood and similarly in Old German and Scandinavian the word 'traam' also means a beam of wood. It now becomes obvious that the English word 'tram' was derived from these words and that it was first used to describe the track but by the 16th century it is known for certain that the words 'tram' and 'trammy' were being used to describe wagons. The next step was to add the suffix 'road' or 'way' to produce the words 'tramroad' and 'tramway' in order to describe the track. The crucial interpretation is that the words 'tramroad' and 'tramway' were first used to describe a track having 'edge' I- section rails.

A comment about the etymology is appropriate at this point. A variety of often-conflicting words are used to describe these pre-locomotive railways. A system of transport whereby vehicles ran on rails is technically a 'railroad' or 'railway' irrespective of the design of the rails and vehicle wheels. The term 'railroad' definitely originated in Britain prior to the 1830s and was later adopted as the standard by Canada and the USA. In various parts of Britain the words 'tramroad', 'tramway', 'railroad', 'railway' and 'dramroad' have all been used and in north east England, in particular, the word 'waggonway' was used6.

In the last quarter of the 18th century, first John Curr and then Benjamin Outram came onto the scene with their L-section rail systems and the words 'tramroad', 'tramway' and 'dramroad' were soon being used to describe them as well. However, it is believed that both Curr and Outram used the existing word 'plateway' to describe their rail systems7. In their design, instead of the flanges being carried on the wagon wheels they were transferred to the rails, giving them their characteristic L-shaped section. This permitted the use of plain wheels and Curr maintained that an advantage was that the same wagons could be used either on or off the track8.

Following the invention of the streetcar in America in the 1850s and its subsequent adoption throughout Britain, matters of classification soon became even more complicated. The word 'tram' was revived in a completely different context to describe the new passenger-carrying vehicles, at first horse drawn and later electrically driven. If these vehicles were called 'trams' then the track had to be called a 'tramway'.

As we have seen, these diverse transport systems were technically all railways, irrespective of the type of rails used or whether minerals, general merchandise or passengers were carried. Thus, for example, it is correct to refer to the Peak Forest Tramway as the Peak Forest Railway and, indeed, the words 'railway' and 'plate' both occur in the Minutes of the Peak Forest Canal Company, which record the deliberations of the Proprietors.

A Definitive Classification of Tramways and Railways

The solution to the problem of classification would seem to be a simple one.

If the railway were constructed as a feeder to a canal, navigable river or staithe at the side of a road or standard railway then it is a tramway, irrespective of the type of rail used or the method of propulsion9.

Other criteria that classify a tramway are:

* Its specific purpose was chiefly to carry minerals such as coal, limestone and ironstone.

* The overall length was relatively short, typically no more than about 10 miles.

* It was used for underground haulage in a mine.

* It was used on the floor of a quarry.

If the railway were constructed for the purpose of carrying goods and passengers over relatively long distances using 'edge' I-section rails then it is a railway, irrespective of the method of propulsion. This can be described as a standard railway.

If the railway were constructed for the specific purpose of carrying passengers both along streets and on a standard railway then, strictly, it is a 'light rail system', irrespective of the method of propulsion. However, and perhaps fortunately, the word 'tram' is so well established in the English language that it was immediately applied to the passenger-carrying vehicles and consequently the track is known as a 'tramway'.


1 John Curr, who managed collieries for the Duke of Norfolk near Sheffield, made an advance in tramway technology in about 1787 when he developed them for better use in and around collieries and Benjamin Outram's father, also called Joseph, supplied him with cast-iron L-section rails.

2 For instance, it is known that primitive tramways were used in ancient Rome where the idea was developed from naturally occurring rutways caused by the constant passage of carts over paved surfaces. More advanced tramways first appeared during the 15th and 16th centuries.

3 By the 15th and 16th centuries, the use of baulks as rails was in general practice in the lead, copper, silver and gold mines of south east Europe.

4 The modern word 'platelayer' for someone who lays railway lines is derived from the use of plateways.

5 The use of sledges was never entirely eliminated from pits and they were still in use well into the 20th century but for a different purpose. Coal seams are rarely level and as a result the galleries dug by the colliers were never level either. Horizontal galleries were known as 'levels' and inclined galleries were known as 'brows', 'slants' or 'dips'.

Colliers going on shift were obliged to traverse several of these inclined galleries before they reached the coal face. To assist them, they were provided with a contraption known as a 'horse', which in effect was a sledge that would slide over the tramway rails used to haul coal.

