Monthly Archives: Aug 2022

Canal Inclines in East Shropshire – the Trench Inclined Plane …

The featured image above was colourised by Simon Alun Hark. It makes the engine house and the mechanisms associated with the inclined plane so real. [14]

This schematic representation of the Shropshire Tub Boat Canals is helpful in clarifying the extent of the network. It shows the locations of all the inclined planes on the system. These are marked with a red arrowhead which in each case highlights the direction of the lift. The Trench Branch and Incline were in important link in the journey between the Shropshire Union Canal and the River Severn at Coalport, linking the Newport Canal to the Shropshire Canal. [10]

P. Whitehead [11] provides approximate statistics for the inclined planes on the Shropshire Canal as follows:

  • Trench Inclined Plane: 227yds long, 73ft 6in rise.
  • Wrockwardine Wood Inclined Plane: 350yds long, 120ft rise. Or 316yds long, 113ft 2in rise.
  • Windmill Inclined Plane: 600yds long, 125 ft rise.
  • Hay Inclined Plane: 300yards long, 213ft rise.
  • Ketley Inclined Plane: 59yds long, 73 ft rise. Or, 65 yds long, 73ft rise.
  • Lilleshall Inclined Plane: 123 yds long, 43 ft. This replaced an earlier vertical lift in a shaft and tunnel system. [11]

I first came across an example of these inclined planes before moving to East Shropshire. We drive past the Hay Incline when travelling by a circuitous route from Manchester to Ludlow. At the time I wrote a couple of short articles for my blog:

This article focuses on the Trench Inclined Plane which was built by the Shrewsbury Canal Company in 1792 after it took over the Wombridge Canal. The Wombridge Canal was a tub-boat canal in Shropshire, England, built to carry coal and iron ore from mines in the area to the furnaces where the iron was extracted. It opened in 1788. Trench Inclined Plane remained in operation until 1921, becoming the last operational canal inclined plane in the country. The canal had been little used since 1919, and closed with the closure of the plane. [15] [16]

The Inclined Plane consisted of twin railway tracks, each with a cradle in which a single tub-boat was carried. An engine and engine house were built at the top of the incline to provide power to the Incline. It was supplied by the Coalbrookdale Company and was replaced in 1842 by a new engine that lasted for 79 years, until the final demise of the incline on 31 August 1921. The remaining structural elements of the incline were remove in 1968 as part of the Telford New Town developments. [15][17]

The engine’s main function was to lift the tub boats I cradles out of the canal at the top of the incline over the end wall of the canal. The rails of the inclined plane ran up out of the canal and then down the main length of the Inclined Plane. Generally, the working traffic was in the downward direction of the incline, and was counterbalanced by empty tub-boats returning up to the top level. [17] This meant that little power was needed for the operation of the main length of the incline.

Incidentally, “a prominent feature near the top of the incline was the Wombridge Pumping Engine house. This was a Cornish type, with a tall chimney, and was erected in 1858, to pump water from the mines. The main cylinder was 60 inches (150 cm) in diameter, with a 10-foot (3.0 m) stroke, and it lifted water from a depth of around 600 feet (180 m). The engine developed 250 hp (190 kW) and normally ran slowly, raising 3,338 imperial gallons (15.17 m3) of water per minute, in three strokes. When running at maximum speed, it could achieve eleven strokes per minute.” [18]

Maps and Illustrations of the Inclined Plane

The Trench Branch Canal left the Shrewsbury and Newport Canal at Wappenshall Junction.

An extract from the 1901 6″ Ordnance Survey which shows the Shrewsbury and Newport Canal (Shropshire Union Canal) running East-West, albeit in something of a ‘V’-shape with the Trench Branch running to the Southeast, off the bottom edge of the extract. [21]
The same location on the ESRI satellite imagery provided by the National Library of Scotland. [21]
Wappenshall Junction seen from the Northwest.[Google Earth, 2022]
A much earlier view of Wappenshall Junction. The Trench Branch leaves this scene through the bridge on the far-right of the image which leads to Wappenshall Lock. [22]

The Trench Branch ran across open fields until it reached the industrial areas near Trench. The first length passed under Wappenshall Bridge, through Wappenshall and Britton Lock, Kinley Bridge, Wheat Leasows Bridge and Lock, Shucks and Peaty Locks, Hadleypark Bridge and Lock, Turnip Lock and Wittingham Bridge before reaching Baker’s Lock/Basin and Castle Iron Works, Hadley.

Richard Foxcroft provides a plan of the Shropshire Canals on ‘Exploring Telford’ a website which focusses on the industrial history of the area which is now Telford, particularly the canals and railways. An extract is shown below. [23]

The line of the northern end of Trench Branch of the Shropshire Canal as shown on ‘Exploring Telford’ [23]

I followed this length or the Trench Branch on the morning of 31st August 2022. Much of the route is on private land and where this is the case, the old canal has been reintegrated into its surroundings.

Access to the canal basin at Wappenshall Junction is at present restrict to site personnel only as the basin and associated structures are under going restoration.

Wappenhall Junction warehouses are undergoing restoration as is the canal basin. [My photograph, 31st August 2022] Grant funding has been provided and work is being undertaken predominantly by volunteers from the Shrewsbury & Newport Canals Trust [24]
These new build properties front onto the line of the canal which is illustrated using a red line. The wall in the foreground is the wingwall of the arch-bridge which used to carry the village road over the canal. [My photograph, 31st August 2022]
The village lane used to be carried on this structure. Closure of the branch-canal provided the opportunity to realign the road both horizontally and vertically. [My photograph, 31st August 2022]

South of Wappenshall was the Wappenshall Lock. Access to the lock was not possible. No access was possible to Britton Lock nor to Kinley Bridge. The location of Wheat Leasowes Bridge and Lock were easily found as they lie on the road between Preston upon the Weald Moors and Leegomery Round-about on the A442, ‘Queensway’.

The three images above were all taken on 31st August 2022. In sequence, they show: the view North along the line of the old canal which is marked by the field-ditch which remains alongside the hedge in this image; the view South across the road; and finally a view which shows a length of the old canal which is now in the garden of the property in the second image and which still retains water. [My photographs, 31st August 2022]

The length of canal visible in the garden of the property above was the length between the two locks, Wheat Leasowes Bridge Lock and Shucks Lock. The property concerned appears to be an extended lock-keeper’s cottage.

The 6″ OS Map of 1881, published in 1887 shows the bridge and the two locks. The road can clearly be seen to deviate to miss the lock on its alignment and it is unsurprising that once the canal became redundant, the road was realigned. [25]
21st century satellite image covering roughly the same area as the map extract above. The lock-keeper’s cottage appears to have been extended. The open area of the canal falls within the curtilage of that property. [26]
an extract from the 6″ 1901 OS Map published in 1902 which shows Peaty Lock and Hadleypark Bridge and Lock. [27]
A 21st century satellite image of the same area as above, with the locations of the key features marked. [27]
The alignment of the old canal at the point it crosses the modern A442, Queensway. Pety Lock was located just to the North of the new road. [My photograph, 31st August 2022]
The overgrown route of the old canal to the South of the A442. It retains very little water but the channel is visible here for some distance. [My photograph, 31st August 2022]
A picture of Hadleypark Lock taken from the location of the old bridge over the Canal at this point. [My photograph, 31st August 2022]
Looking back to the North at the guillotine lock gate arrangement used on the Shropshire Canal.
This is the guillotine lock gate mechanism at Turnip Lock. [May photograph, 31st August 2022]

These three images also come from Turnip Lock. The first shows the recess in the locak wall down which the gate slides. The remaining two images show the lock walls, first looking South towards Trench and then looking North towards Wappenshall. [My photographs, 31st August 2022]

Turnip Lock and then Whittingham Bridge appear on the 6″ OS Map of 1901 before the canal them bends towards the East aand passes Baker’s Lock and Basin and the site of Castle Iron Works. [28]
The same area on the ESRI satellite imagery. The ochre line shows the approximate limit of public access. The canal runs through the Hadley Castle Business Park. Moveero (part of GKN) occupies the large buildings which sit over the site of the Castle Iron Works. [28][29] The Shropshire Star announced in April 2022, that GKN would be investing a further £20million in the site. [30]
The 6″ OS Map shows the canal turning first to the East and then back towards the Southeast as it approached Trench Pool. [31]
The line of the canal is highlighted through the industrial areas. Remnants can be seen in the top-left of this image and the alignment is, apart for where under modern structures or roads, still highlighted by a ribbon of deciduous trees. The A442 appears again in the form of the gyratory towards the right-side of this extract from the satellite imagery. Trench Pool appears on the extreme right [31]
Trench Inclined Plane as it appears on the 1874 6″ OS Map. Trench Pool was used to store water for the canal system. The Shropshire Union Canal connects to the incline from the West via the Shrewsbury & Newport Canal. At the top of the incline there was a short stub branch to Wombridge Ironworks and a longer ‘Trench Branch’ or ‘Wombridge Canal’ which connected to the Donnington Wood and Coalport branches of the Shropshire Canal. [9]
Trench Inclined Plane in 1901 as shown on the 25″ OS Map. Note the location of the bridge over the canal just to the South of Trench Pool, West of the Shropshire Arms. A photograph of that bridge appears below. [8]
This extract from satellite imagery 9ESRI) shows the approximate location of the Inclined Plane and it engine house. [32]
The bridge over the old canal at the bottom of Trench Inclined Plane. It linked the site of the Shropshire Ironworks with Trench Pool. This colourised photograph was shared by Simon Alan Hark on the Telford Memories Facebook Group on 9th August 2021. [12]

The following colourised photographs give an excellent idea of what the Inclined Plane was like and how it worked. They have been colourised by Simon Alun Hark.

Trench Incline Plane, a colourised monochrome image which looks West down the Incline. This photograph was colourised by Simon Alun Hark and shared by him on the Shropshire Nostalgia and Film Facebook Group. [1]
Trench Inclined Plane, another colourised monochrome image which, this time, looks East up the Incline. This shows very clearly how the tub boats were carried up and down the incline. This photograph was colourised by Simon Alun Hark and shared by him on the Shropshire Nostalgia and Film Facebook Group. [2]
Another view up the Inclined Plane towards the Engine House. This photograph was colourised by Simon Alun Hark and shared by him on the Shropshire Past and Present Facebook Group. [13]
Trench Incline (before and after) shared by Daniel Johnston on the Disused Railways Facebook group. [3]
Trench Incline (after and before) shared by Daniel Johnston on the Disused Railways Facebook group. The Blue Pig Inn (also known as the Shropshire Arms) to the left has survived. The cottages next to it were known as ‘Trench Pool Bank’. The Incline engine house is at the top, to the right of this is the Wombridge Pumping Engine house. [3][4]
The image above showing the Blue Pig in the 21st century is just a little misleading as the fence line conceals the presence of the A442, Queensway, this image gives a slightly clearer indication of what has happened to the site at the base of the Incline! This is a Google Streetview image which was shared by Gwyn Thunderwing Hartley on the Oakengates History Group on Facebook. The road curves away leaving a grassed area as shown on the first ‘before and after’ image from Daniel Johnston above. [5]
The Shropshire Arms and the site of the Trench Incline in 1966. The photographer comments: “Seen behind the pub are cottages known as Trench Pool Bank, already unoccupied. All around here is now much changed: the pub is now the ‘Blue Pig’ … The cottages have been demolished, and a dual-carriageway road now runs where the incline once was.”
©Copyright Dr. Neil Clifton authorised for reuse under a Creative Commons Licence (CC BY-DA 2.0).[6]
The Shropshire Arms and the site of the Trench Incline in 1967. The photographer comments: “This was taken in 1967, and comparing it with my 1966 photograph shows that the empty cottages have now been demolished and the site cleared. Although today in 2007 a dual carriageway occupies the site of the inclined plane, the pub. has survived almost unchanged, as the ‘Blue Pig’.” ©Copyright Dr. Neil Clifton authorised for reuse under a Creative Commons Licence (CC BY-DA 2.0). [7]
A further image of the Shropshire Arms and the site of Trench Inclined Plane. A 1960s monochrome image which has been colourised © Simon Alun Hark. [19]
The Blue Pig and its surroundings in the 21st century. [My photograph, 31st August 2022]
A view past towards the location of the incline from just outside the Blue Pig. [My photograph, 31st August 2022]
We finish this post in the same way as it started, with a colourised monochrome image shared by Simon Alun Hark the on the Shropshire Past and Present Facebook Group on 28th August 2022. [14]

