The Inland Waterways Protection Society Ltd 

Campaigning    Restoration    Preservation    Development 

Newsletter "174" November 2010


Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all our Readers


Bugsworth Basin Report New Status for British Waterways
Extracts from our Visitors Book Health and Safety Booklet
What about Navigations controlled by the Environment Agency The future role of the Volunteer Waterway Manager
Walking weekend in Ireland Licence enforcement for overstaying moorers
Health and Safety - have we gone mad? History of Canals and their People
Bridgewater Features - a collection by Peter Whitehead Ancient and unusual units of measurement in the Peak District
New improvements for the Peak Forest Tramway Realities of the Comprehensive Spending Review
Ice Berth by Linda Goulden Mike Malzard returns to Bugsworth
New product lines at the Sales Counter Lune Aqueduct in need of repair
Archive photo of the Rochdale Canal in Manchester A bit of humour


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


Need some expert advice? Contact: Paul Johnson
Tel: 01524 400677, Mobile: 07767 747868


Lower Basin - Bugsworth - August 2010
Photo by Martin Whalley



By Ian Edgar MBE Chairman IWPS and Hon. Site Manager

Probably the most important piece of news I have for this issue is that the leaks in the Lower Basin Arm (commonly known as the Leak Branch) have now received British Waterways’ attention. When the major relining was done this section was not re-lined successfully so now, with the extra care taken, we are hopeful that this apparently never ending problem has now been solved once and for all. As I write the section is still under test, the stop planks stanking off the arm are still in place but the omens are good!

Before and After pictures of Bugsworth Canal Basin by Don Baines.
Left: Serious leaks developed along the Lower Basin Arm - 2008.
Right: Repairs completed- only the fencing to be removed - October 2010.

The planks across the arm will remain in place so we can control the water level to repair the collapsed wharf walls along the ‘wide’. We hope to be able to agree a programme with British Waterways for this work very shortly. The problem is that the work must be done during the winter which, with short days and inclement weather, is not the best time.

Our illustration shows the partially undermined retaining wall, never of very good quality and unusually shallow. This is now deteriorated to such an extent that it has fallen in to the water. Moored boats running engines with the propeller in gear has made the situation worse. Eventually with no support the inevitable happened. This section, and several others like it but not as extensive, can only be rebuilt with the water level lowered to permit access from the canal side. That necessity throws up all sorts of logistical and practical problems one of which is fish rescue. We have started discussions with British Waterways as to how to do this and hopefully we will come to some decisions that will enable work to be undertaken without letting all the water out completely and without the need to remove any fish. This project will include several sections of wharf wall between Bridge 59 and opposite the lime kilns. There is no possibility of closing the Basin in the tourist season so the target is to get this work done this winter. Whether we succeed or not has yet to be seen!

The IWPS is also, at last, able to announce that we shall be placing handrails on the ramps of Bridges 58 & 59. These will be steel, tailor made, and be on each side of the ramps. IWPS will be instructing the contractor. The cost will be covered by British Waterways.

IWPS volunteers will, by the time you are reading this, have applied preservative to all our fencing and other timber work throughout the Basin but not on the boundary fence for the By-Pass which is the responsibility of the County Authority. 100 bays of fencing each of 6’ have used 50 litres of Ebony Sadolin kindly provided by British Waterways. Except for one small bay all the fencing is in good condition with no rot and we aim to keep it that way with prompt maintenance.

Bev Howard and Dave Thompson apply an even coat.

I am afraid to say there has been no progress to report on the new Blackbrook House. We still await final approval of the ground conditions where we want to build. Hopefully this issue will be resolved within the next few months.

We have had a very busy season with, despite the weather, many boats and foot visitors. Bugsworth Basin still attracts people who come back again and again because they say Bugsworth is always worth visiting. Long may it be so.

During the winter we are going to have to prune some quite substantial branches off the trees alongside the entrance channel, mainly between Canalside Cottages and Canal House. My view is that although there is sufficient headroom for pedestrians along the towpath we have to anticipate the winter storms ahead and avoid towpath blockages etc. This route, which is a Public Footpath as well as a towpath is well used by local people to go to Tesco and Whaley Bridge as well as many walkers both individual, couples or large groups.

The IWPS is very proud of the fact that volunteers restored the Basin either by sheer hard graft over many years or providing the impetus and enthusiasm to attract grants and the co-operation of British Waterways to work with us. This volunteer effort is mentioned on the Information Panel near to Canal House and also on a signboard on the Bridge at the junction with the Whaley Bridge Arm. This sign is now so old and rotten that I intend to take it down within the next week or so and consign it to the skip. It is too far gone to be restored and it was a second hand sign board in the first place! I am looking therefore for a sponsor for the new board or somebody who has connections with the signs industry who might support us in this or at least give us a good rate. Please contact me on 0161 427 7402. In the meantime I am going to get some costs for a modern sign which will have a long life and which can be regularly cleaned.

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Extracts from our Visitor Book at Bugsworth:

2010 has been a very busy year for the Basin with boat visits holding up very well and many congratulatory and appreciative comments in our Visitors Book. We also have many suggestions in our box – some being very silly and others very valid. As all suggestions are anonymous we have to ignore the silly ones and do our best to act on the valid ones.

One of the nice comments out of hundreds:

"We have had a lovely stay. Thank you past and present for your hard work,"
(Mr. Young, Essex.)

Some of the valid comments:

"A handrail coming from the top of the bridge opposite would be helpful for people with walking difficulties – otherwise really nice"

As mentioned earlier handrails will be installed soon certainly for the next boating season.

