Saturday, 27 June 2009

Navigation Lane Aqueduct nr Walsall

Navigation Lane Aqueduct
Tame Valley Canal

Well, I think it is called Navigation Lane aqueduct as it crosses a lane of that name! It continued to provide access to a small group of modern houses, hemmed in by a dual carriageway and the canal embankment. I am happy to stand corrected.
Navigation Lane Aqueduct - southern perspective
This is another no nonsense cast iron trough set atop tall buttresses made of Staffordshire blue bricks. Typical of its type, the cast ironwork has some interesting raised features which helps it stand out from the ordinary. Function came before form on this canal!
Navigation Lane Aqueduct - northern perspective
This structure is somewhat leaky, with water streaming from either end and running into the drains in a constant gurgle.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Hateley Heath Aqueduct

Hateley Heath Aqueduct
BCN - Tame Valley Canal
This Grade two listed aqueduct was built as part of the Tame Valley Canal, carrying the elevated canal over Hydes Road in Wednesbury.

Hateley Heath Aqueduct - south profile

Hateley Heath Aqueduct - north profile

It comprises a sectional cast iron trough supported on girders notched into brick abutments. The cast iron panels have some rather fine profiling cast into them, and are bolted together across the sides and the bed of the aqueduct.

Whilst the brick abutments are weeping in places, there is very little evidence of leakage in the main trough.

Thoroughly utilitarian but not without interesting detailing. Easily mistaken for a railway bridge.

Spouthouse Lane Aqueduct

Spouthouse Lane Aqueduct
Tame Valley Canal - BCN

A very substantial rock faced sandstone aqueduct carrying th
e Tame Valley Canal on its unusual double arch facade. The slight recess contains a shallow segmented brick arch, built in 1844.

Spouthouse Lane Aqueduct - north profile
There is some weeping on the southern face, dripping canal water onto unwary pedestrians below.

Spouthouse Lane Aqueduct - south profile

Generations of kids have scrambled over the adjoining embankments and nearby colliery spoil heaps, and the Grade Two listed status should ensure such feats of adolescent mountaineering continue be be a right of passage for the youth of Great Barr.

River Tame Aqueduct

River Tame Aqueduct
Tame Valley Canal

Another obscurity from the backwaters of the BCN. This late addition to the canal network served as a bypass to the overcrowded Farmers Bridge Locks and BCN Mainline.
The Aqueduct can only be reached on foot and its dramatic high arch is somewhat dwarfed by the looming presence of the 6 elevated section which runs alongside this stretch.

River Tame Aqueduct - north profile

The River Tame drains a relatively small catchment basin between Smethwick, Wolverhampton and Walsall. Whilst it is usually no more than a stream, it regularly floods. I has rained hard the night before my visit and it was clear that the surface run off had overtopped the banks and ponded up behind the aqueduct, about 2 metres above the river level you see in the photos.

River Tame Aqueduct - south profile

It is also on of the best bits of moving water in the Birmingham area for canoeing, with some good weirs in the Sandwell Valley and Perry Barr areas.

The Tame Valley Canal has been inundated with overnight rainwater and the normally dry spillway was a foaming torrent beside the 68 steps up to the towpath above.

M5 Aqueduct Tame Valley Canal

M5 Aqueduct
Tame Valley Canal - BCN

One of the more modern aqueducts on the system, carrying the Tame Valley Canal over the M5 in contemporary concrete trough.

Whilst it isn't exceptionally high, the speed of the traffic whizzing by underneath can be quite vertigo inducing!

Possibly one of the least crossed aqueducts on the inland waterways? Hands up anyone who has actually passed this way....

Piercy Aqueduct, Hamstead

Piercy Aqueduct
Tame Valley Canal

This is a 1913 view of the Piercy Aqueduct, one of the last built, in 1844 carrying the Tame Valley Canal over the Old Walsall at Hamstead, Birmingham.