References

  1. https://www.facebook.com/groups/626088212102853/permalink/626338268744514, accessed on 1st July 2022.
  2. https://m.facebook.com/groups/794448773917764/permalink/5752898211406104, accessed on 1st July 2022.
  3. https://m.facebook.com/groups/disusedrailways/permalink/2449041828583682, accessed on 1st July 2022.
  4. https://m.facebook.com/groups/261490703946559/permalink/1602948176467465, accessed on 1st July 2022.
  5. https://m.facebook.com/groups/261490703946559/permalink/2590798741015732 accessed on 1st July 2022.
  6. https://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/250148, accessed on 1st July 2022.
  7. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:%27Shropshire_Arms%27_and_Trench_Inclined_Plane_-geograph.org.uk-_343711.jpg, accessed on 1st July 2022.
  8. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=16.869946463025816&lat=52.70720&lon=-2.46138&layers=168&b=1, accessed on 1st July 2022.
  9. https://maps.nls.uk/view/101594308ps://maps.nls.uk/view/101594308, accessed on 10th July 2022.
  10. https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Wombridge_Canal#/google_vignette, accessed on 26th July 2022.
  11. http://www.pittdixon.go-plus.net/shropshire-tbc/shropshire-tbc.htm, accessed on 28th August 2022.
  12. https://m.facebook.com/groups/674238619260811/permalink/6197574766927141, accessed on 29th August 2022.
  13. https://www.facebook.com/groups/964857310243999/permalink/5490412487688436, accessed on 30th August 2022.
  14. https://www.facebook.com/groups/964857310243999/permalink/5487407237988961, accessed on 30th August 2022.
  15. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wombridge_Canal, accessed on 30th August 2022.
  16. Michael E Ware; Britain’s Lost Waterways. Moorland Publishing, 1989.
  17. https://web.archive.org/web/20170927203722/http://search.shropshirehistory.org.uk/collections/getrecord/CCS_MSA2197/, accessed on 39th August 2022.
  18. Ivor Brown; Some Notes on the Mines of the Lilleshall Company No. 5; in the Autumn Issue No. 2010.3). Journal of the Shropshire Caving & Mining Club Autumn Issue No. 2010.3, 2010; https://web.archive.org/web/20170927160003/http://www.shropshirecmc.org.uk/below/2010_3w.pdf, accessed on 30th August 2022.
  19. https://www.facebook.com/groups/964857310243999/permalink/5490384047691280, accessed on 30th August 2022.
  20. Both images can be found by following the discussion on this link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/964857310243999/permalink/5487407237988961, accessed on 30th August 2022.
  21. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=16&lat=52.72775&lon=-2.49957&layers=6&b=1, accessed on 30th August 2022.
  22. https://www.wellingtonla21.org.uk/along-the-moors-wappenshall, accessed on 30th August 2022.
  23. http://www.telford.org.uk/index.html, accessed on 30th August 2022.
  24. https://sncanal.org.uk, accessed on 31st August 2022.
  25. https://maps.nls.uk/view/101594272, accessed on 31st August 2022.
  26. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=15&lat=52.72173&lon=-2.49288&layers=6&b=1, accessed on 31st August 2022.
  27. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=17&lat=52.71727&lon=-2.48896&layers=6&b=1, accessed on 31st August 2022.
  28. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=17&lat=52.71339&lon=-2.48241&layers=6&b=1, accessed on 31st August 2022.
  29. https://www.moveero.com, accessed on 31st August 2022.
  30. https://www.shropshirestar.com/news/business/2022/04/29/business-leader-welcomes-20million-gkn-telford-deal, accessed on 31st August 2022.
  31. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=17&lat=52.70921&lon=-2.47492&layers=6&b=1, accessed on 31st August 2022.
  32. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=17&lat=52.70822&lon=-2.46198&layers=6&b=1, accessed on 31st August 2022.

Aden Port Trust Tramway … and other things?

The Aden Port Trust was established on 1st April 1889 to take over the running of the port of Aden, which was previously carried out by the military authorities and private companies. [3][1: p184][12: IA36]

A plan of the Aden Peninsula in the period before the First World War, © Karl Baedeker jr (Life time: 1837-1911). This image is available in the public domain. [4]
An extract from the map above showing the city of Aden in the bottom right and the township of Maala. The location of Maala Pier can be made out just to the left of centre at the top of the extract. [4]
Maala Pier is more obvious on this more focussed extract. Maala Wharf should not be confused with Maala Pier. The Wharf was to the West of the Pier in the area of Somalipura on the Maala Plain. [4]
A further extract from the Baedeker map showing the Maala Plain. Maala Wharf was built out from the Maala Plain close to Somalipura. [4]

While researching the Aden State Railway, I came across a reference to the Aden Port Trust Tramway. My article about the Aden State Railway can be found on the following link:

It appears that there were a series of proposals for tramways in Aden.

A proposal to create a tramway running East-West from Crater (near to the main settlement of Aden) to Steamer Point at the western end of the peninsula, [9] ‘The Crater-Steamer Point Tramway’ was put forward in 1863. India Office Records (IOR) affirm this. [10] It seems that no action was taken at that time. However, just a few years later it seems a consignments of railway infrastructure and rolling stock/locomotives was sent to Aden from Abyssinia. [12: IA34]

Simon Darvill explains: “Following the end of the Abyssinian campaign in 1868, some of the railway equipment that had been used on the campaign was sent to Aden. It comprised of two locomotives, two carriages, two brake vans, 20 trucks, 480 rails, 3,250 chairs, 516 fishplates, 6,553 sleepers and two turntables. The equipment was unloaded in [July & August] 1868; it is thought to have been delivered on the ship Californian that left Abyssinia on 10/6/1868. A small shed and workshop was constructed in which to store the equipment. The intention was to build a railway from the pier head to the post office and possibly on to the cantonment. The line was considered to be a purely military venture and was not expected to pay its own expenses and that the main traffic would be Commissariat Stores. The 1869-70 annual report stated that it was still the intention to build the line and that the equipment was still in store in Aden. The last mention of the equipment found in the annual reports was in the 1872-73 report when the payment for a watchman for the railway plant was listed in the accounts for 1871-72. A reference appears in the Railway Stores Department records concerning correspondence on 28/2/1871 between the Bombay Government and the Military Department regarding the disposal of the equipment in Aden but unfortunately the actual correspondence appears to no longer exist. It is therefore impossible to say with certainty what happened to the equipment but it is suggested that it was either returned to India or scrapped sometime in 1871 . It is similarly impossible to say for certain which two of the six locomotives that were used in Abyssinia were sent to Aden” [12: IA34]

By 1896-97 it had been decided to lay a tramway from the head of the Maala Pier for a distance along Maala Road. “Tenders were received from a number of companies (Kerr Stuart, Dick Kerr and Boiling & Lowe [12: IA36]) for just less than one mile (1.5km) of track and wagons. The board decided that before any tender was accepted an experimental line should be laid along the length of the Pier, about 500 feet (150 metres), some old rails and sleepers were obtained from the Aden Public Works Department (PWD), this was obviously a success as the 2ft/610mm narrow gauge tramway was sanctioned in 1897-98.” [3][2] I wonder whether these old rails and sleepers were part of the consignment sent to Aden from Abyssinia in 1868? …

“In 1907-08 Maala Pier collapsed and required completely rebuilding. In 1911-12, 2,000 feet (610 metres) of 2ft./610mm. narrow gauge tramway, and other railway equipment, was purchased to link the tramway to two new sheds that were built as part of the Pier.” [3][2]

Simon Darvill records this event and notes that the work on Maala Pier was completed by December 1910. He provides greater detail about materials and rolling stock purchased at the time. He specifically mentions 8 turntables which must be the ‘other railway equipment’ mentioned above. He further notes that in early 1916, the Aden State Railway “laid a siding to Maala Pier. 24 new tramway wagons were ordered in 1919-20. The tramway was still in use when Aden became the responsibility of the Colonial Office in 1937.” [12: IA36]

Incidentally, Robert Mumford comments that “in 1910 it had been proposed to construct a 2ft. 6in. gauge steam tramway from Tawahi, a suburb of Aden close to Steamer Point where the ocean liners used to call, to Crater, the old capital, with a branch to Khormaksar and Sheikh ‘Othman.” [11] It seems likely that this is the same tramway as that referred to above and that Robert Mumford may have been misled about the gauge.

At least one locomotive was ordered for the 2ft. gauge tramway – A Kerr-Stuart ‘Wren’ series 0-4-0T locomotive (No. 1249) which bore the name ‘Sir James’ on brass nameplates. I have not been able to find a picture of the locomotive but the Industrial Railway Society provides a photograph of a sister locomotive, No. 1248. No. 1248 ‘Maipoori’ was built with tyres 5 in. wide having flanges 1½ in. deep for running on 2 ft. gauge wooden rails. The fuel racks round the bunkers are stated to have been provided for “a heavy wood fuel”. One injector and a long stroke pump driven from the right hand crosshead were provided. The illustration shows ‘Maipoori’ in its first incarnation before it was shipped to Demerara, British Guiana, on 22 November 1912. Its stay there, however, must have been short as it was back at the works in Stoke by June 1914. Alterations were made to make the locomotive suitable for normal track of 60 cm gauge, after which it was dispatched on 14 July 1914 to the City of Santos Improvements Company, Brazil. [6]

Kerr-Stuart No. 1248 ‘Maipoori’, a sister locomotive to No.1249 ‘Sir James’. [6]

The Route of the Tramway

We cannot be sure of the route. We are limited to a very few postcard images which show the tramway at specific points and it is impossible to tightly define those locations without good knowledge of the circumstances on the ground in Aden in the early to mid-20th century.

The pictures below show it present at Maala Wharf and at Post Office Bay. They show it also on Main street (Main Road) Maala and at a point on Maala Wharf where a significant wide pier extends out from the main Wharf.

Maala Wharf in the port of Aden. Two different railway gauges are visible in this postcard image. Those close to the camera are of the metre-gauge Aden State Railway. Those across the centre of the image are part of the Aden Port Trust Tramway.
The notes provided alongside this image indicate that it shows Aden Post Office Bay and Tramway in 1913: What looks like a tramway can be made out running along the sea wall in this image. It is possible that there was no tramway at this location as it is out at Steamer Point. This would mean that the apparent tramway is perhaps only a series of wheel ruts in a poor road surface! I have been unable to find any other indication that the Aden Port Trust Tramway extended out to Steamer Point. The postcard is from the private collection of Steve Moore and is licensed for use under a Creative Commons Licence, (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). [5]

This image places the buildings in the above image at Steamer Point. [14]

A colourised postcard image showing Maala Wharf. The Tramway is in evidence but there is no sign of the metre-gauge line. Interestingly, the flat wagons shown in this image appear not to have couplings which suggests that they were moved individually rather than in a train and perhaps that they were move by manpower. [7]
This monochrome version of the same postcard image bears a frank on its reverse dating it to 1940. If the date of franking correlates approximately to the date of manufacture of the postcard, this would explain the absence of the metre-gauge line as this was lifted by 1930. [8]
This postcard view is undated but probably shows Maala in the 1920s or 1930s. It has dual tram tracks in the highway of Main Road (or Main Street?) Maala. There is also evidence of a branch running off to the right of the image in front of the light-coloured building through or behind the road vehicles parked there. [13]

In summary, we know that the tramway existed from both photographic and written evidence. We know that one 2ft Gauge locomotive was purchased by the Port authority. Otherwise, there is little more available about the tramway.

Two further interesting pictures suggest that the 2ft gauge was in use outside of the limits of the Port of Aden.

The Salt Works

While looking for photographic evidence online for the 2ft. gauge line in the port area of Aden I came across one photograph which shows a narrow-gauge tramway in use in the Salt Works which were located at the northern end of the isthmus. This prompted a little more research.

