Category Archives: UK Railways

Brain’s Tramway (Forest of Dean)

The featured image above shows the locomotive ‘Free Miner’ which was Works No. 61, at the Lilleshall Company Works, it was delivered to Trafalgar Colliery in February 1865 for use on the Tramway. The picture comes from Bob Yate’s book about the Lilleshall Company locomotives and railways, (c) Alan C. Baker Collection. [5: p55]

A little while ago, I wrote an article about the Trafalgar Colliery in the Forest of Dean and as part of that article started to cover Brain’s Tramway. That article can be found at:

https://rogerfarnworth.com/2019/09/24/trafalgar-colliery-and-railway

In that article, I noted that Brain’s Tramway was built soon after the opening of the colliery to connect to the Great Western Railway’s Forest of Dean Branch at Bilson [1] The single line of 2ft 7.5in gauge utilised edge rails laid on wooden sleepers and ran east from the colliery, turning south-east at Laymoor, and terminated 1.5 miles away at interchange sidings at Bilson. It would appear that the authorisation for its construction was a Crown licence for ‘a road or tramway 15 feet broad’ dated May 1862. The date the line was opened for traffic is unknown as, although the first of three locomotives used on the tramway was built in 1869, it is possible that it may have been horse worked before this date. [2]

I noted that the colliery appeared to have owned three locomotives: ‘Trafalgar’ and ‘The Brothers’ were 0-4-2 side-tank locos. The third locomotive was ‘Free Miner’, an 0-4-0 side-tank. The locomotive ‘Trafalgar’ continued in use until 1906, working on the northern extension of the tramway, built in 1869, to the Golden Valley Iron Mine at Drybrook. [2] we will return to these three locomotives later in this article.

6″ OS Map from 1901 showing both Mr Brain’s Tramway and the standard-gauge sidings of the Colliery and their connection to the Severn & Wye Railway close to Drybrook Road Station. [3]
The extent of Mr Brain’s Tramway when first built to the Bilson Exchange Sidings. The point of conflict with the Severn and Wye near Laymoor (as mentioned below) can easily be picked out on the map extract. [3]
The two pictures above were taken along the line of Brain’s tramway in August 2017. [14]

Tramway locomotives hauled trains of 20-25 trams of coal on each trip along Brain’s Tramway to Bilson, until 1872 when the Severn & Wye built their branch to Bilson. This crossed the tramway on the level near Laymoor and resulted in the need for the two companies to negotiate an acceptable coexistence. This became more urgent once the Servern and Wye extended beyond Drybrook Road an when, in 1878, passenger trains began running over the crossing.

Although a connection had been made to the Severn and Wye Railway in 1872 [1] at a point between Serridge Junction and Drybrook Road station, a large element of Trafalgar’s output still travelled along the tramway to Bilson. [2]

In my article about the colliery, I noted that in 1872, agreement was reached between the Severn and Wye and Trafalgar Colliery for sidings to be put in to serve the colliery screens. Soon after the Mineral Loop of the Severn and Wye was completed, a loop off the main line was installed and sidings were laid. However, the Severn and Wye was dismayed to note at a later date that Trafalgar Colliery was still making heavy use of the tramway.

The Lightmoor Press website comments that:

Finally, in December 1889, an agreement was entered into between the Severn & Wye and the Trafalgar Colliery Company who, it was said, ‘are desirous of obtaining railway communication to Bilson Junction in lieu of their existing trolley road.’ It was agreed that on or before 31st March 1890 the colliery company would construct new sidings and the railway company would lay in a new junction at Drybrook Road. Although the new junction was a quarter of a mile closer to Drybrook Road than the old sidings, the mileage charge was to remain the same.  The accommodation, on approximately the same level as Drybrook Road station, was to be constructed so that traffic to and from the Great Western would be placed on a different siding to that which was to pass over the Severn & Wye system. For taking traffic to Bilson Junction for transfer to the Great Western the colliery was to be charged 7d per loaded wagon, although empties were to pass free. The transfer traffic also had to be conveyed ‘at reasonable times and in fair quantities so as to fit in with the ordinary workings of the Railway Company trains’. The new sidings were brought into use on 1st October 1890.” [2]

The Lightmoor Press article notes that this “agreement finally resulted in the abandonment of the length of the tramway from Laymoor to Bilson Junction. Two of the colliery’s narrow gauge locomotives were put up for sale, neither sold.” [2]

A couple of things:

1. More about the locomotives in use on Brain’s Tramway

Further research has resulted in a bit more information about the locomotives that worked on the Tramway. ….

These locomotives were built by the Lilleshall Iron Co. The first, ‘Free Miner’ was built in 1865. I came across the locomotive in a book by Bob Yate, “The Railways and Locomotives of the Lilleshall Company.” [5] I have recently (2022) moved to Telford and I have been reading a number of publications about the industry, canals, tramways and railways of the area. The Lilleshall Company was the major player in the industrial scene in the Telford (East Shropshire) area throughout the 19th century and much of the 20th century. It had its own system of canals, tramways and railways. Ultimately it had a large roster of industrial locomotives. In the mid-19th century, the Lilleshall Iron Co. built locomotive for others. Bob Yates features ‘Free Miner’ in his list of locomotives built by the Lilleshall Company.

Free Miner‘ was Order No. 61 at the Lilleshall Works. It was built in 1865 to a 2ft 7.5 in gauge. It was an 0-4-0T locomotive which the Industrial Railway Society Handbook records as having 8″ x 14″ outside cylinders.  It was delivered new in February 1865 to Cornelius Brain, Colliery, Cinderford, Gloucestershire. It was possibly scrapped in 1906.  [5: p52]

The date of delivery calls into question the comments above about the date of opening of the line as we now know that a single locomotive was available early in 1865, rather than in 1869. Given that approval for the construction of the Tramway was only given in 1862, it may well be that it was only operated under horsepower for a very short period.

‘Free Miner’ was Works No. 61, at the Lilleshall Company Works, it was delivered to Trafalgar Colliery in February 1965, (c) Alan C. Baker Collection. [5: p55]

Bob Yate also provides information about the other two locomotives ‘Trafalgar’ and ‘The Brothers’. ‘Trafalgar‘ was supplied to the colliery in 1869. Bob Yates provides the following information: Gauge 2ft 7.5in; Works No. 140; 0-4-2T with 8″ x14″ outside cylinders. It was delivered new in April 1869. Yate comments that an early photograph of this locomotive reveals that it was supplied without a cab, and that the trailing wheels were only about 6″ diameter less than the driving wheels. The safety valves were mounted on a ‘haystack’ firebox. Scrapped c 1906.  [5: p56] Both Yate [5: p56] and Lightmoor [2] say the the locomotive was of an 0-4-2T wheel arrangement. What seems not to have been noted is the very short wheel-base of the locomotive as can be seen in the image below. Also evident is the minimal difference in size between the driving wheels and the trailing wheels that Yate refers to.

‘Trafalgar’ which was delivered to the colliery in April 1869. [4]

The Brothers‘ was delivered new by the Lilleshall Company in August 1870. It was Order No. 159 on the Lilleshall Company books. Yate records this as a sister locomotive to ‘Trafalgar’ with the same details/dimensions. He notes, however that the Register of Drawings in the archives of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust has the cylinder bore being 8.5in diameter. [5]

2. The Northern Extension

A brief mention, on the Lightmoor Press website, of ‘Trafalgar’ being used on the tramway’s northern extension, [2] encouraged a look at that section of the tramway.

When I was writing about the Trafalgar Colliery, [6] I did not have access to the 1878/79 Ordnance Survey of the Forest which was published in 1883. That shows the transshipment sidings at Bilson junction, the Laymoor crossing and the erstwhile Bilson Road Station. It also shows the northern extension of the tramway diverging from the line to the transshipment sidings just to the North of Bilson Road Station.

The tramway branch was built in 1869/70. It “ran north to the Golden Valley Iron Mine near Drybrook. … The earthwork remains of embankments, cuttings and the interchange embankment are visible on aerial photographs.” [8]

“The tramway earthworks divide in two at its eastern end, the northern branch heading towards Drybrook, the southern heading towards Bilson Interchange.” [8]

“The Brain family used clay from Trafalgar colliery at brickworks at Steam Mills.”[12][13] The tramway “ran northwards by way of Steam Mills and Nailbridge to iron-ore workings near Drybrook. In 1890 the Severn & Wye provided Trafalgar with a line to Bilson but the narrow-gauge railway continued to carry coal to Steam Mills and Nailbridge.” [13][14]

The 6″ OS Mapping published in 1883 showing the Bilson end of Brain’s Tramway and, at the very bottom of the extract, the tramway serving the Crumpmeadow Colliery. [6]
The Northern Extension of Brain’s Tramway can be seen crossing the Forest of Dean Branch of the GWR/Severn & Wye & Severn Bridge Railway and then turning to head North passing to the East of Winning and New Bowson Collieries. [7]
Approximately the same area as in the map extract above. a thin red line marks the alignment of the tramway on the modern satellite image. The location of the surviving embankment is highlighted. [11]
Looking Southwest along the line of the embankment which used to support the Northern extension of Brain’s Tramway. [My photograph, 15th September 2010]
The tramway continues northwards alongside Old Engine Brook [7]
Approximately the same area as in the map extract above. The route of the tramway is marked by a thin red line. Brain’s Steam Mills are highlighted by the mauve oval. [10]
Brain’s Steam-mills on an enlarged extract from the 6″ 1878/79 OS Maps. The tramway connections to the industrial premises can easily be picked out. [7]
This is an extract from a later edition of the 6″ OS Maps (from 1901, published in 1903). On the last map extract a complicated tramway junction appears at the top-centre. That junction had been rationalised by 1901. It is much easier to see on this plan that Brain’s Tramway continued North alongside The GWR branch-line which does not itself appear clearly on the following mapping from 1881/82. [9]
Back with the 1881/82 mapping, Brain’s Tramway can be seen in a short tunnel before passing under the road at the top of the plan. [7]
The approximate alignment of Brain’s Tramway is again marked by a thin red line on this satellite image. [9]
These two 6″ 1878/79 OS Survey plans should be taken together. They show the final length of the Tramway as it served Drybrook Iron Mine. [7]
This satellite image covers the majority of the ground covered by the last two 6″ OS Maps above. [15]
This last satellite image shows Brain’s Drybrook Iron Mine in relation to the modern opencast mine just North of its site. [16]

References

  1. https://www.forestofdeanhistory.org.uk/resources/sites-in-the-forest/trafalgar-colliery, accessed on 30th August 2019.
  2. http://lightmoor.co.uk/forestcoal/CoalTrafalgar.html, accessed on 30th August 2019.
  3. https://maps.nls.uk/os/25inch-england-and-wales, accessed on 20th September 2019.
  4. http://www.industrialgwent.co.uk/wuk12c-fodne/index.htm, accessed on 24th September 2019.
  5. Bob Yate; The Railways and Locomotives of the Lilleshall Company; Irwell Press, Clophill, Bedfordshire, 2008.
  6. https://maps.nls.uk/view/101453397, accessed on 15th June 2022.
  7. https://maps.nls.uk/view/101453373, accessed on 15th June 2022.
  8. https://www.heritagegateway.org.uk/Gateway/Results_Single.aspx?uid=1386093&resourceID=19191, accessed on 25th June 2022.
  9. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=15.821121422997756&lat=51.84498&lon=-2.51483&layers=6&b=1, accessed on 25th June 2022.
  10. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=15.821121422997756&lat=51.83884&lon=-2.51419&layers=6&b=1, accessed on 25th June 2022.
  11. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=15.821121422997756&lat=51.83247&lon=-2.51658&layers=6&b=1, accessed on 25th June 2022.
  12. The Public Records Office (P.R.O., F 3/402) consulted by British History Online, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/glos/vol5/pp326-354#h3-0008, accessed on 25th June 2022.
  13. https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/glos/vol5/pp326-354#h3-0008, accessed on 25th June 2022.
  14. Paar, G.W.R. in Dean, p145-8; Gloucester Records Office (D 262/T 1) consulted by British History Online, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/glos/vol5/pp326-354#h3-0008, accessed on 25th June 2022.
  15. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=16&lat=51.85177&lon=-2.51872&layers=6&b=1, accessed on 26th June 2022.
  16. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=16&lat=51.85771&lon=-2.52308&layers=6&b=1, accessed on 26th June 2022.

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

The featured image shows a typical Tramroad, it is not from the Telford area but from the Little Eaton Plateway in Derbyshire. The rails and waggons will be very much like those in use on the tramroads in and around Malinslee.

Just South of our home in Malinslee are the Hinkshay and Strichley areas. I have already posted about a walk from our home down the line of the erstwhile tramway which served Little Eyton Colliery which was not more than a couple of hundred yards from St. Leonard’s Church, Malinslee. That tramway crossed the Hinkshay Road close to the location of what was the White Hart Inn. There was a significant network of tramways in that immediate area.

Those linking directly to the tramway from Little Eyton Colliery to the Coalport Branch of the Shropshire Canal and later to the Coalport Branch of the LNWR were covered in that previous post:

https://rogerfarnworth.com/2022/06/15/ancient-tramroads-near-telford-part-4-malinslee-part-1 [1]

The rails in this vicinity were know locally as Jerry Rails, probably because the White Hart was known locally as the ‘Jerry’. In the 1861 census the White Hart was called the ‘Tom and Jerry’

The White Hart Inn at Hinkshay was previously known as the ‘Tom and Jerry’. The highly informative Dawley History website tells us that “this photograph was taken of the White Hart from off the “Jerry Mount” at Hinkshay. The road that ran between, and which crossed the Hinkshay Road, was called the “Jerry Rails” and the pub was knick-named the “Jerry”. Also, a furnace near Stirchley Pools was called the “Jerry Furnace”. … It can clearly be seen in the 1861 census, that the pub was originally called the “Tom and Jerry” and so we can safely assume that the name stems from this, and that the other places, and road, were named after the pub and not the other way round. … ‘Tom and Jerry” was a name formerly used for roistering young men about town. … ‘Tom and Jerry’ is also the name of a hot mixed drink containing rum, brandy, egg, nutmeg and sometimes milk. … The pub is mentioned in the 1896 Licensing returns, when John Breeze was landlord, and is listed in the 1841 census, where Thomas Summers was landlord. In Bagshaw’s 1851 directory we find Thomas Summers listed as a Maltsters, Farmer and Victualler at Hinkshay. The 1861 census clearly names the pub as Tom & Jerry, but in 1871 it is called the White Hart. In Kelly’s 1913 and 1926 directories, Walter Harper was the landlord.” [2] Incidentally, the long brick building is a row of cottages built for the workers at the nearby Ironworks. Futher similar housing can be seen to the left of the image, behind the goalposts. [2]
This image shows the ‘White Hart’ in its earlier guise. It would have appeared like this when known as the ‘Tom and Jerry’ [18]

This article follows a tramway route which ran from the Dawley and Stirchley Railway Station on the LNWR Coalport Branch around the Hinkshay Pools across the back of the White Hart Inn (behind the row of cottages in the above picture) and then into the Stirchley Ironworks site.

Dawley and Stirchley Railway Station

Dawley and Stirchley railway station was opened in 1861 and closed to passengers in 1952. [3] When it was opened, it was given the name ‘Stirchley’. The station was renamed Dawley & Stirchley in 1923, although closed to passengers as early as 1952 the line was not closed to freight until 1964. Although the goods service which originally served Coalport was restricted to only travelling to Dawley and Stirchley Station in 1960.[4][5]

The London and North Western Railway Society comments on the standard-gauge Coalport Branch as follows: “The first half of the route was originally part of the Shropshire Canal which the LNWR bought in 1857 and filled in, the line opening four years later. The passenger service, referred to locally as the Dawley Dodger, consisted of four trains on weekdays, the journey taking 30 minutes. It was withdrawn in 1952 but a string of private sidings between Wellington and Stirchley helped to keep that section open a further twelve years.” [5]

Through Telford Town Park and on through Dawley and Stirchley Station, the old railway line is now part of The Silkin Way. [6][7]

Dawley and Stirchley Railway Station was in close proximity to the old hamlet of Stirchley. This map extract is taken from the 1881/82 6″ Ordnance Survey mapping which was published in 1888. Note the location of the Goods Shed on the East side of the Station site and the presence of a tramway line North of the Station platform on the West side of the line. Note also the presence, on the down (East) side of the line, of a platform and waiting shelter. [8]
This extract from a later survey (25″ OS Map of 1901/02) shows the station and goods yard in greater detail. [9]
These two images show the station location at an enlarged scale. The station provided a passing loop but, by the turn of the century, only one platform face. The downside platform has been removed. (This is confirmed by Bob Yate in his book about the Shropshire Union Railway. [15: p179] It might have been possible to load waiting goods wagons from the tramway track at a higher level on the upside of the line without impeding traffic on the other line. North of the station the old tramway route turned away to the left. The point providing access to the tramway line is shown at the top of the higher of these two map extracts. [9]
Dawley and Stirchley Railway Station looking South towards Stirchley Lane Bridge from the track-bed of the Coalport Branch. [10]
Roughly the same view taken from alongside the remaining platform at Dawley and Stirchley Station but using a telephoto lens. [My photograph, 15th June 2022]
Dawley and Stirchley Railway Station from Stirchley Lane Bridge. [Google Streetview]
Dawley and Stirchley Station Information board. [My photograph, 15th June 2022]
The station site from a little further North, just after the footpath and station were refurbished, © Copyright Richard Law, 2014 and licensed for reuse under a Creative Commons Licence (CC BY-SA 2.0). [11]
Dawley and Stirchley Station looking North in 1932 from Stirchley Lane Bridge. The red line shows the approximate location of the tramway tracks just North of the station. It is likely that the old tramway route was replaced by a standard-gauge line at some stage in the second half of the 19th century, after the LNWR’s Coalport Branch was opened. [12]
In this extract from the 25″ OS Map surveyed right at the start of the 20th century, the tramroad/tramway alignment can be seen bearing away to the left from the bottom of the extract. There is, however, a connection to the Coalport Branch evident at the top of the extract which suggests that by the turn of the 20th century the connection and by inference the tramway was now definitely an edge-railway of standard-gauge. [13]

The Tramway

In the first half of the 19th century, before the LNWR branch line was built the tramway had a wharf on the Western bank of the Coalport Branch of the Shropshire Canal which was sited a little to the Northwest of the location of the point at the bottom of the map extract above. When the Coalport Branch of the LNWR was built the tramway was extended a little to run alongside the standard-gauge railway.

This map of the Stirchley area in 1838 was developed to show the relative arrangement of different land-holdings in the Stirchley area. Its value to us is that it clearly shows (at the left of the image) the wharf where tramway/waggonway loads could be transshipped onto canal barges or tub-boats. This location approximates to the railway point on the map extract directly above this map, (c) British History Online. [14]

From, what was, the canal wharf, the tramway turned away West of the Canal to skirt the western flanks of the Hinkshay (Stirchley) ponds.