"What about a sign at the start of the first arm (the dead end with no turning) to tell boaters it is a dead end and they have to reverse out. We have seen hire boaters and inexperienced crews panic as they get in but can’t reverse out"

A sign is already in place between Bridges 58 and 59 which can be seen from the gauging stop place but we have seen boaters ignore this and go speeding down the Lower Basin Arm. The trouble is that new visitors, usually from a long way away, do not appreciate the size of Bugsworth Basin and they think the Lower Basin IS Bugsworth. I don’t think there is much more we can do about this other than put up a proliferation of signs which we are trying to avoid.

"More dog poo pins and notices about dog fouling please – (nb Golden Spirit)."

Yes, good point but we already have seven poo bins on the Basin which are emptied weekly and can accommodate all the mess which the dog owners pick up. The real problem is owners who could not care and if we had more bins (at over £100 a piece) those people would still leave their dog mess on the ground.

"The room should be bigger"

Yes, we know but until we get the £300,000 for our new building there is not much we can do other than improve our temporary accommodation. We have outline plans for this temporary arrangement which will be implemented if we think the funds for the permanent building are not coming within a reasonable period. We have full planning permission for the new permanent building.

And some of the silly if well intentioned suggestions usually with a childish hand:

"A beach with a pool"
"Please get rid of the Canada Geese. Their mess is everywhere". What? Shoot them?
"Reinstatement of the horse tramway then I could use my draft horses on it!"
"You could have real toys and can you please make the Ice Cream 50 pence please"


The sixth edition of the booklet has just been completed after a lot of hard work by Don Baines. This is issued to all Bugsworth volunteers as the H&S ‘Bible’. Copies are also available to others with a donation to Society funds appreciated. It is divided into sections covering: Health & Safety Policy, Health Hazards, COSHH Requirements, Lifting & Handling, Basic Safety Procedures to be followed for Plant, Machinery and Tools in Use etc. For H&S Purposes and Risk Assessment, Bugsworth Basin should be considered as a ‘Construction Site’ as appropriate and treated with the respect such locations merit.

It is IWPS Policy to review the booklet regularly but not necessarily on an annual basis. Updated versions of the booklet will be published as and when the relevant data sheets/manuals have been acquired and any necessary risk assessments completed.

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Much has been written in the Press on the ‘Bonfire of the Quangos’ (Quasi nongovernmental organisations; an organisation that is financed by the Government yet acts independently of the Government). Much of this reporting has been speculative and as regards British Waterways sloppy. In my opinion there are quangos and quangos and many could disappear without anybody noticing or being concerned. However, no Government could just ‘abolish’ a concern of such magnitude, or importance and with such assets as BW. Something had to be ‘done’ and it appears now that we are getting the bones of a possible new organisation. The ‘meat’ will no doubt be put on those bones within the next year or so. Here is what the important players have to say:

An Interview by a reporter for the publication ‘THIRD SECTOR’ with Robin Evans for British Waterways:

‘We’ve wanted this for ages’

The largest new arrival in the charity sector from the public sector – the English and Welsh arm of British Waterways – is looking forward to a brave new world of freedom, innovation and volunteering.

Being part of central government means you’re not seen as an organisation people have ownership of and responsibility for. People say ‘Government has all the money in the world – why don’t you just get them to spend it on the waterways? We need to find another way.

Evans has campaigned for the move in to the voluntary sector since before the last general election, arguing that it would foster innovation and provide new access to new sources of funding. He also believes it will attract thousands of volunteers because the people like the idea of caring for a local river or canal.

“To do that they would previously have had to offer their time to the Government” he says. “No one wants to volunteer for a quango. Others in the third sector tell us that once you engage the public, great innovation comes”.

British Waterways is currently a public corporation. Its English & Welsh arm looks after more than 2,000 miles of rivers and canals, and the third largest portfolio of historic buildings in the UK (after the Church of England and the National Trust – IE). It has an income of about £180m. Its annual Government Grant will continue for 10 years, but Evans expects it to fall by 20 per cent to £40m a year. The organisation also receives income from property, services to boaters, the sale of water to farmers and fire brigades, and grants from other bodies. Evans estimates the charity could eventually attract about £20m a year in donations and legacies.

He also foresees increased efficiency and better governance. “In Government we had one way of doing things” he says. We had strict guidelines about what we could and couldn’t do. It was frowned upon to be too entrepreneurial. We also plan to have a council representing all the groups that use the waterways. The boaters have the most financial interest of course but we need to make sure British Waterways also represents anglers, walkers, environmentalists, historians and many others with an interest. We also want to attract a good balance of trustees’ says Evans. ‘We need business men, in particular who can identify ways to find new revenue’.



British Waterways welcomes the UK Government’s announcement today (14/10/10) of its intention to transfer British Waterways’ inland waterways in England and Wales into a new charitable body. The move, promoted by British Waterways for the last 18 months, will be the biggest shake up of the waterways since nationalisation in 1948. It will attract new investment, secure jobs and give the public greater involvement in the running of their local canal or river.

The announcement by the Cabinet Office that British Waterways will be replaced with a new civil society body builds on recommendations by British Waterways for the establishment of a ‘national trust’ for the waterways, as waterway minister, Richard Benyon MP, explains: “Our waterways are a cherished feature of the British landscape and a source of joy to many. Transferring British Waterways from Government to a charitable body will give users of the waterways a greater say in their future management and help to ensure they remain a wonderful part of our natural and cultural heritage of value to society and the economy. This change reflects the confidence we have that the engagement of local communities and interest groups will ensure the success of this transfer to civil society, building on the good work of British Waterways and countless waterways enthusiasts. It’s a great example of Government giving power back to the people.”

