Friday 22 July 2016

Summer Cruise Day 11 - Exploring Bugsworth Basin

First of all thank you to Adam and Dela who quite rightly corrected my error reguarding the Marple aqueduct.  The photo was in fact of the railway bridge not the aqueduct which is beyond the Marple locks where we could not have seen it.   Thank you both. 

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 
 The major product exported from the basin was Lime and burnt Lime although some Gritstone was also exported.  Thousands of tons of setts, paving and building stones left from here.

 The upper basin not only had the Navigation Inn but also the Lime crushing shed.  In the photo below the wagons loaded with lime would come down from the quarries via the now grassed area and spread out throughout the basin.  The crushing shed spanned the arm you can see to the right of the one AmyJo is moored in.

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

Lower basin

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.

Murder most foul!  On the 26th October 1898 boatman John Cotton murdered his wife in the cabin of a narrowboat moored here at the basin.  He was arrested on the same day, tried and Derby Assizes  and hanged on 21st December 1898.

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 :-)


Nb oakapple said...

Hi both ,did you know that the Navigation was once owned by pat phoenix AKA Elsie Tanner
All The Best Rich and Sharon ( nb Oakapple )

Jenny said...

That's a very interesting and informative post - great reading, thanks for sharing.

Robin and Jenny, Romany Rambler

nb AmyJo said...

Hi Sharon
Yes we had been told but there would be no way of knowing when in the pub but thanks for the reminder though we had forgotten that.

Ade said...

Great stuff with the drone keep em coming enjoyable post.