The 6″ 1881/82 Ordnance Survey, published in 1888, shows the tramway running Northwest alongside the Pools and then turning through North to Northeast adjacent to the Jerry Furnaces. [8]
The same area on the 25″ 1902/02 Ordnance Survey. The Ironworks to the Northwest of the Pools has now been demolished and the tramway sidings associated with it have been removed. [16]
The same area in the 21st century on the ESRI World Topo images provided by the National Library of Scotland. Re-wilding has taken place a very little of the topography can be made out. Two of the Pools are easy to pick out. The Coalport Branch of the Shropshire canal ran along the East side of the larger, more Eastern Pool and the railway alignment was a little further to the East. [16]
Looking North along the Silkin Way. The tramway turned away to the left having run parallel to the old railway at a higher level for a short distance. The land to left of the line can be seen in this image to be a little higher than the old Coalport Branch formation. [My photograph, 15th June 2022]
The difference in level is more obvious in this image. [My photograph, 15th June 2022]
The footpath which follows the old tramway route leaves the Silkin Way towards the right of this picture just to the left of the modern waste-bin. [My photograph, 15th June 2022]
Almost immediately the tramway crossed the disused Canal. This picture looks North along the Canal. It seems as though some minimal provision was made for drainage as the water does not seem to be stangnant. [My photograph, 15th June 2022]

David Clarke, in his survey of the railways of the Telford area says that the GWR’s Stirchley Branch was “a freight only line of 1.5 miles (2.4km) and was formally known as the Old Park branch. The branch had no signal box and was operated by one engine in steam, with the train crew holding a token to give them possession of the line. The line … served Randlay Brickworks and the large complex that was Old Park Ironworks as well as Grange Colliery. The branch was initially worked by the Haybridge Iron Company. On the Ordnance Survey plan for 1902 it is described as a mineral line, and by then Grange Colliery was closed and disused. From 1908, the Great Western Railway took over the maintenance and workings of the branch.” [58: p37] “The branch closed on 2nd February 1959, prompted by bricks no longer being sent out by rail from Randlay Brickworks. The sidings specifically for the Stirchley branch had been removed by November 1962.” [58: p38]

Looking South towards Dawly and Stirchley Station along what was the line of the Canal. [My photograph, 15th June 2022]
Looking across the line of the Canal towards the Silkin Way. [My photograph, 15th June 2022]
Looking Northwest along the line of the old tramway with Hinkshay Pools on the right. [My photograph, 15th June 2022]

Immediately to the Northwest of the Pools was and Ironworks, shown on the map extracts above. It was already disused in the 1880s and does not feature on the 1901/02 OS map of the area. A relatively complex trackwork layout was still present in the 1880s, by 1901/02 just a single line curves round to the North east and runs along the Northern side of the Pools.

The next map below shows the continuation of the tramway as it crosses the tramway route covered in my earlier post [1] and then heads towards Stirchley Ironworks.

This next map extract from the 6″ 1881/82 Survey shows the Tramway we are following running across the North side of Hinkshay Pools and crossing the tramway covered in my earlier post. [1] The White Hart Inn, which in a previous guise resulted in these tramways becoming know as Jerry Rails, is at the top left of the map extract. The ‘row’ of properties at top-centre of the extract were know as ‘New Row’. The complex in the top right of the extract is Stirchley Ironworks. [8]
Approximately the same area as it appears on the 25″ Survey of 1901/02. [17]
The main features of earlier times are marked on the modern satellite image of the same area. Stirchley Ironworks are not marked but as the older maps show, the building were both above and below the more northerly tramway route. [17]
Looking back to the West from the location of the tramway junction, the approximate alignment of the old tramway is marked by a red line. The erstwhile Ironworks were directly ahead of the camera. [My photograph, 15th June 2022]
Turning through 180°, this image shows the tramway route heading towards Stirchley Ironworks. [My picture, 15th June 2022]
An extract from the plans drawn up by Savage & Smith which shows the route of the tramway from the Jerry Furnace to the Stirchley Ironworks. [60: p164]

Before we look in detail at the Stirchley Ironworks site and the area immediately around it – some background information will probably be helpful. …

Telford Town Park’s website provides a preliminary introduction to the area as part of its walking trails:

  • Stirchley Forge and Rolling Mills – The Hinkshay Works, Stirchley Forge and Rolling Mills are all Archaeological remains of buildings that can be found in the park today. They were all sold off to the Haybridge Iron Co. In 1873. The works were rebuilt in 1876 and a nail factory was established on the site in 1874/5 until 1885. The forge and rolling mill continued in use until it closure in approximately 1900.
  • Stirchley Chimney and Furnaces: The Iron Works were established in 1790 by Thomas Botfield, originally with two blast furnaces, a forge and a mill. The Chimney was constructed of Randlay brick and is approximately 209 feet high and is still standing. This is a permanent reminder of the industry that used to occupy the Town Park. There is a small opening on the western side of the Chimney and it was connected to the furnaces by a tunnel. The ironworks were blown out in 1885, however the forge and rolling mill continued in use until its closure in 1900.” [19]
  • Shropshire Canal: The Silkin Way, running north to south through the centre of the park, was formerly the Shropshire Canal and the Wellington and Coalport railway. In 1788/9 the Coalport branch of the Shropshire Canal was built along the western edge of Stirchley, through the centre of the Park. It was designed to link the key industrial centres of the area with the River Severn.” [19]

Stirchley was an agricultural community until the beginning of the 19th century when coal and ironstone mining, iron founding, and brick making were started close to the Coalport Branch of the Shropshire Canal. for much of what follows, I have replied on the comprehensive notes provided by British History Online which in turn took the notes from ‘A History of the County of Shropshire: Volume 11, Telford. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1985.’ [20]

Industry came to Stirchley as a result of a partnership between I. H. Browne, owner of most of the parish, and the Botfield family, the Dawley ironmasters who had established collieries and ironworks on Browne’s Old Park estate in Dawley in the late 18th century.” [20]

Between 1811 and around 1843, “they established collieries, ironworks, and a brickworks on their Stirchley royalties. … In 1856, … the land, mineral rights, and plant were leased to the Old Park Iron Co., [21] which continued the industrial operations in Stirchley until it was wound up in 1871. [22] By 1900 mining and ironworking had ceased. A chemical works, occupying one of the former ironworks, flourished until 1932 and brick making and the crushing of furnace slag for road metal continued until the 1960s.” [20]

British History Online tells us that by 1822, Coal was being mined at four collieries, [23] “and by 1840 [24] there were five collieries in the parish [of Stirchley]: Randlay pits, sunk in 1820; [25] Cuxey’s Wood pits, sunk 1834-5; [26] Forge pits, sunk 1825-6; [27] Grange colliery, probably opened by 1833; [28] and the original shaft at Stirchley pits. The extent of seams that could be worked was restricted by the Limestone fault, east of which the coal lay deeper. … After the Old Park Iron Co. was wound up in 1871 the mines were leased to the Wellington Iron & Coal Co. Ltd. in 1874 [29] but by 1879 had reverted to the landowners, the Cheney family. [30]  By 1881 all the pits except Grange colliery had been closed. [31] Despite the lease of mineral rights to Alfred Seymour Jones of Wrexham in 1893, Grange colliery was closed in 1894.” [32][20]

British History Online notes that Ironworkingwas started in the parish c. 1826 by the Botfield brothers. Blast furnaces were built at the south end of Randlay reservoir (or Randay pool) [33] and a forge and rolling mill were opened probably c. 1828, west of the Shropshire Canal on land purchased from Lord Darlington in 1826. [34] The blast furnaces were leased with the mining royalties to the Old Park Iron Co. after Botfield’s lease expired in 1856. [35] After the company was wound up in 1871 the furnaces were leased in 1874 to the Wellington Iron & Coal Co., which failed in 1877. [36] The furnaces passed back to the owner of the site, Edward Cheney, who kept them in blast for a few years, but they were shut down by 1885. [37] The forge and rolling mills, which were Botfield’s freehold property, were sold by Beriah Botfield’s trustees in 1873 to the Haybridge Iron Co., [38] which rebuilt the works in 1876 and established a nail factory on the site in 1874 or 1875. [39] The nail factory was sold to John Maddock in 1876; he moved his operations to Oakengates two years later but nails continued to be made at Stirchley for a few years under different proprietors. [40][41][42] The factory had closed by 1885 [43] but the adjacent forge and rolling mills continued to be operated by the Haybridge Co., the rolling mill closing finally c. 1900.” [44][20]

Brick working and Clay working ran in parallel with the mining of Coal and Iron ore as those mineral deposits were found primarily in boulder clay and marls. “The Botfields were manufacturing bricks in Stirchley in 1808-9, [45] … Randlay brickworks … which continued to manufacture bricks until 1964 or later, had been established by the Botfields by 1838. [46] … Clay was obtained on site from an extensive pit, which was enlarged after the purchase of more land in 1905 and used until 1969. [47] In 1964 the brickworks employed 91 [48] (fn. 79) and the three kilns produced c. 300,000 bricks a week.” [49][20]

In 1886, Thomas Groom leased the site of the former furnaces and “transferred his Wrekin Chemical Works to Stirchley … The chemical works extracted wood naphtha and tar from timber supplied by the Grooms’ yard at Wellington and converted the residue into charcoal. Acetate of lime and sulphur were also manufactured.  Groom’s successor, George Wilkinson, bought the site in 1904 and the works closed in 1932.” [50][51][52][20]

The arisings from the former furnaces were deposited in slag heaps and were “exploited as a source of aggregate for road building and concrete manufacture from the 1890s. The mounds south-west of the Wrekin Chemical Works were leased in 1893, and purchased in 1907, by H. C. Johnson, a Wrexham quarry owner, who had built a slag crusher on the site by 1901. [53] The industry expanded during the 1920s when most of the slag mounds in the parish were acquired by Tarslag (1923) Ltd. and the Bilston Slag Co. (1924) Ltd.” [54]

The British History Online notes continue: “By 1925 there were four slag-crushing plants in the parish, [55] the largest being Tarslag’s works, employing up to c. 130 men, which both crushed the slag and coated it with tar and bitumen. Tarmac Ltd., which succeeded the Bilston company, also manufactured ‘Vinculum’ concrete walling blocks at Stirchley from c. 1925 to c. 1935, and Tarslag operated a short-lived concrete plant there as well. Impurities and the variable quality of the slag led to the closure of the works. [56] By the Second World War most of the slag mounds had been exhausted and Tarslag’s crushing and coating plant closed in 1941. Tarmac continued to remove slag from Stirchley for processing elsewhere until c. 1964.” [57]

That is more than enough general industrial history for our present purposes. It illustrates the diversity of activity in the immediate area between Hinkshay Pools and Randlay Pool which is just a little further to the Northeast. The plan below illustrates, schematically, the industry in the immediate area.

Significant sites in the immediate area of the Hinkshay/Stirchley and Randlay/Blue Pools have been superimposed on this enlarged extract from Google Maps. Detail has been omitted for clarity. [Google Maps]

The history of the tramways and railways is relatively complicated. Tramways, predated the standard-gauge railway but in this area, rather then just becoming feeders to the railway network, a number were converted into standard-gauge Mineral Railways which could remain in private hands or, as in the case of the tramway/railway route to the West of the Coalport Branch and running to the West of Randlay Pool, they were taken over by the larger rail companies and in some cases, therefore became a part of British Rail!

The Coalport Branch was an LNWR branch line and then became a part of the LMS. The Mineral Railway was taken over by the GWR and worked in direct competition with the LNWR line.

David Clarke, in his survey of the railways of the Telford area says that the GWR’s Stirchley Branch was “a freight only line of 1.5 miles (2.4km) and was formally known as the Old Park branch. The branch had no signal box and was operated by one engine in steam, with the train crew holding a token to give them possession of the line. The line … served Randlay Brickworks and the large complex that was Old Park Ironworks as well as Grange Colliery. The branch was initially worked by the Haybridge Iron Company. On the Ordnance Survey plan for 1902 it is described as a mineral line, and by then Grange Colliery was closed and disused. From 1908, the Great Western Railway took over the maintenance and workings of the branch.” [58: p37] “The branch closed on 2nd February 1959, prompted by bricks no longer being sent out by rail from Randlay Brickworks. The sidings specifically for the Stirchley branch had been removed by November 1962.” [58: p38]

Stirchley Ironworks

Stirchley Ironworks, 1881/82 on 6″ OS Mapping. Tramways remained in place at this date. The route we have been following enters from the bottom left of this image. to the North of the tramway, New Row is visible. In between the tramway and New Row a solid line runs parallel to the general direction of the tramway but a few 10s of metres to the North. It is marked with a red-dashed line on this map extract [8]
The wall referred to above is shown in these two pictures which were taken facing Northwest around the turn of the millennium, © Richard Foxcroft 2002. [59]
Three arches are visible in the second picture. The first picture is of the most westerly of the arch openings and is a tunnel which runs back some metres under what was New Row and beyond, © Richard Foxcroft 2002. [59]

The Exploring Telford website contains a lot of speculation about what this tunnel was originally used for. [59] The undergrowth has had plenty time to establish itself by the time the next two pictures were taken in 2022.

Looking North towards the tunnels/arches in June 2022. The information board is missing in this image. [My photograph, 21st June 2022]
Pushing trough the undergrowth it was possible to find the tunnel, now properly protected for safety reasons. In the past (2007) it was explored by ‘cat_bones’ who posted pictures of the interior on the 28DL Urban Exploration website. [60]

Returnign to the tramway that we are following, it branches in two as it enters the immediate site of Stirchley Ironworks. This can clearly be picked out on the 1881/82 6″ OS Map extract above. There is a stub branch running East from the junction which approaches a cast iron bridge which would have spanned both the old Canal and the later railway. On the 1881/82 map, the tramway stops short of the bridge.

The truncated tramway branch on the South side of Stirchley Ironworks led towards a Cast Iron Bridge supported on brick piers. The bridge remains in place in the 21st century. It is not immediately obvious where the tramway might once have gone on the East side of the bridge. [8]
The Stirchley Ironworks Bridge, this image shows the bridge in the 21st century from approximately the end of the tramway as surveyed in 1881. [My photograph, 21st June 2022]
The Stirchley Ironworks Bridge, this image shows the bridge in the 21st century from the North on the Silkin Way. The Ironworks buildings sat off the right of this image, nearside of the bridge. [My photograph, 21st June 2022]
The Stirchley Ironworks Bridge, this image shows the bridge in the 21st century from the South on the Silkin Way. The Ironworks Buildings sat beyond the bridge on the left. [My photograph, 21st June 2022]

The Northern arm of the tramway passed between the two main buildings on the site before crossing the Canal/railway on another bridge (which has not survived into the 21st century) as shown below. …

Enlarged extract from the 6″ survey of 1881/82. [8]
The modern footpath in this image drifts round to the right through what would have been an Ironworks building. the tramway bore right between the furnaces and another ironworks building. [My photograph, 21st June 2022]
The approximate line of the tramway heading East. The whole site of the Stirchley Ironworks has been re-wilded, the buildings long-gone. Only foundations to the wall facing the Silkin Way can be seen. [My photograph, 21st June 2022]
Foundations of part of the Stirchley Ironworks. The building elevation stood immediately alongside the Coalport Branch of the Shropshire Canal and hence directly next to the later railway. [My photograph, 21st June 2022]

Using the maps and satellite images provided by the National Library of Scotlad it is possible to identify the location of the old bridge over the Canal/Railway but all that can be seen from the Silkin Way is thick undergrowth. I was unable to find any remnants of the old structure.

On the East side of the Canal/Railway the tramway line drifted round to the Northeast before entering what was the site of Old Park Ironworks. By 1881/2 there was a significant network of rails on the Old Park Ironworks Site. …

The Old Park Ironworks site in 1881/82 as shown on the 6″ Ordnance Survey published in 1888. [8]

At this time, the site of the Old Park Ironworks was still active as an Ironworks. But by the time of the next survey, after the turn of the century, it had closed. At the time of that next survey the site was a chemical works. The network of tramways had been significantly rationalised as can be seen below.

6″ OS Map surveyed in 1901/02. The tramway lines around the Old Park Works have been severely rationalised. The Works is now Wrekin Chemical Works. The line that served Grange Colliery has been removed. Some very limited tramway lines remain on the slag heaps South of the Works. [61]
6″ OS Map surveyed in 1925. Further rationalisation has occurred. The lines have been extended where necessary to serve the various slag works which are now present on the site. All are served by the GWR’s Stirchley Branch which replaced the tramways to the North of the site. [62]

In Part 3 of our look at the tramways around Malinslee, we will look at the tramways North of Stirchley. There is still a lot to look at both to the West and towards Oakengates.

