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Thursday 4 April 2024

Lost Railways.

 It rained on and off through the night but has stopped by the time we were getting up to a dull and dank day. Mind you we got away at our usual'ish 0930.

Just north of Wimcote is a winding hole and the remains of a railway bridge. Checking is out I find that it was the abutments of an iron bridge that carried a 3ft gauge plateway from quarries across to the towpath side. The quarry was owned by William James who was a backer of the canal being built. He persuaded the builders  to install a plateway to aid construction, and once built bought it to exploit a quarry he had discovered. It had two sorts of Blue Lias. Some was hard enough for building and flooring, and actually is used on the floor for the House of Lords. There was another bed that had soft lias that was ideal for lime and cement. James went bust in 1823 and the business was bought by a Stratford Canal Carrier Richard Greaves. On the towpath side was the cement works and six lime kilns with a siding to to the railway. Coal and other products were brought in by both canal and rail as were the finished poroducts too. Later this was the same company of cement manufacturer as at Stockton.
It seems that the Stockton  cement was ideal for replicating stone, such as in stucco work, where as the cement from Wilmcote had a bit of iron oxide in it but made very good cement for things such as tunnels and sewers where it didn't need to be visually pleasing. The quarry closed in 1908.

1885 OS map extract showing the cement and lime works north of Wilmcote.

The canal is noticeably high this morning and every by-wash running. The local fields are well flooded and the rain certainly hasn't helped the state of the tow path either. Rather than walking between many of the locks Helen has hitched a lift to avoid the worst of it.

These narrow bridge holes remind me of that one on the Trent and Mersey near the water bark outside Burton on Trent. Whilst  seems to be an odd one many of the bridges on this casual are similar. They are often not lined up with the canal either so you have to dodge into them. I wonder if the canal has changed route slightly over the years as it seems unlikely that they would have designed them like that deliberately.

This photo of the Edstone Aqueduct makes it look as short as the Yarningale one a little further up the cut, but it is 754' long and although not the Pontcysyllte it is still impressive at just 28' high.

As thre cloud thinned and the sun strove to make an appearance it was amazing how these old bull rush heads brought splashes of colour to the cut, looking really bright.

More trees! I have realised that we don't have very many large trees were we live so they are noticeable.

The lock cottage near the Yarningale Aqueduct is up for sale. It has just been reduced to a little over £2 milliom. It does have 6 bedrooms, 6 bathrooms and two utility rooms, plus 3.5 acres of land!

Just north of Lowsonford is another old railway bridges abutments. I was thrown when it did not appear on the 1880's map. After a bit of poking about I found that although a railway had been planned to Henley in Arden, and had started to be constructed, the money ran out when only half of the 3.5 mile line was constructed when abandoned in 1861. In June 1894 the railway line called the Birmingham and Henley In Arden Railway Co. (BaHIARCo) opened to traffic. It left the GWR main line at Rowington. The railway was worked by GWR from the beginning and they officially took it over in 1900.
In 1908 the North Warwickshire Railway was opened that provided a more direct route from Birmingham to Henley in Arden and a new station was built. The old BaHIARCo was converted to the station master's house. In 1914 passenger traffic on the route stopped followed by goods working in 1916. In 1917 the tracks were taken up to be used in France for the War effort, however the ship carrying them was apparently sunk. The ghost of the line can be traced on Google earth.

We carried on upwards meeting plenty of boats coming down at locks, one of whom accused me of not knowing what I was doing! Stranger as we had shared the Stockton locks with 'Uncle Monty'. I'm assuming he was having a bad day. Once at Kingswood Junction we took the shortcut back to the Grand Union and moored up not too far from the junction. Another 18 locks under the belt.

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