Camel-power on the salt flats to the West of the isthmus on the mainland. [15]

That research led me to two websites. The first was Peter Pickering’s short history of the salt works/salt flats on his blog. [16] Apparently the salt works were leased rent-free to an Italian family and were often referred to as the ‘Italian Salt Works’. Pickering comments that the family from Trapani in Sicily. It seems that when they established their business in Aden, they based the set-up on that at their salt works between Marsala and Trapani, “including the use of windmills to pump the salt water into the pans. The renewal of the 240 acre lease was completed literally only a day or two before Great Britain and Italy went to war in June 1940. The 14 Italian employees were interned and after the war they did not return to Aden.” [16]

Pickering continues: “The salt pans painted a  picturesque scene, the majestic windmills with their broad canvas sails spread on broad wooden lattice frames, reflected in the shimmering azure water. The windmills would later be replaced with pumps, driven by small engines, located in rather unattractive tin sheds.” [16]

The salt flats in Aden. Windmills were used, at first, to power the pumps which brought sea water to the salt pans furthest from the sea and the gradually concentrating brine from one salt pans to the next. [16]

Pickering speaks of an aqueduct carrying “sea-water from the pumping-station of the salt works to the most inland of pans where the first stage of evaporation was carried out. It was then pumped from one series of pans to another, becoming stronger brine at each stage, until the salt at last crystallized out in the pans round the salt works. When the evaporation process was complete the salt was collected in metal buckets. The metal buckets were hand-carried to the conveyor belt which raised the flow of salt to the top of the pile. The piles were next to the ‘railhead’.” [16]

The second website was that of mindat.org. [17] which provides a map showing the location of the salt flats and two postcard images, one of which shows camels in use pulling trams/wagons filled with salt.

The location of the salt works at the North end of the isthmus. [17]
A postcard view of the stockpiles of salt at the Salt Works’ with a camel ready to haul a train of salt-filled trams/wagons. [17]

Elephant Bay Quarry

After asking for some assistance from the Industrial Railway Society (IRS) Email Group, I was sent a photograph which showed a 2ft-guage locomotive on a timber bridge at Elephant Bay Quarry which was taken in 1959. …

This photograph was taken in 1959 by Jeff Lanham. He recalls finding a very short 2’0″ line in a quarry at Elephant Bay with one small 4-wheel Diesel locomotive It was out of use at the time but in good condition. Martin Shill of the IRS commented that this appears to be a 2ft gauge 3.75 ton Rushton & Hornsby LBT, one of the earlier water-cooled batches. At a guess it might be RH 379648/1954, shipped to Pauling & Co., Aden. The photo is included with the kind permission of the photographer, © Jeff Lanham.

This diminutive locomotive was used by Pauling & Co. at the quarry in Elephant’s Bay. In 1956 the company are recorded in Hansard as being engaged in harbour development work in Aden. [18] The locomotive was built by Ruston & Hornsby (RH), The annotation ‘LBT’ referes to a sub-class or variant of loco type LB built by RH. The LB type was built 1952-1968, generally 31.5hp, for gauges between 1ft 6in and 3ft 6in.

References

  1. R.J. Gavin; Aden Under British Rule, 1839-1967; C. Hurst & Co. Publishers, 1975 https://books.google.fr/books?id=cscbDgqCsOMC&pg=PA184#v=onepage&q&f=false, accessed on 20th August 2022.
  2. S. Darvill, Ed.; Industrial Railways and Locomotives of India and South Asia; The Industrial Railway Society, 2013.
  3. https://wiki.fibis.org/w/Aden_Port_Trust_Tramway, accessed on 20th August 2022.
  4. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aden#/media/File%3AMap_of_Aden_(Baedeker_1914).jpg, accessed on 20th August 2022.
  5. https://wiki.fibis.org/w/File:Aden_Post_Office_Bay_and_Tramway.png, accessed on 20th August 2022.
  6. https://www.irsociety.co.uk/Archives/5+6/KS_Wren.htm, accessed on 21st August 2022.
  7. https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/381797755706?mkevt=1&mkcid=1&mkrid=710-53481-19255-0&campid=5338722076&customid=&toolid=10050, accessed on 21st August 2022.
  8. https://picclick.co.uk/ADEN-Maala-View-of-Wharf-%E2%80%94-274412895033.html#&gid=1&pid=2, accessed on 21st August 2022.
  9. https://wiki.fibis.org/w/Crater-Steamer_Point_Tramway_(Aden), accessed on 21st August 2022.
  10. R/20/E/198, Item 2; “Vol III No 5 File 206 Tramway: application for a concession to build an electric tramway connecting the Crater with Steamer Point”; Jan-Feb 1896 (Records of the British Administration in Aden)
  11. Robert Mumford; Indian Outpost in Arabia; in The Railway Magazine, February 1976, p73-75.
  12. Simon Darvill; The Industrial Railways and Locomotives of India and South Asia; the Industrial Railway Society, 2015.
  13. https://picclick.co.uk/C1930s-RP-PC-VIEW-OF-MAIN-ROAD-MAALA-264541409373.html#&gid=1&pid=1, accessed on 23rd August 2022.
  14. https://www.balkanphila.com/shop/aden-steamer-point-post-office, accessed on 23rd August 2022.
  15. https://images.fineartamerica.com/images/artworkimages/mediumlarge/2/pillars-of-salt-topical-press-agency.jpg, accessed on 24th August 2022.
  16. https://peterpickering.wixsite.com/aden/salt-works, accessed on 24th August 2022.
  17. https://www.mindat.org/loc-417345.html, accessed on 24th August 2022.
  18. ADEN (COMMISSION OF INQUIRY): HC Deb 18 April 1956 vol 551 cc1011-2 – Mr. Lennox-Boyd: “Early in April, after a period of comparative freedom from industrial unrest, further strikes occurred and still continue among the dock labour at Maalla, among employees of the large trading and petrol distributing concern, A. Besse and Company, among contractors’ labour on the site of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and Pauling and Company, who are engaged on harbour development work.” … https://api.parliament.uk/historic-hansard/commons/1956/apr/18/aden-commission-of-inquiry, accessed on 25th August 2022.

The Aden State Railway (Metre-Gauge)

The Aden State Railway, 1931 Map
From ‘Imperial Gazetteer of India,’ v. 26, Atlas 1931 edition, Railways & Inland Navigation, p. 50. Used here under a Creative Commons Licence (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). [4]
A plan of the Aden Peninsula in the period before the First World War, © Karl Baedeker jr (Life time: 1837-1911). This image is available in the public domain. [11]
An extract from the map above showing the city of Aden in the bottom right and the township of Maala. The location of Maala Pier can be made out just to the left of centre at the top of the extract. Maala Wharf was built to the West of Maala Pier on Maala Plain close to Somalipura. [11]
Maala Pier is more obvious on this more focussed extract. Maala Wharf was to the West of the Maala Pier shown in these images in the area marked as Somalipura. [11]
The area of Maala Plain and Somalipura as shown on the Baedeker map above. [11]

The Aden State Railway operated for just 13 years or so, from 1916 and 1929 in Aden, a dependency of the Bombay, British Colony and Protectorate, in the south-west corner of Southern Arabia. The metre gauge railway was 29 miles(46km) long and was worked by the North Western Railway [3] of India under one of its officers who was designated ‘Engineer-in-Charge’. [1][2]

This was not, however, the first railway planned for Aden. As early as 1906 a light railway from Aden to Dthala (Ad Dali),120km inland had already been under consideration but nothing had materialised. [5]

There was a precursor to that line as well. Simon Darvill explains: “Following the end of the Abyssinian campaign in 1868, some of the railway equipment that had been used on the campaign was sent to Aden. It comprised of two locomotives, two carriages, two brake vans, 20 trucks, 480 rails, 3,250 chairs, 516 fishplates, 6,553 sleepers and two turntables. The equipment was unloaded in [July & August] 1868; it is thought to have been delivered on the ship Californian that left Abyssinia on 10/6/1868. A small shed and workshop was constructed in which to store the equipment. The intention was to build a railway from the pier head to the post office and possibly on to the cantonment. The line was considered to be a purely military venture and was not expected to pay its own expenses and that the main traffic would be Commissariat Stores. The 1869-70 annual report stated that it was still the intention to build the line and that the equipment was still in store in Aden. The last mention of the equipment found in the annual reports was in the 1872-73 report when the payment for a watchman for the railway plant was listed in the accounts for 1871-72. A reference appears in the Railway Stores Department records concerning correspondence on 28/2/1871 between the Bombay Government and the Military Department regarding the disposal of the equipment in Aden but unfortunately the actual correspondence appears to no longer exist. It is therefore impossible to say with certainty what happened to the equipment but it is suggested that it was either returned to India or scrapped sometime in 1871 . It is similarly impossible to say for certain which two of the six locomotives that were used in Abyssinia were sent to Aden” [20: IA34]

Area covered by the archived map of a proposed railway to be built from Aden to Nobat Dakim. Detail from the map is shown below. [Google Earth][21]

The next reference to a proposal for a railway that I have been able to find is a draft proposal put forward in November 1905 to the Sultan and the British Government by Lieut-Colonel R. Leigh, R.E., Assistant Commanding Royal Engineer who had been engaged in drawing up the line and at the time touring within Abdali limits between Dar-Al- Amir and Nobat Dakim for that purpose. [15: p126] A map was included in the submission and is probably that which is archived at the Qatar Digital Library (Ref No.: IOR/L/PS/10/89, f 114) which can be examined on-line. [21] The map shows the path for a proposed railway to be built from Aden to Nobat Dakim (Nawbatal-Dakim, Yemen; identified four miles north of Al’Anad but not corresponding to any place). The map was zincographed by the Vandyke Process at the Survey of India Offices, in Calcutta and its use here is authorised by the Qatar Digital Library. It covers the area shown below:

The complete archived hand-drawn map showing the path for a proposed railway to be built from Aden to Nobat Dakim [21]

This sequence of three plans shows the proposed railway route. Please note that the map extracts are not all to the same scale. ….

A series of three extracts from the map shows the path for a proposed railway to be built from Aden to Nobat Dakim. [21]

It is important to remind ourselves that the images above relate to a proposed railway from around 1905/1906 and that they cannot be assumed to relate directly to the line which was eventually built by the military. However, it is possible that, the survey undertaken for this proposed line would have informed decisions taken at a later date. It is unlikely that the tunnel referred to by Leigh (see the next paragraph) would have been part of the route chosen by the military as construction costs would have been minimised in times of war.

In his report, Leigh suggested:- “That the line would follow the road and that way would limit the expense of bridges, with an even slope and without valleys or hills. In Aden, it is suggested that a station should be located south-west of Maala, and a small branch line run to Maala Wharf. From Maala the best line seems to be to tunnel under the hill and run out through the Small Isthmus. Stations are also proposed at Khormaksar and Sheikh Othman. It would be a great convenience to extend the line from Maala to Steamer Point which can be done by running the line on the north side of the main road with a terminus on the newly reclaimed land at Tawahi.” [1][15: p108a-109a] However, as can be seen from the plans above, the submitted proposal did not actually take the line to Steamer Point.