References

  1. https://rogerfarnworth.com/2022/06/15/ancient-tramroads-near-telford-part-4-malinslee-part-1
  2. http://dawleyhistory.com/Pubs/White_Hart_Hinkshay/White_Hart.html, accessed on 18th June 2022.
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dawley_and_Stirchley_railway_station, accessed on 18th June 2022.
  4. http://www.dawleyheritage.co.uk/cd-content/themes/dawley_heritage/gui/Dawley-Leaflet.pdf, accessed on 18th June 2022.
  5. http://www.lnwrs.org.uk/BygoneLines/Coalport.php, accessed on 18th June 2022.
  6. https://www.telford.gov.uk/info/20465/walking/5220/silkin_way_walking_route, accessed on 18th June 2022.
  7. https://www.telford.gov.uk/downloads/file/3060/silkin_way_-_walking_and_cycling_route, accessed on 18th June 2022.
  8. https://maps.nls.uk/view/101594470, accessed on 15th June 2022.
  9. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=18&lat=52.65765&lon=-2.45133&layers=168&b=1, accessed on 18th June 2022.
  10. http://www.dawleyhistory.com/Postcards/Dawley%20and%20Stirchley%20Station/Dawley%20and%20Stirchley%20Station%20.html, accessed on 18th June 2022.
  11. https://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/3933743, accessed on 18th June 2022.
  12. http://www.dawleyhistory.com/Postcards/Dawley%20and%20Stirchley%20Station/Dawley%20and%20Stirchley%20Station%20.html, accessed on 18th June 2022.
  13. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=18&lat=52.65952&lon=-2.45156&layers=168&b=1, accessed on 18th June 2022.
  14. https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp185-189, accessed on 18th June 2022.
  15. Bob Yate; The Shropshire Union Railway: Stafford to Shrewsbury including the Coalport Branch; Oakwood Press, Usk, 2003.
  16. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=18&lat=52.66038&lon=-2.45267&layers=168&b=1, accessed on 19th June 2022.
  17. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=18&lat=52.66225&lon=-2.45188&layers=168&b=1, accessed on 19th June 2022.
  18. http://www.dawleyheritage.co.uk/hinkshayvillage/755/the-jerry-public-house, accessed on 19th June 2022.
  19. https://www.telfordtownpark.co.uk/info/34/walking_trails, accessed on 21st June 2022.
  20. https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp189-192, A History of the County of Shropshire: Volume 11, Telford. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1985; accessed on 21st June 2022.
  21. Shropshire records office (S.R.O.) 14/3/8; https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp189-192, accessed on 21st June 2022.
  22. S.R.O. 1265/280; https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp189-192, accessed on 21st June 2022.
  23. The Botfields’ mines were assessed for the par. rate at £134 6s. 8d., at £33 6s. 8d. for each pit: S.R.O. 1345/60; https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp189-192, accessed on 21st June 2022.
  24. S.R.O. 1816/26; https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp189-192, accessed on 21st June 2022.
  25. At O.S. Nat. Grid SJ 705 081: inf. from Dr. Brown; https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp189-192, accessed on 21st June 2022.
  26. At SJ 701 077: W. Howard Williams, ‘Dawley New Town Hist. Survey: Industries’ (TS. 1964), addns. and corr. (1965), p. 6 (copy in S.P.L., accession 5202); https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp189-192, accessed on 21st June 2022.
  27. At SJ 696 071: S.R.O. 1011, box 425, R. Garbitt to E. Bloxam, 20 Dec. 1861; https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp189-192, accessed on 21st June 2022.
  28. At SJ 701 071: O.S. Map 1″, sheet 61 NE. (1833 edn.); https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp189-192, accessed on 21st June 2022.
  29.  S.R.O. 1265/285; https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp189-192, accessed on 21st June 2022.
  30. P.O. Dir. Salop. (1879), 417; Kelly’s Dir. Salop. (1885), 963; https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp189-192, accessed on 21st June 2022.
  31. O.S. Map 6″, Salop. XLIII. NE. (1889 edn.); https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp189-192, accessed on 21st June 2022.
  32.  S.R.O. 1265/269; 1345/62; https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp189-192, accessed on 21st June 2022.
  33. At O.S. Nat. Grid SJ 700 074: Trinder, Ind. Rev. Salop. 241; O.S. Map 1″, sheet 61 NE. (1833 edn.). Called ‘Old Park Iron Works’ on O.S. Map 6″, Salop. XLIII. NE. (1889 edn.); https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp189-192, accessed on 21st June 2022.
  34. At SJ 696 072: S.R.O. 1265/261; O.S. Map 1″, sheet 61 NE. (1833 edn.); S.R.O. 1011, box 425, W. Botfield to E. Browne, 14 Aug. 1827. Chain making at Old Park (above, Dawley, Econ. Hist.) is wrongly located in V.C.H. Salop. i. 479 at Stirchley furnaces; https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp189-192, accessed on 21st June 2022.
  35. S.R.O. 14/3/8; 1265/279; https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp189-192, accessed on 21st June 2022
  36. S.R.O. 1265/285, 287; https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp189-192, accessed on 21st June 2022
  37. P.O. Dir. Salop. (1879), 417; cf. Kelly’s Dir. Salop. (1885), 963; https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp189-192, accessed on 21st June 2022.
  38. S.R.O. 1265/261;https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp189-192, accessed on 21st June 2022.
  39. Ibid. /263; Salopian and W. Midland Monthly Illustr. Jnl. Apr. 1875; Nov. 1876 (copies in S.P.L.); https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp189-192, accessed on 21st June 2022.
  40. S.R.O. 1265/264; https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp189-192, accessed on 21st June 2022.
  41. S.R.O. 1404/1; https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp189-192, accessed on 21st June 2022.
  42. P.O. Dir. Salop. (1879), 417; https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp189-192, accessed on 21st June 2022.
  43. S.R.O. 1345/62; https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp189-192, accessed on 21st June 2022.
  44. S.R.O. 1404/1; Williams, ‘Dawley Hist. Survey: Inds.’ addns. and corr. (1965), p. 5; https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp189-192, accessed on 21st June 2022.
  45. Manchester University Library, Botfield papers, cash acct. bk. 1804-10 (https://archiveshub.jisc.ac.uk/search/archives/0d54e8ed-1fe5-3d1e-85fb-7a61bf1efb7e); https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp189-192, accessed on 21st June 2022.
  46. At O.S. Nat. Grid SJ 703 080: ibid. /6a; Williams, ‘Dawley Hist. Survey: Inds.’ p. 10; https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp189-192, accessed on 21st June 2022.
  47. Telford Development Corporation, (T.D.C.), Randlay brickworks deeds; and O.S. Map 6″, Salop. XLIII. NE. (1889, 1903, and 1929 edns.); inf. from Dr. Brown; https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp189-192, accessed on 21st June 2022.
  48. J. H. D. Madin & Partners, Dawley New Town Rep. No. 2: Interim Proposals (Sept. 1964), map 14 and cap. 6, sect. 1, app.; https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp189-192, accessed on 21st June 2022.
  49. Dawley Observer, 4 Feb. 1966; https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp189-192, accessed on 21st June 2022.
  50. S.R.O. 1404/1; V.C.H. Salop. i. 479 n.; https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp189-192, accessed on 21st June 2022.
  51. Williams, ‘Dawley Hist. Survey: Inds.’ addns. and corr. (1965), p. 4; cf. S.R.O. 1268/3, sale partic. of 1904; https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp189-192, accessed on 21st June 2022.
  52. Williams, ‘Dawley Hist. Survey: Inds.’ p. 39; https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp189-192, accessed on 21st June 2022.
  53. S.R.O. 1268/3, sale partic. of 1904; O.S. Map 6″, Salop. XLIII. NE. (1903 edn.); T.D.C., Stirchley deeds (Tarmac property); https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp189-192, accessed on 21st June 2022.
  54. T.D.C., Stirchley deeds (Tarmac property); J. B. F. Earle, A Century of Road Materials (1971), 19; https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp189-192, accessed on 21st June 2022.
  55. O.S. Map 6″, Salop. XLIII. NE. (1929 edn.); https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp189-192, accessed on 21st June 2022.
  56. Inf. from Mr. S. J. Insull, Dudley; https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp189-192, accessed on 21st June 2022.
  57. Williams, ‘Dawley Hist. Survey: Inds.’ p. 43; inf. from Mr. Insull, and from Mr. C. C. Wallis, Tarmac Roadstone Holdings Ltd.; https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp189-192, accessed on 21st June 2022.
  58. David Clarke; Railways of Telford; Crowood Press, Marlborough, Wiltshire, 2016.
  59. http://www.telford.org.uk/general/hinkshay.html, accessed on 21st June 2022.https://www.28dayslater.co.uk/threads/28-04-07-hinksay-tunnel-telford.12775, accessed on 22nd June 2022.
  60. 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.
  61. https://maps.nls.uk/view/101594467, accessed on 24th June 2022.
  62. https://maps.nls.uk/view/101594464, accessed on 24th June 2022.

Ancient Tramroads near Telford – Part 5 – Newdale Bridge

The featured image above shows Newdale Bridge after some path work improvements were undertaken. [1]

Newdale Bridge is one extant remnant of the old tramway which probably ran between Ketley and Horsehay. The images below show its location. The bridge is recorded by Historic England as a Grade II listed structure (No. 1025096). It was listed on 8th April 1983. [5]

The Wrekin Local Studies Forum records this bridge in these words: “An extensive network of tramways was built, with horses pulling small waggons laden with coal, firclay and other minerals, connecting various mines to foundry sites. Pioneered by Abraham Darby II, Newdale Tram Bridge, crossing over Ketley Dingle, was built in 1759 around the same time [as] Darby’s revolutionary idea for the first purpose-built workers’ village, New Dale, with a small foundry, various cottages and the impressive long row consisting of 17 back-to-back dwellings.” [6]

Newdale Village has long-gone but the tramway bridge has been retained.

An extract from the ERSI World Topo Map as used by the National Library of Scotland. [4]
This first image shows the immediate vicinity of the Bridge in the 21st century. The blue line represents the line of the tramway. The redline represents the Wellington to Severn Junction Branch of the GWR which is now a part of the Ironbridge Way public footpath. Newdale Bridge is sited just to the West of the route of the old railway. It is clear that the tramway ran across the line of the old railway, perhaps going under a low bridge, although it did predate the railway and may have been cut by the construction work for the standard-gauge line. [2]
An extract from the 6″ OS Mapping of 1882 which was published in 1887. Newdale Bridge crossed the stream just to the West of the standard-gauge line and to the East of Newdale. Without further research it is difficult to be sure of the tramway alignment away from the immediate vicinity of the Bridge. The mapping suggests that the tramway and the road on the East side of Newdale was cut by the building of the railway. In all probability the tramway used to run North-South alongside what was to be the route of the new railway as shown below. However, by the time of the 1882 survey the tramway rails had been lifted. [3]
The same location but with the probable/possible tramway rote added as a red line. [3]
21st century housing to the West of Newdale Bridge. [My photograph, 9th June 2022]
Ironbridge Way, the old Wellington to Severn Junction Railway, looking North from close to Newdale Bridge towards the M54. [My photograph, 9th June 2022]
Ironbridge Way, the old Wellington to Severn Junction Railway, looking South from close to Newdale Bridge towards Morrison’s Supermarket which has been built over the line of the old railway. [My photograph, 9th June 2022]
Looking West from the Ironbridge Way over Newdale Bridge. [My photograph, 9th June 2022]
Looking East along the spandrel walls of the two arched Newdale Bridge. [My photographs, 9th June 2022]
Looking West at low level along the spandrel walls of Newdale Bridge. [My photograph, 9th June 2022]
Looking South towards Newdale Bridge from the adjacent footpath. [My photograph, 9th June 2022]
Looking East at low level along the spandrel walls of Newdale Bridge. You will note that all the low level pictures of the bridge are taken from the North side. The southern side is inaccessible because of thick undergrowth. [My photograph, 9th June 2022]

References

  1. https://lawleyoverdale-pc.gov.uk/2016/01/12/new-access-path-and-bridge-at-newdale-dingle, accessed on 17th June 2022.
  2. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=17&lat=52.68305&lon=-2.48177&layers=6&b=1, accessed on 17th June 2022.
  3. https://maps.nls.uk/view/101594296, accessed on 17th June 2022.
  4. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/find/#zoom=16&lat=52.68537&lon=-2.48139&layers=102&b=1&z=0&point=52.68014,-2.47846, accessed on 17th June 2022.
  5. https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1025096, accessed on 17th June 2022.
  6. http://www.wlsf.org.uk/local-history-month/lhm-lawley/lawley6, accessed on 17th June 2022.

Ancient Tramroads near Telford – Part 4 – Malinslee Part 1

Around 100 yards from our home in Telford there was once, many years ago, a colliery that was served by a tramway/waggonway.

Little Eyton Colliery was already disused by the time the survey was undertaken in 1881/1882 for the 6″ OS Maps published in 1888. The tramway had not yet been lifted, so it appears on the map extract below.

The Mindat.org website tells us that the colliery was owned in 1890 by the Haybridge Iron Co. It was in the ownership of the Stirchley Coal & Iron Co. from 1895 to 1896 and was back in the hands of the Haybridge Iron Co. by 1900. [3]

The Dawley History Website tells us that the  Chartermaster in 1869 was Edward Bailey. [4]

There was a mining accident in 1869 at the Little Eyton Pit. … The Wellington Journal on Saturday 17th April 1869 carried this report:

The Late Fatal Accident. – On Saturday last an inquest was held at the Bull’s Head Inn, Lawley-bank, before J. Bidlake, Esq., on the body of Joseph Oliver, aged 37 years, whose death we recorded in last week’s Journal, when the following evidence was adduced:– John Oliver, son of deceased, deposed : My father worked at the Little Eyton Pit. Edward Bailey is chartermaster. It was a coal pit. I have worked at the pit a month. I have been driving. On Thursday morning, about nine o’clock, I was taking a draught of coal to the bottom of the shaft. I saw my father lying at the bottom with the basket on him. There was a lid on the basket, and another lid lying by the side of him. I ran off and told James Poole. I had seen my father about ten minutes before at the bottom. There was no one with him. He did not speak to me when I found him under the basket. I saw that his head was cut on the top, and also behind. He was lying on his back. One end of the basket was sticking up against the shaft, the other end on his stomach. The lids are about 2 ft. long. The lids on being sent down are tied under the tackler. – James Poole said : I work at the Little Eyton Pit. The last witness came and told me that his father was under the basket at the bottom of the shaft. I went there and found him. The deceased was lying at the bottom, with his head in the shaft, and not in the road. There was one lid in the basket not fastened, and one by him. He was about a yard from the side of the shaft. Three or four lids are generally sent down at a time. They are not usually lashed. There was no lasher round the basket when I saw the deceased. The lids are about three quarters of a yard. The pit is 200 yards. The hooker-on generally calls for lids. He had called for some that morning. I told him to do so, and he told me that he had done so. This was about half an hour before I found him. – John Perks said : I am banksman at the Little Eyton Pit. On Thursday morning deceased shouted for some trees and lids. I sent some down. I remember sending the last two lids down. It would be about half-past eight. I shouted “Joe” when I sent them down, but I got no answer. They were put under the tackler between the squares. We lash the trees. I have known of lids falling out before. I did not hear this drop or the skip catch. The Jury returned a verdict of “Accidentally killed.” [4]

Little Eyton Colliery as surveyed in 1881/82 for the 6″ OS Maps of 1888. The tramway leaving the map extract at the bottom right runs from the colliery towards the Wellington to Coalport Branch of the LNWR (later LMS). Before the coming of the railway, the tramway will have had wharves on the Coalport Branch of the Shropshire Canal. The railway company made use of the route of the Canal but as we will see, the horizontal.alignment of the canal was not always suitable for the railway. There is also a length of tramway running from the pit head out onto the slag heap. It leaves the map extract to the North of the other line. [1]

By the time of the next OS survey of Malinslee, just after the turn of the 20th century, all traces of the tramways at the colliery site have disappeared.

Little Eyton Colliery site at the turn of the 20th century.  No tramway infrastructure remains at the site. The colliery slag heap remains and will continue to be a feature of the local landscape into the 21st century. [2]
The same area in the 21st century as it appears on the ESRI World Image, Background map as provided by the National Library of Scotland. The large green sward of land surrounded by mature trees is the old colliery site and slag heap. The land remains significantly higher than the immediate locality and has been ‘rewilded’ to provide s pleasant meadowland and wooded area. [2]

The next few photographs show the Little Eyton Colliery site in the 21st century.

Three photographs of the Little Eyton Colliery and Slag Heap site in the 21st century. [My photographs, 15th June 2022]

Leaving the colliery, the tramway followed the route of what is now Matlock Avenue.

The 6″ OS Map shows the area before anyone conceived of the housing developments of the mid-to-late 20th century which swallowed up Langley Farm. [6]
As the tramway ran Southeast it served Langley Brickworks and Langleyfield Colliery. Both sites had private sidings, those for the Pit were more extensive than those at the brickworks. It was followed, on the journey, by the road linking Little Eyton with the White Hart Inn which was known locally as the ‘Jerry Inn’. [6]
Looking Southeast along Matlock Avenue. The red line shows the approximate route of the old tramway which heads down a ginnel between two different housing developments ahead. [My photograph, 15th June 2022]
Looking South east along the line of the old tramway. The footpath runs between two housing estates and provides access to Telford Town Park. [My photograph, 15th June 2022]
The area around Matlock Avenue and the route of the old tramway as it appears on Satellite images from April 2021. [Google Earth]
Looking Southwest at the corner of the Brickworks site. [My photograph, 15th June 2022]
The Brickworks Site looking Southwest onto the site from the line of the old tramway. The trees ahead have been allowed to grow across the site of Lawley field Colliery and its Slag Heap. The old tramway ran down the line of a modern footpath off to the left of this image. [My photograph, 15th June 2022]
Details of the surveyed tram tracks at the Brickworks. The extract comes from the 6″ OS Map above. [6]
Two images from the site of Langleyfield Colliery which has been allowed to revert to nature. [My photographs, 15th June 2022]
The tramways serving the Langleyfield Colliery site. The extract comes from the 6″ OS Map above. [6]
Looking Northwest along the line of the old tramway towards Matlock Avenue. The route continues to be a surfaced footpath running along the western edge of Telford Town Park. [My photograph, 15th June 2022]
The same footpath, this time looking to the Southeast. The railings ahead are at Hinkshay Road. [My photograph, 15th June 2022]

The Dawley History website provides the following information about the Langleyfield site:

Langleyfield Collieries Ownership:

Coalbrookdale Company 1803 – 1826
Langley Field Company 1826 – 1856
Beriah Botfield 1856 – 1872
Haybridge Company 1872 – 1885
The site records the pit(s) having been sunk in ca. 1803 and closed ca. 1885. [7]

The website quotes Malcolm Peel, in his book, ‘The Pit Mounds of Dawley’ says that at Langleyfield: “There were at least ten shafts working at various times between 1803 and 1885, and they produced coal and ironstone. This large colliery was originally owned by the Coalbrookdale Company and in 1826 was sold to the Langley Field Company in which George Bishton and Adam Wright were partners. The colliery, ironworks and brick yard established here by Bishton and Wright were bought by Beriah Botfield in 1856, and after the breakup of the Botfield Empire the colliery was owned by the Haybridge Company.[7][8]

In addition the Dawley History site highlights a short article in the Shrewsbury Chronicle on Friday 25th March 1836 advertising an auction of property at the Jerningham Arms Inn, Shiffnal, on Tuesday, 12th April, 1836, “at four o’clock in the afternoon, in one or more lots, or shares, and subject to such conditions as shall be determined on at the time of sale.” [7]

The sale included, freehold, around 30 acres of land and “two dwelling houses, with nine Cottages for workmen, Warehouses, Shops, Stables, Outbuildings, Yards, and Gardens, and several pieces or parcels of Land thereto belonging, situate at Langley Field, in the parish of Dawley Magna, in the county of Salop, … with the Mining works thereon erected, and the valuable Mines of coal, and iron-stone, clay, and other minerals under the same.” [7]

Also for sale were “two blast furnaces, one bridge house, two casting houses, one blast engine sixty horse power with four boilers complete, three cupolas (one at work as a foundry, and has a good casting house and stove, and the fires are blown from the blast engine), one steam engine to wind materials to the top of the furnaces, a blacksmith’s shop, an air furnace for heating boiler plates, and a punching engine, three machines for weighing coals and stone, three field winding engines, several shafts down to the mine, two stoves, one oven, one kiln for making bricks, and a mill for grinding fire clay, and every other possible convenience for carrying on the mines and works in full vigour.” [7]

According to Eddowes’s Journal, and General Advertiser for Shropshire, and the Principality of Wales – Wednesday 21st August 1844, the site was up for sale once again.

Of interest to us, in addition to a glowing and detailed description of the site and items for sale, is the following paragraph:

The property is intersected with tram roads in every requisite direction, and is admirably arranged for carrying on the works at as little expense as possible, and contains within itself every convenience required for making superior iron, and the whole of the works may be put into full operation in a very short space of time, at a comparatively trifling outlay.” [7]

Elsewhere, the Dawley History site notes that the tramway was in use in the early 19th century. It was “known locally as the Jerry Rails. The now demolished nearby public house, The White Hart, was referred to in the 1861 census as the ‘Tom & Jerry’, called locally the ‘Jerry’. The name was obviously associated with the tramway and other features in the area.” [5]

The junction of Hinkshay Road and the public road from Little Eyton. The now demolished White Hart In dominates the junction which was also a significant tramway junction. The line we have been following enters the extract from the top left and encounters a trailing connection with the lines serving Langleyfield Colliery. Two lines leave our tramway route at the road junction. One of these, runs Northeast towards what is now Telford Town Park. Another runs Southwest for a short distance. A passing loop can be seen on this line just before it exits the map extract. Our line continues in a Southeast direction. [6]
Approximately the same area as in the map extract above but this time from April 2021 rather than the 19th century
The view across Hinkshay Road from the North. The ginnel ahead is the route of the tramway that we are following. Tramways branched right and left from this location along Hinkshay Road. [My photograph, 15th June 2022]
Looking back across Hinkshay Road from the South. The footpath following the line of the old tramway is protected by metal gates. [My photograph, 15th June 2022]
Looking along Hinkshay Road from the West across the location of the tramway junction. [My photograph, 15th June 2022]
Looking West along Hinkshay Road. One of the tramway branches ran on the North (left) side of the road for a short distance. [My photograph, 15th June 2022]
Looking West a little further along Hinkshay Road. The tramway once ran directly in front of these cottages before running off to the left. [My photograph, 15th June 2022]
On the 6″ OS Maps the tramway can be seen curving away to the North of Hinkshay Road at this point. It seems to terminate in the vicinity of a church but probably served the collieries which stood on the North side of Hinkshay Road at this point. [My photograph, 15th June 2022]

We have explored the branch tramway which ran to the East on Hinkshay Road, we return no to look at the branch which runs to the West.