Welcoming the announcement, British Waterways’ chairman Tony Hales, said: “This is excellent news and something we have been urging all political parties to support since last year. The waterways have been utterly transformed for the better in the time since British Waterways was established in 1962 and are now used in ways in which their original builders could never have imagined. That transformation has owed much to the enthusiastic staff and stakeholders who love the waterways passionately. Moving the waterways from public ownership into a charitable body recognises the need to build on that enthusiasm and marks the beginning of an exciting new chapter in their 250-year history.”

In the 50 years since British Waterways was established, the waterways have evolved from a moribund industrial transport system into a thriving environmental and leisure resource. British Waterways’ 2,200-mile network of historic canals, rivers and docks is visited by 13 million people a year and now delivers an annual £½ billion in benefits to the nation, from amenity, flood relief and employment to green infrastructure, neighbourhood renewal and wildlife corridors.

Caring for this 250-year old working heritage requires intense management and significant funding, some of which are restricted by British Waterways’ 50-year old governance structures. Last year therefore (May 2009) British Waterways put forward radical proposals for a rethink of how the nation cares for its historic canals and rivers, taking British Waterways out of direct state control and into the third sector.

The Government responded on 21 June 2010 by announcing that it would explore the potential for transferring British Waterways and the Environment Agency’s canals and rivers into a new charitable body as part of a coherent vision for the Government grant-aided inland waterways of England and Wales.

As well as increasing stakeholder and public engagement, moving the waterways into the charitable sector creates greater opportunities to put them on a firmer financial footing. Future funding will come from a combination of: a guaranteed, long-term contract from Government; commercial income (such as receipts from a charity-locked property endowment, boat licences and utilities), and growing charitable income (e.g. donations and legacies.

Allowing for due diligence, the Government intends to have the new body up and running by April 2012. Work will now continue to develop the governance model, funding contract and transitional arrangements of the new body. Defra will further explore whether the Environment Agency’s navigations should be included and will discuss with the Scottish Government the options around the Scottish waterways, which are devolved to Scotland, including their potential inclusion in the new charity. British Waterways will work with Defra officials and waterway stakeholders to ensure good continuity, a smooth transition and a successful launch for the new body.


BW cares for 2,200 miles of historic canals, rivers and docks in England, Scotland and Wales. It funds its work through a combination of commercial income from property and licences, Government and third party grants, and partnerships with a broad range of public, private and voluntary sector partners.

Since May 2009, BW has been calling for the creation of a new ‘national trust’ for the waterways as a way of encouraging greater public engagement and creating new funding opportunities. For further information visit

Our Chairman Ian Edgar comments:

This is a good step forward but I think we will all have concerns about a sustainable income stream without which the present backlog of maintenance could not be eradicated. Contingency funding for major remedial works (like the two breaches on the Mon. & Brec. Canal) must be available. With the existing status quo and Government spending cut-backs much will rely on the 'Guaranteed long term contract from Government' to make up the income
shortfall. It is also gratifying to have an IWA Observer at British Waterways Board Meetings who can, at first hand, give the voluntary side of the partnership. One would hope that this presence will continue, and hopefully expand, within the new governing body. If the new venture is to succeed and the voluntary sector is to be truly embraced, true partnership
is essential. Knowledge, experience and cost containment, gained from very many voluntary restoration projects throughout the system will have to be acknowledged. The IWA together with Waterway Recovery Group have a tremendous amount of experience in this direction especially the IWA who have a subsidiary actually managing, maintaining and developing the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation, a former independent waterway which would have fallen in to receivership and no doubt eventual loss without the IWA intervention. The IWPS Restoration at Bugsworth Basin is by this and other modern standards, a small project but nevertheless a significant milestone in waterway restoration. We are called upon to comment and input information and opinions. I have, for instance, been asked to speak at the English
Heritage-Environment Agency Annual Conference with British Waterways on 'Rural Regeneration & Tourism at Bugsworth Basin' in October. The mindset presently prevailing within BW towards the voluntary sector is, I believe, slowly changing. Let us hope that continues.

The above may not be the opinion of some of our members so I proviso it with the fact they are my views as being the official most in contact with British Waterways, English Heritage etc. They must not be read as the official position of the IWPS Council of Management.

In summing up we will all have differing opinions on the contents of the above but certainly I think everybody with a connection to waterways in general and British Waterways in particular could not accept that the status quo could continue. The do nothing option was just not there. Some if us will see some suggestions or proposals or call them what you will are fanciful – like BW (or whatever name is selected because it will not be British Waterways) – will somehow quickly build itself to the stature of the National Trust. The sustainability of the income stream worries me. Other facets which affect me as an independent volunteer manager working with the present BW is the need for a totally different mindset to that presently prevailing within BW. I feel that Robin Evans and Tony Hales already know this. Even now I feel the ‘wind of change’ within BW so my concern is tempered with hope. All in all I think, for the moment, we have the best solution which could have possibly been on the table. Others may disagree but others have not come up with a proven viable solution to this problem.

In my opinion the Inland Waterways Association has quite rightly dealt with Government and with British Waterways on an almost exclusive basis. If we are to come out of this with any success the right decision was taken. After all most waterway related Societies, and the IWPS is one of them, are affiliated to the IWA. Almost all are engaged in waterway restoration, maintenance or management one way or another. It is to the IWA and Waterway Recovery Group that BW or successor will have to build their ‘Charity’ vision. It would have been quite out of the question for so many different organisations with their own priorities to lobby and negotiate. Even with the IWA Chairman now working as a consultative and advisory member of the BW Board it is going to be a hard task to get all this up and running by 2012.

We shall have to wait and see but the die is now cast. We in the voluntary sector must do all we can to make it work because if we don’t my view is that all will be lost. I emphasise I write this as Chairman of the IWPS and not for the Council of the IWPS who have yet to consider this issue.