Major General H. M. Mason, Political Resident at Aden, supported the proposal. Aden Chamber of Commerce urged the Government to facilitate the construction of the railway. [1][15: p104] No progress was made, however, as the British Government opposed the construction on political grounds. [1]

Some years later, on 30th May 1911, Lord Lamington asked the Secretary of State for India for information about a French syndicate railway to be constructed from Hodeida (on the West coast of Yemen) to Sana’a (the capital of Yemen), and whether all idea of railway extension in the Aden Hinterland had been abandoned. He also asked about progress in the dredging of Aden Harbour. [6]

He said, “Some eight or nine years ago, after the conclusion of certain operations in the Aden Hinterland, the Government had under consideration a project for the construction of a railway from Aden to the high ground in the Hinterland to a place called Dthala. … But the policy … was to withdraw altogether from the Hinterland. …. Therefore any consideration of a railway lapsed. At the same time the Chief of Lahej had granted one or more concessions for a railway to a company who wished to construct what would have been a portion of the bigger scheme—from our Aden frontier at Shaikh Othman to his capital—but even this railway was prohibited as coming under the grounds for withdrawal. …  It was obvious that if the railway was not carried on to Aden it would be of no value at all.” [6]

Lord Lamington continued, “A few days ago I saw in the Press a statement that a railway syndicate was beginning to construct a line from Hodeida to Sana’a, which is 140 miles inland and is the capital of Yemen. If it is the fact that there is now going to be a development of the southern portion of Arabia, I would ask whether it would not be advisable to reconsider the policy which was adopted … and allow the development of the Aden Hinterland by the great civilising agency of a railway.” [6]

In reply, Earl Beauchamp commented that a concession had been considered for a line East from Hodeida to Sana’a. A survey of the line which “included the construction of a harbour at Ras-el-Ketib and a railway line from Ras-el-Ketib via Hodeida to Mefak (186 kilometres) and thence to Sana’a (85 kilometres), a branch to be added proceeding north-west to Amran (57 kilometres from Sana’a).” [6] He noted that the total cost of the scheme was estimated at £1,772,000 and the Ottoman Government decided not to grant a concession to any foreign company for the proposed line for a limited number of years, but a syndicate had taken in hand on behalf of the Ottoman Government the construction of the harbour at Ras-el-Ketib and the section of the railway to Hujjula. The line was to run via Hodeida (about 116 kilometres).

Earl Beauchamp affirmed that it was “the settled policy of His Majesty’s Government to abstain from any extension of their responsibilities in the Aden Hinterland so long as the status quo [was] strictly observed by the Turkish Government. Any scheme for railway construction would be narrowly scrutinised by them in the light of this policy.” [6]

In respect of the dredging of Aden Harbour some prolongation due to physical obstacles had occurred. Earl Beauchamp stated that, “the latest information we have is a report made by the Port Trust to the Bombay Government in 1910, in which they state that difficulties had been experienced in attempting to remove the rock in the valley mouth on the south side of the channel, and that the dredger had broken down. It was therefore decided to abandon dredging in this particular spot, and to widen the other part of the channel. This alteration in the scheme was approved by the port engineer and the Port Trust, and was sanctioned by the Bombay Government.” [6][7]

Meanwhile, on the peninsula a 2ft. 6in. gauge tramway serving the City and its port had been considered. It is possible that the construction of that tramway might have met much of the perceived local need in the area between Crater, Sheikh Othman and Tawahi (Steamer Point). Robert Mumford quotes a report to the British Resident, Aden by a Mr Affleck in which he opined that “if the Tawahi (Khormaksar-Sheikh Othman)-Crater tramway were built, Sheikh Othman should develop into a large town and the combined railway and tramway should be a sound commercial proposition. However this tramway never materialised.” [12]

Details of a later 2ft. gauge tramway serving the Port of Aden can be found on the following link:

https://rogerfarnworth.com/2022/08/24/aden-port-trust-tramway-and-other-things/

It was not until after hostilities commenced in the First World War that permission was given for the construction of a metre-gauge line North from Aden.

Pickering tells us that “in 1915 the CRE (Commander, Royal Engineers) requested permission to lay down a light railway from Aden to Sheikh Othman to supply the British forces fighting against the Turks, with the intention of extending it to Lahej once it was back in British hands. Approval was given and a 1000mm gauge military railway was built by the Royal Engineers. By December work was completed on the new railway providing a quick and efficient way to move troops and equipment to the Sheikh Othman defences. In 1919, the Aden Government approved the extension to Lahej. The 46.3 km line was made available for public traffic in 1922.” [5]

Sheikh Othman was only a short distance from Aden, even so early in the War, British control had been allowed to lapse to allow a focus to be made on defending the main settlement of Aden itself. Once the decision to retake Sheikh Othman was made on 16th July 1915 it was only a few days before it happened. Sheikh Othman was retaken on 21st July and construction of the railway soon commenced. It was completed as far as Sheikh Othman by December. [8: p256] The railway was opened as far as Lahej by February 1919, [8: p257] and Al Khudad the following year, giving a total length of line of 29 miles (46 km). [10] Plans to extend the railway to the protectorate’s frontier never bore fruit. [13] The line eventually closed in 1929 and was lifted by 1930. [1][17]

In his article, Rainbow focusses on the years of the First World War. He talks of the significance of the railway to the prosecution of the War on the Arabian Peninsula.”On 12th January 1916, 1,138 rounds were fired in one day, being the greatest number in the campaign. This had been unthinkable before the arrival of the railway. [8: p257][9]

Steve Llanso says that the Locomotive Magazine report [11][13] focused on water supply, beginning with the general observation that “Fresh water is scarce in Aden, being obtained chiefly by condensation …Much of the water used by the locomotives is taken from a small river near Lahej.” [13] Llanso comments that the limited water available was was stored in ancient storage reservoirs as well as wells further away from Aden and “delivered through an aqueduct seven miles long.” [11][13] An aqueduct supplying Aden is shown on the map below.

A 1:500,000 map of the Aden Protectorate which shows the remains of an aqueduct supplying the city. [14]

Eljas Pölhö notes that the railway carried passengers, grass, charcoal, green vegetables, potatoes, skins and other goods from Yemen to Aden, and also large quantities of water for the army outpost at Sheikh Othman, which included a mobile force of cavalry and a camel corps. To carry water, the railway was extended to Hassaini Gardens, 13 kms north of Lahej.” [16]

Robert Mumford tells us that, “In the early twenties the railway was bedevilled by both labour and sabotage problems, the first being possibly due to the fact that it was administered by mainly Indian personnel, whereas the operational manual tasks were carried out by mainly Adenis, Yemenis and Somalis. Sabotage and pilfering reached such proportions that in August 1920 the Chief Police Commissioner wrote to the First Assistant in the British Resident’s HQ that Mr. Affleck had requested a much-increased security staff.” This enhanced security was provided in the form of 9 personnel based at Maala Depot and at Sheikh Othman Depot, but this security probably became an increasing financial burden on the railway and the State.” [12]

In August 1928, the Political Resident, Aden, advised the Railway Board at Simla (India) that the conclusion had been reached that the railway could not become a paying concern and should be closed down but not immediately, the present service to be reduced by 1st October to one train each way daily between Maala, Lahej and Al Khudad, and maintained till 31st March 1929. Mumford continues: “About the same time the Colonial office advised the Ministry of Defence that the section from [Maala] to Khormaksar was of military importance, and should remain; the section from Khormaksar to Sheikh ‘Othman had a potential military value only for the protection of water borehole supplies at Sheikh ‘Othman; and the section beyond Sheikh ‘Othman had no military importance and should closed as from 1st April 1929, but it would not be dismantled immediately.” [12]

Records relating to the construction and dismantling of the Aden State Railway are held in the India Office Records at the British Library. [15] The Families In British India Society (FIBIS) tells us that an on-line search of the IOR records relating to this railway gives a number of entries, the most significant being:-

  • L/PS/10/89 “File 379/1906 ‘Railways: Aden; railway construction in Aden hinterland; Aden-Lahej Railway’; 20 Aug 1904-3 Apr 1922”. The Catalogue Contents state ‘… relating to proposals for the construction of a steam railway between Aden and its hinterland from 1904…..’
  • R/20/A/… The search gives at least 8 Records concerning ‘Tramways and Railways in Aden and the hinterland’ dating from 1904 through to 1921
  • R/20/A/3232 “File 523 Proposed discontinuance of the Aden railway service; 1928”
  • L/PS/10/703/1 “File 3082/1917 Pt. 16 Aden: railways; 1928-1930” [1]

I have only looked at the first of these references.

As we have already noted the line was closed in 1929. The process of lifting it may have taken a while as, in 1932, “the Secretary of State for India wrote to the Chief Commissioner, Aden asking if the railway equipment was still available, as they had received an enquiry concerning its purchase. The Chief Commissioner replied the railway had been sold to George Cohen & Co Ltd, London who had cleared the site by 27th August 1932.” [20: IA35]

Rolling Stock and Motive Power

Rainbow says that, “Most of the rolling stock and equipment for the Railway came from the Bombay, Baroda and Central India (B.B.C.I) Railway.” [8: p257] Shortly after its completion, the railway was transferred into civilian control. [10] Rainbow continues: “The Aden Railway was worked by the North-Western Railway of India who supplied one of its officers as ‘Engineer-in-Charge’. The B.B.C.I supplied three class F1 0-6-0 locomotives being numbers 288 (Neilson & Co., 1879), 349 (Neilson, 1880) and 727 (Dubs, 1894). They also supplied two first/second composite carriages, four third-class carriages, all being bogie vehicles, three brake vans, 12 high-sided and 56 low-sided wagons and one oil tank wagon. In 1916 the South Indian Railway Railmotor (No. 3 of 1916) arrived.” [8: p257][2]

It seems that, in addition to the three B.B.C.I 0-6-0 locomotives, the East Bengal Railway supplied a further 3 No. 0-6-0 locomotives. [13]

In 1922, just as the line opened to its fullest extent, [13] Nasmyth Wilson supplied a 4-6-0 locomotive of a standard Indian State Railways design to the Aden State Railway. Illustrations appeared in the February 1928 edition of Locomotive Magazine. [11] There was also a short article in the Railway Magazine of February 1976 about the Aden State Railway which included a photograph of the Nasmyth Wilson locomotive at Maala. [12]

Steve Llanso provides commentary on the Nasmyth Wilson locomotive and a full set of statistics. [13] The locomotive was the only one in its class. It had Walschaert valve gear and was an oil-burning locomotive. It used Holden’s system of oil-burning in a Belpaire firebox. The engine weighed 81,312lbs, the tender 51,520lbs. Its maximum axle-weight, 21,392lbs. [13]

Locomotive No. 1 of the Aden State Railway was manufactured by Nasmyth Wilson to a standard Indian State Railways design. The image comes from the Uwe Bergmann collection. [22]
Another view of Locomotive No. 1, this time photographed in Aden at work at Maala. [5]

When the line closed, the Nasmyth Wilson locomotive made its way back to India and served the Eastern Bengal as their No. 325 from 1931 on. A change of flag occurred during the 1947 Partition of India when Bengal was taken into East Pakistan. East Pakistan’s independence secured in 1971, its railway still operated No. 325 in 1973. [13][17]

Mumford provides a slightly different assessment of locomotive provision on the line: When it opened “in 1916, two 4-4-0 engines were transferred from the Eastern Bengal Railway (Nos. 561 and 563) and three of the same type from the Bombay, Baroda & Central India Railway (Nos. 228, 349 and 727) … A Simplex rail motor coach with Dorman four-cylinder petrol engine built for the South Indian Railway was also put into service, making six trips daily to Sheikh ‘Othman with seating for 70 passengers.” [12]

It seems as though there is a measure of confusion over which locomotives were provided. Mumford was corrected by Hugh Hughes in The Railway Magazine of April 1976: “May I point out that the reference to 4-4-0 engines being used there is incorrect. Mr. Mumford may well have been misled by an error in an article in the ‘Locomotive Magazine’ for February 1928. For working the line, the Bombay, Baroda & Central India Railway supplied in 1915 three of its class ‘F1’ 0-6-0 locomotives, with 3ft. 71/2in. coupled wheels and 14 in. x 20 in. cylinders; they were numbered 288 (built by Neilson & Company in 1879), 349 (Neilson 1880) and 727 (Dübs, 1894). … Three similar 0-6-0 locomotives, but emanating from the Eastern Bengal Railway, put in an appearance later on. Two of them, numbered 561 and 563, had been used by the military authorities in East Africa from 1916 onwards; no. 563 (Vulcan Foundry 1900) was transferred direct from Africa to Aden, probably in 1919, but 561 (Neilson 1898) was first of all returned to India and reached Aden in 1920. The third EBR engine was numbered 584 (not 684 as given by Mumford); it was also built by Neilson in 1898 and was transferred to Aden about 1926. As far as I can trace, none of these 0-6-0 engines worked again after the closure of the railway at the end of July 1929.” [19]

The most authoritative information about locomotives and rolling stock on the line can be found in the Industrial Railway Society’s book, “The Industrial Railways and Locomotives of India and South Asia” compiled by Simon Darvill. [20]

Darvill says that, “The BBCIR supplied the following rolling stock in 1918 for the railway in Aden: six 1st/2nd class bogie composite carriages, two 38 foot bogie 3rd class carriages, four 38 foot 6 inch bogie 3rd class carriages, three brake vans, 12 high sided wagons, 28 end open wooden low sided wagons, one MG riding trolley, a ten ton crane and runner and an engine shed. In the Railway Stores Department records it is stated that in [December] 1919 six steel top wagons (with spares) and 14 miles of track of unknown gauges was supplied to the General Officer Commanding, Aden for use in a stone crushing installation. It is assumed that this was supplied as part of the extension of the Aden Railway to El Khudad, which opened in [January] 1920. In the [April] 1918 Railway Stores Department report there is a note on the question of the supply of a Simplex motor tractor to Aden. It is assumed that this was for use with the stone crushing plant but further details are unknown.” [20: IA35]

He also provides details of the motive power on the line. There were six 0-6-0 tender locomotives:

• No. 288, F Class built in 1879 and transferred from the BBCI Railway in 1915.
• No. 349, F Class built in 1880 and transferred from the BBCI Railway in 1915.
• No. 727 F Class built in 1894 and transferred from the BBCI Railway in 1915.
• No. 561 F Class built in 1898 and transferred from the Eastern Bengal State Railway (EBSR) in May/June 1919.
• No. 563 F Class built in 1900 and transferred from East Africa in 1916.
• No. 584 F Class built in 1898 and transferred from the EBSR early in 1921.