Looking to the West, towards Dawley on Hinkshay Road. The branch tramway ran, as far as I can ascertain, on the North (right) side of the road as far as the most distant houses that can be seen in this picture. [Google Streetview, May 2019]
The tramway remained on the North side of Hinkshay road until taking a sharp left to run South towards an Ironworks. The route South is just beyond the low wooden rails on the grass area to the left of the road in this view. [Google Streetview, May 2019]
Looking back North across Hinkshay Road from the route of the old tramway. [My photograph, 15th June 2022]
Another extract from the 6″ OS Map. Hinkshay Road runs across the top left corner of the extract. The old tramway branch terminated at what was, in the 1880s, a disused Ironworks (Jerry Furnaces). It appears that the works were served, probably at two different levels from the North and the East. We will look at the tramway from the East a little later in this article. [6]

Returning to the junction on Hinkshay Road we continue our journey along the route of the tramway from Little Eyton Colliery.

The old tramway route from Hinkshay Road runs along the metalled access to the modern car park at Hinkshay Pools. This view looks along the route from a point just South of Hinkshay Road. [My photograph, 15th June 2022]
Close to the modern carpark we reach the point of another tramway junction. [My photograph, 15th June 2022]
This extract from the 6″ OS Map surveyed in the early 1880s Sows the tramway crossing. The Ironworks that we have just encountered above (Jerry Furnaces) appear on the left of this image. South of those Works a tram road runs South past Hinkshay Pools which are given a blue wash on the map. In the bottom right of the extract, the line of the Coalport Branch of the Shropshire Canal is just visible. Our tramway route crossed the Canal on a bridge. The tramway running from the Ironworks on the left of the extract and crossing our route is a tramway which served Stirchley Ironworks. We will come back to this tramway in another article. [6]
Looking West towards the location of the Ironworks. [My photograph, 15th June 2022]
Looking East along the line of the tramway towards Stirchley Ironworks. [My photograph, 15th June 2022]
This satellite image from early 2022 shows the approximate alignment of tramways in the vicinity of Hinkshay Pools as they are known locally (despite Google Maps calling them Stirchley Pools). Worthy of note is the green line which represents the standard-gauge Coalport Branch of what was the LNWR. The wharves alongside that railway were the terminus of the tramway that we have been following. Wharves were provided at a level above the Coalport Branch to allow easy loading of materials. The blue line shows the alignment of the Coalport Branch of the Shropshire Canal. The canal, at this location, can still be picked out as an elongated pool running close to the Hinkshay Pools. Also of interest is the name given to the estate road in the top left of this image. As we have already noted, the tramways in this vicinity were know as ‘Jerry rails’. [Google Maps]

We continue heading Southeast from the tramway ‘crossroad’ in the 6″ extract following the line between the Hinkshay Pools.

The access road swings to the right to enter the car park. The tramway ran ahead probably just to the left of the road as it disappears around the vegetation. [My photograph, 15th June 2022]
Looking North from the Southern edge of the car park at Hinkshay Pools. The approximate line of the tramway is marked by the red line on the right side of the image. [My photograph, 15th June 2022]
In this image we are facing South at the same location as the image immediately above. The tramway followed the unsurfaced path round to the left. One of the Hinkshay pools is visible on the right of the image. [My photograph, 15th June 2022]
The display board at Hinkshay Pools. [My photograph, 15th June 2022]
The reference on the top right of the display board to the Coalport Branch of the Shropshire Canal is important as the canal ran along the East side of the Pools. [My photograph, 15th June 2022]
One of the Hinkshay Pools. [My photograph, 15th June 2022]
A remnant of the Coalport Branch of the Shropshire Canal. [My photograph, 15th June 2022]
The tramway was carried over the line of the canal on an arched culvert which at least permitted ongoing drainage. Originally wharves would have existed along the side of the canal but once the railway was built the canal and its wharves would no longer have been required. [My photograph, 15th June 2022]
This is the location of the Hinkshay Pools as drawn on a map of tramways taken from research undertaken by R.F. Savage & L.D.W. Smith and kindly made available by the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust Archive Office. It suggests that there was an additional tramway branch which ran out between two of the Pools. [9: p164] Savage and Smith say that the Lawleyfield Colliery had a wharf at this location in the early 1800s and that the lower pool was originally a canal wharf. [9: p166]
Looking South-southwest along the line of the Canal. [My photograph, 15th June 2022]
The remnant of the Canal on the North-northeast side of the tramway/footpath. [My photograph, 15th June 2022]

Immediately to the West of the Canal the tramway we have been following divided in two to access a wharf/wharves alongside the Coalport Branch of the LNWR.

A siding, accessible from both ends, was provided along side the Coalport Branch as can be seen in this extract from the 6″ OS Maps of 18888 (surveyed in 1881/82). The rail-side tramway track would have been at a height above the railway siding which allowed easy offloading of the waggons, probably by hand. [6]
Looking back to the West from the line of the Coalport branch along the tramway alignment. [My photograph, 15th June 2022]

In Part 2 of this review of tramways in the Malinslee area, after wandering South down the Coalport Branch to the site of Stirchley and Dawley Railway Station we will return along the ‘Jerry Rails’ past the Hinkshay Pools on their Southern side, past the Hinkshay Ironworks and then on round to the Stirchley Ironworks site and then follow where they lead.

References

  1. https://maps.nls.uk/view/101594470, accessed on 15th June 2022.
  2. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=16.283180148750237&lat=52.66806&lon=-2.45904&layers=6&b=1, accessed on 15th June 2022.
  3. https://www.mindat.org/loc-379142.html, accessed on 15th June 2022.
  4. http://dawleyhistory.com/Mines/Little%20Eyton/Little%20Eyton.html, accessed on 15th June 2022.
  5. http://www.dawleyheritage.co.uk/walk1/208/site-5a-s-o-jerry-rails-line-of-tramway, accessed on 15th June 2022.
  6. https://maps.nls.uk/view/101594470, accessed on 16th June 2022.
  7. http://dawleyhistory.com/Mines/Langleyfield.html, accessed on 16th June 2022.
  8. Malcolm Peel; The Pit Mounds of Dawley; Dawley Heritage.
  9. 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.

Ancient Tramroads near Telford – Part 3 – Ketley Tramways/Plateways/Waggonways and Canal – Part 1. …

This is a first look at the Ketley area just a few miles from where we live in Malinslee.

This was a short walk which encompassed a variety of industrial remains. The route taken is shown by the thin red line on the satellite image below ….

I parked close to the church of St. Mary the Virgin in Red Lake and walked North up Shepherd’s Lane, turning left into Hill Top. Hill Top becomes Red Lees. The route of Red Lees was crossed by a high-level tramway which probably linked a colliery to what is now called Ketley Paddock Mound and was a colliery slag heap. the extract from the 1882 25″ OS Map below shows the location.

Tramway Bridge abutments or piers shown on the 1882 25″ OS Map. [1]

It seems to me to be unlikely that the tramway which used this bridge was directly associated with a larger network of tramways in the area. The map extract shows other short sections of tramway immediately at the colliery location and is seems highly likely that there was a need to cross Red Lees at high-level to reach the large slag heap to the North of the lane.

The view Northwest on Red Lees on 2nd June 2022. The shaping of the stonework to the right of this image suggests that it was a pier and that the bridge was therefore a two span structure. [My Photograph]
The view Southeast along Red Lees on 2nd June 2022. [My photograph]

Recently, reading ‘A Ketley Mon’ by Terry Low, I came across an older photograph at this location. It was taken in 1906 and shows the pier probably at its fullest height. It seems as though it was originally built in masonry and, at a later date, extended upwards in brick. Whilst it is impossible to be sure what this means, it suggests that there was a need at some stage to lift the line of the tramway. An obvious explanation for this would be the growth of the slag heap which is to the right of the picture below.

Red Lees in 1906, looking Northwest. The old colliery was to the left of this image, the slag heap to the right. In all probability a timber deack was used to carry the tramway rails. Each span would have been made up of a horizontal deck supported at third points by raking timber props. [Photographer not known – Alan Harper collection][2: p27] The image also appears on the Historic Ketley website. [5]

Walking Northwest from the location of the tramway bridge, it was apparent that this section of Red Lees followed a straight course. Possible explanations for this include:

  • the development of the colliery and the slag heap required an established right of way to be redrawn to accommodate the work. I cannot find maps early enough to look at what predated the industry at this location; or
  • Red Lees itself, may have been part of the route of a tramway.

It would be interesting to be able to test these ‘theories’, if earlier detailed maps were available.

Red Lees to the Northwest of the tramway bridge remains looking to the Northwest on 2nd June 2022. [My photograph]

We know from early maps that the Ketley Canal once crossed Red Lees to the East of Ketley Hall.

A extract from a hand drawn map which was posted on The Ketley History Group on Facebook. The Ketley Canal is shown in blue on the sketch map and crosses Red Lees immediately adjacent to Ketley Hall which appears far-left on this extract.[3]
This image appeaars on the website of the Friends of Ketley Paddock Mound. It also shows the canal route passing under Red Lees just East of Ketley Hall. [4]
In this image taken from the National Library of Scotland’s website the 25″ OS Map, published in 1902, is placed immediately alongside precisely the same area on modern satellite imagery. The canal arm is right at the top of the image. The wider area at the western end of the remaining canal was a wharf. [6]
This image shows the two images above superimposed on each other. The old wharf can be seen to be under the site of modern housing on the North side of Red Lees, with the Hall to the South. According to the earlier images, the canal continued down the East side of the Hall passing approximately through the first ‘e’ in ‘Ketley Hill. It will then probably have run along the property boundary line which is shown leaving the image to the bottom left. [7]
This picture shows a map of Ketley Paddock Mound which is on display on the South side of the nature reserve. The blue dotted line, superimposed on the image, shows the approximate line of the canal as it passes under Red Lees. The present length of the canal arm is shown in light blue on the original sign board. The Friends of Ketley Paddock Mound’s website can be found here. [My photograph, 2nd June 2022]
A view from Red Lees footpath looking Northwest to where it widens out to become a road. There is a slight rise in the road surface just in front of where the pedestrian is walking. This is the most likely location for what would have been an arched bridge, now buried and inaccessible. [My photograph, 2nd June 2022]

I followed Red Lees down to the junction with the B5061, before walking back along Red Lees following what probably was a tramway route which then drifted away from Red Lees to the Northeast as shown on the satellite image below. The Ketley History website says the following: “Behind the Victorian school building that is now Ketley Community Centre, there is a footpath that leads down to Red Lees and this is also the line of a tramway, probably to serve the coal wharf that was situated on Ketley Canal where School Lane meets Red Lees now.” [5]

Tramway route(s) imposed on a satellite image of Ketley. [Google Maps]
The view Northwest towards the junction with the B5061. [My photograph]
The view from Red Lees along the line of the probable tramway. [My photograph]
The view Northeast along the line of the tramway. [My photograph]
Further along the tramway route with what was Ketley primary school in sight. [My photograph]
Looking along the route of the tramway to what was the Canal Wharf area. The old school buildings are on the left. [My photograph]

I walked along School Lane to the B5061, which, incidentally was the A5 and so was Thomas Telford’s trunk road to North Wales, and so it carries the name ‘Holyhead Road’.

The Ketley Canal

The Ketley Canal was about 1.5 miles (2.4km) long. It linked the Shropshire Canal, in the small town of Oakengates, with Ketley Iron Works. It was built in the late 18th century (around 1788) and required the construction of an inclined plane to lower and raise tub-boats a little over 70ft between the level of the Works and the higher ground that it travelled over from Oakengates. [8]

The inclined plane was the first effective inclined plane in the UK. [9]

The canal predominantly carried coal and ironstone in horse-drawn tub-boats. These tub-boats where in use across Shropshire and beyond. They “were rectangular in plan, 19 feet 9 inches long x 6 feet 2 inches wide made of wrought-iron plates rivetted together. An inclined plane consisted of two rails laid parallel to each other, on each of which ran a cradle raised or lowered by a wire rope and capable of carrying one tub boat at a time. The descending cradle assisted in balancing the weight of the ascending one and the extra power required was supplied by a stationary winding engine. A boat descending an inclined plane entered a chamber where it was manoeuvred over a submerged cradle. Once in place, the boat was secured to the cradle in readiness for its journey down the plane. The cradle was then hauled up over a sill and onto the plane, at which point it was still inside the chamber. When everything was ready it commenced its descent, which required just a few minutes, and a small number of workmen were able to complete the whole operation.” [12]

The inclined plane lasted in service until 1816, closing with Ketley Iron Works. The length of canal between Ketley and Oakengates remained open for more than 60 more years until the 1880s.

“One tub-boat is preserved in the Blists Hill Victorian Town museum. It was rescued from a farm in 1972, where it was in use as a water tank. Before its discovery, it was thought that all tub boats on the Shropshire Canal were made of wood.” [13]

This tub-boat is on display at Blists Hill Museum near Ironbridge in Shropshire.

The canal ran on the north side of Holyhead Road. A few hundred yards to the West of Shepherd’s Lane the canal passed under the Holyhead Road. It “clung to the southern side of the main road for a few hundred yards … but then it moved away from the road, heading westward at the backs of what are now gardens on Holyhead Road until it reached Shepherd’s Lane.” [9]

The Eastern portal of Shepherd’s Lane Tunnel is still visible in a private garden. [4]

The canal entered a short tunnel under Shepherd’s Lane and emerged into Ketley Paddock Mound (as it is now called). The length of canal which is preserved in the nature reserve can be reached from a number of directions.

The route I took was to walk East along Holyhead Road to the bus stop adjacent to one entrance to Ketley Paddock Mound. The bus stop is a delight! It was painted in 2018 by Fran O’Boyle and funded by the Ketley Parish Council and the Friends of Ketley Paddock Mound. [10][11]

The bus stop which is owned by Ketley Parish Council is outside Ketley Paddock Mound was decorated in 2018. It was created by Fran O’Boyle and funded by the Parish and the Friends of Ketley Paddock Mound. [10][11]

And I then entered the nature reserve through the gate visible in the photograph above. Immediately inside the gate is another public information board. The image below is an extract from my photograph of the board. …

Entering the nature reserve from Holyhead Road, the path climbs through open meadow and paddock. It curves round a small pond before the remaining section of the Ketley Canal is reached.

This next sequence of phots shows the walk up to the remaining section of the Ketley Canal.

The path from Holyhead Raod. [My photograph]
Buttercups in flower in the paddock to the East of the footpath. [My photograph]
The footpath winds gently up hill to the old canal. [My photograph]
The Ketley Canal. This remaining section of the tub-boat canal is now given over to nature. Just before taking this picture I watched a Kingfisher fly along the length of the water. Behind the camera is the cutting which led to the tunnel under Shepherd’s Lane. [My photograph, 2nd June 2022]

The walk back to my car took me over the top of the Paddock Mound which was the slag-heap made up of arisings from local pits and mines.

References

  1. https://maps.nls.uk/view/121150301, accessed on 2nd June 2022.
  2. T. Lowe; A Ketley Mon; British Bus Publishing Ltd., Wellington, Shropshire, 2000.
  3. https://www.facebook.com/groups/232901083430144, accessed on 31st May 2022.
  4. https://ketleypaddockmound.org/history, accessed on 2nd June 2022.
  5. https://historicketley.wordpress.com/ketley-wagonways-tramways, accessed on 3rd June 2022.
  6. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/side-by-side/#zoom=18&lat=52.69405&lon=-2.47516&layers=168&right=ESRIWorld, accessed on 3rd June 2022.
  7. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=18&lat=52.69408&lon=-2.47518&layers=168&b=1, accessed on 3rd June 2022.
  8. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ketley_Canal, accessed on 3rd June 2022.
  9. http://www.canalroutes.net/Ketley-Canal.html, accessed on 3rd June 2022.
  10. https://ketleypaddockmound.org/how-to-find-ketley-paddock-mound, accessed on 3rd June 2022.
  11. https://www.shropshirestar.com/news/local-hubs/telford/2018/12/13/animal-magic-fran-transforms-telford-bus-shelter-with-wildlife-mural, accessed on 3rd June 2022.
  12. http://www.pittdixon.go-plus.net/shropshire-tbc/shropshire-tbc.htm, accessed on 4th June 2022.
  13. https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Tub_boat, accessed on 4th June 2022.

The Elan Valley Railway – Part 1

The Elan Valley Railway was built to make the construction of the Birmingham Water Corporation Dams in the Elan Valley possible. It transported equipment, materials and men to the different dam sites. It was also used by visitors from Birmingham and it carried King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra for the official opening of the dams on 21st July 1904.

Work on the construction of the line began in 1893 and was completed in 1896. It was built to standard gauge in four separate stages.

The four separate sections of the railway were numbered 1 to 4.

Railway No. 1 extended from Elan Valley Junction, the junction with the Cambrian Railway Southwest of Rhayader, just beyond Rhayader Tunnel, to what is now the Elan Valley Visitor Centre. These buildings were then the location of workshops and sheds of the contractor and sat below the site of the proposed Caban-Coch Dam.

Railway No. 2 left Railway No. 1 close to the Baptist Church in Elan Village and followed a higher alignment on the North side of the Elan Valley. It passed above the site of the Caban Dam and on westward to the site of the Careg-Ddu Dam

Railway No. 3 ran from Careg-Ddu Northeast to Pen-y-Gareg Dam.

Railway No. 4 travel North from a junction to the Southeast of Pen-y- Gareg Dam to Craig-Goch Dam

This post provides an introduction to the railway and covers the route of Railway No. 1.

The sharp ruling radius of the tracks required short wheelbase locomotives. “The locomotives were all named after rivers and streams on the Estate. The first two were acquired in April 1894 and were named Elan and Claerwen. These were joined by Nant Gwyllt and Methan in October 1894 and Rhiwnant and Calettwr in 1895. … By 1898 the steep 1:33 gradients of some sections of the railway had taken their toll on the original locomotives, so Coel and Marchnant were bought.” [1]

The Elan Valley Railway Branch Line was inspected and passed by a Board of Trade Inspector in July 1894 and the Elan Valley Railway branch was available for use from that date. Railway No. 4 took the route to the furthest away Craig-Goch Dam. Blasting the cutting mid-way along this route held up the construction by 3 months. This resulted in the cutting being given the name, ‘The Devil’s Gulch’!