The horse was placed on the rails and the collier sat on this prior to commencing his perilous downward journey by sliding down the brow. There is evidence that a collier would sit sideways on his horse and as he descended he had to take care to avoid hitting his head on parts where the roof was low. If a particular brow was unfamiliar to him and it was much steeper than anticipated then his speed would increase and get out of control. It was useless trying to grip a handrail attached to the gallery wall, if there was one, or in trying to use a hand against the bare rock as this would have resulted in injury. Neither was it possible to use a foot on the ground as this was equally, if not more, dangerous. All the collier could do was to hope that the line levelled out a little towards the bottom and that this would slow him down. Another hazard on the downward slide was the unknown presence of switch rails. On meeting a switch rail the horse would jam and pitch the collier down the remainder of the brow.

Locally, it is known that these horses were used at Bradford and Moston pits in Manchester.

6 One of the longest waggonways was the Tanfield Waggonway, which was constructed to carry coal from Stanley and Marley Hill to the river Tyne. Situated near Beamish, the line was initially built with a wooden track and it opened in 1725. During its early years it was constantly being extended until by 1738 it was over eight miles long. The line had to cross the deep gorge of Causey Burn and to do this Ralph Wood designed the famous Causey Arch, which is the oldest surviving single-arch railway bridge in the world.

During the 19th century metal rails replaced the wooden ones and steam locomotives were introduced. This railway was in continuous operation until 1962. It is now open again as the Tanfield Railway, which operates a passenger service. Without question, this is the world's oldest operating railway.

Nevertheless, the first recorded use of a waggonway at an English colliery was in 1604 and a certain Huntington Beaumont built this. This was about two miles long and it connected the Strelley and Wollaton pits together in Nottinghamshire. By the mid-1600s some waggonways had been constructed in north east England while several more had been built as feeders from coal pits to the river Severn.

The expansion of waggonways was disrupted by the Civil War but it revived again later in the century.

7 It is understood that a plateway at Old Meadows Colliery near Bacup, Lancashire, was in use until 1969 when the pit closed. This particular plateway cannot be attributed to either Curr or Outram but it certainly incorporated their design principles.

8 Despite the claimed advantages of this system, it did have a number of serious drawbacks. L-section rails were weaker than edge rails and, because of their shape, the rails collected stones and dirt, which obstructed the wheels of wagons and caused derailments. The rails became loose and in instances where stone sleeper blocks were used to secure them, the gauge could not be maintained as adjacent stone sleeper blocks were not tied together. All these factors contributed to frequent derailments.

9 The general mode of operation was to use the force of gravity, which allowed loaded wagons to freewheel downhill to their destination after which they were drawn back empty by horses.

On downward journeys, the horses usually walked behind but occasionally a special wagon was provided for them to ride in. It appears that some horses became so used to this practice that they would automatically climb on board their wagon as soon as it began to move. The spectacle of this became a well-known novelty.

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BOOK REVIEW by Derek Brumhead

The Great Arc: the dramatic tale of how India was mapped and Everest was named.

By John Keay. Published by Harper Collins, 2000. 182 pp, 31 illustrations and 3 maps. ISBN 0 00 257062 9, £14.99.

The Great Indian Arc of the Meridian, begun in 1800, was the longest measurement of the earth's surface ever to have been attempted. It was conceived by a genius, William Lambton, who set up the standards of accuracy which aimed for discrepancies no more than of hundredths of an inch in miles of observation. Its 1600 miles of inch-perfect survey took nearly fifty years and the difficulties and hazards described in this book beggar belief. Through hills and jungles, featureless plains, floods and fevers, monsoon rains and deserts, the men of the Survey would dig in and wait often marooned for weeks in their tents, laid up with terrible diseases and under attack from enormous tigers, and scorpions and spiders the size of your hand. Malaria wiped out whole survey parties, the cost in lives more than most contemporary wars. Overcoming all of this, they carried the Arc by triangulation from the southern tip of India up into the foothills of the Himalayas.