Hugh Hughes mentions Nos. 288, 349 and 727. He asserts that they were moved to Aden in 1916. Apparently, all the BBCI Railway Class F 0-6-0 locomotives had been refurbished by 1914 and were regarded as sub-class F1. He is unable to offer pictures of the locos. The first two of these locos had 13.5 in. diameter cylinders and a 10ft. 3in. wheelbase, whereas No. 727 had 14″ diameter cylinders and an 11ft wheelbase. [23: p42]

Hughes notes that No. 561, No. 563 and No. 584 had 14 in. cylinders. [23: p53]

All six were sold to George Cohen & Co Ltd, London and removed, by August 1932. [20: IA35]

Darvill also records:

• No. 1 as a 4-6-0 F Class built in 1922 supplied direct by Nasmyth Wilson and transferred in 1931 to the EBSR where it became their No. 325. (Hughes notes that the loco had 16 in. cylinders and arrived at the EBSR from Aden. [23: p53])
• No. 3 as a 4-wheel petrol-engined railcar with mechanical transmission built in 1915 which was ordered for South India Railway but requisitioned by the Indian Army for use in Aden. This was also sold to George Cohen & Co Ltd, London and removed, by August 1932. [20: IA35]

Further interesting items of rolling stock were three light railmotors for carrying officers on the line. Details of those railmotors appear in The Locomotive Magazine. [18]

“The commander of the Mechanical Transport, Capt. G.M. Eden, M.B.E., constructed three petrol rail cars in the Base workshops at Aden, and one of these is illustrated. … The body of this particular machine was an ordinary Ford car, bought from an Arab in the native bazaar. The differential was taken out and a solid axle drive substituted. On the end of the axle shaft was fitted the chain sproket for a 3.5 ton Fiat lorry, and on the rear wheel the sproket of a Halford lorry. … Flange wheels were fitted.” [18]

The Service Provided

We have already noted the kind of materials carried by the line. In his article Mumford talks of traffic on the line: “At the height of its existence there were two mixed trains a day which left [Maala] at 07.00 and 14.00, arriving at the terminus beyond Lahej at 09.00 and 16.00.  These two trains each returned an hour later. The passenger section of each train was composed usually of eight carriages. The fares were [Maala] to Sheikh ‘Othman, first class eight annas, third class three annas; Sheikh ‘Othman to Lahej, first class one rupee four annas, and third class five annas.” [12]

The Route of the line

The line’s Southern extremity was at the Maala Wharf. Its presence is confirmed in the first image below.

Maala Wharf in the port of Aden. Two different railway gauges are visible in this postcard image. Those close to the camera are of the metre-gauge Aden State Railway. Those across the centre of the image are part of the Aden Port Trust Tramway.

From Maala Wharf the line ran first eastwards and then Northeast as it followed the sea wall. Its actual route cannot now easily be seen on satellite imagery. In addition to the fact that it is now (2022) about 90 years since the line was lifted, there has been land reclamation in the area of the Port of Aden which make estimating its route difficult.

The isthmus and the northside of the old Aden settlement with a possible line for the old metre-gauge railway superimposed by a faint dashed red line. It is impossible to be sure of the actual line. We do know that it serves Maala and the Port to the North side of MainStreet on the plan, we know that there was a station at Maala. WE have already commented that the line is likely not to have been tunnelled under the higher ground at the South end of the isthmus. We know that there was a station at Khormakser, although the area known as Khormakser may have been further North than shown on the Google Maps satellite image. The international airport now covers the route of the line. The one fixed point on the route will be the bridge shown towards the top of this image. I have shown the old railway crossing that bridge which was the old road North off the Isthmus. There is no evidence of any other structure visible on satellite imagery going back as far as 1985 (on Google Earth). This satellite image is dated 2022. [Google Maps]

North of the old road bridge off the isthmus it is only possible to make assumptions about the line of the old railway. My assumption, based on practice elsewhere, is that the line probably followed the route of the road North to Sheikh Othman and beyond. The faint dashed-red line on the plan below shows a possible route which primarily follows roads to the Northeast of Sheikh Othman (Shaykh Uthman on the map) and which, at the very top of the extract meets the line of the major highway to the North.

The possible line of the old railway to the North of the isthmus which follows as much as it possible the line of what may well be the old road to the North. All guesswork on my part. However, this would mean that the railway route proposed in 1905/1906 was not followed by the military builders of the later line. [Google Maps]
The line continued North. The most obvious route is the route of the modern highway to Lahej as shown here. However this is not the route of the proposed 1905/1906 line. That alignment runs to the North of Lahej rather than through the centre of Lahej. [Google Maps]

Given that I am making significant assumptions about the route of the old railway it seems best not to try to show the detail of the route and to accept that it has been lost. We know that it served Lahej before travelling further North. If the route proposed in 1905/1906 was used then the line would have been some distance from Lahej at its closest point. The route of the line shown on the map at the head of this article follows the line of the major highway to Lahej rather than the route of the 1905/1906 proposal. The differing alignments are shown below.

This image shows the Aden State Railway, 1931 Map
From ‘Imperial Gazetteer of India,’ v. 26, Atlas 1931 edition, Railways & Inland Navigation, p. 50 again. However, I have added the approximate line of the 1905/1906 proposal in light-blue. The image is used here under a Creative Commons Licence (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).

In summary, we know that the old metre-gauge railway served Maala, Sheikh Othman, Lahej and continued on for a short distance to El Khudad. We do not know the detail of the route it followed.

References

  1. https://wiki.fibis.org/w/Aden_Railway, accessed on 19th August 2022.
  2. Robert Mumford; Indian Outpost in Arabia; by  in the ‘Railway Magazine’ February 1976 pages 73-75.
  3. https://wiki.fibis.org/w/North_Western_Railway, accessed on 19th August 2022.
  4. https://wiki.fibis.org/w/File:Aden_Railway_1931_Map.png, accessed on 19th August 2022.
  5. https://peterpickering.wixsite.com/aden/railway, accessed on 19th August 2022.
  6. https://api.parliament.uk/historic-hansard/lords/1911/may/30/the-aden-hinterland, accessed on 19th August 2022.
  7. https://images.app.goo.gl/L3365VHbftjjAs7C6, accessed on 19th August 2022.
  8. J. Julian Rainbow; ‘Those Barren Rocks’: The Building of the Aden Railway During World War One; in Paul E. Waters & J. Julian Rainbow; British Military Railways Overseas in the Great War, the British Overseas Railways Historical Trust, Mainline & Maritime, Upper Seagry, Chippenham, 2018, p256-258.
  9. M. Connelly; The British Campaign in Aden, 1914-1918; in the Journal of the Centre for First World War Studies, Vol. 2, No. 1, 1965.
  10. https://www.sinfin.net/railways/world/yemen.html, accessed on 19th August 2022.
  11. Locomotive Magazine, Volume 34, No. 426 (15 February 1928), p42-3.
  12. Robert Mumford; Indian Outpost in Arabia; in The Railway Magazine, February 1976, p73-75.
  13. https://www.steamlocomotive.com/locobase.php?country=Aden&wheel=4-6-0&railroad=ar#14421, accessed on 21st August 2022.
  14. https://www.britishempire.co.uk/maproom/aden/adenmaps.htm, accessed on 21st August 2022.
  15. British Library – India Office Records IOR/L/PS/10/89 File 379/1906.
  16. https://web.archive.org/web/20110103164201/http://www.ajg41.clara.co.uk/yemen.html, accessed on 21st August 2022.
  17. British Library IOR L/PS/12/1462 ‘Disposal of Rolling Stock and Material of former Aden Railway’.
  18. The Locomotive Magazine 1929, p131. My thanks to Iain Logie for pointing this out to me.
  19. Hugh Hughes; Reader’s Letter in The Railway Magazine, April 1976, p206. Again, thanks to Iain Logie for this reference.
  20. Simon Darvill; The Industrial Railways and Locomotives of India and South Asia; the Industrial Railway Society, 2015.
  21. Map of the Proposed Railway from Aden to Nobat Dakim; British Library: India Office Records and Private Papers, Ref: IOR/L/PS/10/89, f 114; in Qatar Digital Library; https://www.qdl.qa/archive/81055/vdc_100026192896.0x000001, accessed on 23rd August 2022.
  22. Locomotives International Vol. 133, p32.
  23. Hugh Hughes; Indian Locomotives part 2 – Metre Gauge 1872-1940; the Continental Railway Circle, Harrow, 1992.

Ancient Tramroads near Telford – Part 7 – Malinslee Part 3

In the first two articles about tramroad routes centred around Malinslee I have looked at the tramroads which appear on the 6″ OS Map of 1881/82 (which was published in 1880) and which were located to the West of the Stirchley Ironworks. These can be read by following the links immediately below:

Ancient Tramroads near Telford – Part 4 – Malinslee Part 1

Ancient Tramroads near Telford – Part 6 – Malinslee Part 2 – Jerry Rails …

The map below traced by Savage & Smith in The Waggon-ways and Plateways of East Shropshire, shows how extensive the network of tramroads in the area was. [1: p164] Even so, the plan is not exhaustive. We have already encountered the tramroad which served Little Eyton Colliery. This appeared in the first part of this series centred on Malinslee for which the link is provided above.

It ran along the lane shown to the North of Langleyfield Colliery on the plan below. The slag heap from Little Eyton Colliery is shown on the sketch plan.

It is important to understand that the tramroads shown on the plan below did not necessarily all exist at the same time. Savage & Smith illustrated their routes with different symbols. The solid red lines denoted lines whose position is exactly known. The lines shown by the shorter dashes are those which appear on the 1833 1″ OS Map of Shropshire. Savage & Smith note that these lines are shown scaled up from the 1″ map but without any alteration to fit the landscape which is shown in more detail on later OS Mapping. [1: p103] The longer dashed lines are tramroad routes shown on the half-inch map of the Shropshire Railway from Shrewsbury to Wolverhampton of around 1836 and which have similarly been enlarged. Savage & Smith were confident, in 1965, with some degree of certainty, that the routes shown below were in commercial use at some time, many in the period prior to the coming of the standard-gauge railways. [1: p103]

We begin this next survey by looking at the area immediately around St. Leonard’s Church. The Church is not shown on the tracing undertaken by Savage & Smith. Their traced routes have been transposed onto the 1881/82 6″ Ordnance Survey in the image below.