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The IWA position is well described in the Association’s Press Release:

‘After a period early this century when funding was increasing, the pressure on the public finances has again led to British Waterways and the Environment Agency being starved of funds so that they are both operating their waterways with an annual funding deficit ands considerable maintenance backlogs. These unpredictable fluctuations in the finance available suit no-one’s purpose. You won’t find a voice anywhere in Government or elsewhere who doesn’t believe the inland waterways are a national asset and must be preserved for the nation. It is a question of how.

Richard Benyon, the Waterways Minister, clearly believes that a third sector model is the right way forward with management of the waterways by civil society. We also believe that this is the best approach. We are in no doubt that the first building block for the third sector model would be the merger of British Waterways and the Environment Agency, with the economies of scale that would deliver and the benefits to users of a unified management structure for the waterways. However our (IWA) support is not unconditional. A third sector model will not suddenly become a body that does not require public funding. I am sure that this requirement will reduce over time as economies come on stream and as the public begins to recognise and support a national third sector body for the waterways. But it will need a launch pad of the British Waterways property portfolio and a long-term central government service contract to reflect the public benefits for which there are not, and there can never be, income streams.

The key decisions are being made under the Comprehensive Spending Review. I hope that Government will take the longer term view. If it gets those decisions right the inland waterways can serve as a great example of how the Government’s aspirations for greater management of organisations and institutions formerly thought only capable of operation in the public sector can flourish in the third sector.’

I agree with the standpoint of the IWA. Following a joint request by British Waterways with the Environment Agency and with English Heritage I was requested to give a short presentation on the restoration of Bugsworth Basin with present/future Tourist Potential.

This was at a conference at Solihull on 21st October last. At that unfortunately poorly attended conference senior management speakers for all three organisations accepted the fact or even generously admitted that there had been serious mistakes made in the past in dealing with each other on joint waterways ventures. This had been detrimental to the scheme in question and in one case absolutely catastrophic. Even without the merger of EA with BW all were adamant that there would be no recurrences. That was very encouraging for me as a volunteer manager to see progress ahead. Whilst I have had no dealings with the EA (other than with a straight forward water extraction licence from the Blackbrook) I know there has been a certain amount of conflict or resentment between the two bodies. I therefore support the idea of merger of the two for better future.

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In my view this is a real hot potato. I have been managing the Bugsworth Basin Project since 1974 and I am approaching the time when I would like to have things a bit easier thank you very much! During that time I have had the support of a loyal membership and most of all a loyal band of Basin volunteers who actually wanted to be there and who would do, almost always, whatever I asked them to do. I never told volunteers what to do and certainly if a volunteer was asked to do a job he hated then I re-assigned the work. That way everybody is happy and gains satisfaction by their volunteering.

If I am now to be asked to manage people who have never worked for years and who don’t want to work and who don’t have an interest in canals I am almost certainly not going to do that on the same basis as volunteers. I suspect that other volunteer managers think the same – I had 40-odd years of management directing paid staff who had the incentive of a paid job to comply. If thousands of long term unemployed are to be ‘dropped’ on the voluntary (third?) sector without managers recruited and paid for by the Government which has forced them to do that unpaid work then I cannot see the IWPS, in our present format, being able to respond.

My view and opinion might be ill-considered, selfish or anti-social but it is me who would stay awake at night wondering where we were going and what we were doing. I throw this issue open to discussion and would like to hear our members opinions!

Again that is my view and not that of Council.


‘On Manchester and Pennine Waterways we have 926 lock gate leaves (more than miles of canal and 11% more than any other BW Region) and of these one third are knackered. With my present budget and resources it will take 4 years to clear this backlog’

David Baldachino, Waterways Manager, BW Manchester & Pennine to User Group Meeting in Dukinfield 2nd November 2010

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This was an excellent week-end enjoyed by some 25 or so members in a beautiful part of Ireland and for the most part wonderful sunny Autumn weather – we had a downpour on the Sunday afternoon which was soon over.. The hospitality of our hosts, Brian Goggin, Mick Murtagh and others members of the O’Briansbridge Community Group, was stupendous and our thanks go out to all of them who spent so much time with us on the week-end and preparing for our visit. Our thanks also to our own David Kitchen who did much of the co-ordinating and who came up with the suggestion we should go further afield.

Andy Screen will write a full report for the next ‘174’ but in the meantime our Editor will include (by kind permission) in this issue a press release from the Limerick Post 9th October 2010. The fame of Bugsworth Basin, the restoration and now management by volunteers had spread to Ireland and our group was considered as somewhat important in having a canal just like Bugsworth Basin when we first came to it and a vast experience. I feel that I may be unable to aspire to the status accorded to us but I will try! I am keeping in touch with our Irish friends with a view to giving them some advice on how to restore the former Limerick Navigation. The Community Association has done a lot of small projects and interpretation work but no actual channel/lock works.

More about this in the next issue.


This is only a very occasional problem for us at Bugsworth but we re-produce here a Boating Brief circulated at the User Group Meeting for Manchester and Pennine Waterways on 2nd November 2010:

‘The new enforcement regimes work to a strict regime of regular checks using hand held pcs. The evasion rate is currently running at an average of just below 5%.

During August, visitors to our online boat checker reported 154 sightings of unlicensed boats via the BW website. Of these, 14% have subsequently relicensed and a further 48% were already in BW’s enforcement process. 8% resulted in new cases being opened for action, and the remaining 30% were boats which were not identifiable through a valid boat index number but the details have been passed to BW’s enforcement teams for further investigation. This information is reported monthly in our online newsletter.

We have made some changes in our continuous Cruising process to make best use of the extensive sightings we are now collecting. A monthly analysis of sighting identifies those boats which have move only minimally and the results passed to the Enforcement Officer. They open a dialogue with the customers about our concerns that Section 17 of the British Waterways Act 1995 – and in effect CC guidance – is not being followed. If subsequent sightings continue to show no significant movement, the standard enforcement process begins.