At its fullest extent, the railway had approximately 53 kilometres (33 miles) of track. In all, 17 coaches were used for transporting men to the work sites. In addition to the steam locomotives operating in the Elan Valley, steam-powered cranes, power drills and crushers were also in use. To facilitate the works arrangements had to be made to accommodate around 1000 tons of materials being moved every day!

The line was only provided for construction work and in 1906 the Birmingham Corporation Water Works locomotives were sold. In 1908, the junction with the Cambrian Railway was removed. However complete closure of the railway occurred as late as 1916. [1]

Before looking at the route of the railways in detail, it is interesting to note that In 2004, to mark the centenary of the opening of the dams, the only surviving locomotive (Rhiwnant) was brought back to the Elan Valley from a private owner in South East England. [1]

It is also worth noting that there is a detailed treatment of the railways in the Elan Valley in a book by C. W. Judge; ‘The Elan Valley Railway’, published by Oakwood Press. [2] The route is described in detail in the fourth chapter of Judge’s book. [2: p79-111]

Rhayader Railway Station

A panoramic colourised postcard view of Rhayader Railway Station in its prime. [36]

The Cambrian Railway through mid-Wales was a single-track line with passing loops. Rhayader Station sat between the stations of Moat Lane Junction and Brecon on the Cambrian mainline. Llanidloes was to the North of Rhayader and Builth Wells to the South.

Rhayader Railway Station was opened in 1864 in Cwmdauddwr, a village on the opposite bank of the River Wye. The line, which took over 5 years to build, was closed in 1962 and dismantled within months. [3]

Rhayader and Its Railway Station – The Railway Station was on the West side of the River Wye
with the town on the East side of the river. This extract comes from the 6″ OS Maps published just after the turn of the 20th century. [4]
This extract comes from the earlier 6″ OS Mapping released in 1888. [37]

The station site in the 21st Century is a Highways Depot for Powys Council. It is access along the station approach road which is in the same location in the 21st century as that shown above. The station building on the above map is fully shaded and sits close to the words ‘Corn Mill’, the goods shed which is on the West side of the mainline, is shown hatched.

The same location is shown immediately below on Google Earth’s satellite imagery in the 21st century. The station approach is also shown below in an image from Google Streetview…

The site of Rhayader Railway Station.
The approximate alignment of the Mid-Wales Line of the Cambrian is shown in red [Google Maps].
Rhayader Railway Station Building as it appears in 2022. [My photograph]
Rhayader station building, platform side.
This shows the platform side of the ex Mid Wales Railway station building, as modified for use as a council maintenance depot office. The new walling (with windows) would be to enclose what used to be a minimal outdoor sheltered waiting area.
© Copyright Nigel Brown and licensed for reuse under a Creative Commons Licence (CC BY-SA 2.0). [22]
Rhayader old railway goods shed, north end:
this shows the north end of the ex Mid-Wales Railway goods shed, now part of a council maintenance depot. Note the simple but massive design. The track went in through the double end doors; goods were moved to and from road vehicles in a bay accessed through the double side doors (one of which is missing).
© Copyright Nigel Brown and licensed for reuse under a Creative Commons Licence (CC BY-SA 2.0). [23]
Rhayader old railway goods shed, south end:
this shows one end of the old Mid-Wales Railway goods shed at Rhayader, now used as part of a council maintenance depot.
© Copyright Nigel Brown and licensed for reuse under a Creative Commons Licence (CC BY-SA 2.0)[24]
Rhayader railway station: the Brecon to Moat Lane Junction afternoon train pauses briefly, shortly before closure of the line
© Copyright Flying Stag and licensed for reuse under a Creative Commons Licence (CC BY-SA 2.0) [25]
Local Mid-Wales line train at Rhayader station,
View SW, towards Builth and Brecon: the Builth Road (Low Level) – Moat Lane train is headed by one of the few remaining ex-Cambrian Class 15 0-6-0s, No. 893 (built 3/1908, withdrawn 2/1953).
© Copyright Ben Brooksbank and licensed for reuse under a Creative Commons Licence (CC BY-SA 2.0). [26]

The Route up the Elan Valley

Immediately to the South of the station, the Mid-Wales line crossed the road which led up the Elan Valley. Google Streetview shows the embankment beyond the bridge location to the South. Pivoting round through 180 degrees to look towards the Railway Station, does not provide a productive image. ….

Looking South from the Elan Valley Road (B4518). The over-bridge and its abutments are long gone, the railway embankment is still visible. Alongside it, to the left of this image is the start of the Elan Valley Trail, which for a couple of hundred yards runs parallel to the old railway, climbing gradually to a summit above the Rhayader Tunnel further to the South. [Google Streetview]

My wife and I walked the Elan Valley Trail in August 2021. Some of the photos which follow were taken on that walk. The first photograph below shows the start of the Trail. …. From that point the footpath climbs slowly alongside the old railway embankment before rising above the old line which was in cutting as it approached the northern portal of Rhayader Tunnel. The second picture below shows the Northern Portal.

The entrance to the Elam Valley Trail [My Photograph – 9th August 2021]
Rhayader Tunnel: North Portal (c) Chris Parker. [5]

A small nature reserve sits on the land immediately above Rhayader Tunnel which the footpath crosses and the South Portal of the tunnel can be glimpsed to the right of the path through the undergrowth. (The nature reserve is intended to protect the different species of bats which have made the tunnel their home.)

The bricked up South Portal of Rhayader Tunnel see from the Elan Valley Trail which runs along the top of the railway cutting’s Eastern batter. [My photograph – 9th August 2021]
The South Portal of Rhayader Tunnel: The picture is taken from the spot of the Elan Valley Junction, the beginning of the Elan Valley branch. There is no public access to the tunnel, which is now part of a small Nature Reserve of the Radnorshire Wildlife Trust. The Reserve was created to protect the bats which use the tunnel to hibernate. The Elan Valley Trail is to the right at the top of the cutting, © Copyright Wim Kegel and licensed for reuse under a Creative Commons Licence (CC BY-SA 2.0). [6]

A better view of the closed South Portal can be seen at track level. The picture below is taken from the track-bed approximately at the location of the first point of the Elan Valley Junction.

The Rhayader Tunnel and the Elan Valley Junction as shown on the OS 6″ series of maps dated 1905. On this map, the junction is shown as a single junction. The map is dated after the completion of the main work on the dams. During the period of construction traffic was such that a double junction was provided at this location. [7][8]

C. W. Judge provides a copy of Birmingham Corporation Waterworks’ drawing of the double junction with a note indication that the double junction was provided at the insistence of the Board of Trade. [2: p81] He also provides an extract from c. 1900 Ordnance Survey which shows the double junction in place. [2: p84]

The signal box at the Elan Valley Railway junction in around 1900. The private Elan Valley Railway, can just be made out behind the signal box steps on the righthand side of the image. The railwayman on the right is holding the token for entering the single line track system. This image is a copy of the image held by the People’s Collection, Wales and is reproduced here under their Creative Archive Licence (see Reference 11, below) which permits its use on a Non-Commercial basis. [12] Judge also provides a copy of this image which has a slightly better contrast which means that the Elan Valley line can also be made out much more clearly heading away from the mainline behind and to the left of the signal box. [2: p85] Judge has another, much better, view of the junction and signal box [2: p83] but I have not been able to find that image available to share on the internet.

Within a very short distance from the Elan Valley Junction the branch line was provided with storage/exchange sidings. Some of these sidings are clearly shown on the map extract below. Judge refers to these sidings as the Down Noyadd Sidings. the Up Sidings which are evident on the OS Map c. 1900 [2: p84] are no longer shown on the 1905 extract.

The Elan Valley Railway exchange/storage sidings to the West of Elan Valley Junction as shown on the OS 6″ series of maps dated 1905. The location plan showing these sidings provided by Coflein (below) appears to place the Down Sidings to the West of the under-bridge visible on this extract. The Up sidings are not shown on the 1905 OS map and so must have been lifted soon after the completion of the main works. Incidentally, the straight dotted line which crosses this map extract is the line of the aqueduct running from the Elan Valley to Birmingham carrying the water supply. The road under-bridge is now a farm access track. [9]
This length of the old railway has been paved as a footpath. This image is typical of the scenery here. [My photograph – 9th August 2021]
Coflein identifies the location of the sidings with the blue flag on this plan,© Crown Copyright and database right 2021. Ordnance Survey 100020548 . [10]
Along this length of the line trees now crowd the bituminous path. [My photograph – 9th August 2021]

Travelling on along the line, the next point of interest is that shown on the map extract below. At the turn of the century the line passed over a narrow lane leading to a ford in the Afon Elan at Rhyd Wen.

The first of these two images is an extract from the 6″ OS Maps from the turn of the 20th century. [13] The second is a satellite image of the same location in the 21st century. The most obvious significant difference is that a bridge has been constructed over the river. However, when the railway was active the road down to the ford was spanned by a masonry arch bridge. [2: p85-86, Plates No. 32 & 33] As the view below shows that bridge is long-gone. [Google Maps]
The view across the river from the Southeast showing the modern Bailey Bridge which has replaced the ford across the River Elan. As can be seen here, there is no longer a railway bridge spanning the road. [Google Streetview]
The view from the Northwest shows that one of the bridge abutments remains in position. [Google Streetview]

Continuing in a Southwest direction the railway and the road ran immediately next to each other with the Afan Elan slightly to the South. There is little of note on the next few extracts from the 6″ OS Map.

The old railway and the adjacent road ran passed Coed-y-mynach, Ty’n-y-coed, Llanfadog Lower and the Elan Valley Hotel. [14][15][16]
The only point worth noting is that there has been significant development at the site of the Elan Valley Hotel. [16]
The route of the old line continues beyond the Elan Valley Hotel with little worth noting until it approaches Elan Village. [17]
The police station and the Bethany Chapel suggest that we are now very close to Elan Village. [18]
The satellite images show significant developments from the time of the 6″ OS Map above. The first significant building which appears relatively close to the top right of this image is the Baptist Chapel. Once there was only one road here which led to a suspension bridge over the river. That road has been widened to provide access to the Elan Valley Visitor Centre another road follows the formation of the higher branch of the railway – the two roads while running parallel to each other diverge significantly in height. [18]
The Baptist Chapel (Bethania Baptist Chapel), viewed from the access road looking across the embankment which carried the railway. The red line clarifies its route. [Google Streetview] This length of the old railway is shown in Plate 35 of Judge’s book about the line. [2: p87
Looking Southwest toward Caban Coch Dam. The line of the railway is marked by the red line. The properties in this picture were built after the railway had been dismantled and their gardens extend across the line of the old railway to the highway boundary. [Google Streetview]
This photograph was taken from a point a little further to the Southwest. On the extreme left of the image, the boundary fence or the properties visible in the last picture can be seen. The old railway alignment is marked, once again, by the red line. The wall at the top of the embankment to the left supports a series of rectangular pools, some of which were visible on the 6″ OS Map. These are on the line of the aqueduct which supplies Eden Valley water to the Birmingham conurbation. They are part of the Water Treatment Works which ensure the quality of the water passing through the Aqueduct. [Google Streetview]
View from the footpath on the line of the old railway. The structures associated with the Water Works can be seen more easily. [My photograph – 9th August 2021]

Sadly, the 6″ OS Maps from the turn of the 20th century that we have been using do not give us a good impression of the railway network in the Elan Valley during the construction of the dams. They do show the main line of the railway as it was in around 1902 when the survey for the maps published in 1905 took place.

The next length of the line shows little of great interest. The lower line giving access to the base of the Caban-Coch Dam which was to be part of ‘Railway 1’ is not shown, as it was constructed after the Survey was undertaken. There is a level area on the North side of the line at the 800ft contour which would accommodate the buildings of the new Water Works. [19]
The equivalent satellite image shows the Water Works buildings. The formation of the contractor’s main-line can be seen to the Southeast of the Water Works, paved and in use by modern vehicles. [19]
This short section of the journey on the 6″ OS Maps shows a road/track down to the river and a suspension bridge. The line continues high on the valley side. [33]
The modern satellite image shows the route of what became ‘Railway 2’ high on the valley side. The route lay under the footpath which can be seen on the South side of the access road. In the valley floor, the road to the Visitor Centre runs from the top right to the bottom left of the image. Two bridges immediately adjacent to each other span the Afon Elan. The more northerly of the two is a modern Bailey Bridge. The other is an old suspension bridge which is in the same location as that shown on the OS Map immediately above. There were three different suspension bridges at this location over the years. [33]
This photograph shows the earliest bridge across the Afon Elan © Radnorshire Museum,
Llandrindod Wells. [34]

During the construction period, access to the construction village was over the suspension bridge shown above. “The navvies village can be seen on the far side of the river to the left, and the accident hospital is to the right of the bridge. The road on this side of the river leads to Rhayader to the left” and further up the Elan Valley to the right. [34]

The current suspension bridge (the third on the site) “is no longer safe, and modern traffic entering Elan Village now crosses the river by a rather more functional bridge alongside.” [34]

The now unsafe suspension bridge which provided access to Elan Village before the adjacent Baily Bridge was built. [My photograph – 9th August 2021]
The modern Bailey Bridge which sits just downstream of the suspension bridge. [My photograph – 9th August 2021]
The contractor’s main-line (which was to be designated ‘Railway 2’) continued at a high level. The lower level line is not in evidence. [20]
The modern satellite imagery shows the visitor centre on the right of this image and the dam and river protection and training works in the bottom left. The road at high level continues to mark the line of the old railway. [20]

Caban-Coch Dam, the first dam encountered in a journey up the Elan Valley, was the first at which construction work commenced. The digging and blasting of the foundations for the dam started in August 1894, and work on the masonry structure of the dam itself began in 1896. [29]

The 6″ OS Map from the turn of the 20th century shows the construction of the masonry structure well underway.

The dotted lines just visible in the top left of the map extract mark the line of the aqueduct which, once the reservoirs were filled, would supply water to the Birmingham conurbation. [21]
The completed dam and associated works are evident on the satellite image. The modern road continues to follow the approximate line of the old railway. [21]
Caban Coch Dam: an early stage in the construction of the first of the dams to be built in the Elan Valley, Caban Coch. A view looking upstream on the River Elan probably photographed around 1895, with a huge steam-powered crane at work on the site. Many of the massive stones used for this dam were quarried nearby. The track on the right of the image is the prepared formation of the soon to be completed main line of the Elan Valley Railway. A branch line followed the valley floor to provide access to the contractor’s compound and the foot of the new dam, © The People’s Collection Wales, used under their Creative Archive Licence [27]. [28]
Black and white photograph of Caban Coch dam, taken early during its construction © The Edward Hubbard Collection at Coflein. [31]
Progress continues at Caban Coch. [35]

The Elan Valley website tells us that building work began in 1893. “100 occupants of the Elan Valley had to move, only landowners received compensation payments. Many buildings were demolished, 3 manor houses, 18 farms, a school and a church (which was replaced by the corporation as the Nantgwyllt Church). … A village of wooden huts was purpose-built to house most of the workers on the site of the present Elan Village.” [30]

“New workers spent a night in the dosshouse to be deloused and examined for infectious diseases, only then were they allowed across the river to the village. Single men lived in groups of eight in a terrace house shared with a man and his wife. A school was provided for those under 11, after this they were expected to work. The village employed a guard to look out for illegal importation of liquor and unauthorised visitors. There was a hospital for injuries and an isolation hospital. A bath house which the men could use up to 3 times a week but the women only once! The pub was for men only. Other facilities included a library, public hall, shop and canteen. There was even street lighting (powered by hydroelectric generators).” [30]

The dams were built in two phases, firstly construction in the Elan Valley and later the Claerwen. The foundations of Dol y Mynach Dam were laid in phase one as the site would have flooded once Caban-Coch had filled up.” [30]

It is clear that local rock was not of a suitable quality for dressing the external faces of the dams. It was used as structural fill inside of the dams. The hand-chiselled facing stones were transported from Glamorgan. [30]

Caban Coch dam construction from an early
glass slide of 1901. Note the broad-gauge tracks provided for the steam crane(s). The trestles supporting the tracks can be seen under the rails at the right of the picture © Powys County Archives. [29]
This superb picture shows a train steaming towards the wall of Caban-coch dam much later during its construction. The contractor used trackways like this fixed to all the dams, supported by a wooden framework high above the bottom of the valley. Access to the higher levels of the Caban-Coch Dam would have come from ‘Railway 2’ which can be seen running across the bottom right corner of this image adjacent to the access road. [32]

“The Caban Coch dam contributes to the supply of water to Birmingham when water levels are normal, but it also provides compensation water to ensure that adequate flow is maintained in the Elan and the Wye downstream from the dams.” [29]

I have asked for permission from the Oakwood Press to reproduce sections of the fold out map at the rear of Colin Judge-s book (see below) as these illustrate the density of the rail facilities at the construction site of the Caban Coch Dam. I await their response with interest.

We have cover Railway No. 1. The next article in this series will begin at the junction between Railway No. 1 and Railway No. 2 a little to the East of Caban Coch Dam.

Further Reading

As we noted much earlier in this post, the accepted authority on all things associated with the Elan Valley Railway is Colin Judge. Anyone with any interest in this railway should regard the purchase of Judge’s book as a good investment. Second-hand copies are relatively easy to come by. It is important, when buying a copy, to check whether the fold-out map (referred to above) which was attached to the back cover of the book is still present. My copy is the latest reprint of the book, as shown below, which was published in 2001 and has a sticker on the front marking the centenary of the formal opening of the reservoirs which was celebrated in 2004. [2]

References

  1. https://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/661188https://www.elanvalley.org.uk/discover/history/railway, accessed on 20th March 2022.
  2. C. W. Judge; The Elan Valley Railway; Oakwood Press No. 71; Usk, Monmouthshire, 1987, latest edition, 2004.
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhayader_railway_station, accessed on 23rd March 2022
  4. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=17&lat=52.30041&lon=-3.51438&layers=6&b=1, accessed on 23rd March 2022.
  5. https://www.railwayramblers.org.uk/apr-2021-rock-fall-elan-valley-railway-evr-powys, accessed on 6th April 2022
  6. https://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/471519, accessed on 26th March 2022.
  7. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=16&lat=52.29189&lon=-3.52349&layers=6&b=1, accessed on 26th March 2022.
  8. “A double junction was built to join it to the Cambrian Railway near Rhayader;” quoted from https://www.elanvalley.org.uk/discover/history/railway, accessed on 20th March 2022.
  9. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=17&lat=52.29161&lon=-3.52882&layers=6&b=1, accessed on 6th April 2022.
  10. https://coflein.gov.uk/en/site/43061, accessed on 6th April 2022.
  11. https://www.peoplescollection.wales/creative-archive-licence, accessed on 20th March 2022.
  12. https://www.casgliadywerin.cymru/items/10995, accessed on 6th April 2022.
  13. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=17&lat=52.29011&lon=-3.53500&layers=6&b=1, accessed on 28th April 2022.
  14. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=17&lat=52.28721&lon=-3.54389&layers=6&b=1, accessed on 19th May 2022.
  15. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=17&lat=52.28433&lon=-3.54985&layers=6&b=1, accessed on 19th May 2022.
  16. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=17&lat=52.28126&lon=-3.55819&layers=6&b=1, accessed on 19th May 2022.
  17. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=17&lat=52.27883&lon=-3.56343&layers=6&b=1, accessed on 19th May 2022.
  18. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=17&lat=52.27592&lon=-3.56655&layers=6&b=1, accessed on 19th May 2022.
  19. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=17&lat=52.27296&lon=-3.57134&layers=6&b=1, accessed on 19th May 2022.
  20. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=17&lat=52.27002&lon=-3.57636&layers=6&b=1, accessed on 19th May 2022.
  21. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=17&lat=52.26776&lon=-3.57961&layers=6&b=1, accessed on 19th May 2022.
  22. https://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/661182, accessed on 20th May 2022.
  23. https://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/661197, accessed on 20th May 2022.
  24. https://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/661188, accessed on 20th May 2022.
  25. https://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/3915206, accessed on 20th May 2022.
  26. https://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/2540449, accessed on 20th May 2022.
  27. https://www.peoplescollection.wales/creative-archive-licence, accessed on 15th March 2022.
  28. https://www.peoplescollection.wales/items/10634, accessed on 20th May 2022.
  29. http://history.powys.org.uk/history/rhayader/caban.html, accessed on 20th May 2022.
  30. https://www.elanvalley.org.uk/discover/reservoirs-dams/building-dams, accessed on 20th May 2022.
  31. https://rcahmw.ibase.media/en/view-item?i=177046&WINID=1653054405781, accessed on 20th May 2022.
  32. http://history.powys.org.uk/school1/rhayader/tracks.shtml, accessed on 20th May 2022.
  33. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=16.80059521354383&lat=52.27134&lon=-3.57009&layers=6&b=1, accessed on 20th May 2022.
  34. http://history.powys.org.uk/history/rhayader/village2.html, accessed on 20th May 2022.
  35. https://logastonpress.co.uk/product/the-elan-valley-clearance, accessed on 20th May 2022.
  36. https://www.prints-online.com/rhayader-railway-station-powys-14352008.html, accessed on 20th May 2022.
  37. https://maps.nls.uk/view/101604533, accessed on 20th May 2022.