Tramroad routes superimposed on the 1881/82 6″ OS Map of the area immediately around St. Leonard’s Church Malinslee. The routes have been marginally adjusted from those shown by Savage & Smith to align with features on the 1881/82 mapping as appropriate [1: p164][2]
This extract from the ESRI satellite imagery provided by the National Library of Scotland (NLS) shows approximately the same area as that covered by the 1881/82 OS Map extract above. The mauve and red lines on the map extract have been transferred onto the satellite image. It is relatively easy to follow the route of the tramroad as shown on the 1833 1″ Ordnance Survey (red line). In places it is much more difficult to do so for the tramroad line shown on the marginally later railway maps (mauve line). [3]

We start looking at the mauve line on the image above, which seems to run to St. Leonard’s Church from the North. We will follow the route Northwards to Hollinswood…

Google Earth provides a higher quality of satellite image than the NLS is able to do. This extract shows the church at the bottom of the image. The carpark area to the Northwest of the Church is where the old vicarage used to be sited. The route shown by Savage & Smith is marked in mauve. It is difficult, either from old maps or from the features still evident today to establish what this tramroad was intended to serve. The church was built in 1805. [4] This may possibly have postdated the tramroad and by its construction the then disused tramroad would have been severed?

Looking Southwest along what may have been the truncated line of an old tramroad. [Google Streetview, June 2022]
Lookin Northeast along the route of the tramroad from the same position. [Google Streetview, June 2022]
This photograph is taken at the junction of Alma Avenue and St. Leonard’s Place looking North-northwest along the route of the tramway identified by Savage & Smith [Google Streetview, June 2022]
The intersection of the two tramroad routes on Savage & Smith’s plan. Savage & Smith show the mauve route running under properties to the East side of Alma Avenue. We pick the route up again after following the red tramroad route for a short distance along Alma Road and then St. Leonard’s Road to the left. [Google Streetview, June 2022]
The red route follows Alma Avenue and them St. Leonard’s Road. [Google Streetview, June 2022]
The two tramroad routes coincide again close to the junction of St. Leonard’s Road with Field Close. [Google Streetview]

The next length northwards is imposed first on the 1881/82 6″ Ordnance Survey [2] and then on satellite imagery from Google Earth. [Google Earth, 4th April 2021]. There is little worthy of comment, over the majority of this length the old tramroad rout has been retained as a metalled road. Towards the top of the extracts the tramroad route is shown crossing what was a more major road (Park Road) until development of Telford New Town led to roads being realigned and replaced. Park Road as shown on the 6″ Map extract can be seen as terminating just to the East of the point where the old tramway route(s) crossed it on a relatively shallow angle. [5]

The line of the old tramroad imposed on modern satellite imagery. [Google Earth, 4th April 2021]
Looking North along St. Leonard’s Road. The road follows the route of the old tramroad. [Google Streetview, June 2022]
The junction of St. Leonard’s Road and Royal Way. The route of the old tramroad runs approximately through the gap between the two distribution boxes on the far side of Royal Way. Park Road runs in front of the fencing in the distance on the left side of this image. [Google Streetview, June 2022]
Looking West along Park Road. The tramroad route crossed Park Road on the diagonal just to the West of the driveway shown on the left of this image. [Google Streetview, June 2022]

Both of the older maps consulted by Savage & Smith show the same route for the old tramroad. Between Park Road that the top of this extract much of the route was lost under old slag heaps associated with mine workings which postdated the tramroad. The area is now lost under Thomas Telford School and the Land Registry. The road at the top-right of this map extract is now Caledonian Way. [6]

The approximate route imposed once again on the matching area on modern satellite imagery. [Google Earth, 4th April 2021]
Looking West along West centre Way. The red/mauve line indicates very approximately the line of the old tramroad. We have nothing to assist us with determining the relative levels of the modern road and the old tramway. [Google Streeview, June 2022]
The view looking South West along the line of Caledonian Way. [Google Streetview, June 2022]
Looking Northeast from the same point. [Google Streetview, June 2022]
The 6″ Ordnance Survey again (surveyed 1901, published 1903). [7] The map extract shows the area of what was Old Park Furnaces/Ironworks and Brickworks. The red lines continue to show the route of the tramroad as shown on the 1833 1″ Ordnance Survey. The mauve line entering the extract bottom-left and leaving top-right continues to shows one of the tramroads plotted by Savage & Smith on the railway maps referred to above. [1: p164] The green line shows the approximate route of a tramroad not included on Savage & Smith’s drawing. [1: p164] That branch-line appears on the British History Online plans below. We also need to note the presence of the later mineral railway that features on this and other map extracts. Those lines need to be looked at in a different article as they postdate the tramroads we are looking at by a number of decades! However, on this map there seems to be a significant correlation between the likely alignment of the tramroad represented by the mauve line which was plotted by Savage & Smith [1: p164] running into the map extract from the bottom-right and one of the mineral lines shown on the OS map. The deviation between the two alignments in the bottom right can be explained by the presence of a significant slag heap sitting over the older tramway alignment.[9]
The same area on modern satellite imagery showing development up until April 2022 with the very approximate lines of tramroads superimposed by me. [Google Earth, 4th April 2021]

Old Park Ironworks Company was started by Thomas Botfield on land leased from Isaac Hawkins Browne’s Old Park Estate. It started with two furnaces but by 1801 it had four blast furnaces in operation as well as a forge and rolling mill. By 1806 it was the largest producer of iron in Shropshire and the second largest iron producer in Britain. The Old Park works passed to the Old Park Company in 1856. This was bought by the Wellington Iron & Coal Company in 1874 but closed in 1877 when this company failed.” [8]

It should be noted that two locations in the Telford Area were, at different times, named ‘Old Park Ironworks’

The webpage introducing the Botfield Papers [11] contains the following:

In 1815 the Old Park works consisted of four blast furnaces, a forge and associated collieries. Thereafter the business expanded considerably, as two pairs of blast furnaces at Hinksay and Stirchley, on either side of the Shropshire Canal, were brought into operation between 1825 and 1827. By 1830 the enterprise was producing 15,300 tons of pig iron a year, only slightly less than the Lilleshall company who were then the largest producers in Shropshire. In 1830 the forge at Stirchley came into operation and within the next few years two blast furnaces at Dark Lane were also completed.

The Botfield brothers, with the exception of William, had detached themselves from the day-to-day running of the ironworks, and had invested some of their handsome profits in landed property rather than ploughing it back into the family business. Thomas Botfield died in 1843, and his brother William in 1850, and control of the family business passed to their nephew Beriah, whose father, also Beriah, had died in 1813. Beriah Botfield (1807-1863) was MP for Ludlow 1840-1847, 1857-63 and a well known bibliographer who set up a private printing press at Norton Hall, Northamptonshire. The gradual decline of the Botfield family’s business was symptomatic of the Shropshire iron trade’s failure to adapt to modern methods. In 1856 the business was divided up after Beriah Botfield failed to agree terms for the renewal of the lease covering a large part of its territory. In 1877 the Old Park ironworks ceased operations, the consequent social distress being exacerbated by an outbreak of typhoid.” [11]

The location of the Old Park Brickworks and Ironworks near Hollinswood are marked on the British History Online plan below. The later Old Park Ironworks were at the location numbered ‘3’ to the immediate South of Randlay Pool on the plan.

This plan comes from British History Online and shows the area of Dawley in the 1840s. It includes Malinslee which appears towards the top of the plan. Not noted on this plan are the later changes of use and name of some of the local industrial sites. For example the Ironworks numbered ‘3’, ‘4’ and ‘5’ were later to be known as Stirchley Ironworks and Old Park Ironworks. The next image below enlarges a section of this plan. [9]
This enlarged extract from the above plan is of interest to us here because it shows waggonway routes extant in the 1840s. The line we are following features clearly at the centre of the image. It runs North from close to Withy Pool (just to the left of the ‘M’ in ‘MALINSLEE’) to the Old Park Brickworks and Ironworks which are marked by the hexagon and circle both numbered ‘1’ towards the top of this extract. Of interest is the fact that, at the junction of tramroads to the Southwest of the Ironworks and Brickworks, (marked ‘A’ above and ‘A’ on the OS Map extract above), this plan shows an additional tramroad branch to the ones shown by Savage & Smith. [1: p103] The additional branch runs Southeast from the junction at ‘A’. [9]
An extract from a map drawn by Robert Dawson in 1814 showing Coalpit Bank, Old Park, the Shropshire Canal and Malinslee. Note Forge Row which appears on this map and on the 6″ OS extract above. Despite this map being almost contemporaneous with the early existence of the Ironworks, their existence is not noted by Dawson. [10]

As we continue to look at this area, it is not surprising that it is difficult to relate modern locations to older features. We are now close to the centre of Telford, an area which has been considerably re-modelled both by modern development and by opencast mining. The next plan below gives and idea of the extent of opencast mining in the 1970s. The roads shown dotted on the plan were built as the New Town developed.

This plan comes from the Journal of the Shropshire Caving & Mining Club (Autumn Issue No. 2016.3) in an article by Ivor Brown. It shows the extent of opencast activities to the West of Telford Town Centre in the mid-1970s. Apparently, the site produced around 400,000 tons of coal and 80,000 tone of fireclay. The Old Park site was worked from 1974 to 1978. The journal indicates that the site contained over 100 dwellings which were acquired either by agreement or by Compulsory Purchase Order. Two specially built estates of bungalows were constructed by the Corporation to house many of the older residents, all having modern conveniences and amenities that their previous homes had lacked. The site also saw the closure of 0.8km of highway. The site was of 72 ha. and included 76 recorded shafts! [12]

The Shropshire Caving & Mining Club’s Winter Issue of 2016 [13] included another article by Ivor Brown which contained details of archeological activity in advance of the opencast mining and during its operation. Old workings were found in almost every seam, but mainly in clay and coal, although it was obvious that ironstone had been worked where available. That journal includes a few photos of the Old Park Ironworks as exposed by the mining activity in 1976.

Photos from the Ivor Brown Collection of remains of the Old Park Ironworks uncovered by opencast mining in 1976, (c) Ivor Brown. [13]

Before continuing, it is worth stating clearly that the lines drawn on maps in this and other articles are very definitely approximate and represent the best estimates of Savage & Smith and my own interpretation of what they described in the 1960s before so much of the landscape was altered by opencast mining and subsequent development.

On the 1901/2 6″ OS Map again, a little further to the Northeast from Forge Row, we find the hamlet of Hollinswood. We can see both the Coalport Branch and the GWR mainline to the top-right of the map extract. The Ochre lines approximate to the lines which Savage & Smith indicate as being securely documented. The mauve lines continue to represent the tramroad line which Savage & Smith drew based on the 1836 railway maps. [14][1:p103][1:p164]
This satellite image shows the same area as that on the 6″ OS Map above. It perhaps serves to demonstrate as effectively as any other image the dramatically different landscape and transport patterns of the 21st century. While it was possible to relate features on the 6″ OS Map back to the tramroads in the area. There is very little on this image that bears any relation to the 6″ OS Map of the turn of the 20th century. In one sense the lines drawn over the image are relatively meaningless in the world of the 21st century. The deep-red line is the route of the Coalport Branch which was a LNWR railway line. The A442 now follows the route of the railway here. The ochre lines approximate to those which Savage & Smith were certain of. The mauve line is tramroad they have drawn in their thesis which matches that on the 1836 railway map. One feature which remains in the 21st century is the line of the old GWR mainline which is tight in the top-right corner of both the map and the satellite image. The hamlet of Hollinswood has disappeared under the M54 and the A442. The general area has been re-wilded and given over to woodland. [14][1:p103][1:p164]

Having followed a tramroad route Northwards from St. Leonard’s to Hollinswood, we now turn our attention to what Savage & Smith have shown to the Southeast of St. Leonard’s and then to the East side of their traced map of the Malinslee area. …

First, we need to pick up on the tramroad indicated by the red-dashed line on the earlier images of the area close to St. Leonard’s.

The tramroad is indicated by the red-dashed line on this plan which appeared earlier in this article. The red-dashed line runs on the Northeast side of Little Eyton Colliery and appears to run under the slag heap. The length of this line shown at the top of this extract can be followed easily on the ground in the 21st century. This is not possible the further South along the line that we travel. [2]

This extract from the circa. 1840 plan of Dawley shows that tramroad running from Withy Pool adjacent to the word ‘MALINSLEE’ down to the Canal at Hinkshay Pools and running to the Northeast side of Little Eyton Colliery slag heap. There is a short canal arm shown as well. which would have provided for transshipment of loads from waggons to canal tub-boats. [9]

These next few images are my attempt to follow the line of the tramroad from near Withy Pool down towards Hinkshay.

