Sunday, 31 May 2009

Longdon on Tern Aqueduct

Longdon on Tern Aqueduct
Shrewsbury Canal
31st May 2009

This aqueduct is as fascinating as it is remote.

The aqueduct was originally assigned to Josia Clewes who started work on a conventional stone structure but whose sudden death in 1795 caused responsibility to pass to Thomas Telford.

The aqueduct looks like a bit of a hybrid, and so it it. The stone abutments at the end are the remaining sections of the original stone aqueduct, the central section of which was washed away in floods before completion.

My thanks to NB Starcross for this photo.

Telford was looking for an alternative approach to aqueduct construction, which would allow him to go longer and higher. Having seen an early application of cast iron used in an aqueduct on the Derby Canal, he devised the Longden on Tern trough we see today - 62 feet long (of an overall 187 ft), 3 feet deep and 9 feet wide. This trough then sits on three slender piers bedded into masonry.

Telford learned from this structure, moving on the the magnificent Pontcysyllte, using the best of Longden on Tern but improving the ease of use by widening the trough and cantilevering the towpath over it. This allows water to move more easily around a passing boat, easing its passage.
The trade to Coalbrookdale dried up and the canal was abandoned in 1944,then de watered in the 1950's. The structure is now Grade one listed and a scheduled ancient monument to boot.

Fascinating eh?

Brindley Bank Aqueduct (Rugeley)

Brindley Bank Aqueduct
Trent and Mersey Canal
Rugeley, Staffs.

Another typical Brindley aqueduct, squat and solid, capable of supporting the masonry, water and the considerable about of puddle clay needed to line its double width channel.

This aqueduct crosses the upper reaches of the River Trent on four low arches, turning at right angles from the line of the contour canal, instead of a squewed structure which would align better. At the time that this structure was erected, skewed arches has not been perfected, so Brindley opted for his tried and tested approach, even in this did mean boats having to perform gymnastics to get onto its southern end.

This aqueduct was photographed by the Captian in May 2009, during one of his kayaking expeditions with Royal Sutton Coldfield Canoe Club - covering waters other boaters would even consider exploring!

There is an excellent put in / out point just upstream on the aqueduct. Out, if you have travelled down river from Great Haywood and in if you are planning a trip downriver to the footbridge at Armitage.
Wether this aqueduct marks the upstream or downstream limit of your canoe trip, the proximity of the river and canal make for a number of excellent circular trips.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Wyre Aqueduct

Wyre Aqueduct
Lancaster Canal
Near Garstang

Another aqueduct by John Rennie (also Dundas and Lune), built in 1797 and stands 110 feet long and 34 feet high, carrying the Lancaster Canal over the River Wyre.

Sow Aqueduct

Sow Aqueduct
Staffs and Worcester Canal nr Tixall
A squat, four arch stone aqueduct constructed by James Brindley. This was initially built on dry land and, when complete, the River Sow was diverted under it. Very similar to its near neighbour over the River Trent.

Captain Ahab's personal collection - July 09

The Sow is a tributary of the Trent, which it joins at Great Haywood near Shugborough.

In times of flood I have seen the water right up to the top of the arches, and the upstream valley flooded from one side to the other. For the rest of the time the river has barely enough water to float a canoe.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Semington Aqueduct(s)

Semington Aqueduct(s)
Kennet and Avon Canal

You get two aqueducts for the price of one in this entry.

The historical part of me says I should display the old river aqueduct first, but instead I will show you the new one recently built to span the A350 between Semington and Melksham.

Yes, its in concrete but can you imagine anyone paying the sort of money this one cost in the 1960's, when the Kennet and Avon laid abandoned with little hope of getting the nearby Caen Hill flight restored.

And then there is the old Semington Aqueduct, which has been quietly going about its business, carrying the Kennet and Avon over Semington Brook, for over 200 years. It was completed in 1807, is a mere 46 feet long and has a Grade 2 listed attached to it.

