Friday, 15 July 2011

Edstone Aqueduct

Edstone Aqueduct
Stratford Canal
1 June 2009

Update May 2011
During a recent trip along the Stratford Canal I picked up these extra images of this impressive aqueduct:

Edstone, sometimes referred to as the Bearley Aqueduct after the nearby village, is to be found on the Stratford Canal and holds the record as being the longest aqueduct in England.

The aqueduct was built in the early 1800's and spans a road and the Alcester Railway (now the Great Western Railway) via a 250 yard cast iron trough sitting atop 13 brick piers, which vary in height from eight to eleven metres. The channel itself is similar to that used at Longden upon Tern, with the towpath forming part of the baseplate.

A later picture of this water point reveals a heater at the bottom, used to prevent it freezing up in winter.

This structure is full of historical interest, and at one time was owned by the Great Western Railway, who fitted a pipe onto it an used it to refill the tanks of passing steam trains.
It also serves as a backdrop for one of the few photos of the infamous canoeist who purchased a solitary license in March 1953 and made a passage along the length of the canal over a series of chilly weekends, a purchase which saved the canal from abandonment. The rest is, as they say, history.

The trough was built without expansion joints, an omission which caused two cast iron plates to break apart and, over a period of 150 years to cause the end buttresses to start to move away from the embankments. The National Trust did a quick and dirty fix in the 1960's, welding a steel plate over the gap and building a concrete buttress to prop up each end. Sadly, these fixes ultimately did more harm than good, with impermeable layers preventing the escape of moisture and allowing the frost to inflict further structural damage.

A proper expansion joint was added in 1992 and then in 2003, some major remedial work was undertaken by Galliford Try. This involved removing the waterproof Gunnite from the buttresses, replacing the engineering bricks inserted into the piers and finally stripping all the lead paint off the cast iron trough before applying a new coat of paint. This £600,000 project was completed under a huge movable tent, without interrupting boat movements and was jointly funded by BW and the Hertitage Lottery Fund on a 7:5 split. Hopefully this investment will see the aqueduct carrying narrowboats in another 200 years time.

Selly Oak Aqueduct

Selly Oak Aqueduct
Worcester and Birmingham
February 2010

Update July 2011
Things have moved on with this aqueduct, which was opened for business about six months ago. During a trip to the new Droitwich Canal I paused and scrambled down the bank to grab the following shots:

 Selly Oak Aqueuct - towpath view

 Selly Oak Aqueduct in profile

And as a bonus this little river aqueduct can be found alongside the new one!

Birmingham is about to get a brand new aqueduct at Selly Oak.

This structure will carry the Worcester and Birmingham Canal over a new by pass at Selly Oak and will involve all sorts of temporary diversions whilst it is being built.

For the time being we can see where it will go from this photo taken by Waterway Routes:

New Selly Oak Aqueduct

Yarningale Aqueduct

Yarningale Aqueduct
Stratford Canal
3 June 2009

Update May 2011
Another trip and another set of photos:

Yarningale is part of a trio of aqueducts on the South Stratford Canal. Whereas Edstone is the longest in England this diminutive structure must rank as one of the shortest - a runty 42 feet, so short that even Wand'ring Bark can't be contained within its cast iron trough.

Yarningale Aqueduct - Captain Ahab's own collection
This is the second single span aqueduct to be built on the site, crossing a small stream near Preston Bagot. The first was a wooden affair, built in 1812 and washed away by a flood in 1834, caused by a surge from the Grand Union. It's replacement, the aqueduct we see today, was erected in an astonishing 27 days in 1834, having been cast at the Horsley Ironworks, whose output graces much of the BCN.

The aqueduct comes as something of a surprise, with its 9 foot wide channel leading directly into the top of Bucket Lock (number 34) and appears for all the world to be an extended narrows. Boaters therefore find themselves coming to a stop just before the top gates and unexpectedly looking down at a stream passing through a densely wooded valley.

Like its counterpart at Wootton Wawen, the cast iron trough was made without an expansion joint and this resulted in the inevitable split, this time over one of the abutments. Yarningale aqueduct formed part of the "three aqueducts" project in 2003, when major repairs were undertaken to the brick buttresses and the trough, where years of frost damage and corrosion was corrected and the structure rendered safe for many years to come.