BWs interpretation of Section 17 of the 1995 Act (the section that says you must have a home mooring or ‘bona fide’ navigate throughout the period of the licence was recently considered by a judge at Bristol County Court in response to our (BW) request. We are awaiting Judgement which we hope to receive before Christmas.

(The interesting issue here for us at Bugsworth is there is presently no Enforcement Officer patrolling the Peak Forest Canal – IE).

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The IWPS believes in a sound H&S Policy and to this end our Don Baines has spent many a long hour formulating our policy and documentation. We believe that any volunteer working at Bugsworth Basin is as safe as we can make him/her whilst at the same time maintaining a thread of common sense in how we carry out our work. We have two tractor mowers, strimmers, a pedestrian mower and a hover mower to keep the grass and weeds under control. We would never, for instance, use a tractor mower on a 45 degree banking. We use our pedestrian mower for that.

I was very interested and more than a little amazed to read in my newspaper that grass cutting had been ‘banned’ at Carlisle Castle due to H&S. No longer would it be possible to cut the grass there due to the steepness of the banks surrounding the castle. Realising the absurdity of any H&S Official imposing such a ban as really ‘over the top’ I was just about to put pen to paper when a Letter to the Editor’ appearing in the Daily Telegraph beat me to it. I print the letter here verbatim but with my comments added:

Sir – In response to your report about grass- cutting at Carlisle Castle
(August 24), I can confirm that there is no guidance from the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) that prevents it.
Organisations, such as English Heritage have a responsibility to look after the health and safety of their staff (volunteers in the case of the IWPS - IE). But that doesn’t mean that they can’t mow lawns. The HSE has not issued any new guidance on mowers recently in this sector.
Three people died at work using mowing equipment last year, and a number of sit-on mowers turned over on steep slopes. The risks are real, but with appropriate management of those risks (like not using sit-on mowers on steep slopes – IE) for example using a different type of mower, activities can continue.
A straight forward, sensible risk assessment would quickly show where the real dangers lie and what can be done to address them.

Graeme Walker,
Head of Agriculture, Health & Safety Executive,
Bootle, Lancashire.

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History of the Canals and their People

Don Baines

If only this proposed canal had been built, what a wonderful cruising route it would be today - could have been another massive restoration for volunteers to mastermind for that to occur though - Ed

Derby Mercury 20 July 1825

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Bridgewater Features - a collection from Peter Whitehead

The Bridgewater Canal in Worsley with the packet house on the left.  Photo: Jack Brady Archive Collection.
The township of Worsley lies along the Worsley Brook and it now forms part of the City of Salford. Underneath the township there were extensive deposits of coal owned by Francis Egerton, Third Duke of Bridgewater, which formed part of the Lancashire Coalfield.

An engraving of Francis Egerton, Third Duke of Bridgewater (1736-1803), who built the Bridgewater Canal, sometimes known as the 'Duke's Cut'. His Grace was responsible for the development of Worsley as an industrial town in the latter part of the 18th century.

Worsley Delph in the 1980s. Photo: Jack Brady Collection.
A single mine boat (better known as a ‘
starvationer’) can be seen in the centre. The grassed area between the two entrances to the coal mines was constructed during restoration in the 1960s.
These entrances provided access for the starvationers, the largest of which could carry 12 tons of coal, and they were the way in to 46 miles of underground canal on four levels connected by inclined planes.

Worsley Delph as depicted by Arthur Young in his book of 1771, A Six Month Tour through the North of England

At this time there was only one entrance to the coal mines.


A preserved starvationer at the Ellesmere Port Boat Museum in the 1980s.  This museum is now called the National Waterways Museum Ellesmere Port and it is managed by the Waterways trust.
Photograph: Jack Brady Archive Collection


The barge Mary, loaded with coal, on the Bridgewater Canal in Worsley with the Packet House is on the left.
Photograph: Jack Brady Archive Collection


Left:  The original Barton Aqueduct at Barton-upon-Irwell, Patricroft.
Constructed in 1761 by James Brindley, this stone aqueduct was required to carry the Bridgewater Canal over the river Irwell. This section of the canal is now better known as the Stretford and Leigh Branch of the Bridgewater Canal.
The Bridgewater Canal was constructed by the famous canal triumvirate of Francis Egerton, third Duke of Bridgewater, the promoter, John Gilbert, the Duke’s agent, and James Brindley, the surveyor and engineer. The purpose of this canal was to transport coal to Manchester and Salford and so reduce its cost. The supply of water for the canal was from the Duke’s coal mines at Worsley and in this way the mines were drained as well. Thus, three problems were solved at once.
The aqueduct was about 200 yards long by 12 yards wide and it had three arches, the centre one having a span of 63 feet. It carried the canal at a height of 39 feet above the river Irwell. It was the major wonder of its day and some said that it was impossible to construct. It is believed to be the origin of the well-known saying, “
And pigs might fly”. The full saying being, “And pigs might fly when waters meet in Market Street.” In the event, doubters were proved wrong and waters did meet at Castlefield, close to Market Street in the heart of Manchester. As soon as it was opened, people flocked to witness the spectacle of boats sailing high above other boats on the river Irwell, which then formed part of the ancient Mersey and Irwell Navigation.