The Port Carlisle Railway – Part 3

Towards the end of its life the Port Carlisle Branch was served by two Sentinel Steam Railmotors, ‘Nettle’ and ‘Flower of Yarrow’. The featured image above is part of the Bruce McCartney Collection. It shows a Sentiel Steam Railcar calling at Burgh-by-Sands on a service to Port Carlisle in around 1930. Station Master Walter Tait is posing alongside the railcar on the platform. Bruce McCartney comments: “The Sentinel is thought to be No. 31 ‘Flower of Yarrow’ which was built in 1928 and operated on the Port Carlisle Branch up to the time the branch was closed from Drum burgh in 1932, although, being on the ‘main-line’ Burgh-by-Sands kept going until 1964.” (c) the Bruce McCartney Collection, used by kind permission. [1]

‘Nettle’ and ‘Flower of Yarrow’

After 50 or so years being served by a horse-drawn Dandy. Port Carlisle was given a replacement steam service in 1914. It was envisaged that providing a good reliable service from Carlisle, the village of Port Carlisle would develop as a seaside resort.

In 1914, Port Carlisle was once again given its own steam service to Carlisle. [2]

Sadly the hoped for development did not occur and Port Carlisle remained a backwater, but one with a significant history as a port where ocean-going vessels could dock. For a time it was a ‘ferry’ terminal and a place where goods could be transshipped onto smaller craft heading up the canal to Carlisle. Later the canal was replaced by a railway and for a time a reasonable flow of goods passed through the port. However, by 1863, goods services on the Port Carlisle branch were terminated and for a time passengers were served by a horse-drawn Dandy.

As the early 20th century unfolded the steam service was unable to pay its way and eventually, hoping against hope, that some service could be retained to Port Carlisle steam engines and carriages were replace by a pair of Sentinel Steam Rail Cars, No. 31 ‘Flower of Yarrow’ (Sentinel Diagram No. 96) and No. 35 ‘Nettle’ (originally, LNER No. 2133 – Sentinel Diagram no. 93). [3]

‘Nettle’ was built in 1928 and originally carried the LNER number 2133 which was later changed to 35. ‘Flower of Yarrow’ was a slightly later build by Sentinel and only ever carried the LNER number 31.

‘Nettle’ at Port Carlisle [3][4]
Flower of Yarrow at St. Margaret’s Shed, Edinburgh. [3]
Sentinel Railcar ‘Nettle’ at Carlisle, probably on the service to Port Carlisle. It appears to be running with at least another carriage attached. Photographer not known. [5]
‘Flower of Yarrow’ also at Carlisle. Photographer not known. [6]

These railmotors/railcars saw out the remaining years of the passenger service on the line to Port Carlisle and were moved elsewhere when it closed between Drumburgh and Port Carlisle in 1932.

References

  1. https://www.railscot.co.uk/img/29/41, accessed on 19th May 2022.
  2. https://nitter.net/pic/media%2FFQt_oBFWYAEYkaF.jpg%3Fname%3Dorig, accessed on 18th May 2022.
  3. https://www.lner.info/locos/Railcar/sentinel.php, accessed on 19th May 2022.
  4. https://nitter.net/pic/media%2FFQuBYO0XsAEHclR.jpg%3Fname%3Dorig, accessed on 18th May 2022.
  5. https://adrianspendlowblog.com/2020/04/15/railway-pictures-from-steam-days/amp, accessed on 19th May 2022.
  6. Paul Atterbury; LNER: The London and North Eastern Railway; Shire Publications, Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, Oxford, 2018; https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=jF9LDwAAQBAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false, accessed on 19th May 2022.

The Port Carlisle Railway – Part 2

The Dandy!

The featured image at the head of this post was taken on 24th February 2017 at the National Railway Museum in York. The ‘Dandy’ Car was horse-drawn and provided the branch service between Port Carlisle and Drumburgh until 1914 when the service was enhanced and steam-power was used, (c) Glen Bowman (Attribution 2.0 Generic – CC BY 2.0) [1]

The Science Museum, of which the Railway Museum is a constituent part describes the exhibit: “This is one of four horse-drawn Dandy cars built by the North British Railway at its St Margaret’s Works, Edinburgh. The North British Railway, one of Scotland’s major railways, operated the branch extending from Carlisle to Silloth and its sub-branch to Port Carlisle. Freight services on the latter branch were discontinued as early as 1899, but a horse-drawn passenger service instituted in 1863 remained until early 1914, when it was finally superseded by steam.” [2]

After the reintroduction of steam power on the branch line, the “railway company gave the old Dandy coaches to the village. For many years, they served as pavilions for the local bowling green and tennis club. In 1925, there was an exhibition at Darlington to mark the centenary of the world’s first railway there.” [3] The organisers thought that one of the old Dandy cars “would prove a popular exhibit and entered negotiations with the bowling club for its return. Repainted in its original colours, the Dandy took pride of place in the Darlington show. When the exhibition closed, it was taken to Waverley Station in Edinburgh where it remained until it was moved to its present location, the National Railway Museum in York.” [3]

So, where does the name ‘Dandy’ come from?

One possibility is that the ‘Dandy’ on the Port Carlisle branch derived its name from the Dandy Waggons (‘Wagons’ or ‘Carts’) which were used on old waggonways for the carriage of horses. They were “usually used on the down-hill sections of horse-drawn railways and waggonways. George Stephenson is credited for having proposed the idea for dandy wagons, building these carriages for the horses, for use on the Stockton & Darlington Railway, which opened in 1825. [4] However, they were particularly associated with the Ffestiniog Railway where they were in use until 1863. [5]

A Dandy Wagon and a Cauldron from 1825 on the Stockton and Darlington Railway, © National Railway Museum / Science & Society Picture Library. [6]
A drawing from the Stockton and Darlington Railway. (Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic – CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) [4]
A similar Dandy Waggon in use at Throckley Brickworks in 1909. Photographer unknown.

The term Dandy Wagon was also used during the 19th century in the USA to refer to a horse-drawn private buggy. [7]

It might be that the combination of these two ideas resulted in the name ‘Dandy’ being applied to a horse-drawn vehicle particularly on the Port Carlisle Branch. Small two- or four-wheel carts could often be called a ‘Dandy’ as an image search on the internet will illustrate. ….

Various ‘dandy’ carts appear when searched for on the internet. [Google.com]

None-the-less the term ‘Dandy’ was used for the passenger carrying rolling stock on the Port Carlisle branch. The horse-drawn service was long-lived, lasting from 1863 to 1914, over 50 years in all!

We finish this short article with some photographs and postcards showing the Dandy in operation!

A panorama showing the whole of the Port Carlisle Railway Station, the bowling green and many of the properties that made up the village – and at the centre the horse-drawn Dandy! [11]
The Dandy at Port Carlisle. Photographer unknown – Lancaster University Local History Resources for Schools. [8]
The Dandy at Port Carlisle again. Photographer unknown – Lancaster University Local History Resources for Schools. [8]
The Bygone Cumberland Facebook page carries this picture of the Dandy at Port Carlisle Railway Station in a prominent position. [9]
A postcard image for sale on eBay in May 2022. [10]
This image is valuable in that it shows that there were at least two Dandy carriages in use on the line. [12]
Solway Past and Present says: “On April 4th 1914, the horse-drawn ‘Dandy’ coach made its last trip along the railway line to Port Carlisle. Two days later, steam locomotives were chuffing along the quiet country line for the first time in over fifty years.” [3]

References

  1. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:North_British_Railway_Port_Carlisle_Branch_Dandy_Car_No_1_-National_Railway_Museum,_York(36243983596).jpg, accessed on 18th May 2022.
  2. https://collection.sciencemuseumgroup.org.uk/objects/co207792/dandy-car-north-british-railway-railway-carriage, accessed on 18th May 2022.
  3. http://solwaypastandpresent.blogspot.com/2014/04/the-port-carlisle-dandy_20.html, accessed on 18th May 2022.
  4. https://co-curate.ncl.ac.uk/dandy-waggons, accessed on 18th May 2022.
  5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dandy_waggon, accessed on 18th May 2022.
  6. https://www.ssplprints.com/image/198371/a-dandy-cart-and-chaldron-1825, accessed on 18th May 2022.
  7. Franklin Keagy; A History of the Kägy Relationship in America; Harrisburg Pub. Co., 1899, p610.
  8. https://regionalheritage.omeka.net/items/show/72, accessed on 18th May 2022.
  9. The Bygone Cumberland Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=3841257009252565&set=p.3841257009252565, accessed on 18th May 2022.
  10. https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/265688015689?hash=item3ddc3d6349:g:ckIAAOSwGExifDxB, accessed on 18th May 2022.
  11. https://nitter.net/i/status/1516463913075892229, accessed on 18th May 2022.
  12. http://www.cumbria-railways.co.uk/port-carlisle005.html, accessed on 19th May 2022.

The Port Carlisle Railway – Part 1

The Canal and the Railway that replaced it.

The Carlisle to Port Carlisle Canal opened in 1823. It was approximately 11 miles long. It linked the city of Carlisle to the Solway Firth. [1]

Prior to the 16th century, coal from mines at Ellen Foot (now Maryport) was brought up river to Carlisle and other locations by boat. However, in 1720, duties began to be levied on all goods carried around the coast by sea.As a result, the local coal trade switched to land-based transport.

It took the actions of a small group of local traders to secure an Act of Parliament in 1721, which allowed coastal duties to be waived. While the Act enabled them to build wharves and warehouses and erect cranes, even allowing the dredging of the river and the charging of tolls (for 31 years), it did not permit them to improve the river in any way. [2]

The Canal was a long time in coming … a public meeting which sought its construction did not take place until 21st May 1807. “The principal aim was to provide the city with a better and cheaper supply of coal, and a committee was appointed to push the plan forwards. They asked the engineer William Chapman to advise them, and he proposed a route from Carlisle to Maryport, which he had also promoted in 1795 as part of a coast to coast route. He estimated that it would cost between £90,000 and £100,000 to build, but conceded that a terminus near Bowness on the Solway Firth would be cheaper. £40,000 would pay for a canal suitable for 45-ton boats, but a larger canal, suitable for 90-ton boats that could cross the Irish Sea or reach the Forth and Clyde Canal, would cost between £55,000 and £60,000. The larger canal could still be part of a coast to coast route. The options as to the size and destination of the canal were put to subscribers by the committee. In August 1807 Chapman suggested that a ship canal for the Irish, Scottish and Liverpool trade, and a 50-ton canal to Maryport for the coal trade could both be built, with both finding support in the newspapers.”[2][3: p337–339, 456]

With a range of options on the table, the Committee sought a second opinion from Thomas Telford. He produced a report on 6th February 1808.

Telford “described a Cumberland Canal, which would allow sea-going vessels to reach Carlisle, but would also be part of a grander plan to link Carlisle to other parts of the country, and could be incorporated into the coast to coast waterway. He suggested that locks should be at least as big as those on the Forth and Clyde Canal, with a width of 20 feet (6.1 m) and a depth of water of 8 feet (2.4 m) over the lock cills. His canal would leave the Solway Firth about 1 mile (1.6 km) upstream of Bowness-on-Solway to reach Carlisle, and would cost £109,393. In order to provide a water supply, a navigable feeder would continue onwards to Wigton, which would be suitable for 7-foot (2.1 m) wide narrow boats, and would cost an additional £38,139. He also quoted two other prices for narrower canals, but noted that these would require goods to be transferred to smaller boats, with the inherent costs and inconvenience.” [3: p339] 

Sadly, no further progress was made at that time.

After a further eight and a half years, another meeting was held at Carlisle. The result of that meeting on 7th October 1817 was that Chapman was asked “to produce a survey for a canal suitable for vessels of at least 70 tons. He was to ensure that it could become part of the coast to coast link. His canal started at Fisher’s Cross, subsequently named Port Carlisle, … It would feature locks 74 by 17 feet (22.6 by 5.2 m), while the channel would be 50 feet (15 m) wide by 8 feet (2.4 m) deep, and would cost £75,392. A link to Newcastle-upon-Tyne could be built on a smaller scale, and another link could be built along the valley of the Eden to serve slate quarries near Ullswater. His plan was accepted, money was raised locally, and an Act of Parliament was obtained in 1819, which authorised the Carlisle Canal to raise £80,000 in capital, and an extra £40,000 if required. The chairman of the committee, Dr John Heysham, suggested they look at other canals before starting work, and visits were made to the Lancaster Canal and the Forth and Clyde Canal. [2][3: p339-340]

Contracts to build the entire canal were awarded by early 1820. The Canal opened in March 1823. It was “11.25 miles (18.11 km) long, had a surface width of 54 feet (16 m) and was 8 feet (2.4 m) deep. At Fisher’s Cross, a basin 250 by 80 feet (76 by 24 m) had been built, which was connected to the Solway Firth by a sea lock with a long timber jetty. Seven more locks raised the level of the canal by 46 feet (14 m), and at Carlisle there was a second basin, 450 by 100 feet (137 by 30 m), complete with wharves and a warehouse. The locks were 78 feet (24 m) long and 18.5 feet (5.6 m) wide, and water supply was provided by a reservoir on Mill Beck near Grindale.” [2][4: p128]

The cost of construction was just over the estimated £80,000. [2][3: p341]

In 1825 the Carlisle & Liverpool Steam Navigation Company paid for the construction of an exclusive berth at Port Carlisle. The Canal Cpany purchased their own packet boat to transport passenger from Port Carlisle to Carlisle. Both passenger services commenced in 1826. Goods  carried from Liverpool to Port Carlisle were carried along the canal by lighters. The Solway Hotel opened in Port Carlisle soon afterwards. [2][3: p341-342]

“The Solway at Port Carlisle” (1859) by Samuel Bough (1822 – 1878), National Galleries Scotland. Use permitted under a Creative Commons Licence. [34]

Times were beginning to change. … In “August 1824, there were public meetings in Newcastle, to consider again the idea of a canal to Carlisle, or possibly a railway. William Chapman, who had surveyed a route for a canal in 1796, suggested that the route was also suitable for a railway, and was asked to cost both options. He quoted £888,000 for a canal and £252,488 for a railway. A company was created to build a railway, although they did not obtain an Act of Parliament until 1829. There was support in Carlisle, and an agreement was reached that the railway would terminate at the canal basin.” [2][3: p342-343]

The opening of the railway to Newcastle in the 1830s brought a significant upturn in profits on the canal. Its imminent arrival resulted in another shipowner starting a service between Carlisle, Annan and Liverpool.

“However, the boom did not last long, and the company found that it was in competition with the railways. The Lancaster and Carlisle Railway was authorised in 1844, and was a direct threat to the steamer service and canal. The Maryport and Carlisle Railway had been authorised in 1837, but opening was delayed until 1845 by financial difficulties. It was extended to Whitehaven in early 1847 by the opening of the Whitehaven Junction Railway, and at the end of the year the Lancaster and Carlisle Railway opened. The Caledonian Railway opened in February 1848, running northwards from Carlisle to Scotland.” [2][3: p345-346]

“In March 1852, the company decided that the best option was to convert the canal into a railway, raised some money from shareholders and loan holders, and sought an Act of Parliament. Work began in June 1853, although the Act was not obtained until 3 August. An omnibus service was used to ferry passengers between Carlisle and the steamers at Port Carlisle, and the canal closed on 1 August 1853.” [2][3: p347-348].

The Act both wound up the canal company and created the Port Carlisle Dock and Railway Company. Further details about the history of the Canal can be found here [35]

Construction was completed within a year and opened to goods traffic on 12 May 1854 and passengers on 22 June. [2]

The Port Carlisle Railway Company had filled in the canal basin at Carlisle and built sidings and a passenger terminal there. Passenger services between Port Carlisle and Carlisle were short-lived. Two years later the line from Carlisle to Silloth opened. The through passenger service to Port Carlisle was replaced by a horse-worked service between Drumburgh and Port Carlisle. This horse-drawn service lasted until 1914 when it was replaced by steam-power. In due course a steam railmotor service was introduced which lasted until the branch closed in 1932. [2][5]

The Route of the Line

The rail network in Carlisle in 1914 as drawn by the Midland Railway. The Port Carlisle line left the Caledonian main line at Port Carlisle Junction (top left of this drawing), passed through Canal Junction and then set off West just South of the North British Railway Engine Shed shown in the far top left of the drawing. [36]
Wikiwand comments: “Port Carlisle Junction was a railway junction between the lines of the former Caledonian Railway and North British Railway companies lines to the north of Carlisle Citadel station in, what is now, Cumbria, England. It opened in July 1863. Port Carlisle Junction railway station was a very short lived station that first came into use in July 1863 and there was some untimetabled use until 29 October 1863, but the station closed as early as 1 July 1864. After closure, the up (northbound) platform was retained for use by those crews requiring change and also for passing messages on to crews.” [37][38: p78][39: p80][40: p16]
The route of the Port Carlisle Railway. [44]

The Port Carlisle Branch left the main Caledonian Railway line at Port Carlisle Junction, which was just to the North of the River Caldew, and curved way to the Southwest.