Note the deserted road with just the photographers car in view. This image was taken by the elusive Mr H R Hodgkinson, who was a prolific photographer and local historian with a particular interest in the BCN.

Ten points if you can recognise the politician on the hoarding!

Friday, 19 June 2009

Dungewick Aqueduct

Dungewick Aqueduct
Wey and Arun Junction Canal
19th June 2009

The fascinating thing about researching aqueducts is how one structure inevitably seems to lead to another.

My research into Gosden Aqueduct took me to the Dungewick Aqueduct, its peer to the south of the summit pound. This carried (or I can now say carries) the canal over the River Arun, or the River Lox, or the River Chid or maybe even the River Tarrant - no one seems quite sure what it is called.

Dungewick Aqueduct 1937

The original structure was very similar to the Gosden, except it comprised three low arches rather than four. This brick built structure was demolished in the 1950's but has formed part of the Loxwood Extension to the ongoing Wey and Arun restoration project, and was reinstated as a single span concrete channel in 2003 to comply with EA requirements for an unimpeded food relief channel.

The end result may not have the patina of ages ingrained into its brickwork, but it certainly does the job and is a huge shot in the arm for the committed band who continue to work on this ambitious restoration project.

The story of its reconstruction is lovingly documented at from which these two images were obtained.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Gosden Aqueduct

Gosden Aqueduct
Wey and Arun Junction Canal

A low slung four arch brick built aqueduct, carrying the Wey and Arun Junction Canal over Cranleigh Waters.

This aqueduct was engineered by Josias Jessop (son of William) and completed 1816 as part of an inland through route between London and Portsmouth during a time of war with France. By the time the canal was complete the war was over and its main raison detre removed. It did trade profitably for 50 years or so before the railway from which this photo way taken, took over.

The north east side was partially destroyed, possibly when the railway was dismantled but its north west face remains intact.

Both photos are c/o , which is a site offering a fabulous insight into the little known canals of southern England.

Friday, 12 June 2009

Avon Aqueduct, Warwick

Avon Aqueduct

A graceful three arch aqueduct, built to carry the Warwick and Napton Canal (now the Grand Union) over the currently non navigable Higher Avon.
Records exist which suggest that the Avon used to be navigable "nearly as far as Warwick", but this route has long since vanished and upstream boaters are now halted by a wier a couple of miles above Stratford bridge.

There are longstanding plans to restore navigation on the Avon up to this point, and then connect to the Grand Union either via four locks, or a boat lift type structure. This would provide a wide beam route between the southern and the Avon / Seven cruising areas. This plan is unpopular with some local landowners (including the National Trust), so I don't expect to see this vision realised anytime soon.

Kelvin Aqueduct

Kelvin Aqueduct
Forth and Clyde Canal

This magnificent Robert Whitworth construction was built between 1787 and 1790, spanning the River Kelvin on four huge masonry arches, suspending the Forth and Clyde canal 70ft above the river.
A James Hopkins drawing showing a boat heading for the western terminis at Bowling on the River Clyde.

The structure is an impressive 400 feet long and was the largest aqueduct in the UK at the time of its construction.As with most pioneering civil engineering projects, things did not go according to plan and costs escalated to £8,500, £2,000 over budget.

After a long period of abandonment the canal has recently been restored now holds Sheduled Ancient Monument status.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Cromford Railway Aqueduct

High Peak Railway Aqueduct (south)
Cromford Canal

Courtesy of Wickepedia - the only photo from the vantage point of the live track.

During restoration @1973

This third Aqueduct on the Cromford is of yet another design. This later addition, built by Stephenson in 1850 to cross the newly built High Peak railway line, is a single span cast iron trough which continues to hold water, more or less. At the time of our visit in Feb 2009, it has been de-watered and stanked off for repairs, exposing a most impressive plug hole!

Captain Ahab's own collection

An unremarkable aqueduct but look out for the top of the balustrade, made of a surplus section if railway line. Whilst not spectacular, this aqueduct has also achieved ancient monument status.