Barton Swing Aqueduct on the Bridgewater Canal at Barton-upon-Irwell, Patricroft, early 1970s.
The aqueduct is seen here in its open position to allow ships navigating the Manchester Ship Canal to cross the line of the Bridgewater Canal. The accumulator tower, used to operate the aqueduct, stands in the background and the stonework on the right is a remaining abutment of the earlier Brindley aqueduct.
The decision to build Manchester Ship Canal was taken in the 1880s and it was decided to use the course of the river Irwell at Barton as part of the navigation channel. This meant that Brindley’s original aqueduct had to be demolished although it remained open until the swing aqueduct was completed.
Manchester Ship Canal opened for trade on Monday, 1 January 1894 and Queen Victoria officially opened it on Monday, 21 May 1894.
Sir Edward Leader Williams (1828 - 1910) designed the new aqueduct and it holds 800 tons of water and has a gross weight of 1,450 tons. It is swung, full of water, to allow the passage of ships along the Manchester Ship Canal. Because it is swung full of water, it is sealed at both ends with hydraulically operated gates and the ends of the Bridgewater Canal are sealed in a similar manner.
The accumulator tower provides all the hydraulic power needed and it contains a weigh-loaded accumulator, which is literally a large diameter cylinder with a piston inside it having a very heavy weight bearing down on it. The purpose of this is to supply smooth hydraulic power to the swing mechanism and to the gates as it balances fluctuations in demand for the supply of power. An hydraulic pump is used to raise the piston back to the top of its stroke. Sir William George Armstrong (1810 – 1900) developed the weight-loaded accumulator.
Photograph: Jack Brady Archive Collection

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Ancient and unusual units of measurement in the Peak District of Derbyshire once used in the extraction of lead ore

By Peter J Whitehead

The Peak District is renowned for its immense deposits of high-purity limestone but it was also rich in other mineral deposits, the most prominent of which was lead ore (galena). There is evidence to show that the Romans mined for lead ore in the Peak District but it is likely that it was taking place prior to the Roman occupation. Over the years, customs and laws evolved to govern lead mining and some of these were in place by Saxon times. Measurement was important and the unit of length used was the meer and the unit of capacity (volume) was the freeing dish.

It is important to recognise that customs, laws and measurements were variable across the High and Low Peaks and that the description below is but one of several of alternatives.  

The meer was nominally 32 yards but it could be 27, 28, 29, 30 or 32 yards depending upon where the measurements were being taken. This means that the length varied between the different districts (Liberties) in which miners were searching for veins of ore, each Liberty having slightly different customs and laws. While being a unit of length, the meer was also, indirectly, a measurement volume where the width and depth could be anything, depending upon the size of the vein of ore being measured.

Although the meer was used to measure length, the vein of ore could be anything up to 20 feet or more in width and its the depth was unknown because none was ever mined down to the point where it closed up. In practice, many veins were mined to depths of 165 yards or more, the actual depth being dependent upon the resources available to the miners.

A major vein was known as a rake and a minor vein was a scrin. A rake consisted of a nearly vertical wall of ore and other minerals (gangue) up to 20 feet or more wide and of indeterminate depth, sandwiched between two walls of rock (typically limestone and/or basaltic volcanic rock known as toadstone). Rakes varied in length from a mile or more, with some extending up to four or five miles. 

When a vein was discovered it had to be ‘freed’ and this was done by application to the Barmaster who was a Crown official who dealt with lead-mining matters. Thereupon, the Barmaster registered the name of the vein and other details upon payment to him of two standard dishes of ore, known as ‘freeing dishes’. These two dishes represented an initial payment due to the owner of the mineral duty in the particular Liberty. The owner was the Mineral Lord who could have been the Duchy of Lancaster, the Duke of Devonshire, the Duke of Rutland or private individuals but due to complex leasing arrangements the ultimate owner was the Crown. There was also a King’s Field that seemed to be directly owned by the Crown.

Standardized freeing dishes for measuring dressed ore were introduced in 1513 during the reign of Henry VIII. Two of these have survived, one is in the Science Museum in London and the other is in the Derby Industrial Museum. The capacity of

the dish was meant to be 14 Winchester pints but the technology of the day was insufficient to produce this accurately. The London dish has a capacity of 487.2 cubic inches, whereas the Derby dish has a capacity of 464.4 cubic inches. Using the modern value for the Winchester pint, the capacity of the dish is 470.4 cubic inches, which lies between the capacities of the two surviving dishes. For everyday use, miners made copies of these dishes in the form of oak troughs and some copies were made that were twice the capacity, that is, 28 Winchester pints. More details of the Winchester pint and bushel are given in the appendix. 

Once payment had been made to the Barmaster, the miners who discovered the vein could commence working the first three meers along their vein after the Barmaster had laid them out. The first two were known as ‘Founder Meers’ and the third was called the ‘Lord’s Meer’. The width worked was controlled by the width of the actual vein and they could work as deeply as their resources allowed. The Lord’s Meer belonged solely to the owner of the mineral duty, that is, the Mineral Lord. The miners had the right to purchase the Lord’s Meer and in this instance it was valued by the Barmaster and members of the Barmoot Court who entered the mine to inspect and value the vein.

Prior to 1690, some mineral duties in the Peak District belonged to the Duchy of Lancaster but in that year they were leased by the Duke of Devonshire.

Meers beyond the Lord’s Meer could be freely mined and these were known as ‘Taker Meers’. If Taker Meers were not continuously worked to the satisfaction of the Barmaster they could be ‘nicked’ (forfeited) by other miners wishing to work the vein. In cases where a vein was not being worked, as a result of flooding or poor ventilation, then it could not be nicked. If a vein was not being worked to the satisfaction of the Barmaster he cut a nick in the wooden windlass (stowe) used for raising the ore from the mine. When the Barmaster had cut three nicks, the mine was forfeited to the claimant.

Besides payment of two freeing dishes of ore, the miners were also required to make other payments. These included, ‘Lot’, ‘Cope’ and ‘Tithe’.