Extract from the OS 6″ Series published in 1901. Carlisle Goods Station can be seen on the West side of the extract. [6]
Satellite image showing the same area as the 1901 map above. Point ‘A’ marks the junction with the route of the Branch sketched in red. [6]
This image is a closer view of the line of the old railway and shows the location of the junction and the route of the line. Although the line has been closed for many years its alignment is still dictating land boundaries! [Google Earth]
The remains of the railway embankment. This picture shows the rail alignment and is taken from the junction of Willow Holme Road and the access road to Carlisle Wastewater Treatment Works. A historic lane was bridged by the railway at this approximate location. Trees have colonized the embankment. [Google Streetview]
A short distance to the West, Carlisle Corporation Sewage Works was access by means of a bridge which carried the Port Carlisle Railway. the railway is indicated by the redline at high level over the access road. [Google Streetview]
Just to the West of the Sewage Works was a Manure Works which had its own siding. On this map extract also from the OS 6″ 1901 survey it can be seen that this immediate area was given over to railway sidings and the North British Railway Engine Shed. The myriad of tracks entering the extract from the bottom right are those associated with Carlisle Goods Station. The branch we are following is now marked as the ‘Carlisle & Silloth Branch’. This is the better name for the branch in 1901. As we will see later, the line was extended beyond Port Carlisle on a different alignment and the line to Port Carlisle became a short branch from the longer line. The line leaves the map extract in the bottom left. [7]
As this current satellite image shows the area of the motive power depot has reverted to nature, colonized by many trees. Not on our line, but worthy of note, is the viaduct crossing the River Eden. [7]
The viaduct mentioned in the notes relating to the image immediately above. It used to carry trains on the “Waverley route” across the River Eden at Carlisle. The trains crossing the viaduct ran from Carlisle to Edinburgh through the Scottish Lowlands. © Copyright Malc McDonald and licensed for reuse under a Creative Commons Licence – (CC BY-SA 2.0). [8]
Nick Catford writing about the Post Carlisle Junction (the ‘Canal Junction’ on the 6″ OS Map above) on the Disused Stations website comments: “MR Compound 4-4-0 No. 1032 passing Canal Junction signal box in June 1908 with the 10.30 from Edinburgh Waverley. In the background the disused up platform of Port Carlisle Junction station can clearly be seen. At this date it had already been closed for 44 years. 1032 gave over 45 years service before being withdrawn from Nottingham shed, 16A, on 31.3.1952 and cut up at Derby
works shortly afterwards. Photo from Bill Lynn collection.” [43]
West of the NBR Shed the line can be seen running roughly East-West before swinging to the North and crossing the line of Hadrian’s Wall. The NBR Shed was built across the line of the wall! [9]
The line of the railway is still clear on the modern satellite images. It appears as a line of trees on the matching satellite image which curve to the North before running through what is now a farm premises and then passing under the modern A689. [9]
Looking South from the A689 along the approximate line of the railway which is shown by the red line. [Google Streetview]
Looking North from the A689 along the old railway alignment. The hedge visible on the left of this image appears to be along the boundary of what was railway land. The red line shows the approximate route of the line. [Google Streetview]
The railway then curved round to the West, crossing the line of Hadrian’s Wall once again. Towards the left-hand side of this map extract the road from Carlisle to Port Carlisle crossed the line. Incidentally, don’t get too excited by the presence of a distillery close to the line. This was actually Grinsdale Tar Distillery which had its own short siding. The Bone Manure Works shared the connection to the main line and had a trailing connection to the Distillery’s siding. [10]
Once again, the old railway’s alignment can clearly be made out on modern satellite images. The road has not been realigned and the bridge remains in position. To the West of the bridge the rail alignment is still visible as a line of trees. The site of the tar distillery and the manure works is now a caravan/motorhome sales establishment. [10]
The southern approach to the bridge carrying the road and cycle route over the old railway. [My photograph, 14th May 2022]
The Northern road approach to the old bridge. [My photograph, 14th May 2022]
An extract from satellite imagery showing the site of the road bridge with the approximate line of the railway under the bridge marked in red. [Google Maps]
Two images of Grinsdale Bridge – the first was taken just prior to closure of the line, the second was taken in 2003, (c) Brian Irwin. The image directly below was taken from approximately the same location as the image from 2003. [13]
This final view at this location shows the view from the access road to the caravan centre shows the West elevation of the bridge which has been sealed with a brick wall. [My photograph, 14th May 2022]
Continuing to the North West the line served another Bone Manure Works, which also had its own private siding and passed under an accommodation bridge. [11]
The alignment of the railway is a little less distinct on modern satellite imagery. I have added the red line to show the route. AS can be seen the site of the Bone Manure Works has developed in size. It is, however, no longer primarily an agricultural establishment.
The building shown from above in the last image. Rattlingate Lane is paved in concrete from the North to the line of the old railway (which runs behind the buildings in this picture. The site is now used by the Scouts as ‘Rattlingate Scout Activity Centre’. [Google Streetview]
The line turns North to pass through Kirkandrews-upon-Eden where there was a railway station with a single platform on the East side of the line. At Kirkandrews, the line crossed Hadrian’s Wall and passed under the road again. [12]
The route can clearly be seen on modern satellite images. [12]
The cutting remains. This picture is taken from the fence bordering the minor rod to the South of Cycle Route 72 and looks towards the Southeast. [My photograph, 14th May 2022]
Kirkandrew-upon-Eden Railway station in use in the 1950s, (c) Brian Irwin. [13]
Kirkandrews-upon-Eden Railway Station buildings in private hands in October 2016. [Google Streetview]

Wikipedia tells us that Kirkandrews-upon-Eden railway station “sat close to the village in the cut of the old canal; it had a single platform, and a shelter. … A substantial station building was present. A large seed warehouse was located at the station. In common with other stations on the line, it had its name picked out in sea shells on a raised area opposite the station building.” [14][15]

Continuing on from Kirkandrews the old line curved round to the Northwest. As can be seen on the next extract from the 6″ OS Maps of 1901, there are a couple of things which show that the old railway line followed the Carlisle Canal along most of its length.

Northwest of Kirkandrews Station the railway and the older canal diverge for a short distance. This is one of a few locations along the line to Port Carlisle where the historic route of the canal was in evidence on the ground after the construction of the railway. North of Monkhill was further evidence of the old canal – a lock keeper’s cottage remained alongside the railway where it passed under the lane between Monkhill and Beaumont. [16]
On the modern satellite imagery, the routes of the old railway and the earlier canal are still very much in evidence. [16]
The site of the old lock-keeper’s cottage seen from the Monkhill to Beaumont road. The alignment of both the railway and the canal are represented by the red line. The lock house remains in private hands, extended and refurbished. [Google Streetview – August 2021]
The generally East-West direction of the line continues towards Burgh Head, both canal and railway following the same alignment. At Wormanby the road to Port Carlisle crossed the line again by means of an overbridge – Hallstones Bridge. [17]
On modern satellite imagery the majority of the old line’s route is clear from the alignment of field boundaries and the presence of trees. At Hallstone’s Bridge the road alignment remains as it was when the railway was active, the bridge has gone and the land either side of the road has been regraded. [17]
The location of Hallstone’s Bridge at Wormanby. Remais of the retaining walls supporting the road embankment approaching the bridge can still be seen on the right of this picture. [Google Streetview, October 2016]
The view West from just to the North of Hallstone’s Bridge with the line of the old railway indicated by the red line. The trees on the line sit on a low embankment which has not yet been regraded as of May 2022. [Google Streetview, October 2016]
The railway ran along the South side of Burgh Head and Burgh by Sands, passing under Ludgate Bridge and then through Burgh by Sands Railway Station and then under another two bridges at the West end of Burgh by Sands. [18]
The route of the line is again picked out in red on this modern satellite image. [18]
The location of Ludgate Bridge with the approximate line of the old railway shown in red. [Google Streetview]
Burgh by Sands Station Building in 2022. The picture is taken looking East from Station Road which is an un-adopted highway. The station platform and tracks were to the right of the building. [My photograph, 14th May 2022]
Burgh by Sands Railway Station in 1903. The postcard view looks from the Southeast. [18]
Burgh-by-Sands Railway Station looking West along the platform. [48]
This monochrome image looks from the Southwest and shows the Station Buildings to good effect. [18]

Wikipedia tells us that Burgh-by-Sands station “sat close the village, reached by Station Road that branched off the mainstreet; it had a single platform, a shelter and a signal box. … A substantial station building was present, together with a station master’s house.” [19]

Burgh-by-Sands Station. Viewed from beyond the station looking eastward, towards Carlisle. The line and station closed completely on 7/9/64, Note that in this image a short siding is shown at the near end of the station platform, on the North side of the line, serving a loading bay. (c) Ben Brooksbank. Creative Commons Attribution Share-alike license 2.0 (CC BY-SA 2.0) [19]
These houses on Southfield stand on the line of the old railway to the West of the station building which is behind the camera. [My photograph, 14th May 2022]
The line of the railway where it passed under Lawrence Lane. Just to the north of the line Lawrence Lane now becomes a private driveway. [Google Maps]
Lawrence Lane looking towards the old line which would have been just round the corner ahead. [My photograph]
The final bridge in Burgh-by-Sands can be seen looking South along the Thurstonfield, Great Orton Road from the Main road through the village. [Google Streetview]
This view is taken from the Southern end of the bridge. The bridge is typical of a number on the route with decorative metal parapets and stone abutments. [My photograph, 14th May 2022]
This picture was taken through vegetation from an unmetalled lane on the Southwest side of the old railway line. The bridge has been strengthened by steel column supports at the third-points of the span and longitudinal steel joists. [My photograph, 14th May 2022]
A similar view from the Southeast. [My photograph, 14th May 2022]
Looking east over the decorative bridge parapet towards Burgh-by-Sands Station. [My photograph, 14th May 2022]
Looking West along the old line from the same location. [My photograph, 14th May 2022]
The train from Carlisle to Silloth leaves Burgh-by-Sands behind J39 64895 in June 1960. (c) Brian Irwin. [13]
This next length of the line takes us from Burgh-by-Sands to Dykesfield and just out onto the Marsh. [20]
The approximate line of the old railway is again marked on the modern satellite image with a red line. Over this length the canal and railway followed the same alignment. The bridge at Dykesfield still remains. [20]
The bridge at Dykesfield (West Green Bridge) from the South. [My photograph, 14th May 2022]
The bridge at Dykesfield (West Green Bridge) from the North. [My photograph, 14th May 2022]
The bridge remains acting as a bridge by strengthened in the same way as the bridge at the West end of Burgh. [My photograph, 14th May 2022]

After passing through Dykesfield the railway broke out onto the marshes on the South side of the Solway Firth. A long straight stretch of line carried trains on to Drumburgh. The picture immediately below gives an impression of the lay of the land and shows that the railway was indeed built within the old canal.

A train from Silloth to Carlisle is crossing the Marsh between Drumbergh and Dykesfield. The date and the identity of the photographer are not known. The highway is to the right of the image and the railway can be seen to be within the old canal walls. [18]
The 6″ OS Map shows the railway crossing the marsh running to the North side of the hamlet of Boustead Hill. Our B&B was at Boustead Hill and the proprietor was telling us of the lift bridge which once graced the canal at the point where the access road crossed the canal. Apparently much of the lifting mechanism is still; buried at the site despite the canal having close in the mid-19th century. [21]
The route of the railway line is again marked by the red line on the satellite image. [21]
The line continues on from Boustead Hill towards Drumburgh. [22]
The line is shown, once agin, as a red line on the satellite image. [22]
A view along the marsh road looking West from Boustead Hill. The embankment to the left of the road protected the line of the old canal and later railway from the high tides. High spring tides can cover the road to a depth of up to 3ft, © Copyright M J Richardson and licensed for reuse under a Creative Commons Licence (CC BY-SA 2.0). [24]
Looking East from a point some distance to the West of Boustead Hill. The Solway Firth is off to the left, the embankment protects the line of the railway and canal from the sea, © Copyright Jonathan Thacker and licensed for reuse under a Creative Commons Licence (CC BY-SA 2.0). [25]
Drumburgh Junction is the point at which the Port CarlisleRailway and the later Silloth Railway diverged. Our interest at the moment is in the line to Port Carlisle which was the line as built after the closure of the canal. Drumburgh Junction Station appears at the centre of this extract from the 6″ OS Maps of 1901. [23]
The red line on this satellite image is the line heading for Port Carlisle. The blue line is the later route to Silloth. [23]
Looking West towards Druburgh along the line of the old railway. The Solway Firth can just be glimpsed across the marsh on the top right of the picture, © Copyright Rose and Trev Clough and licensed for reuse under a a Creative Commons Licence (CC BY-SA 2.0). [26]

Wikipedia informs us that Drumburgh Railway Station “was the junction station for the Port Carlisle Railway branch and the Silloth branch, serving both as a junction and transfer station and also serving the small village of Drumburgh. The station closed on 4 July 1955; nothing now remains of the station. The line to Silloth closed on 7 September 1964 as part of the Beeching cuts. Port Carlisle was two and a half miles away by train and Glasson was one and a quarter miles away. The journey time was nine minutes, although Glasson was a request stop.” [27][28] The service to Port Carlisle was horse-powered.

Two photographs taken at Drumburgh. The first shows the island platform with waiting shelter and the signal box. The second looks from the platform towards the junction. Trains to Port Carlisle took the right-hand line, (c) Brian Irwin. [13]
The route to Port Carlisle turned away to the North from Drumburgh Station and then West again, passing under the road to Port Carlisle. [29]
The route of the line is again marked in red on the satellite image. The bridge which was shown on the top left of the OS Map extract immediately above was not retained when the line was dismantled. The revise road alignment can be seen at the top left of this image. [29]
Looking East along the route of the old canal and later railway from the location of the bridge on the Port Carlisle road mentioned above. [Google Streetview]
To the Wst of the road the route of the old railway is hidden in the trees shown here. [Google Streetview]
Glasson was the only station between Drumburgh and Port Carlisle. [30]
While the bridge at the bottom left of this image was removed, the one adjacent to what was Glasson Station remains into the early 21st century. [30]
Glasson Station was just to the right of this photograph. The bridge carrying the lane into the village remains, although the aperture height is much reduced. The same support arrangements as at other bridges on the line have been used at this location. [My photograph, 14th May 2022]
The lane into Glasson village viewed from the Northeast. [My photograph, 14th May 2022]
One final picture at this location gives a reminder that the railway was built on the line of the old Carlisle Canal [My photograph, 14th May 2022]
The line gradually drifted closer to the tide line as it approached Port Carlisle. It is shown passing under the road close to the shore in the top left of this map extract. [31]
The route of the old railway is clearly visible on this satellite image. The bridge which took the road over the railway was removed and the road was realigned. [31]
On this Google Maps image the trees have grown to smother the line of the old railway, the road junction has been realigned and the Hadrian’s Wall Path takes close order with the line of the old railway and canal. [Google Maps]
The approach to Port Carlisle. [32]
The approach to Port Carlisle as it appears today on satellite images. [32]
Port Carlisle as it appears on the 6″ OS Map of 1901. [33]
Port Carlisle in the 21st century. Schematically, the railway is shown in red. [33]
Photograph of the signboard at the Port of Carlisle which gives more detail of the extent to the railways at the site in the early years before Silloth opened as a port.
Wikemedia Commons comments: “This map of Port Carlisle after 1854 shows the filling in of the Carlisle Canal and the arrival of the railway, which was built along the canal bed. Some port trade was continued using the offshore jetty, but used the railway.” [41]
The remains of Port Carlisle station in 2010. The photographer comments: “The railway opened in 1853 and closed in 1932. Passengers were first carried in 1854 and it wasn’t until 1914 that regular steam powered trains were introduced. Prior to that time what was in effect a rail mounted stage-coach was hauled by a horse.” © Copyright Jonathan Thacker and licensed for reuse under a Creative Commons Licence (CC BY-SA 2.0). [42]
Google Maps shows the platform edge of the Port Carlisle Railway Station in 2021. The station building is long gone.

Griffiths and Hooper tell us that Port Carlisle had two locomotive sheds: “Firstly, a 32ft x 14ft one-road dead-end building, in brick with a tiled, pitched roof and having a central smoke vent, was erected to the east of Port Carlisle station. It stood at right angles to the station and could only be entered via 24ft turntable accessed by an approach spur; a water tank stood near the depot but it is not known what facilities were available for coal.” [45]

Once the steam-hauled service was replaced by the horde-drawn Dandy it seems as though “the engine shed remained in situ – assumedly it was utilised for stabling the horses and possibly also to shelter the small tramcars, but that needs confirmation.” [45]

A steam hauled service was reinstated on “6th April 1914 when an inaugural passenger train was run from Port Carlisle to the city of Carlisle … behind a North British Railway Drummond ‘165’ class 0-6-0T, No. 22, that engine having been taken off its previous regular duty on the Langholm branch to run the passenger service from Port Carlisle. However, less than three years after the upgrade of Port Carlisle passenger services World War I brought an economy measure whereby the branch closed to all traffic
from 1 January 1917 and until reopened from 1 February 1919.” [45]

Griffiths and Hooper believe that the second engine shed we built not long after 1914, when a locomotive-hauled service was reinstated “or it may have appeared with the post-war reopening. It was a single road through building in wood on dwarf brick walls and with a pitched tiled roof, scaling 34ft x 16ft. It was positioned over the approach spur south of the turntable, which then, or earlier, had been reduced in size to 16ft diameter. Being of such modest dimensions it was realistically of little use anyway so it probably did not matter that engines had to pass through the shed to access the ‘table.” [45]

The 25″ OS Map series from the turn of the 20th century shows the first engine shed on a spur off to the side of the mainlines and accessed only via a small turntable. [46]
The 1925 edition of the 25″ OS Maps show the replacement engine shed. [47]
Port Carlisle’s second engine shed. This view looks back down the branch towards Carlisle and was taken after the closure of the line. The platform face of the station is visible on the right of this image. [45]

