The Micklehurst Loop – Part 3A

The Canal Lock adjacent to Woodend Mills

While I was writing the second article about the Micklehurst Loop I was contacted by Keith Norgrove. He sent me two pictures which came from a cycle ride along the Huddersfield Narrow Canal Towpath in 1963, one of which was relevant to the length of the Loop covered by my first article. The second image showed the Canal with a view of the Micklehurst Loop including a train climbing towards Diggle with the Saddleworth Moors behind. [1] As far as I can tell, this location is adjacent to the Woodend Mills North of the centre of Mossley.

This picture was taken in 1963 by Keith Norgrove while he was on a cycle ride along the Huddersfield Narrow Canal towpath. The photograph predates by some years the renovation work which took place on the canal. At that time the lock alongside the Woodend Mills in Mossley has been allowed to become nothing mush more than a weir on the canal. This view of the old Micklehurst Loop is no longer available because of tree growth, but the Canal has been fully renovated. It has outlasted the Micklehurst Loop and now carries pleasure craft up to the tunnel at Diggle, (c) Keith Norgrove. [1]

Woodend Mills – were built by 1848 by Robert Hyde Buckley, close to his father’s mills. [8] These buildings made up an integrated cotton mill, built in several phases. Historic England say that they are “a near complete example of a first generation integrated cotton mill site, where both weaving and spinning processes were planned from the outset. Before this the two processes had been done on separate sites.” [3] 

The close association of mills in the immediate area can be seen on the aerial image below. The lock in the 1963 image above can be seen in front of Woodend Mills.

The layout of the mills as seen in 1947 from the air to the South. Winterford Road Bridge is on the right of the image. The lock in the 1963 photograph is immediately in front of Woodend Mills. [2]

An extract from the 25″ OS Maps showing Woodend Mills and the probable location from which Keith Norgrove took the 1963 picture. [4]

The lock adjacent to Woodend Mills. This picture is taken from a similar location to the one from 1963. The route of the Micklehurst Loop is hidden in the trees ahead. The Moor still looms large. [5]

Mossley Gas Works

Two additional pieces of information on the Gas Works:

First, from an email discussion forum

David Beilby on the IndustrailRailwaySociety@groups.io email discussion group quotes the following from a booklet on the inauguration of the new works by the Rt. Hon. The Earl of Derby K. G. on 22nd June 1931 about the Gas Works which feature in Part 3 of these articles about The Micklehurst Loop.

“The original gasworks was built by the Stalybridge Gas Company in 1862 and located alongside the canal. … In 1884 an agreement was made for the Corporation of Stalybridge and the Mossley Local Board to jointly purchase the company. The Mossley Local Board became Mossley Corporation when Mossley became a Borough in 1885 (and lost its status of being in three counties – Lancashire, Cheshire and Yorkshire). In addition to Mossley the works also supplied much of Saddleworth with gas as well. In 1925 the Borough’ Gas Engineer reported that the best way to improve the plant and increase output was to move to a new site, with rail access also removing the need to transport raw materials and by-products by road to Mossley station.” [6]

He also mentions that the booklet contains “details of a 2′-0” gauge line which was used to move excavated material from site to a central loading point whence it was conveyed by an “Breco” aerial ropeway to the tipping site, the ropeway being 720 yards long. The booklet notes that the railway was worked by petrol locomotives. No contractor is mentioned , despite many suppliers of equipment being acknowledged. It would seem the work was project managed in-house, certainly much of the design work is credited to the gas department.” [6]

“For information, the retorts were horizontal. … It was believed the cubic capacity of these retorts was the greatest in the world at the time. The works were, later, extended. This was anticipated at the design stage as the end wall of the retort house was built using corrugated asbestos.” [6]

“Wagons were unloaded using a rotary wagon tippler supplied by Messrs. Strachan and Henshaw of Bristol which had the patented “Whitehall” clamping mechanism.” [6]

Second from the Saddleworth Historical Society Bulletin

There is an article about the Gas Works in the Summer 1996 edition of the Saddleworth Historical Society Bulletin (Vol. 26, No. 2, p1-5). Sadly, the scanned .pdf of that edition of the bulletin on their website omits two of the 5 pages of the article. [7] The article is by Jeffrey Wells and includes a sketch plan of the Gas Works site. [7: p4]

Mossley Gas Works Sketch Plan, (c) Jeffrey Wells. [7: p4]

References

  1. Keith Norgrove is a contributor to the RMWeb Forum under the pseudonym ‘Grovenor’. Keith’s two pictures (one of which is included here) were a response to my articles about the Micklehurst Loop on that Forum: https://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/index.php?/topic/161854-the-micklehurst-loop, accessed on 15th February 2021.
  2. https://britainfromabove.org.uk/en/image/EAW010809, accessed on 22nd February 2021.
  3. https://historicengland.org.uk/services-skills/education/educational-images/woodend-mill-manchester-road-mossley-8435, accessed on 25th February 2021.
  4. https://maps.nls.uk, accessed on 31st January 2021.
  5. http://www.penninewaterways.co.uk/huddersfield/hnc1.htm, accessed on 7th March 2021.
  6. https://groups.io/g/IndustrialRailwaySociety/topic/mossley_gas_works_locomotive/80968586?p=,,,20,0,0,0::recentpostdate%2Fsticky,,,20,2,0,80968586, accessed on 2nd March 2021.
  7. https://www.saddleworth-historical-society.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/vol26no2-2.pdf, accessed on 8th March 2021.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.