On 25 Jan 2009 at 13:49, Bernard Moore wrote:
> Dear All,
> Being 3/4 of the way through Charles Hadfield's book 'The Canal Age'
> (details of pbl. below), I have some questions that someone knowing the Manchester
> and Bridgewater coal mining area might hopefully be able to answer.
> Construction of the canal commenced in 1759 and was completed in 1776 as we
> know. At the Manchester 'terminus' it is stated that at this point the canal
> "lay below the level of the of the neighbouring Manchester streets". To
> overcome this "a tunnel was dug nearest Deansgate into which the coal boats from
> the Worsley Mines were run". 1st question: does anyone know how much lower was
> the canal below said streets, and does this tunnel still exist, and at what
> level were the warehouses?? There is nothing new in modern containerisation,
> since the coal was placed in barges in iron boxes (each carrying eight cwt. of
> coal), and at this point (Deansgate), a crane raised same to street level by
> a waterwheel powered crane for trans-shipment.
1. Starting with the canal at the Manchester terminus, there were two sets of
tunnels. The first ran off at the junction with the Medlock at Castlefield and ran
for a distance of about 220 yards parallel to Deansgate towards Liverpool
Road. I understand that there were several shafts and a waterwheel powered
the hoists. The depth would have been about the same as four of the later
Rochdale Canal locks, say about 35ft.
2nd question: does anything
> exist/survive of this operation in the area - can anyone supply GoogleEarth
> coordinates please.
2. This tunnel was cut through at right angles by the construction of the
Deansgate tunnel on the Rochdale canal and as the original tunnel ran at a
lower level than the new canal, the connection to the Medlock end had to be
sealed off. The remaining stub end towards the shaft would probably have
been abandoned at this point because the water level in it would have been
one lock higher than before. The Deansgate tunnel was later opened out and
the remains of the end section of the old Bridgewater tunnel can be seen with
the water almost up to the roof. On the other side of the Rochdale Canal by the
towpath there is some evidence of one of the shafts to be seen in the wall.
Back at the Medlock there are considerable water wheel remains which were
associated with warehouse hoists.
Tunnel crosses Rochdale Canal at 53°28'28.96"N 2°15'10.40"W
A second tunnel (the 'navigable sough level' a-which was also a feeder for the
Bridgewater Canal) was opened in 1789 and ran from the River Medlock at a
point above Oxford Road for a distance of around 620 yards (another source
says 649 yards) to an underground wharf at Bank Top from whence the coal
was raised up a shaft of about 80ft to a coal wharf on London Road. This is
thought to have been abandoned when the nine locks of the Rochdale Canal
up to Picadilly were completed in 1800. I am advised that you can see the
entrance to this tunnel, but I have not yet found the spot.
> As many know, the Bridgewater Canal was taken a substantial distance into
> the Duke's coal mines, and a complex system of higher and lower canals were
> constructed to facilitate the transportation of coal from as near the different
> seams and faces as possible (56yds below main, 83yds below main) - the coal
> containers being raised from the 2nd & 3rd u/g canals to the main canal/level.
> 3rd question: whilst the 2nd & 3rd u/g canal were obviously lower than the
> main, does one presume these workings are flooded to the level of the main
> canal, or were they drained by a lower drainage level? - I think not. If not, it
> can only be presumed that pumping took place, in the normal way, to keep
> everything at a common water level.
3. When pumping ended at Ashton's Field Colliery the water filled the old lower
workings and drained into the main canal level.
> A fourth canal was constructed at a higher level than the main, and likewise
> connected to the main canal by shafts (as all the lower canals). 4th
> question: how much higher was the higher canal than the main? An u/g incline plane
> was constructed that enabled barges to be raised and lowered between this
> higher canal and the main. Charles Hadfield states that in 1961 he went down
> this "ruined incline" to the main canal. The main canal was driven apx. ten feet
> wide and eight feet high above water level, and states that on his trip the
> roof was down in places to four feet in places due to subsidence. By what he
> says it sounds as if quite some length was still accessible at this date.
The fourth canal at the highest level was connected to the third level by an
inclined plane that ran for a distance of 94 yards at a slope of 1 in 4. The
difference in height between the two levels was 35 yards.
> 5th question: Clearly access was quite good in 1961, but are these workings > still accessible after forty plus more years?
On closure of Mosley Common Pit in 1968 the underground canal was
abandoned and the last trip through the level was undertaken on 28th
September 1968. In August 1998 an inspection was made of the entrance
tunnels and to the waters meeting section where the two entrance tunnels
combine. This involved creating a fresh air circuit by installing a temporary fan.
The inspection involved two mines rescue teams being present and the issuing
of a small mines licence and presence of an appointed manager on site. This
was meant to be a precursor to a lottery bid to reopen this section as an
attraction but no progress appears to have been made. Apparently the tunnels
were in good condition and the air was better than expected, but there is
extensive silting with ochreous material and this will require expensive removal.
Canals of Manchester - No.3 in a series of historical waterway maps compiled
and drawn by Richard Dean
Waterways into Castlefield - John C Fletcher
The Heritage Atlas 4. Manchester - Archetype City of The Industrial Revolution.
University of Manchester Field Archaeology Centre
The Canal Duke's Collieries Worsley 1760-1900 - Glen Atkinson
Journeys on the Underground Canal 1765 - 1998 - City of Salford
Underground canals website - http://www.d.lane.btinternet.co.uk/canal.html
Hope this helps Bernard.
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