With a theodolite which weighed half a ton, observations had to be conducted from flimsy platforms above the ground or from a hill and mountain peak, with the views often obliterated by blizzards and torrential downpours or blasted by thunder and lightning. Paradoxically, the best survey work was carried out during and immediately after the monsoon, regardless of the discomfort, when the dust was laid and the heat-haze dispersed. When an eminence was seen, perhaps over twenty miles away, a party would be dispatched to occupy it, clear it, and set up a tower topped with a flag or light. This could take weeks while the base party waited in their saturated tents and seas of mud. With the 'great theodolite' up and ready, sightings would be taken, bearings recorded and signals exchanged. Then, it was on and up to the next peak, and so the triangulation was advanced by another line.

The author has been to these places (he has written four acclaimed histories of India) and his writing exudes the various flavours of the Indian climate and landscapes. His book is a wonderful exposition of the art of triangulation and the host of errors that could accumulate. Surveyors could only plot the positions and heights of distant peaks if the location of their own peak was already known, in terms of latitude and longitude, and its height above sea level. But there were all sorts of parameters which could affect the measurements. The earth's surface was curved so that triangles added up to more than 180 degrees (known as spherical excess); plumb lines were not always vertical, being skewed by deep-seated dense rocks; measurements of elevations had to take into consideration refraction through the atmosphere.

As each point was advanced in turn from a prior observation, a web of triangles forming a pattern like the trunk of a tree was pushed northwards up the centre of the Indian peninsula (Eventually, branches sprouted west and east to Bombay and Calcutta). On reaching the 400 mile-wide Ganges plain, there were virtually no hills from which to triangulate, visibility was impeded by trees and villages and a haze, the result of millions of dung-fuelled cooking fires. Desperate measures were necessary to achieve lines of site - miles of forest were cut down and even whole villages razed to the ground. (Which says much for the British hold on this land, for all this work was originally started and paid for by the East India Company.). Even then, specially constructed brick towers had to be built (some still stand), and the superstitions of the local people overcome - it was known that the theodolite was a telescope and suspicions were rife that the surveyors were spying on women folk and, what is more, that the images were upside down.

The survey made possible the accurate mapping of the entire sub-continent and the development of roads, railways and telegraphs. Remember this when you next look at an atlas. It also made possible the first accurate measurements of the Himalayas and established the fact that these were the highest mountains in the world. The highest was eventually named after George Everest, the Superintendent of the Survey, a martinet and stickler for detail and discipline for twenty years (1823-43), following Lambton. In the offices of the Survey in India today, you will find his name still revered and pronounced as apparently it should be: Eve-rest.

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Bugsworth and Beyond by Keith Holford

These extracts from old newspapers show the cost of hiring a canal narrowboat, the financial accounting system, the cost of lime, petty crime and a spot of hanky panky.

25th Feb. 1871. Glossopdale Chronicle

At Stockport Petty Sessions last week James Harper, boatman, was charged with stealing a canal boat, the property of Peter Fox, boat builder of Whaley Bridge. Fox said that nearly 2 years ago, Harper had come to him about the hire of a boat, saying that he was going to work for the Canal Company. He lent him the boat at 8 shillings a week and received a weeks pay in advance. Harper took the boat away and the next time Fox saw it, 2 days later, the prisoner was leaving for the Potteries with a load of stones. He had never seen the boat since. When the prisoner did not turn up again with the boat enquiries were made of those concerned with the canal. He learned from a Mr. Steadman that the canal boat was in a very bad state at Tipton, Staffordshire. The boat was left on the canal and all the fittings had been removed. The boat was worth £25 when he let it out but it had since been sold for £5.

The next time he saw James Harper was on the 18th Feb. 1871, after he had given himself up to a police constable at Wirksmoor. He had asked Harper why he had not brought the boat back. Harper, under caution, said that "his horse had died in the Potteries and he could not get back home." James Harper was committed to the next Quarter Sessions at Knutsford.

4th March 1871. Glossopdale Chronicle

Joshua Rogers, was charged with embezzling the monies of his employer, Sampson Maiden, lime burners and lime merchant of Bugsworth. A witness, Fred Saxby, said that his father owned a Calico Printworks at Furness Vale. They used lime in the process and procured it from Maidens of Bugsworth. James Smith, a carter, fetched it regularly, usually a ton at a time, and 15 cwts when the weather was bad. He produced a voucher book showing, that on various dates, they had paid cash for a ton of lime, the price was usually between 8s - 3d to 8s - 6d per ton. They always got a receipt for the money. Sampson Maiden stated that he lived in Stockport, but his limeworks were in Bugsworth. Joshua Rogers had been in his employ since May 1868, his duties were to see to the loading of the boats, keep the account books and receive the money from customers to whom he sold the lime. He had to enter the amount of lime sold and the money in a day book, making a return each week. This return was posted to him at Stockport. Mr. Maiden said, when he had received no cash since August, his suspicions were aroused that all was not well. The result was that Mr. Maiden went to see Mr. Saxby to ask about the tickets, the amount in question totalled £6 -14s. Joshua Rogers was remanded in custody until next Friday unless he could produce 2 sureties of £25 each and one of £50 for himself.

