Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Three canals, one that is, one that was and one that never made it.

We're still on the same stretch, one more weekend at The Anchor and we will be off, heading north, Chester? For the moment we are once again at Norbury Junction, open mic. night in The Junction tomorrow.
Now about the three canals, the first one is familiar to most of us on the canals.
The Birmingham and Liverpool Junction Canal, it runs from Wolverhampton to Nantwich where it joins the Chester Canal, it is now better known as the Shropshire Union Main Line.

At Norbury Junction the second canal branches off

under a rather attractive bridge. This is now just a stub used for moorings with a dry dock at the end. The dock is built on the site of the top lock of a flight of seventeen that dropped boats down to join the Shrewsbury Canal. Originally the canal was built for tub boats and ran from Shrewsbury to Trench where an inclined plane connected it to the east Shropshire tub boat canal system. In 1835 the Newport branch was built from Wappenshall to Norbury to connect it to the main system. There is an active restoration society. Today we wandered down to the hamlet of Oulton where a minor road crosses the route of the old canal.
From a walk a few years ago we knew that one of the old locks was visible and if you were prepared to brave beds of nettles and man eating brambles you could scramble down from the bridge, to our surprise it seems that the W.R.G. have been active and

the lock chamber and surrounds have been cleared and it was relatively easy to clamber down from the bridge.

The cill is still in situ and does anyone know the proper name for the big chunk of iron that protects it from the front end of boats going up?

From below the bridge is still in perfect condition. We followed the old towpath down and discovered two more lock chambers,

one of which still had the remains of its bottom gates in place although the top gate needs quite a serious restoration.

The accessible section ends at another bridge which actually has water under it although I doubt I'll still be around when the next boat comes through.
I must thank Simon at Norbury Wharf for calling my attention to the third canal. It seems that in 1766 a certain Richard Whitworth put forward a plan to join the River Severn at Atcham with the as yet unbuilt Trent and Mersey at Shallowford.

It would have followed the course of the rivers Tern and Strine as far as Newport and then headed north east towards Eccleshall and then on to the a junction with the T.&M. It would have crossed the current route of the Shropshire Union near High Offley. The project had local support but failed to get support in Parliament. However Whitworth had already put weirs across the Lonco Brook, a local stream, in order to fill a reservoir as water supply. This interfered with the flow of the brook which caused a shortage of water at the nearby Weston Jones Mill, a mile downstream. He was sued by the tenant of the mill at Stafford Assizes and had to pay damages and remove the weirs.
So there you have the three canals.

Watch this space............


Halfie said...

The closest I can get, from Jim Shead's Waterways Info, is "bumping piece". "Wooden or iron protective cladding on lock gates or the breast wall."

"Breast: The end wall at the head of a lock, which supports the sill."

Graham and Jill Findlay said...

At last! Concrete info.
Somewhere, can't remember where, I have seen it called a "bebe" but as it had an accent over the first e, I find it unlikely.