Today was absolutely perfect for drone flying, light cloud, the sun shining and next to no wind so we charged up the drone and went for a flight over the basin.
Bugsworth basin is a fascinating place. It does not look like much work went on here until you read the history of the site. Although the basins are named upper, middle and lower they are of course on the same level, the names elude to the fact one basin is upstream of another.
Entry to the basin is via the narrows gauging stop place or gauging lock outside the offices and stables. Here boats leaving full of lime were gauged and tolls levied before they could leave. Loaded boats were fitted with 4 gauges, two aft and two forward. the displacement average of the gauges was make and determined the toll, in addition the distance the load was to be taken was also added
|The gauging lock is just hidden by trees opposite the wharfinger's office|
According to the Bugsworth guide the office was built around 1797 and the first wharfinger (basin manager) was German Wheatcroft. It was later extended to house stables.
The horse transfer bridges are replicas of the originals which were built such that horse-drawn boats heading for the middle and upper basins had no need to unhitch.
|All three basins are visible in this picture. AmyJo is moored top of frame|
|Navigation Inn on left with AmyJo in one of the loafing arms. |
The crushing shed would have spanned the short arm to the right
To enable unloading of the wagons tramways ran over elevated wooden stagings along side the arms where they could be tipped up by one of four tipplers onto the floor below or directly into the boats.
A tippler was a mobile unit running parallel to the tramways tramways. It consisted of two simple A-frames upon which spanned an axle with a 15 foot wooden wheel at one end. The tippler straddled the wagon and two chains attached to the tippler's axle would be connected to the closed end of the wagon. By operating the large wheel the wagon could be tipped and its load deposited out of the open end onto the wharf below.
|One of the four tipplers|
|A tippler and staging with Lime deposited below|
|In this photo you can see two parallel tramway foundations on the right, one for the wagons and one for a Tippler|
Sadly all that remains of the staging now are the square indents in the walls for the bearers and large bolts (many bent over or cut off) that held the uprights in place. All the tramways are gone but their footings still remain.
|Middle basin. Here you can see the tramway is built higher than the wharf to aid unloading.|
The staging would have run alongside the wall over the grassed area
Operating the wagons was a dangerous occupation. Gangs of up to 40 wagons were operated by one man (Ganger) and one boy (Nipper). To stop the wagons a hook connected to a chain on the wagon would be thrown into the spokes of the wheels (spragging) to stop them turning and thus brake the whole gang. As you can guess there were many injuries, broken wheels and derailments caused as a result. HSE? not in those days!
The wagons would have come down from Dove Holes Colliery and were moved simply by gravity or horse drawn for the return journey
|The horse transfer bridges|
|This overhead shot show the complexity of the basins and the layout of the tramlines|
In this video you get to see the scale of Bugsworth basin. If you are doing the Macclesfield or the Peak district canal then this place is a must do on your list. Its a delightful place and one we enjoyed very much.
In the afternoon we broke out the bicycles and had a cycle round to Whaley Bridge to see what was there. Having explored a bit we returned and enjoyed a pint of Cider in the Navigation Inn. No puncture this time either :-)