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!

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