Railway Aqueduct (north)
The structure originally had a twin at the northern portal of the same railway tunnel, carrying the half mile Nightingale Arm over the track. Today the gap is spanned by a narrow footbridge, but the resting point for either end of the trough can clearly be seen in the brick abutments. Sadly, I can find no photographic records of this aqueduct, which was probably removed in the 1930's.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Wigwell Aqueduct

Wigwell Aqueduct (aka Derwent Aqueduct)
Cromford Canal

You can't accuse William Jessop of a lack of variety. He seemed to see relish variety and after the earthwork with stone arches of Amber Aqueduct, he tackled the crossing of the River Derwent in great style using Crich Limestone.

Captain's own collection

He started work on Wigwell Aqueduct in 1790 but by 1793 his part completed structure started to fail and serious cracks were found, which were attributed to the use of a lime mortar from a quarry in nearby Crich. The mortar didn't ever set and, at his own expense, he rebuilt the structure using iron cramps, which continue to hold the masonry together to this day.

Jessop was a man at the forefront of his profession, having previously been John Smeaton's deputy and was keen to establish his reputation as an engineer, hence his willingness to remedy the defects on the Cromford aqueducts at his own expense. Whilst the Wignwell Aqueduct was being rebuilt cargo was carried via tramway on a temporary bridge. His own account of this failure places the blame squarely on his own shoulders:

"The failure happened for want of a sufficient strength in the front walls and I blame no one but myself for the consequence, having often seen profusion of expense by an unnecessary consumption of materials."

The aqueduct has an overall length of 182.9m, carrying the northern end on the Cromford Canal 38ft above the level of the River Derwent, using three arches. The central elliptical span in an impressive 73m with smaller accommodation arches at either end.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Bullbridge Aqueduct

Bullbridge Aqueduct
Cromford Canal
4 June 2009

An aqueduct notable by its absence!

The aqueduct was built in 1794 and was mainly an earth embankment about 30 feet high pierced by three arches, one for the river, a tributary of the Derwent, one as an accommodation arch for the houses in what has become the village of Bull Bridge and one for the main road to Nottingham.
Its official name is, or rather was, the Amber Aqueduct and was a four story jumble of communication links, with the canal at the top, then a railway over a road which ran over the river!

The structure was originally built by William Jessop and itsuffered a partial failure before it was opened. William Jessop took responsibility and personally funded £650 of repairs.

The Aqueduct section was 150 feet long and was orig
inally contained within masonry walls, but when the railway line was added it was sleeved with a 150ft x 9ft x 6ft cassion, which was built and assembled at Butterley, and then floated down the canal and installed one night without interfering with the substantial volume of traffic still passing along the waterway.

The aqueduct was controlled by traffic lights, but trade ceased with the repeated collapses of the Butterley Tunnel in the early 1900's, and after a few decades of disuse it was finally demolished in 1968, making way for the multi track railway line we see today. Rumour has it that the iron trough lingered in a storage yard for a number of years but was finally sold for scrap.
Unusually, the remaining section of the embankment is Grade 2 listed, which must have presented a problem for the two houses built on top of it in recent years.

The absence of this aqueduct is the single most significant obstacle in reconnecting the Cromford Canal to the Erewash, a few miles to the south east.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Wootton Wawen

Wootton Wawen
Stratford Canal
2 June 2009

First up, its pronounced "Woat'n worn".

This aqueduct is a mini version of the Edstone, wi
th the same style of cast iron trough carrying the canal 30 yards across the A3400, originally on two spans, but now with three brick piers and the towpath being an extension of the baseplate.

A large plaque on the side tells us that it was built in 1813 by W Whitmore (engineer). The aqueduct has stood the test of time but it's limited 4.4m headroom has been insuffiicient on many occasions and the structure has undergone numerous alterations to rectify damage suffered. - scene from 1953

The structure stands beside a large basin which currently hosts an Anglo Welsh hire base, who undertake pump outs when boats are stationery on the aqueduct, much to the irritation of any other passing water traffic.