Biss Aqueduct

Biss Aqueduct
Kennet and Avon canal

A moddest structure which carries the Kennet and Avon over the River Biss (a tributary of the Avon) between Hilperton and Trowbridge. It also spans the Westbury to Bath railway line.

Avoncliff Aqueduct

Avoncliff Aqueduct
Kennet and Avon Canal

Another of John Rennie's aqueducts, but not as well known as Dundas a couple of miles to the West or the Lune Aqueduct on the Lancaster Canal.

However, its another graceful edefice constructed out of warm Bath stone which looks its best in the evening light.

Friday, 22 May 2009

Majors Green Aqueduct, Shirley

Majors Green Aqueduct, Shirley
Stratford Canal

We very nearly overshot this aqueduct as we travelled down the North Stratford in the pouring rain.

It is located between Earlswood Motor Yacht Club and Salter Street and carries the canal over the River Cole.

Captain Ahabs own collection

The surprisingly substantial aqueduct is constructed of dark engineering bricks and the single archway spans both the river and the appropriately named Aqueduct Road. There may be a better view from the other side but a lack of access point means that this view will have to wait for a land based inspection.

The embankment is very steep and an expedition to the riverbank was achieved rather more quickly than anticipated. The toil back up was somewhat slower and only made possible by judicious use of saplings and roots.

Captain Ahab's own collection

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Calf Heath Aqueduct

Calf Heath Aqueduct

This aqueduct goes almost unnoticed from the canal, with just four small crenelated "turrets" marking the corners atop a high stone wall.

Captain Ahabs own collection

The river flowing under it is a tributary of the Penk, but I can't identify its name. In times of heavy rain it quickly turns into a torrent and this is certainly more than a mere culvert.

Getting a good vantage point is tricky, but possible from the end the grounds belonging to Calf Heath Marina, aka Mistys. I will post a better photo taken in the winter, when the leaves of the weeping willow have fallen.

River Rea Aqueduct, Warwick Bar Birmingham

River Rea Aqueduct
Grand Union at Warwick Bar, Birmingham

Pearson fails to even mention this structure which stands between The Bond and the Banana Warehouse, carrying this arm of the Grand Union over the River Rea.

Its hard to imagine the area as watermeadows with a mill, standing beside the embryonic city of Birmingham. At the time the hamlet was simply known by the name of its landowner, the family Berm who resided in what is now Digbeth.

A worthy structure which spans one of Birmingham's major spillways, surrounded by a magnificent display of lupins at the time of our visit.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Tividale Aqueduct - BCN

Tividale Aqueduct
Netherton Branch and Old Main Line

A brick built grade two listed aqueduct, constructed @1890 to carry Brindley's Old main Line over the new Netherton Branch access route into the Netherton Tunnel (const 1858).

Captain Ahab's collection

This another of those rare beasts which carries a canal over another canal.

Tividale Aqueduct from the Netherton side, showing the turbine pipes.

Captain Ahabs Collection

An unusual feature of this aqueduct are the steel pipes coming out of the side. These fed water into an electrical turbine located in the hut at the bottom, which in turn fed power into the Nethertion Tunnel to provide illumination. The concept of electrical generation on the canals in nothing new!

The elongated island in which the central pier stands also served as a toll collection station, with the passing boats being gauged as they passed through the narrows.

Friday, 15 May 2009

Dundas Aqueduct

Dundas Aqueduct
Kennet and Avon Canal

Belle often criticises me for waxing lyrical about so much on the waterways, but please indulge me on this one.
This is undoubtedly the most beautiful aqueduct in the UK, but not necessarily my favourite (see Engine Arm Aqueduct on the BCN). The structure was probably John Rennie's finest architectural achievement, built of same mellow Bath Stone which has played such a big part in Bath's enduring popularity over the last 2000 years.
Rennie went to town on this 150 yard structure, with its 64ft semicircular central span and two 20ft elliptical arches on each side. The end result is wonderfully balanced and finished off with Doric Palisters and balustrades at either end.
The Aqueduct took four years to build, being completed in 1801 and was brought into service in 1805. Unsurprisingly, it has suffered leaks over the years and was closed in 1954, and dewatered in the 1960's and 70's prior to renovation and reopening in 1984.