A Lot was a fraction of a quantity of dressed ore ready for smelting due to the Mineral Lord. Usually, it was one-thirteenth part but it ranged from one-tenth part to one-twenty fifth part depending upon the Liberty. The Mineral Lord could also adjust this ratio, for example, to reflect a change in the price of lead in the market and this was done at intervals (reckonings) held about every six weeks

A Cope was a duty paid by miners to the Mineral Lord in order that they could sell their ore on the open market to a lead merchant; otherwise it was sold to the Mineral Lord. Depending upon market conditions, the Cope was variable and it was a price put on a load of ore. A load was a unit of capacity taken to be nine freeing dishes but its weight was dependent upon the quality of the ore. Hence 1 ton of dressed ore was found to be between 3½ and 4 loads, with an average of 3¾ loads.

A Tithe meant a one-tenth part of something (e.g. goods) and it was a contribution to support the church. The Commutation Act of 1836 allowed tithes to be paid in cash rather than goods. In effect, this meant that a one-tenth part of a quantity of ore was paid to the church.


In these calculations the ore is taken to be dressed and ready for smelting. Dressing ore consisted of crushing it to about pea size and then sieving it while immersed in water.

Winchester pint and bushel

The Winchester bushel was an ancient measure of dry capacity† (dry volume) and it is now taken to be equivalent to 2,150.42 cubic inches. The modern value will be used in calculations because of discrepancies in the old value. The Winchester bushel was abolished in Britain in 1824 but it crossed the Atlantic to the United States where it is still used.

†Also known as the corn capacity.

2 dry pints     =  1 dry quart

4 dry quarts   =  1 dry gallon

2 dry gallons  =  1 dry peck

4 dry pecks    =  1 dry bushel

Multiply together all the values on the left:

Hence, 64 dry pints (Winchester pints) = 1 dry bushel (Winchester bushel)

Therefore, 1 Winchester pint = 2,150.42/64 = 33.6 cubic inches

But 1 freeing dish = 14 Winchester pints

Therefore, 2 freeing dishes = 28 Winchester pints

Therefore, 2 freeing dishes = 28 Winchester pints x 33.6 = 940.8 cubic inches

To give an idea of the size of two freeing dishes of ore paid to the Barmaster to enable miners to start mining, 940.8 cu inches would fill a container 21 inches long x 6 inches wide to a depth of about 7½ inches.

One load of ore,

1 load of ore = 9 freeing dishes

But 1 freeing dish = 14 Winchester pints

Therefore, 1 load of ore = 9 freeing dishes x 14 = 126 Winchester pints

Therefore, 1 load of ore = 126 Winchester pints x 33.6 = 4,233.6 cubic inches

To give an idea size of one load of ore, 4,233.6 cu inches would fill a container 21 inches long x 6 inches wide to a depth of about 33½ inches.

It was recorded that one load of good ore produced about 3 hundredweight (336 pounds) of lead when it was smelted.

1 ton (or 3¾ loads) of ore

1 load of ore would fill a container 21 inches long x 6 inches wide to a depth of about 33½ inches,

 Therefore, 1 ton would fill the same container to a depth of about 33½ x 3¾ ≈ 126 inches.



The natural form of lead sulphide (PbS), the most important lead ore mineral. In the Peak District it was found in association with several other gangue minerals, including fluorspar, barytes and calcite. Nowadays, gangue minerals are of importance.


The freeing dish.

The inscription reads:

This dishe was made the iiij day of October the iiij yere of the Reigne of Kyng Henry viij before George Erle of Shrowesbury steward of the Kyngs most Honourable household and also Steward of all the honour of Tutbery, by the assent and Consent aswele of all the Mynours as of all the Brenners within and Adioynyng the lordshyp of Wyrkysworth percell of the said honour. This Dishe to Remayne In the Moote hall at Wyrkysworth hanging by a Chayne so as the Merchauntes or mynours may have resorte to the same at all tymes to make the trew mesure after the same.

The first line of the inscription shows that the dish was made on the 4 October in the 4th year of the reign of Henry VIII. He succeeded to the throne in 1509, following the death of his father, Henry VII, hence the dish was made in the year 1513.

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Derbyshire County Council will start work in January on the upgrading of the Peak Forest Tramway between the two existing metalled surfaces at Lower Crist and Whitehough. Part of the Scheduled Ancient Monument Area is affected. English Heritage has been consulted and all statutory procedures will have been completed before the works started. I, as Manager of Bugsworth Basin will be consulted for our IWPS input. Part of the route was seriously damaged by a new gas main laid a few years ago with the sleeper blocks been salvaged and now at Bugsworth Basin..

The work includes:

Our concerns lie with the need for what sleeper blocks remain to be protected. We note an important note on the Plan:

Throughout these works care must be taken not to disturb or damage the embedded stone sleeper blocks.

Whilst we accept the fact that much damage has already been done to the Tramway (aka the ‘Trail’) I have to accept the fact that, whilst we would have liked a more extensive improvement and restoration, the detailed plans are not unduly damaging to the historical remains. The improvements will be of benefit to the local people and will encourage visits to Bugsworth Basin along an interesting, safe and traffic free route.

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The IWPS joined the Derbyshire Museum Forum some years ago anticipating that by now we would have our own Museum and Interpretation Centre at Bugsworth Basin. This unfortunately has not happened as the funding we had from EMDA (now disbanded or nearly so) for this project was withdrawn and we are seeking alternative funding. However we still take a great interest in what other museums are doing, especially the small independent ones. These are struggling not only with finance but with shortage of volunteer management and resources etc. It is surprising how many of these there are, even just in Derbyshire & Leicestershire I fear this situation is only going to get worse in the short term but I am hopeful things will improve in the medium and long term ready for when our new building comes on line. Some interesting facts about the ‘cuts’ circulated by the Forum are:

At a recent meeting well attended by English Heritage people I anticipated a certain state of despondency but the opposite, or nearly so, was actually the case. There was a feeling that the cuts would come, they were inevitable, and we just had to get on with it. The next year will tell so we shall see.