From the Chapel. Whaley Bridge, New Mills and Hayfield Advertiser

This was a newspaper that had a short life, between the years 1877 -1881 and incorporated the High Peak Express.

2nd June 1877. Bugsworth News

Thomas Carney was apprehended by P.C. Swift for a robbery at Bugsworth on Wednesday about midnight. He went aboard a boat belonging to John Lockley and stole a bag of horse corn, some bran and a boat line. The owner who was on board at the time, disturbed the thief while he was committing his depredations.

Carney was brought before the court at Burton charged with stealing the items mentioned on the 31st May, they amounted to a value of £l and sixpence.

John Lockley was a boatman from Runcorn, he carried general goods between Runcorn and Manchester, and occasionally to Bugsworth. On Wed the 31st May he reached Bugsworth and tied up in the middle part. Just after midnight, he was lying down in his cabin when he was disturbed by the barking of his dog. He got up and removed the scuttle cover and looked down the boat. It was moonlight and nearly as light as day. He saw a person on the boat, the person took away from the boat a bag of horse corn, which he removed to the back of the canal bridge, about 50 yards from his boat. He then removed the bran to the same place, before returning to take the tow line, which he placed across his shoulders.

Lockley then said, "Put that line back, it belongs to me". Carney did not answer, but ran away with the line. Lockley then got out of the cabin and ran alongside the canal. He recovered the sacks of horse corn and the bran from behind the canal bridge.

About 8 - O'clock next morning, Lockley went looking for the prisoner, and found him in the cabin of a canal boat, which was about a quarter of a mile from his own boat.

Lockley then said to Carney, " I want you my lad ! "

Carney replied , " What for ? "

The witness answered, " You took my corn and hauling line last night ! ".

Carney said, " You have got the wrong man ! "

Lockley then sent for the policeman. The bags belonged to the Bridgewater Navigation Co and the towline wasn't found.

Lockley, cross examined by the prisoner, said " I showed you the scarf that I found tied around the neck of the sack " and I added " Find the line and there will be no further trouble about it .

P.C. Swift said that he received the prisoner in custody on the boat on the canal at Bugsworth, and he charged him with stealing the articles. Carney said, " I don't know anything about it ! ".

P.C. Swift, " That will do, you need not say anymore .

Carney was committed to the Quarter Sessions.

22nd September 1877. Bugsworth News.

Bugsworth was unusually active on Monday evening with one of those events which occasionally stir up the matronly instincts and the virtuous wrath of those who have any regard for the properties of life. It appears that recently a mason living in Bugsworth has been casting "sheep's eyes" at a married woman, the wife of a boatman. An intimacy consequently sprung up between them, until it became a public scandal and obnoxious to the neighbours. The climax was reached last Monday when an effigy of the amorous mason was burnt before his own door, accompanied by a regular "ran-tan" of old cans and other things that would do duty as a "tom tom." The following verses were also recited, a fond shout being raised in the chorus.

To the sound of the drum and the tingle of the bell,
The poor old fellow raised up quite a yell.
At Whaley Bridge he was doing the grand,
And strutting like a peacock over the land.

There is a married lady in this town,
Who thinks she has been doing it very brown.
Married or single , I do not care,
But, hang it, I do like, a damsel fair.

T'other night as you shall hear,
His wife from Whaley Bridge did steer,
Thou' rt , says she, " Old man, having a game ,
But, I'll hold thee up to public shame .

This paper ended with edition No 269 dated the 28th September 1881.

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Following on from Keith Holford's article, some days later I received the following from Peter Whitehead which compliments an earlier piece of Keith's on the same subject - Ed.

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.

