I have recently undertaken a detailed review of a book by R.F. Savage and L.D.W. Smith entitled, The Waggon-ways and Plate-ways of East Shropshire.  This was a research paper produced in 1965. The original document is held in the Archive Office of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust. It was a timely document. Large parts of the area surveyed by the authors were changed almost beyond recognition as the Development Corporation got to work on creating what became the new town of Telford, where (in 2023) I now live. Their work included a detailed series of drawing produced by hand, tracing as best they could the lines of tramroads from smaller scaled plans onto 6″ to the mile and 1″ to the mile drawings. There are two examples of their 6″ to the mile plans below.
Savage & Smith were diligent in their research and careful in their documenting of the historic sources and information gleaned on site. The resulting document is wonderful and I have really enjoyed engaging with it. This document alone would justify a research visit to the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust Archive. My thanks to the Archive for the welcome offered to me and their generous agreement to my using the material from this resource.
As a result of undertaking this and other research at the Archive, I have been asked to give a talk at one of the meetings of the Friends of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust. I have begun the process of preparation and drafted some notes which may be of interest to others.
I hope that these notes are of interest to some. It is possible that you may read them and find information which I have included which you may feel is incorrect. If so, please do let me know. I will be using this material to produce a talk for the Summer of 2023. If you read the notes before July 2023, I would really appreciate any comments that you might have.
R.F. Savage & L.D.W. Smith; The Waggon-ways and Plate-ways of East Shropshire, Birmingham School of Architecture, 1965. An original document is held by the Archive Office of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust.
Lilleshall Inclined Plane: 123 yds long, 43 ft. This replaced an earlier vertical lift in a shaft and tunnel system. 
I first came across an example of these inclined planes before moving to East Shropshire. We drive past the Hay Incline when travelling by a circuitous route from Manchester to Ludlow. At the time I wrote a couple of short articles for my blog:
This article focuses on the Trench Inclined Plane which was built by the Shrewsbury Canal Company in 1792 after it took over the Wombridge Canal. The Wombridge Canal was a tub-boat canal in Shropshire, England, built to carry coal and iron ore from mines in the area to the furnaces where the iron was extracted. It opened in 1788. Trench Inclined Plane remained in operation until 1921, becoming the last operational canal inclined plane in the country. The canal had been little used since 1919, and closed with the closure of the plane.  
The Inclined Plane consisted of twin railway tracks, each with a cradle in which a single tub-boat was carried. An engine and engine house were built at the top of the incline to provide power to the Incline. It was supplied by the Coalbrookdale Company and was replaced in 1842 by a new engine that lasted for 79 years, until the final demise of the incline on 31 August 1921. The remaining structural elements of the incline were remove in 1968 as part of the Telford New Town developments. 
The engine’s main function was to lift the tub boats I cradles out of the canal at the top of the incline over the end wall of the canal. The rails of the inclined plane ran up out of the canal and then down the main length of the Inclined Plane. Generally, the working traffic was in the downward direction of the incline, and was counterbalanced by empty tub-boats returning up to the top level.  This meant that little power was needed for the operation of the main length of the incline.
Incidentally, “a prominent feature near the top of the incline was the Wombridge Pumping Engine house. This was a Cornish type, with a tall chimney, and was erected in 1858, to pump water from the mines. The main cylinder was 60 inches (150 cm) in diameter, with a 10-foot (3.0 m) stroke, and it lifted water from a depth of around 600 feet (180 m). The engine developed 250 hp (190 kW) and normally ran slowly, raising 3,338 imperial gallons (15.17 m3) of water per minute, in three strokes. When running at maximum speed, it could achieve eleven strokes per minute.” 
Maps and Illustrations of the Inclined Plane
The Trench Branch Canal left the Shrewsbury and Newport Canal at Wappenshall Junction.
The Trench Branch ran across open fields until it reached the industrial areas near Trench. The first length passed under Wappenshall Bridge, through Wappenshall and Britton Lock, Kinley Bridge, Wheat Leasows Bridge and Lock, Shucks and Peaty Locks, Hadleypark Bridge and Lock, Turnip Lock and Wittingham Bridge before reaching Baker’s Lock/Basin and Castle Iron Works, Hadley.
Richard Foxcroft provides a plan of the Shropshire Canals on ‘Exploring Telford’ a website which focusses on the industrial history of the area which is now Telford, particularly the canals and railways. An extract is shown below. 
I followed this length or the Trench Branch on the morning of 31st August 2022. Much of the route is on private land and where this is the case, the old canal has been reintegrated into its surroundings.
Access to the canal basin at Wappenshall Junction is at present restrict to site personnel only as the basin and associated structures are under going restoration.
South of Wappenshall was the Wappenshall Lock. Access to the lock was not possible. No access was possible to Britton Lock nor to Kinley Bridge. The location of Wheat Leasowes Bridge and Lock were easily found as they lie on the road between Preston upon the Weald Moors and Leegomery Round-about on the A442, ‘Queensway’.
The three images above were all taken on 31st August 2022. In sequence, they show: the view North along the line of the old canal which is marked by the field-ditch which remains alongside the hedge in this image; the view South across the road; and finally a view which shows a length of the old canal which is now in the garden of the property in the second image and which still retains water. [My photographs, 31st August 2022]
The length of canal visible in the garden of the property above was the length between the two locks, Wheat Leasowes Bridge Lock and Shucks Lock. The property concerned appears to be an extended lock-keeper’s cottage.
These three images also come from Turnip Lock. The first shows the recess in the locak wall down which the gate slides. The remaining two images show the lock walls, first looking South towards Trench and then looking North towards Wappenshall. [My photographs, 31st August 2022]
The following colourised photographs give an excellent idea of what the Inclined Plane was like and how it worked. They have been colourised by Simon Alun Hark.
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 red line on the image below which comes from the Ketley Paddock Mound website. ……
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.
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.
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.
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.
We know from early maps that the Ketley Canal once crossed Red Lees to the East of Ketley Hall.
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 tthe sketch map at the head of this article. 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.” 
I turned to the left and 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
TheKetley 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. 
The inclined plane was the first effective inclined plane in the UK. 
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.” 
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.” 
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.” 
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. 
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. …
This next sequence of photos shows the walk up to the remaining section of the Ketley Canal as highlighted on the map extract immediately above.
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.