References

  1. http://www.cumbria-railways.co.uk/port-carlisle-railway-yarrow.html, accessed on 14th May 2022.
  2. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carlisle_Canal, accessed on 14th May 2022.
  3. Charles Hadfield, Gordon Biddle; The Canals of North West England, Vol 2 (pp.241-496); David and Charles, Devon, 1970.
  4. Sir Alec Skempton, et al.; A Biographical Dictionary of Civil Engineers in Great Britain and Ireland: Vol 1: 1500 to 1830; Thomas Telford, London, 2002.
  5. http://www.cumbria-railways.co.uk/port-carlisle-railway-yarrow.html, 14th May 2022.
  6. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=15&lat=54.89993&lon=-2.95017&layers=6&b=1, accessed on 14th May 2022.
  7. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=16&lat=54.89823&lon=-2.96258&layers=6&b=1, accessed on 16th May 2022.
  8. https://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/4453184, accessed on 16th May 2022.
  9. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=16&lat=54.90077&lon=-2.97891&layers=6&b=1, accessed on 16th May 2022.
  10. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=16&lat=54.90494&lon=-2.99073&layers=6&b=1, accessed on 16th May 2022.
  11. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=16&lat=54.90979&lon=-3.00208&layers=6&b=1, accessed on 17th May 2022.
  12. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=16&lat=54.91460&lon=-3.01354&layers=6&b=1, accessed on 17th May 2022.
  13. http://www.deborahirwin.plus.com/silloth%20the%20holiday%20line%202004/Down%20the%20Line%20to%20Silloth%20then%20&%20now/page_2_silloth_then.htm, accessed on 17th May 2022. {NB: this site is still live but closed in 2012 and I was unable to find a way of contacting the site owner to seek permission to use these images]
  14. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kirkandrews_railway_station, accessed on 17th May 2022.
  15. Stephen White; Solway Steam. The Story of the Silloth and Port Carlisle Railways 1854-1964; Carel Press, Carlisle, 1984.
  16. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=16&lat=54.91935&lon=-3.01318&layers=6&b=1, accessed on 17th May 2022.
  17. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=16&lat=54.92042&lon=-3.03609&layers=6&b=1, accessed on 17th May 2022.
  18. http://www.cumbria-railways.co.uk/burgh_by_sands_railway_station.html, accessed on 17th May 2022.
  19. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burgh-by-Sands_railway_station, accessed on 17th May 2022.
  20. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=16&lat=54.92144&lon=-3.07553&layers=6&b=1, accessed on 17th May 2022.
  21. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=16&lat=54.92235&lon=-3.09364&layers=6&b=1, accessed on 17th May 2022.
  22. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=16&lat=54.92341&lon=-3.11341&layers=6&b=1, accessed on 17th May 2022.
  23. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=16&lat=54.92569&lon=-3.13519&layers=6&b=1, accessed on 17th May 2022.
  24. https://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/6981460, accessed on 17th May 2022.
  25. https://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/2180549, accessed on 17th May 2022.
  26. https://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/733416, accessed on 17th May 2022.
  27. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drumburgh_railway_station, accessed on 17th May 2022.
  28. http://www.cumbria-railways.co.uk/silloth_bay_railway_history.html, accessed on 17th May 2022.
  29. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=16&lat=54.92973&lon=-3.15315&layers=6&b=1, accessed on 17th May 2022.
  30. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=16&lat=54.93427&lon=-3.16304&layers=6&b=1, accessed on 17th May 2022.
  31. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=16&lat=54.93960&lon=-3.17668&layers=6&b=1, accessed on 17th May 2022.
  32. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=16&lat=54.94466&lon=-3.18437&layers=6&b=1, accessed on 17th May 2022.
  33. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=16&lat=54.94904&lon=-3.18849&layers=6&b=1, accessed on 17th May 2022.
  34. https://www.nationalgalleries.org/art-and-artists/4706, accessed on 18th May 2022.
  35. http://www.cumberlandscarrow.com/portcarlisle.htm, accessed on 18th May 2022.
  36. http://www.cumbria-railways.co.uk/bog_junction_carlisle.html, accessed on 18th May 2022.
  37. https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Port_Carlisle_Junction, accessed on 18th May 2022.
  38. C.H. Ellis; The North British Railway. Ian Allan, ………………….. 1955.
  39. David Joy; A Regional History of the Railways of Great Britain: The Lake Counties. David & Charles, Newton Abbott, Devon, 1983.
  40. P.W. Robinson; Cumbria’s Lost Railways, Stenlake Publishing, Catrine, 2002
  41. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Port_carlisle_map.jpg, accessed on 15th May 2022.
  42. https://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/2179028, accessed on 18th May 2022.
  43. http://disused-stations.org.uk/p/port_carlisle_junction/index.shtml, accessed on 18th May 2022.
  44. https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Carlisle_and_Silloth_Bay_Railway, accessed on 18th May 2022.
  45. Roger Griffiths and John Hooper; Carlisle’s LNER Engine Sheds: West; in Steam Days, January 2021, Andrew Kennedy Ed.; Mortons Media Group Ltd; https://www.pressreader.com/uk/steam-days/20201211/281522228684201, accessed on 19th May 2022.
  46. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/side-by-side/#zoom=17&lat=54.94860&lon=-3.18777&layers=168&right=ESRIWorld, accessed on 19th May 2022.
  47. https://maps.nls.uk/view/121140119, accessed on 19th May 2022.
  48. https://burghbysandsparishhall.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Heritage-Website-Scan-57.jpg, accessed on 19th May 2022.

Bailey’s Tramroad Part 1, the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal and an Introduction to the Heads of the Valley Line …. or more succinctly – A Short Walk at Govilon!

Bailey’s Tramroad and the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal by Michael Blackmore. This sketch is included on the information sign at Govilon Railway Station which is now disused and lives on in an extended and altered form as a private dwelling. The drawing shows the Tramroad bridge over the canal which led to the Wharf. Notice the plateway itself which is formed of L-shaped cast iron plates resting on stone blocks. (Extracted from my photograph of the information board taken on 25th April 2022)

It was actually quite a short walk, I only had just over an hour spare in a trip to Abergavenny. I took the opportunity to have a look at the Wharf at Govilon and the first few hundred yards of Bailey’s Tramroad.

The location plan on the information board at Govilon Railway Station. Note the red dotted line which shows the route of Bailey’s Tramroad; the location of Bailey’s Wharf and Govilon Wharf at the right side of the image; the route of the canal shown in blue; and the route of the railway in cream on the right half of the map and in green as part of one of the village trails.
A closer view of the map. The bridge which carried Bailey’s Tramroad over the Canal is marked ‘A’; the Railway Station site is marked ‘B’, ‘C’ and  ‘D’. The route followed left this location in an Northeastward direction (cream), crossed the railway bridge over the canal and followed the line of the railway on the North side of the sailing club wharf. I then crossed the tramway bridge and wandered a short distance along the canal towpath to view the wharf building to the southeast of the road. To complete the walk I followed School Lane back to the Railway Station.

Bailey’s Tramroad from the Nantyglo Ironworks to the Canal at Govilon opened in 1821. Michael Blackmore’s illustration depicts the tramroad as it crosses the canal to enter Govilon Wharf. Here iron, coal and limestone were taken from the horse-drawn trams onto narrowboats bound for Newport and the wider world.

My first port-of-call was Govilon Railway Station and the information board which includes the sketch above. Govilon railway station was a station on the London and North Western Railway’s (LNWR’s) Heads of the Valleys line. After the grouping in 1923 it became part of the LMS.

After a quick look at the station site I walked down the railway line to the point where it crossed the canal, then along the back of the site of Bailey’s Wharf.  Walking over the canal bridge which is sketched by Blackmore I was the able to spend a short time at Llanvihangel (Govilon) Wharf before walking along the first few hundred yards of what was Bailey’s Tramroad.

Tramroads at Govilon

The Govilon History website tells us that “A network of tramroads were developed in the Govilon area. One of the earliest was the Blorenge Quarries Tramroad built as a plateway around 1795. Due to geological problems the Blorenge Limestone Quarry soon closed and the tramroad fell out of use by 1804.” [1]

The Blorenge Quarries Tramroad was the precursor to three other tramways which were established in the first quarter of the 19th century. Bailey’s Tramroad was one of these.

“In October 1820, Crawshay Bailey applied to the Brecon and Abergavenny Canal Company for the construction of “…a railway from the canal at Llanwenarth to our iron furnaces at Nantyglo”. It took just 7 months to build the twin track tramway. Much of the route into Govilon is still plainly visible with School Lane following the original route. Despite the mountainous route from Nantyglo the tramway managed to keep to a shallow gradient throughout its length. Siop Newydd, just outside the village, was a smithy serving the tramroad. At its peak up to 14 blacksmiths were employed for repairs and maintenance. This included shoeing horses used to pull the trams. The path of the tramway is clearly recognisable here, along with the many sidings to accommodate trams.” [1]

Other highly significant tramways in the area included:

  • The Llanvihangel Tramroad which initially ran from Llanfoist to Llanvihangel Crucorney. In 1818 it was extended to Govilon wharf and to Grosmont. Ultimately, this tramroad extended all the way to Hereford.
  • The Blaenavon Ironworks Tramroad ran from Pwlldu to the Ironworks. It was completed in around 1815. Worthy of note is a 1.5 mile tunnel as part of the length of the Tramroad connecting Blaenavon with Pwlldu.

Bailey’s Tramroad

Bailey’s Tramroad was of 4′ 4″ gauge, or thereabouts. [2] Later in this article is a description of my walk back along the route of the old Tramroad.

The Heads of the Valley Line and Govilon Railway Station.

The Wikipedia article about Govilon Railway Station [3] tells us that “the first section of the Merthyr, Tredegar and Abergavenny Railway (MTAR) from Abergavenny to Brynmawr was opened on 29 September 1862. [4: p18] The line was leased and operated by the London and North Western Railway (LNWR) which acquired the smaller railway company on 30 June 1866. [5: p93][6: p63] The LNWR was itself amalgamated into the London, Midland and Scottish (LMS) Railway in the 1923 Grouping.” [5: p88-89]

Three pictures of Govilon Railway Station. The larger image shows it as it appeared in 2010, © Wikipedia. [3] The lower lefthand image is a picture of the site in 1987, © Blaenavon Railway Shop [18]. The last of these images is a picture of the station staff in the mid-1950s before the closure of the station. © John Bartlett [19]
Govilon Railway Station in April 2022. (My photographs)
Govilon Railway Station: A black and white postcard showing general view of Govilon Station taken in 1958. Rokeby Collection Album VII Part 1 , 19a. This image has been downloaded from The People’s Collection Wales under their Creative Archive Licence. [14]
Govilon Railway Station: A view in April 2022 from approximately the same place as the picture above. (My photograph)

Govilon Railway Station opened on 1 October 1862, [7: p191][8: p107] a couple of days after the ceremonial opening of the first section of the railway. It was the first station beyond Abergavenny Brecon Road. [9] The 1st October was also the first day of the LNWR’s lease of the line. [10: p112] There is a possibility that Govilon was the first station opened on the line because of its proximity to Llanfoist House, the residence of Crawshay Bailey who by this time was a director of the MTAR. [2: p20]

Wikipedia notes that “Decline in local industry and the costs of working the line between Abergavenny and Merthyr led to the cessation of passenger services on 4th January 1958. [4: p139][6: p68] The last public service over the line was a Stephenson Locomotive Society railtour on 5th  January 1958 hauled by LNWR 0-8-0 No. 49121 and LNWR Coal Tank No. 58926. [4: p139][11: fig. 65] Official closure came on 6 January.” [3][7: p184][12: p55][8: p107][13: p191]

Govilon Railway Station was “situated on a steep 9-mile (14 km) climb from Abergavenny at gradients as severe as 1 in 34. [6: p68][13: p164] A gradient post showing 1 in 80 /1 in 34 was installed on one of the station platforms.” [3][4: p116]

This gradient marker is present on the wall of the old station building. It does not quite match the gradient marker which was originally present. The original gradient marker highlighted a change in gradient from 1 in 80 to 1 in 34. (My photograph, 25th April 2022)

The low stone-built station building was on the Up platform There was a station house behind it. [4: p116][11: fig. 41]. A single siding separated the station building from the station house. It “served a small goods yard until after the First World War” [3][11: fig. 41]  Wildon Ironworks was on the opposite side of the main platforms and was served by a siding from 1885 to 1941.[11: fig. VIII]

The Wikipedia article continues: “to the west was a small goods shed and road bridge. [11: fig. 42] A third siding was situated 400 yards (370 m) to the east which led to a wharf on the Monmouth and Brecon Canal until 1953. [11: fig. VII] No. 1 signal box was opened in 1911 near the canal wharf and lasted until c. 1930. [12: fig. 36] No. 2 box was erected at the east end of the Down platform in 1877; it controlled the road crossing to the east of the station.” [11: fig. 38][3]

The Walk from Govilon Railway Station to Bailey’s Wharf

The next few pictures were taken on the short walk from the railway station to the wharf.

The view facing Abergavenny from Derwen Deg, the road which crossed the old line at the station throat. (My photograph, 25th April 2022)
Looking west towards Govilon Railway Station and the footpath gate at Derwen Deg. (My picture, 25th April 2022]
Looking towards the Canal Bridge and Abergavenny (My photograph, 25th April 2022)
Looking West along the Canal from the old railway bridge. (My picture, 25th April 2022)
Looking East from the old railway bridge towards Bailey’s Wharf and Abergavenny. (My photograph, 25th April 2022)
Looking back across the location of the railway bridge over the Canal to the West and the path leading back to Govilon Railway Station. (My picture, 25th April 2022)
Looking towards Bailey’s Wharf from close to the bridge over the Canal. (My photograph, 25th April 2022)
Looking towards Abergavenny along Bailey’s Wharf from the old railway. (My photograph, 25th April 2022)
A photograph from the same location as that immediately above, looking back towards Govilon Railway Station. The stone building on the left of the image is Bailey’s Warehouse. (My picture, 25th April 2022)
The railway continued beyond the Wharf heading for Abergavenny. (My picture, 25th April 2022)
Govilon Boat Club now occupies the site of Bailey’s Wharf. The gate sits on the approximate line of Bailey’s Tramroad as it entered the site. Its route from the canal bridge is behind the camera. (My photograph, 25th April 2022)

Llanvihangel Wharf

We have already noted that the Llanvihangel Railway was an early horse-drawn railway line. It operated over a 6.25 mile route between the Canal at Govilon and Llanvihangel Crucorney from 1814 until 1846.

Along with two other tramways it created a line that reached all the way to Hereford. In 1846 all three Tramroads were sold in 1846 to the Newport, Abergavenny and Hereford Railway Company. The Llanvihangel Railway fetched a price of £21,750 (equivalent to close to  £2.2 million in 2022). [15][16] The company replaced them with a standard-gauge steam railway.[15][17]

The Llanvihangel Tramroad Wharf was to the East of the road bridge at the East end of Bailey’s Wharf. A short walk from the Heads of the Valley Line, along an access road allows one to each the back of Wharf House immediately to the East of the road bridge.

Looking Southwest along Blaenavon Road towards the bridge over the Canal showing the rear of Wharf House. (My photograph, 25th April 2022)
Looking Northeast along Blaenavon Road from the bridge over the Canal also showing the rear of Wharf House. (My photograph, 25th April 2022)
The Southeast face of Wharf House in April 2022. The picture was taken from the far side of the Canal. (My photograph)
A view from behind the information board on the Canal towpath which shows a sketch of Wharf House as it is understood it looked in the 19th century, (Michael Blackmore) and the present condition of the building. (My photograph, 25th April 2022)
A second sketch of the wharf yard (Michael Blackmore). It is also included on the information board on the Canal towpath.
(My photograph, 25th April 2022)
Looking East along the Canal. (My photograph)
Looking West along the Canal from beneath the road bridge. (My photograph)
A view of Bailey’s Wharf from the towpath on the opposite side of the Canal.
(My picture, 25th April 2022)

Bailey’s Tramroad, the first few hundred metres. …

Leaving the site of Bailey’s Wharf, which we have already seen is now occupied by Govilon Boat Club, the double track Tramroad travelled a very short distance to the East before crossing the Canal at a shared road/tramroad bridge. The modern road name is Blaenavon Road.

The view West from the Canal Bridge along Blaenavon Road. (My picture, 25th April 2022)
An OpenStreetMap extract which shows the Blaenavon Road (B4246) and the length of School Lane which lies on the route of Bailey’s Tramroad. [20]

The route of the Tramroad leaves Blaenavon Road as turns sharply to the East. It runs along School Lane back towards Govilon Railway Station.

School Lane, looking West from Blaenavon Road. (My photograph, 25th April 2022)

A sequence of photographs follows, taken on 25th April and showing the Tramroad route along School Lane, Govilon. ….

This last shot in the sequence taken along School Lane shows the route of the Tramroad further to the West. The Tramroad continued along the line of the narrow lane to the left of this photograph. (My pictures, 25th April 2022)

I hope to be able to follow further lengths of the Tramroad in future visits to Abergavenny.

The Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal

To complete this perambulation in Govilon, I visited the Canal bridge on Station Road in Govilon – Bridge 96 on the OpenStreetMap extract below. …

Two pictures at Bridge 96 on the Monmouth and Brecon Canal. (My photograph, 25th April 2022)

“The Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal is a small network of canals … For most of its currently (2018) navigable 35-mile (56 km) length it runs through the Brecon Beacon National Park, and its present rural character and tranquillity belies its original purpose as an industrial corridor for coal and iron, which were brought to the canal by a network of tramways and/or railroads, many of which were built and owned by the canal company.” [21]

To conclude …

Govilon provides a relatively unique interchange between canal, tramroad and railway with the routes of each running parallel to each other to the West of the village. Each route would provide a pleasant walk. The village of Govilon brings all three together in what is a very easy and accessible amble.

References

  1. https://history.govilon.com/trails/places-of-interest/tramroads-and-railways, accessed on 25th April 2022.
  2. http://www.industrialgwent.co.uk/e22-govilon/index.htm, accessed on 25th April 2022.
  3. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Govilon_railway_station, accessed on 26th April 2022.
  4. W.W. Tasker; The Merthyr, Tredegar & Abergavenny Railway and branches; Oxford Publishing Co., Poole, 1986.
  5. Christopher Awdry; Encyclopaedia of British Railway Companies; Patrick Stephens Ltd., Sparkford, 1990.
  6. Mike Hall; Lost Railways of South Wales; Countryside Books, Newbury, 2009.
  7. Michael Quick; Railway passenger stations in Great Britain: a chronology (4th ed.); Railway & Canal Historical Society, Oxford, 2009.
  8. R.V.J. Butt; The Directory of Railway Stations: details every public and private passenger station, halt, platform and stopping place, past and present (1st ed.); Patrick Stephens Ltd., Sparkford, 1995.
  9. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abergavenny_Brecon_Road_railway_station, accessed on 26th April 2022.
  10. M.C. Reed; The London & North Western Railway; Atlantic Transport, Penryn, 1996.
  11. David Edge, David (September 2002). Abergavenny to Merthyr including the Ebbw Vale Branch. Country Railway Routes; Middleton Press., Midhurst, 2002.
  12. C.R. Clinker; Clinker’s Register of Closed Passenger Stations and Goods Depots in England, Scotland and Wales 1830–1980 (2nd ed.); Avon-Anglia Publications & Services, Bristol, 1988.
  13. James Page; Rails in the Valleys. London: Guild Publishing, London, 1989.
  14. http://www.coflein.gov.uk/en/site/403520/images/DI2005_0544.jpg, accessed on 26th April 2022.
  15. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Llanvihangel_Railway, accessed on 26th April 2022.
  16. UK Retail Price Index inflation figures are based on data from Clark, Gregory (2017). “The Annual RPI and Average Earnings for Britain, 1209 to Present (New Series)”. Measuring Worth, accessed on 2nd December 2021.
  17. Helen J Simpson; The Day the Trains Came: the Herefordshire Railways; Gracewing Publishing, Leominster, 1997.
  18. This picture was a result of a Google search on 26th April 2022 (https://www.google.com/search?q=govilon+railway+station&client=ms-android-motorola-rev2&prmd=minv&sxsrf=APq-WBu4LJDnd981z48Kikjqyx97uz0X_A:1651026323274&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwinzY2smLP3AhXMT8AKHalNCcIQ_AUoAnoECAIQAg&biw=412&bih=726&dpr=2.63#imgrc=acn9kC5OQt_5yM) it does not however feature on the Facebook page of The Railway Shop, Blaenavon, to which the photograph is linked.
  19. John Bartlett’s father, Cyril, was Station Master in the period before the closure of Govilon Railway Station. This picture was shared by John Bartlett on the Facebook group ‘Govilon and Gilwern Past’, accessed on 26th April 2022.
  20. https://www.openstreetmap.org/#map=16/51.8168/-3.0620, accessed on 26th April 2022.
  21. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monmouthshire_and_Brecon_Canal, accessed on 26th April 2022.