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

Dwelling: White Cottage
Thomas TAYLOR m Head 42 Cotton Operative Farnworth, Lancs
Dwelling: Mill Cottage:
Samuel WATERHOUSE m Head 76 Gas Maker Hayfield, Derbys
Mary m Wife 57   Chapel-en-le-Frith, D
Walter u Son 19 Striper & Grinder at Cotton Mill Hayfield, Derbys
Thomas HAYR m Lodger 37 Maker Up at Cotton Mill Litton, Derbys
Jane BOYLE u Lodger 17 Spinner at Cotton Mill Wilmington, Kent
Dwelling: Canal Bank Cottages
William WALTON m Head 51 Boat Labourer Chapel-en-le-Frith, D
Jane m Wife 47   Whaley Bridge, ?Ches
John W u Son 15 Boat Labourer Chapel-en-le-Frith, D
James S   G Son 5 Scholar Bugsworth, Derbys
John E HEATH m S-in-L 28 Boat Labourer Manchester, Lancs
Mary E m Daur 19   Chapel-en-le-Frith, D
William E   G Son 9m   Bugsworth, Derbys
Dwelling: Canal Bank Cottages
Joseph WATERHOUSE m Head 27 General labourer Chinley, Derbys
Margaret m Wife 28   Manchester, Lancs
Edith u Daur 6 Scholar Manchester, Lancs
Joseph   Son 4   Bugsworth, Derbys
Sarah   Daur 2   Bugsworth, Derbys
Mary   Daur 4m   Bugsworth, Derbys
Dwelling: Canal Bank Cottages
Charles K WATERHOUSE m Head 26 Lime Burner Bugsworth, Derbys
Sarah A m Wife 28 Cotton Operative Chapel-en-le-Frith, D
Elizabeth u Daur 5 Scholar Bugsworth, Derbys
Mary   Daur 8m   Bugsworth, Derbys
Hannah PLAT u Lodger 21 Cotton Operative Dukinfield, Ches
Dwelling: Canal Bank Cottages
William BENNET m Head 76 General Labourer Chapel-en-le-Frith, D
Ann m Wife 77   Bugsworth, Derbys
Dwelling: Canal Bank Cottages
Enoch VERNON m Head 26 General Labourer Bugsworth, Derbys
Hannah m Wife 26   Manchester, Lancs
Dwelling: Canal Bank Cottages
Joseph LONGSON m Head 37 Boat Man Chinley, Derbys
Mary m Wife 42   Kidderminster, Worcs
Job u Son 10 Scholar Whaley Bridge, D
George   Son 9 Scholar Whaley Bridge, D
Dwelling: Canal Office
John WORTH m head 46 Canal Wharfinger Haughton, Lancs
Mary m Wife 40   Whaley Bridge, D
John u Son 18 Merchandise Porter Chapel-en-le-Frith, D
Elizabeth u Daur 16 Scholar Chapel-en-le-Frith, D
Francis u Son 14 Scholar Chapel-en-le-Frith, D

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Quiz Wars

No quiz this month due to lack of space, but a real cracking one is in preparation

Here are the answers to "According to London Cabbies:", how did you fare?

Here are the answers, in bold type, to "According to London Cabbies":

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Supplemental "Babblings"

Since I received Pete Yearsley’s walks report after sending ‘174' to the printers, here is his walks report for the first quarter of 2002 - Don Baines, Editor ‘174'

New Year’s Day Walk from Adlington

We greeted the New Year in our traditional fashion by following Dave Kitching on one of his excellent morning rambles based on the Macclesfield Canal

Braving the previous night’s snow, eleven of us met at Wood Lanes and set off in bright sunshine up the track over the canal to Lockgate Farm where we traversed a field to reach another track up to Shrigley Road. We left the road by the Methodist Chapel and ascended higher still (like the lark) past the west gate of Lyme Park, past a herd of interested heifers until we reached the summit at Hase Bank. A pause here gave us panoramic views over East Cheshire and the Mancunian conurbation whilst Dave pointed out several of the disused coal mines in the immediate area.

We descended by way of a very icy road past Halesteads Farm to reach the canal at Higher Poynton. Finding the little tea shop shut we followed the towpath southward to our starting place and the inviting Miners Arms.

Five Go on an Adventure in Cheshire

"There shall come great tempests, and fiery lightnings, and thunder, and sulphurous fires which shall burn tribes and nations, and heavy stony hail storms, and flying serpents and heathens shall come to you from me....."

The piece above is from an old Irish text ‘Epistul Isu’, but one could be excused for thinking that it was the weather forecast for our February walk. In the end the five of us that were not in the thrall of the meteorologists enjoyed a splendid walk the Chester Canal from Waverton to Beeston.