A far cry from the industrial utility of the BCN!

For once I am not alone in my appreciation of this aqueduct. It carries a Grade One listing, and has the distinction of being the very first canal structure to be a scheduled as an Ancient Monument in 1951.

If you only ever take one bit of advice from me, take this: Stop the boat at the junction with the Somerset Coal Canal and walk down to the bank of the River Avon, then savour the experience.

Some people ask me why God made such an extraordinarily amazing Universe, to which I reply... because he could. Rennie's Dundas Aqueduct dosn't quite have the Universal "wow" factor, but why create such a beautiful answer when something simpler would have done? Because he could, I guess.

Its good to see that the restorers were equally inspired and were able to deliver new sections which matched the originals so well.

Midford Aqueduct

Midford Aqueduct
Somersetshire Coal Canal (Disused)

This could only happen in England!
What are the chances of securing funding to restore an aqueduct, abandoned for 100 years, to its original 1815 specifications? What are the chances when the cost is close to £700,000 and the aqueduct is on a disused branch of a disused branch that lead to.... an abandoned tramway!
I like to think that I am an optimist, I would have to say that the chances of success are about as great as me winning the EuroMillions this weekend.
Well, somehow a case was agreed by the Heritage Lottery Fund to stump up this very considerable sum and bring this crumbling edifice over the Cam Brook back from the brink.

Midford Aqueduct before restoration

The Somersetshire Coal Canal did very much what it says on the tin. It carried coal from the nearby mines to Bath, in much the same way that the Bridgewater carried coal to Manchester. The canal was surveyed by John Rennie, assisted by William Smith, branching off the Kennet and Avon at Dundas along two 10 mile arms. The canal prospered from 1815 to 1870 but inevitably the railways arrived and killed the trade, inflicting the ultimate humiliation of laying their tracks along much of the line.

...and after restoration

The aqueduct carries the architectural signature of Rennie and is an asset to the landscape. However, I am still amazed that such an obscure and little visited structure should have been endowed with such a sum. The good news is that it is only one lock above the Kennet and Avon, and it is feasible to imagine a navigable channel being reinstated as a staging post to a full restoration to Paulton at some point in the future.

Dunkerton Big Aqueduct

Dunkerton Big Aqueduct
Somersetshire Coal Canal (disused)

Another aqueduct on the disused line of the Somersetshire Coal Canal, mid way along the summit pound to Paulton. This structure saved from railway obliteration thanks to it being located on a kink in the line of canal, which the railway cut off.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Stour Aqueduct - Kidderminster

Stour Aqueduct - Kidderminster
Staffs and Worcester Canal

Kidderminster Aqueduct - eastern perspective (concrete) from the Captian's collection

A substantial double arched aqueduct which returns the Staffs and Worcester Canal to the western side of the Stour, immediately before Kidderminster Lock.

Kidderminster Aqueduct - western perspective - the original brick face.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Barton Aqueducts

Barton Aqueducts
Bridgewater and River Irwell / Manchester Ship Canal

Brindley's original
The very first aqueduct in the UK, conceived by the Duke of Bridgewater and built by James Brindley in 1761 to carry the Bridgewater Canal over the River Irwell. Demolished to make way for the unique Barton Swing Aqueduct. Today only the end abutments remain standing either side of the Manchester Ship Canal.

Brindleys original in the 1880's, pre Manchester Ship Canal

Just before demolition in 1891

Barton Swing Aqueduct

Built in 1893 to replace Brindleys original masonry version as the Irwell Navigation was expanded into the Manchester Ship Canal.
This iconic structure was designed by Edward L Williams, who was also involved in the construction of the equally famous Anderton Boat Lift, and built by Andrew Handyside.
The structure remains impresive even today, swinging its 235 ft / 1450 ton trough round at 90 degrees on a central pivot to allow ships to pass along the once busy MSC.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Bollin Aqueduct

Bollin Aqueduct
Bridgewater Canal

This may not be the most spectacular aqueduct, built to carry the Bridgewater Canal over the river Bollin, but it certainly has some contemporary history.