The old tramroad followed the route of St. Leonard’s Road. This view looks South towards St. Leonard’s Church. [Google Streetview, June 2022]
St Leonard’s Road turns slightly towards the Southeast and becomes Alma Avenue. {Google Streetview, June 2022]
As Alma Road turns back to the South, the old tramroad route is now a footpath. [Google Streetview, June 2022]
The red line shows the route we are following. [Google Earth, 4th April 2021]
Looking back to the Northwest along the line of the old tramroad from the end of Rhodes Avenue towards Alma Avenue. [Google Streetview, June 2022]
Looking Southeast along the line of the old tramroad from the end of the northerly arm of Rhodes Avenue. [Google Streetview, June 2022]
Continuing Southeast along the line of the old tramroad. [Google Streetview, March 2011]
Looking Southeast again, from the end of the more southerly arm of Rhodes Avenue. [Google Streetview, March 2011]
Having looked carefully at the OS Maps, my belief is that the line we are following, shown red at the top of this extract from the 1901/2 6″ OS map, continues along the track which would have run all the way between points A, B, C and D shown. The earlier 1840 map suggests that the slag heap of the colliery was of much smaller extent in the early 1800s. I think this is the interpretation which makes the most sense when comparing the different drawn lines on various plans and maps. We have already followed the green line shown in the bottom half of this map in the first post about tramroads in the Malinslee area (https://rogerfarnworth.com/2022/06/15/ancient-tramroads-near-telford-part-4-malinslee-part-1) [16]
The same area shown on the ESRI satellite image provided by the National Library of Scotland. [16]

The next few pictures follow the line from A to C on the map/satellite image above.

Continuing Southeast along the footpath which follows the old tramway route. [My photograph, 6th August 2022]
The route continues across the modern ‘Stone Row’. [My photograph, 6th August 2022]
And on towards Brunel Road. [My photograph, 6th August 2022]
There is a pelican crossing at the point where the old tramroad crossed the line of the modern Brunel Road. [My photograph, 6th August 2022]
Looking back Northwest along the line of the old tramroad. [My picture, 6th August 2022]
Looking Southeast from the same location. [My photograph, 6th August 2022]
At point ‘C’ on the map and satellite image above, the modern path turns to the left between the fence and the streetlight. The old tramway continued straight ahead and was eventually covered by the slag heap from Little Eyton Colliery. The slag heap has been on our right as we have walked along the path from Brunel Road, it now expands out across what was the line of the tramroad. [My photograph, 6th August 2022]
The view Northwest alone Matlock Avenue. The tramroad serving the main buildings of LittleEyton Colliery bends away to the left (green line), the route we have been following ran under the slag heap which is directly ahead (red line). [Google Streetview, June 2022]

The first map extract below is taken from the 1881/82 6″ OS Map. It picks up the red-dashed line entering top-left. The line as drawn on this extract is that shown by Savage & Smith on their traced plan [1: p164] and it curves round to the Northeast on the Northeast side of Hinkshay Row. There seems, as the tramroad shown above approaches the canal, to be either a conflation of two tramroad routes Solid green/red and red-dashed on the map extract below) on the1840 plan of Dawley or a minor problem with the tracings undertaken by Savage & Smith which could easily be explained by the relative scales of the different plans that they refer to. As the notes below the first map extract below suggest there is a possibility that the red-dashed line shown by Savage & Smith which comes from the 1″ Ordnance Survey of 1833 is marginally out of position and when drawn on the larger scale 6″ mapping gives the discrepancy represented by the solid green/red line (my preferred route for the tramroad) as compared to the red-dashed line. On the extract below, this is further complicated by the mauve-dashed line which is that traced by Savage & Smith from the half-inch map of 1836.

Tramroad routes from various sources superimposed on the 1881/82 6″ OS Map of the area close to Stirchley and Old Park Ironworks. Where appropriate, the routes have been marginally adjusted from those shown by Savage and Smith to align with features on the 1881/82 mapping as appropriate. The density of lines is very apparent! The two dashed lines, one in red (1833) and one in mauve (1836) came from different maps at different scales. It is possible that they represent the same tramroad, and that both, in my opinion, represent the actual route shown by green/red solid lines on the extract.

A curving pathway to the East of Hinkshay Row calls into question my opinion and supports the red-dashed alignment which represents the 1833 1″ OS Map tramway alignment. Both red-dashed and mauve-dashed lines run under the spoil heap for the abandoned colliery Northeast of Hinkshay Row and so, if they are correct, must pre-date that colliery’s slag heap. There is a similarity between the various changes in alignment on the red-dashed line and the solid-red line a little to the South. I guess it has to be asked whether, given the differences in scale between different maps, these are in fact the same tramroad. We have already established that the solid-red line is an accurate representation of a tramroad. The question at stake here is whether the dashed-red line is a different route or not. The curving pathway to the Northeast of Hinkshay Row is probably the only feature on the map extract that would suggest that it is a separate route.

The light-brown tramroad line(s) are definitive, according to Savage and Smith. However the light-brown route which seems to end at Hinkshay Road/Dark Lane may well have extended across to the South of Stone Row and on beyond Wood Colliery, passing under what in 1881/2 is the extent of the Wood Colliery spoil heap. That extension can be presumed from the Savage and Smith drawn 1836 alignment which is shown here, marginally moved, from the Savage and Smith map above. We have noted elsewhere the existence of the GWR Stirchley Branch and the LNWR Coalport branch which will be the subject of other articles. We should also note the presence on the 1881/82 6″ maps of a Mineral Railway which enters this extract from the North and which was part of a network across this extract and beyond that replaced older tramroads.

On the 1881/82 6″ OS Map a tramroad is shown serving Wood Colliery. It is highlighted in light blue in the top-left of this extract. It is possible that the tramway route shown light-brown on this extract crossed or connected with this line prior to the spoil heap from the Colliery growing in size.

Note also the Old Park Ironworks which appear in the bottom-right of the extract and which were part of the Botfield empire featured in the notes earlier in this article. [1: p164][2]

The same tramroad lines approximately translated onto the ESRI satellite imagery provided by the National Library of Scotland. No annotations are provided in this case as they can bee seen on the map extract above. It is sufficient to remark that the details of tramroad alignments are difficult to relate to the Town Park in 21st century. But correlations there are and they are quite significant! [15]

In previous posts, we have considered many of the tramroads in this area. The comments made under the OS Map extract immediately above should be sufficient to highlight any details/issues. My judgement, for what it is worth, is that the solid green/red line should be given precedence over both of the lines traced by Savage & Smith. If I am correct, the tramroads which existed in this are become those shown below. …..

The 6″ OS map of 1881/82 again. This time we see only the lines which in my opinion exited in the immediate are of the White Hart Inn and the Stirchley Ironworks. [2]

Walking the area, a number of the features on the map extract can be seen to still be present in 21st century in some form or other. Exploring Telford Town Park is highly recommended!

The next map extract shows the area to the North and Northeast of the extract above. …..

The 1881/82 6″ OS Map again. On this extract, two of the lines drawn by Savage & Smith (red-dashed and mauve-dashed) have also been removed to leave those over which there is some certainty that they existed. The orang lines are those which Savage & Smith were able to confirm. The light-blue-dashed line in the top-left appears on the map and served Wood Colliery. The mauve-dashed line is a tramroad which predated the enlarged slag heap of Wood Colliery and which appears on Savage & Smith’s traced drawing of the area. The two black lines on the plan are the Coalport Branch (LNWR) and the Stirchley Branch (GWR). [1: p164] [2]

The same area on Google Maps. Some of the features shown on the 6″ OS map have been lost. The slag heaps remain and have been encouraged to become woodland. The Mauve and light-blue lines can still be picked out with care on the ground in the 21st century. [Google Maps]

Looking North along Dark Lane, Telford. The large car park for Telford Town Park is ahead to the right. The old tramroad crossed the line of the lane at approximately this point before heading Northwest across the adjacent fields. {My photograph, 9th August 2022]
Telford Rugby Club grounds: the old tramroad crossed the playing field on the diagonal (in a northwesterly direction). [My photograph, 9th August 2022]
The line continues generally in a northwesterly direction but does deflect to the West for a short distance. I have found it very difficult to give a good approximation to the points at which the direction changed. Please see the mauve line as very approximate. [My photograph, 9th August 2022]
The land rises as the landscaped waste heap of Wood Colliery is reached. Both footpaths visible in this image climb steeply. The old tramroad is buried under the waste heap. It horizontal alignment approximates to a later footpath across the waste heap

Before looking at the area immediately around Randlay Pool (which appears on the right side of the map extract above we need to trace the route of the two tramroads shown light-blue (not on the Savage & Smith drawing [1: p164]) and mauve on the extract OS map extract above. This next extract from the 1901/2 6″ OS map shows the line of the tramway marked light-blue as still in existence alongside Wood Colliery.

An enlarge extract from the 1881/82 6″ Ordnance Survey. The tramroad indicated by the light-blue-dashed line on the extract next above can easily be seen to serve Wood Colliery which appears to still be active at the time of the survey. The 1840 map of Dawley shows this tramroad. [9] The line of embankment South of the end of this tramroad suggests that at one time it extended down towards the disused colliery to the South. The mauve-dashed line is repeated on this extract. It is Savage & Smith’s line from the 1836 Shropshire Railway map. The tramroad shown by this line will have predated the growth of the slag heap of Wood Colliery. [1: p164][2]

The same area as shown on the OS map extract above, with the tramroad routes transferred. It can be seen that the tramroad on the West side of the image follows the route of a path in Telford Town Park. The orange line being that which served Hinkshay Colliery. Wood Colliery was perhaps 100 metres North of the last ‘l’ in ‘Campbell’. The Reservoir shown on the OS Map is now called ‘Withy Pool’. Earler mapping shows a Withy Pool much closer to St. Leonard’s Church. [Google Maps]

The following photographs show the approximate alignment of the two tramroads illustrated on the OS map extract and satellite image above. The first route begins bottom-left of the map/satellite image above. The first picture is taken a little south of the end of the orange-dashed line. …

Looking North on the slag heap of what was Hinkshay Colliery. The modern footpath has been laid over the line of the old tramroad. [My photograph, 9th August 2022]
Looking back to the South, from a point a couple of hundred metres to the North, along the tramroad line. [My photograph, 9th August 2022]
Turning through 180 degrees to look North at the same point. The modern footpath follows the horizontal alignment of the tramroad. [My photograph, 9th August 2022]
Looking North again, the modern footpath deviates from the line of the tramroad for a short length as it makes a connection with another path approaching from the East. [My photograph, 9th August 2022]

The two old tramroad routes run immediately next to each other as they converge a little to the North. We are immediately adjacent to the location of Wood Colliery.

The ‘orange’ line continues Northward but now its alignment matches a tarmac-paved footpath. The footpath that we were following is now a few metres to the right of the ‘orange’ line. It follows the short stub-end of tramroad which meets our route at the horizon in this picture. [My photograph, 9th August 2022]
Further North the tramroad the modern footpath continues to follow the old tramroad alignment. [My photograph, 9th August 2022]
Another 200 metres or so and the two tramroad routes converge. [My photograph, 9th August 2022]
Looking back to the South along the routes of the two tramroads. [My picture, 9th August 2022]

Having followed the orange and light-blue routes to their junction with the mauve route, we now need to return to the mauve route as it crosses the area of Wood Colliery slag-heap. It is important to bear in mind that the tramroad pre-dated the full extent of the slag-heap from Wood Colliery and although there is a 21st century footpath that seems to follow its alignment, the levels are likely to have been much different.

We have already note the extent of the colliery slag-heap on its Southeastern flank. This next photograph looks Southeast through the trees from the top of the slag-heap along the line of the ‘mauve’ tramroad.

