The Coalport Branch of the Shropshire Canal appears on the schematic plan below. The tub boat canals were linked to the Shropshire Union Canal via the Newport Canal (the Shrewsbury and Newport Canal).
An Act of Parliament dated 11th June 1788 enabled the construction of the Shropshire Canal. It was opened along nearly its full length by 1791 and served the major ironworks and collieries in its immediate vicinity. These included “the Snedshill and Priors Lee Furnaces, the Lilleshall Company’s early mines, the Madeley Court Ironworks, Blists Hill Furnaces and the Coalbrookedale Company.” [24: p 167]
The Shropshire Canal was blighted by subsidence throughout its life. Many of the mines in the area were shallow workings only had short working lives and, once the reserves that they exploited were exhausted, were abandoned. Their demise often resulted in water loss from the canal, a problem which could not be addressed quickly. Of more substantial difficulty were the occasions when subsidence led to more significant structural damage to the waterways and their associated inclined planes.
Initially, the majority of the loads carried by the canal were transported only short distances between industrial sites in the immediate area. Over time, first coal and pig iron and later other products were dispatched to a variety of destinations outside the area. An inclined plane (the Hay Inclined Plane) linked the Canal to the River Severn. See:
Coalport grew significantly as a result of this trade and “within a few years two potteries, a rope works and a chain works opened there.” [24: p167]
A length of the canal from Trench to Shrewsbury was open by 1797, but it remained isolated from the rest of the canal network until 1835, when the Birmingham and Liverpool Junction Canal built the Newport Branch from Norbury Junction to a new junction with the Shrewsbury Canal at Wappenshall. 
The Trench Branch brought the Canal to the top of Trench Inclined Plane, that length of canal and the Inclined Plane are covered in an article which can be found here:
Canal Inclines in East Shropshire – the Trench Inclined Plane …
At the top of the incline a junction was made with the Wombridge Canal which is marked as a continuation of the Trench Branch on OS Maps.
The Wombridge Canal opened in 1788, and parts of it were taken over by the Shrewsbury Canal Company in 1792, who built the inclined plane at Trench. It lowered tub-boats 75 feet (23 m), and 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. 
As the schematic plan of the Shropshire Canal network above shows, from the top of Trench Inclined Plane (Wombridge Wharf) tub-boats could be taken in two different directions. Turn to the South and it was only a short journey to Wombridge Iron Works. This short length of the canal is shown on an extract from the 6″ Ordnance Survey of 1881 below. …
Northeast of Trench Inclined Plane the Wombridge Canal linked across to Old Yard Junction. Here the Donnington Wood Canal continued Northeast and the Coalport Branch ran to the South.
Travelling South on the Coalport Branch Canal, tub-boats would have immediately encountered Wrockwardine Wood Inclined Plane.
Construction of the Wrockwardine Wood Inclined Plane took place in 1791 after the Ironmaster, John Wilkinson petitioned Parliament to extend the Shropshire Canal from Snedshill to form a junction with the Donnington Wood Canal. 
P. Whitehead  provides approximate figures 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. (But note the information provided by British History Online below and reference  which gives different dimensions again.
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. 
The Coalport Branch continued South. The majority of its route is picked up on John Rennie’s plan showing the proposed route of his Shrewsbury & Wolverhampton Railway which predated the construction of the LNWR’s Coalport Branch.
The route of the Canal can be picked out in greater detail on the 6″ Ordnance Survey which was completed in 1881 and published in 1888. By this time the LNWR’s Coalport Branch had been built and the canal can only been where it had not been replaced by the railway. There are, however, some very short sections of the canal still visible alongside the railway route even into the 21st century.
Wrockwardine Wood, north-east of Oakengates town centre, was originally a detached piece of woodland, later a township, belonging to the manor and parish of Wrockwardine, the rest of which lay 7 km. to the west. British History Online provides a history and a plan of the area. The plan (reproduced below) clearly shows the Inclined Plane. “An inclined plane on the Shropshire Canal rose 122 ft. in 320 yd. from the junction to a summit level on Cockshutt Piece. The Shropshire Canal closed in 1857, the Shrewsbury c. 1921.  An underground level, perhaps navigable, ran between Donnington Wood furnaces and the area north-west of the Nabb by c. 1800. ” 
The Loop adjacent to, and South of, Malinslee Railway Station
The Loop near Stirchley Ironworks
Andy Tidy surveyed the route of the Coalport Branch of the Shropshire Canal in March 2012. He highlighted two areas worthy of note. The first adjacent to Hinkshay/Stirchley Pools and the second to the South of Dawley and Stirchley Railway Station where the Canal was in tunnel during its working life. 
