Panel K – Tramway to Canal
Heading for Bugsworth Basin, a gang of wagons, consisting of standard mineral wagons and high-sided wagons, carrying limestone and burnt lime, posing at Townend, Chapel-en-le-Frith, 1905. The works on the left is H & T Kirk's iron foundry. Just beyond this point the tramway passes through the short tunnel that takes it below Buxton Road where it arrives at the bottom of the inclined plane. From the quarries at Dove Holes, the tramway operated under gravity - wagons were horse-drawn for the return journey. At Bugsworth, burnt lime was loaded under cover into waiting narrowboats; the limestone was either loaded into boats, crushed for railway ballast or burnt.
Working on the tramway was a hazardous occupation. Gangs of up to 40 wagons were operated by one man and a boy – here, the ganger is standing on the wheel axle and is braking the gang by throwing a hook, attached to the wagon body by a chain, through the spokes of the wheel. Many injuries, broken wheels, and derailments were caused by this practice. No HSE then!
Similar scenes to this were once commonplace on the Peak Forest Tramway but, surprisingly, no photographs have been discovered. This view of the Little Eaton Gangway has been included here to give an impression of what it once looked like on the Peak Forest Tramway. The Little Eaton Gangway was built by the same engineer, Benjamin Outram, using the same rail components and similar wagons. Wagons loaded with gritstone setts stand on the Upper Basin wharf waiting transhipment. Many of the roads of Manchester, the towns of Lancashire and beyond were lined with setts originating at the Bugsworth quarries of Crist and Barren Clough. Only the central post of the crane remains today.
Portrayed here at the height of its life, the Upper Basin is a scene of bustling activity. To the right of the limeshed, wagons wait for their loads of gritstone setts to be transshipped perhaps to the boat moored in the foreground. To the left, the tippler wharf abounds with limestone and a loaded wagon above waits for the mobile tippler. Wagonloads of limestone can be seen on the tracks outside the Navigation Inn. On the right is the Rose and Crown Farm, demolished by IWPS in the path of the bypass, the recovered stone has been recycled in restored structures.
Over the Easter weekend of 2005, the 151-year-old horse-drawn boat, Maria, made an historic return to her Bugsworth home to celebrate the re-opening of Bugsworth Canal Basin. Her visit culminated with the ceremonial loading of 16 tons of limestone, which Maria then carried to the former Ashton Moss Colliery LoadingStageontheAshtonCanal. Maria, built at James Jinks boat yard in Marple, is now owned by the Ashton Packet Boat Company and operates in collaboration with the Horseboating Society.