The trees in the distance camouflage Dark Lane which runs behind them. The Rugby field is in front of them at the lower level. The tramroad route is shown by the mauve line. [My photograph, 9th August 2022]
We need to continue to bear in mind that the route shown in these pictures is approximate and that it is probably at a significantly higher level than the original tramroad. None-the-less, the tramroad alignment runs North-northwest across the slag-heap. [My photograph, 9th August 2022]
In one sense this picture shows very little, the old tramroad will be somewhat below this landscape and even it route cannot be shown as it runs, in all probability directly beneath the line of undergrowth and trees in this picture. The line of trees almost exactly mirrors the tramroad route on the 6″ OS maps. [My photograph, 9th August 2022]

One lovely touch on Wood Colliery waste-heap is the use that has been made of old carriage/wagon buffers as seats. They appear like mushrooms in the grass areas which surround the old tramroad routes.

The next [photo is not the best, by a long chalk as it is taken directly into the Sun

Looking back to the Southeast, the tramroad alignment takes it through the linear stand of tree of trees. The footpath at the extreme left of this picture gives access to the meadow which appears in the previous three or four shots. the path to the left of the mauve line follows the highest ridge of the colliery site and heads South towards the bottom of Telford Town Park. [My photograph, 9th August 2022]
Turning through 180 degrees, this path follows the old tramroad’s alignment. [My photograph, 9th August 2022]
And on, North to a junction with the light-blue route we followed. By this point, modern levels are much closer to those of the past! [My photograph, 9th August 2022]

The adjacent image is an extract from a larger plan on the Dawley Heritage website [17] which shows the location of collieries in the Dawley area. St. Leonard’s Church and Little Eyton Colliery feature at the centre of the image. Comparing this with the extracts from the OS map above, it appears that the location of Wood Colliery has been confused with the colliery shown as ‘Old Colliery’ and adjacent to The White Hart Inn on the OS mapping. That marked Holywell Colliery seems to be named Spout Colliery on OS maps and collieries to the East do not appear on this extract (Wharf Colliery, Lodge Colliery and Little Dark Lance Colliery all appear on the 6″ OS map of 1881/82).

That shown as ‘Old Colliery’ on the OS Mapping close to The White Hart Inn may well have been known as ‘Hinkshay Colliery’ which is referred to in the online introduction to the ‘Botfield Papers’ held at Manchester University. [18]

Returning to the tramroad theme, it is worth noting a possible additional tramroad route which was not picked up by Savage & Smith and which also does not appear as a tramroad on the OS mapping. The extract below shows that possible route which ran between the area immediately adjacent to St. Leonard’s Church and Wood Colliery. It is suggested by the embankments at the possible junction with the tramroad shown at Wood Colliery and the straight alignment of the residual track/highway on the OS map.

The tramroads that we have already discussed are shown, green, red and light-blue on this extract from the 1881/82 6″ OS map. The deep-red-dashed line indicates the possible additional route. It appears that this may have made a triangular junction with the line running North-South adjacent to Wood Colliery. It appears to have crossed the ‘red’ line at a ‘diamond’ crossing and headed West towards the Church Wickets public house. Please note that this is a route which is unsupported by any direct evidence. [2]
The same area in the 21st Century, the possible tramroad route heads from the location of Wood Colliery in a westerly direct through a gap in the modern housing to then meet Brunel Road which meanders around while the tramroad route runs due West. [Google Maps]
Please this an the immediately following pictures with a dose of skepticism, they show the postulated additional tramroad route as it appears in the 21st century.

The batch of photos above first follow the line to the West before turning back round to look East towards the Town Park. [My photographs, 9th August 2022]

The batch of photographs above take us along Brunel Road following our possible tramroad alignment! [My photographs, 9th August 2022]

The next map extract shows the area between Wood and Spout Collieries. The tramroad alignment which passed under the later slag heap and that shown running North-South on the West side of Wood Colliery join just to the South of Spout Colliery.

The tramroad linking Spout and Wood Collieries is joined by the abandoned route which by 1881/82 was covered by the Wood Colliery waste heap at point ‘A’. There may also have been a tramroad linking Wood Colliery with Wharf Colliery to the East. This is shown by the deep-red-dashed line on this extract from the 1881/82 OS map. The next extract from the OS Map shows what may have been the route of a tram road between the two collieries. [2]

Approximately the same area as shown above but this time with the tramroads and mineral railway highlighted in light-blue, mauve and brown respectively. {Google Maps]

The tarmac path continues to follow the old tramroad route northwards. [My photograph, 9th August 2022]
And still further North. Spout Colliery was on the right at this point. [My photograph, 9th August 2022]
Another possible tramroad route which is suggested by the embankment arrangement close to Wharf Colliery and the two straight lengths of lane. It is shown by the deep-red-dashed line. It must be stressed, once again, that this is a line which I imagine may well have been present between two local collieries. [2]
A similar area to the 6″ map extract above with the possible tramroad imposed on the satellite image, Virtually everything along the line has been completely remodeled/landscaped. Note Telford Norman Chapel – this is not its original location. When Telford Development Corporation altered the whole area to create the town centre and the Town Park, the Chapel was moved from its original location where redevelopment would have destroyed it. The buildings in the very top-right of the picture are part of Telford International Exhibition Centre. [Google Maps]

Wharf Colliery was owned in 1900 by the Hopley brothers. [19] According to mindat.org, Wood Colliery was owned in 1890 by the Haybridge Iron Co.; in 1895-1896 by the Stirchley Coal & Iron Co.; in 1900, again by the Haybridge Iron Co.; and in 1920 by W.T. Jo. [20] To complete the picture, Spout Colliery was owned in 1890 by the Haybridge Iron Co.; in 1895-1896 by the Stirchley Coal & Iron Co.; in 1900, again by the Haybridge Iron Co. [21]

The next map extract shows the area Northwest of Spout Colliery. …

Again from the 6″ 1881/82 OS map, this extract shows two lines which were present in 1881/82. The Mineral Railway which was standard-gauge and the earlier narrow gauge tramroad. it is possible that, by 1881, The older tramroad had been replaced by a standard gauge line which made a junction with the Mineral Railway which ran on the Northeast side of Spout Colliery. Further North Savage & Smith show the tramroad continuing northwards as shown on this plan by the mauve-dashed line. They say that they took this information from the 1836 Shropshire Railway plans. [2]

Savage & Smith show the tramroad crossing the lane/road to the Northwest of Spout Colliery. Their tracing shows a break in the tramroad at the lane which is illustrated in the adjacent extract from their plan. [1: 164] This seems to be unlikely as their tracing to the North of the lane follows the line shown on the OS map above. A tracing error or a discrepancy in scaling would make the most logical explanation for the step in their alignment. The OS map shows a continuous alignment.

This is approximately the same area as covered by the OS map extract above. Major redevelopment has occurred.

In the top half of this image there are no features which fix the line of the tramroad and the mineral railway. The routes are traced from the mapping onto the satellite image using overlay software. From here North the lines drawn must be seen as careful estimates!

The tramroad alignment to the North of Spout Lane (or the footpath it is in the 21st century. [My photograph, 9th August 2022]
It is difficult to provide a meaningful line on this picture which shows that the old tramroad alignment and the public footpath of the 21st century drift gradually further apart as they head for the horizon. The satellite image above shows this most effectively. [My photograph, 9th August 2022]

We pick up the tramroad route further North in the next extract from the 1881/82 OS map

The mauve-dashed line on this next extract from the 6″ OS map of 1881/82 is the line we are currently following the combined red and mauve route is one we have already followed. The green line shows the approximate route of a tramroad not included on Savage & Smith’s drawing. [1: p164] but which appears on the British History Online plans of Dawley in the 1840s [9] earlier in this article. [2]
The same area as on the map extract directly above. The locations marked ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’ are the same geographical location.
Looking back along the line of the old tramroad at point ‘A’ above [Google Streetview, June 2022]
Looking forward along the line of the old tramroad at point ‘A’ above [Google Streetview, June 2022]
Looking back along the line of the old tramroad across the modern roundabout towards point ‘A’ above [Google Streetview, June 2022]
Looking from the roundabout towards point ‘B’. In the trees the ground rises significantly to meet an open area of grass which surrounds Telford Land Registry. [Google Streetview]

The remainder of this old tramroad route crosses the grounds of Telford’s Land Registry and then runs underneath the West side of Telford Bridge retail park. This first extract from the satellite images shows its approximate route across the grounds of the Land Registry. The buildings of the Registry are on the bottom-left of the image, its carpark are also on the left side of this image.

Looking Southwest across the access road to the Land Registry. The red line continues to show the North-South alignment of the old tramroad which crossed the line of the modern road approximately at the pedestrian crossing. {Google Streetview, June 2022]
The line of the tramroad dissappears into the retail park and under Argos and Hobbycraft! [Google Streetview, June 2022]
Looking West-Northwest along the face of buildings in Telford Bridge retail park. The alignment of the old tramroad runs from the face of Hobbycraft, close to its shared wall with Argos and runs through the brick wall of Poundstretcher/Pet Hut close to its shared wall with Oakfurniture. [Google Streetview, June 2022]
The redline again shows the old tramroad’s approximate geographical position at the roundabout at the junction of Collier’s Way and Caledonian Way. Off to the left of this image it joined the route of the tramroad that we looked at first in this article. [Google Streetview, June 2022]

In my next post I plan to look at what is discernable of the historic tramroads along the line of and in the vicinity of the later Coalport (LNWR) and Stirchley (GWR) branches

References

  1. R.F. Savage & L.D.W. Smith; The Waggon-ways and Plateways of East Shropshire; Birmingham School of Architecture, 1965. Original document is held by the Archive Office of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust.
  2. https://maps.nls.uk/view/101594470, accessed on 28th June 2022.
  3. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=16&lat=52.67010&lon=-2.46164&layers=6&b=1, accessed on 28th July 2022.
  4. http://www.dawleyheritage.co.uk/timeline/64/st-leonard-s-church-malinslee-built#:~:text=Leonard’s%20Church%20Malinslee%20built,the%20Manor%20of%20Malins%20Lee., accessed on 28th July 2022.
  5. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=17&lat=52.67492&lon=-2.46130&layers=6&b=1, accessed on 28th July 2022.
  6. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=17&lat=52.67821&lon=-2.45835&layers=6&b=1, accessed on 29th July 2022.
  7. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=17&lat=52.68131&lon=-2.45385&layers=6&b=1, accessed on 30th July 2022.
  8. http://www.dawleyheritage.co.uk/timeline/62/old-park-ironworks-2nd-biggest-producer-of-iron-in-britain, accessed on 30th July 2022.
  9. https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp107-111, accessed on 30th July 2022.
  10. https://cinderloo.com/2021/01/31/account-of-the-riots-and-routes-taken-by-the-marchers-on-1st-and-2nd-february-1821-taken-from-the-contemporary-newspaper-accounts-of-cinderloo, accessed on 30th July 2022.
  11. https://archiveshub.jisc.ac.uk/search/archives/0d54e8ed-1fe5-3d1e-85fb-7a61bf1efb7e, accessed on 30th July 2022.
  12. https://www.shropshirecmc.org.uk/below/2016_3w.pdf, accessed on 30th July 2022.
  13. https://www.shropshirecmc.org.uk/below/2016_4w.pdf, accessed on 30th July 2022.
  14. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=17&lat=52.68313&lon=-2.44970&layers=6&b=1, accessed on 4th August 2022.
  15. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=15&lat=52.66539&lon=-2.45022&layers=6&b=1, accessed on 3rd August 2022.
  16. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=16&lat=52.66954&lon=-2.46082&layers=6&b=1, accessed on 5th August 2022.
  17. http://www.dawleyheritage.co.uk/maps/364/map-of-dawlwy-pits-and-colleries, accessed on 8th August 2022.
  18. https://www.library.manchester.ac.uk/rylands/special-collections/exploring/a-to-z/detail/?keyword=Botfield+Papers, accessed on 8th August 2022.
  19. https://www.mindat.org/loc-382801.html, accessed on 8th August 2022.
  20. https://www.mindat.org/loc-383040.html, accessed on 8th August 2022.
  21. https://www.mindat.org/loc-381639.html, accessed on 8th August 2022.