In 1971 the canal breached the embankment beside the aqueduct, gouging a 90 foot ravine through theembankment to reach the river 34 feet below.

The repairs cost £250,000 and resulted in a major rumpus about who was liable. Manchester Ship Canal (owners of the canal) were within thier rights to abandon the canal, or pipe the water over the breach, but in the end a consortium of interested partied formed a trust to operate the waterway and the breach was fixed. The waterway was reopened to through traffic in September 1973.

There isnt much to see on the ground now except a long concrete narrows, which bridges the site of the breach.

Monday, 11 May 2009

Engine Arm Aqueduct

Engine Arm Aqueduct
Birmingham Canal Navigations

The sign reads...
This magnificent aqueduct was originally desiged and constructed by Thomas Telford in 1825 to carry the Engine Arm Canal 52 ft above the New Main Line some twenty feet below.

The Aqueduct...Is an iron trough supported on a cast iron laced arch with brick and stone abutments. The aqueduct was restored in 1985 and incuded a new painting scheme to highlight the fine detail of the ironwork. The brick footbridge carrying the Old Main Line towpath has honeycomb indents in stone quoins. The trough is supported on five cast iron ribs, each of which was built in four sections - a veritable meccano construction.

Engine Arm Canal... Also known as Engine Branch or Birmingham Feeder Arm, is typical of the many short branches serving industry which were lined and totally enclosed by factory walls and wharves. It's main purpose was a feeder from Rotton Park Reservoir to the Old Main Line at Smethwick Summit but the trough was built 8ft wide, so navigation across is possible. The end of the feeder was made navigable mainly to bring coal to the Smethwick Engine site at Bridge Street as part of Telford's improvements in 1830.

The canal is a quiet backwater but it only requires a little imagination to see it as a hive of activity with workmen, horses, boats passing, loading and unloading at the now silent wharves and loading points. When industry turned its back on the canal, the windows, doors and loading points were crudely blocked off or bricked up.

The Captain says...
This is my favourite aqueduct, surpassing all others. Its not the longest, nor the higest, it goes nowhere in particular and few come to visit it, but its use of wrought iron in a gothic style, cast at Horsley Ironworks, is a triumph where function rules spreme but at the same time the form is sublime.

To say I like it a lot is an understatement!

Stewart Aqueduct

Stewart Aqueduct
Birmingham Canal Navigations - Old and New Main Lines

A Thomas Telford addition to the BCN network which was completed in 1829. It stands close to another of Telfords aqueducts at the Engine Arm, but in spite of it being completed just four years later, its construction is utterly different. In place of the fine wrought ironwork we see a solid brick built aqueduct which has more than a passing resemblance to a typical Brindley construction, whose original canal line it carries.

The aqueduct is a Grade 2 listed structure and is sited close to Spon Lane locks, the oldest surviving chambers on the canal system. The Aqueduct crosses the New Main Line on two skewed arches with a central support rising from the middle of the lover navigation channel. At some point retaining buttresses have been added to this central cutwater.

Captains own collection
A rare example of a canal crossing another canal canal, with road, rail and motorway all compressed into one small area.

Whilst the M5 is never beautiful, I think that its looming presence overhead enhances the image, if not the ambiance!

An explanation

A word of explanation

This blogsite will be populated opportunistically, as images of aqueducts present themsleves to me. Over time I plan to collect photos of as many aqueducts as I can and will post a selection of the best. As such it is destined to be a work in progress forever.

If you have some particular favourite images of aqueducts let me know where I can find them be appling a note in the comments box. If I apply the image I will credit the photograpehr, usually by including the web addess.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Minshull Aqueduct

Middlewich Branch