Adjacent to the Hinkshay Pools, the Canal alignment deviated from the formation of the later Railway. Andy Tidy provided a plan (below) of the location which I have annotated with the key features he refers to. His pictures of the canal deviation can be seen here. 
The remaining length of the canal to the South of Stirchley Iron Works will be covered in a second article.
- https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shrewsbury_Canal, accessed on 27th August 2022.
- https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Wombridge_Canal#/google_vignette, accessed on 26th July 2022.
- https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wombridge_Canal, accessed on 27th August 2022.
- https://maps.nls.uk/view/101594284, accessed on 27th August 2022.
- https://maps.nls.uk/view/101594308, accessed on 27th August 2022.
- https://commons.m.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Wrockwardine_Wood_Inclined_Plane,Shropshire–geograph.org.uk-_343759.jpg, accessed on 28th August 2022.
- https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0, accessed on 28th August 2022.
- https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=16&lat=52.70969&lon=-2.44111&layers=6&b=1, accessed on 28th August 2022.
- J. Rennie; Shrewsbury and Wolverhampton Railway through Wellington and Shiffnal; Map scale1″/1 mile; Shropshire Archive Ref. X6008/201, 1844.
- http://www.pittdixon.go-plus.net/shropshire-tbc/shropshire-tbc.htm, accessed on 28th August 2022.
- https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=15&lat=52.70413&lon=-2.44538&layers=6&b=1, accessed on 29th August 2022.
- https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=15&lat=52.69707&lon=-2.44735&layers=6&b=1, accessed on 29th August 2022.
- https://m.facebook.com/groups/674238619260811/permalink/7378452445506028, accessed on 29th August 2022.
- http://captainahabswaterytales.blogspot.com/2012/03/shropshire-canal-stirchley.html, accessed on 22nd June 2022.
- http://captainahabswaterytales.blogspot.com/2012/03/shropshire-canal-wrockwardine.html?m=1, accessed on 29th August 2022.
- A P Baggs, D C Cox, Jessie McFall, P A Stamper and A J L Winchester; Wrockwardine Wood, in A History of the County of Shropshire: Volume 11, Telford, ed. G C Baugh and C R Elrington (London, 1985), pp. 323-326. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp323-326, accessed on 29th August 2022.
- This photograph was shared as a comment by Andy Rose on a group post by Marcus Keane dated 27th February 2022 which showed the length of the Shropshire Canal bed directly behind Malinslee Railway Station; https://m.facebook.com/groups/674238619260811/permalink/7378452445506028, accessed on 29th August 2022.
- References provided in Reference  C. Hadfield; Canals of W. Midlands (1969), 40, 151, 251, 328-9; I.G.M.T., Lilleshall Co. colln. 106, 110; Trinder, Ind. Rev. Salop. (1981), 76, 84-5, 153.
- Reference provided in Reference  Shropshire Records Office 691/1; Salop. News Sheet, xvii. 7-8.
- http://www.telford.org.uk, accessed on 31st August 2022.
- A P Baggs, D C Cox, Jessie McFall, P A Stamper and A J L Winchester; Wombridge: Growth of settlement, in A History of the County of Shropshire: Volume 11, Telford, ed. G C Baugh and C R Elrington (London, 1985), pp. 285-289. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp285-289; accessed on 2nd September 2022.
- A P Baggs, D C Cox, Jessie McFall, P A Stamper and A J L Winchester; Wombridge: Communications, in A History of the County of Shropshire: Volume 11, Telford, ed. G C Baugh and C R Elrington (London, 1985), pp. 284-285. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp284-285; accessed on 2nd September 2022.
- Bob Yate; The Shropshire Union Railway – Stafford to Shrewsbury including the Coalport Branch (OL129); Oakwood Press, Usk, Monmouthshire, 2003.
- https://maps.nls.uk/view/101594470, accessed on 13th March 2023.
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