Starting at Egg Bridge we walked southward through Cheshire’s peaceful farmland. Not always peaceful however, as close by, in 1645, the last battle of the Civil War took place at Rowton Moor. "Posh round here," someone remarked, "they’ve got black and white cottages!"

The much predicted rain found us only ten minutes away from pubfall, so an extended lunch stop in the ‘Aldersley Arms’ ensured we were dried out thoroughly. (Honest) Emerging well fed and watered, we were pleased to find the rain ceased and the skies clearing. A little further on the canal crosses the river Gowy on a small aqueduct so we took the opportunity to climb down and inspect the structure.

More inspection too at Bates Mill where the mill and its environs have undergone a somewhat robust restoration. At Wharton Lock we paused for a breather. Here, the Sandstone Trail crosses the cut as it heads up to the brooding mass of Beeston Castle which had been visible since the start of the walk. The last mile took us past Chas Hardern’s boatyard and up to the unique Iron Lock, so called because of construction from cast iron plates to overcome the running sand which caused the previous masonry to subside.

From here we returned to our cars after thanking Gerry Leach for sorting the walk out.

Strolling down to Stratford

On a bright spring morning a dozen souls congregated at Stratford-upon-Avon railway station ready to catch the train to Wooten Wawen. Quarter of an hour later we came down the slope into the village and walked out towards the canal. On our way we passed the church of St Peter, a building with a multiplicity of architectural styles all surrounding a 1000 year-old Saxon sanctuary. Wooton Hall with its classical gate lodge and ornamental weirs on the River Alne is close by and also a nicely-converted 18th century corn mill.

The Church of St Peter - Wooten Wawen

Weirs on the River Alne near Wooton Hall

Reaching Wooton Wawen aqueduct, we braved the roaring A3400 and climbed up to the canal via a path which afforded us a close look at the construction of the cast iron trough from below. After watching the boating activity at the hire base we set off southwards, enjoying the views over the rolling Warwickshire countryside. We soon encountered our first typical Stratford split bridge with cast iron decking at bridge 55. These were built for cheapness of construction as they dispensed with the need for forming an arch and passing a towpath below it. Instead, two brick piers carry the jettied decks and a wooden balustrade completes the structure. This bridge is particularly pleasing because of its original state and its surviving diamond shaped road locomotive warning sign.

Wooten Wawen aqueduct crossing the busy A3400

IWPS walkers ready to head south

Passing the Odd Lock, which punctuates the length between Preston Bagot and Wilmcote, we came to Edstone Aqueduct, a fine iron trough carried on brick piers over road, river and railway for a distance of 475 feet. (Those of you who are imperially challenged will have to work it out themselves!)

Bridge 61 - typical of the split cantilever bridges of the Stratford Canal

Edstone Aqueduct with Betty Dobbs leading the way

We then wended our way to Wilmcote where we left the towpath and waked through the village to the ‘Masons Arms’ where we spent a pleasant hour in a very untouristy local - despite the close proximity of Mary Arden’s house.

Refreshed, we returned to the towpath and set off down the Wilmcote flight of twelve locks. Here we saw rolls of ready-seeded coir be used as bank protection in the pounds. Onward through Bishopton and down the last flight before passing through the rebuilt and re-towpathed bridge to emerge into Bancroft Basin.

Here, the fragrance of the hyacinths and cherry tree’s blossom in the gardens was much admired. Less admirable was the looming bulk of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre whose brutal architecture is so out of place in such a pleasant scene. Hopefully, if the RSC’s plans come to fruition, the proposed ‘Theatre Village’ to replace the power station-like structure will give Stratford a building of beauty to match Will’s timeless verse. It would also be a splendid opportunity to restore the second canal basin which is under the boggy grass by the theatre.

Wilmcote Locks

Bancroft Basin - Stratford upon Avon

We crossed the Avon by the footbridge which once carried the Stratford and Moreton tramway after first examining the much restored surviving waggon from the line at the northern end. A short walk down river brought us to the grand finale, a boat trip. OK it was only the chain ferry back to the north bank at "thirty pence per person per trip" but it made an amusing end to our walk. We made our way back to the station via several of Stratford’s sights including New Place Gardens and the Ragdoll Shop!

Many thanks to Betty Dobbs who organized it all and saw that we all qualified for our ‘Cerstificates’.

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