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Ice Berth

to the limekiln dock
the narrow boat
stole in the dusk
slipped through
the bridge-hole
turned in the side-pound
moored in the dark
and would have been
should have been
gone by dawn
had the ice not come
in the night
laying down layers
of stony white
now it is stuck
gripped bone-tight
by envious men
under a low
slow sun
time-bound it waits
for the water’s tug
to creak and crack 
to break 
to make
this winter

©       Linda Goulden

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Mike Malzard returns to Bugsworth

Some weeks ago, Mike’s widow, Jill, asked if we could plant a tree at the basin in his memory. Our answer was of course “yes.” Their daughters, Lynne and Kimberley, then walked the site from end to end, finally selecting a small glade beside older trees planted by the IWPS on the Caravan Field. Family decision reached, Jill and Kimberley’s husband, Steve, chose a dwarf flowering cherry. The label said it would grow to about eight feet when mature. Boaters and anyone using the towpath could only be cheered by the sight of bright blossom, set against a background of the many shades of green in an English spring.

A pouring of “compost water” around the 12” pot cheered up the foliage no end. A week later, IWPS volunteers prepared the site and Jill planted the tree. Someone then said that a proverbial bird, sitting in the branches during autumn and winter, could already see the Entrance Canal, as far as Teapot Row. If he were to turn his head 180º, the view would take in the seven-holes weir spillway, beside which Mike and Jill started work as IWPS volunteers in 1991.

Why not use a hefty Peak Forest Canal tramway sleeper block as a memorial tablet?  Scrubbed clean by Bevan Clark, the beautiful light pink of the gritstone, containing lighter specks of quartz, set off the memorial brass plaque to perfection: In memory of Mike Malzard 1940 – 2010 a true canal enthusiast.

Picture the scene on Sunday October 24th 2010. The sun chose to shine and a cool wind had dropped to just a slight breeze. Members of Mike’s family and friends   gathered together beside the spot. The casket of his ashes fitted perfectly into a compartment, set into the ground an hour or so earlier and since surrounded by a fresh mix of cement aggregate. Mike would have loved these details as Bevan had planned. Four of us took our places at the ends of some scaffolding pole and gently lowered the stone into place. A bunch of yellow roses looked perfect, laid on top. “Goodbye Mike,” Bevan said.

Sometimes bizarre thoughts enter the mind in the strangest places. Just as I held my end of the pole with the stone in mid-air, Mike’s voice came into mind. We were walking together along the towpath towards the Caravan field. Ben his dog trotted at our sides. A group of well-dressed people, all looking serious, stood together, right where we intended to work: “What are those people doing, Mart? I hope it isn’t another dead cat!”

How we shall miss Mike’s classic Jewish humour but on the credit side we can always walk down to the Caravan Field. Only last weekend, appropriately on Remembrance Sunday, IWPS volunteers were due to clear a wharf beside the Upper Basin. Just before we started, Don Baines said, “I think I’ll go and have a word with Mike.”

Several of us separately did just that during the day. What is more and “thanks” to the rain and cold of recent weeks, those roses looked remarkably fresh, just where they lay. So it is with you, Mike. You will always be with us as the boats pass the Caravan Field, and the little tree sees the seasons come and go in your special place.

Martin Whalley

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Our readers will know that the PFCC is an independently owned company which trades solely for the benefit of The Inland Waterways Protection Society and for Bugsworth Basin.

A supporter knowing the Charitable Connection the PFCC has recently given an end-of-line range of multi-tools etc. for sale in aid of funds. These are as the advert in this issue of ‘174’ and excellent value for money.

They can be purchased either at Bugsworth Basin when the shop is open or by mail order placed with the Chairman of the IWPS, Ian Edgar, Top Lock House, 7 Lime Kiln Lane, Marple, Stockport, SK6 6BS

Please add £1.00 for postage to your order and make cheques payable to The Peak Forest Canal Co. Ltd.


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Lune Aqueduct in need of repair

The Lune Aqueduct is situated in the Preston-Tewitfield section of the Lancaster Canal and it carries the canal over the river Lune near Lancaster. This stone-built aqueduct is 600 feet long by 60 feet high, with five 70-feet semicircular arches topped by substantial cornices and partly balustraded parapets. It was designed by John Rennie and building work was completed in the autumn of 1796. The canal was formally opened on Wednesday, 22 November 1797 by a cavalcade of six boats travelling from Lancaster to the aqueduct and back, following which the participants processed to the King’s Arms for dinner.

The condition of this magnificent Grade I aqueduct of the Georgian Period is now such that £2 million needs to be spent on it to restore and refurbish it to its former glory. To this end, a consortium of British Waterways, the Canal Trust and local councils has been established with the object of placing a bid with the Heritage Lottery Fund. The consortium has already been given £50,000 to enable it to put a bid together and if this is successful then the work could be completed in five years.


Lune Aqueduct, 1985.  Acknowledgement: The late Jack Brady

Lune Aqueduct, IWPS Walk August 2004 - Photos: Don Baines

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The Rochdale Canal, early 20th century.
A scene at an unidentified location on the 'Rochdale Nine' in the heart of Manchester.
The provenance of this photograph is unknown.

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And, finally, a little humour:

From Judy Capper and Barbara Walker of Thackley, taken from the Thackley Vuvuzela (Formerley the Thackley Trumpet!)


Prince Charles got married

Liverpool crowned soccer champions of Europe

Australia lost the ashes

The Pope died


Prince Charles got married

Liverpool crowned soccer champions of Europe

Australia lost the ashes

The Pope died

Lesson to be learned:

The next time Charles gets married, someone should warn the Pope!

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