Wagon Tipplers

Upon their arrival at the basin, via the Peak Forest Tramway, the laden waggons were dispatched to various parts of the complex by an inter-connecting system of railed flow-lines extending from the tramway junction. Excavations in the eastern sector of the Upper Basin/ Tramway Interchange have revealed the remains of this network.

Those waggons containing limestone for transhipment into waiting boats were directed to the waggon-tipplers, these being mounted on timber framework piers which stood above the four main wharves as elevated extensions of the tramway. Two tracks, an inner and an outer, were laid on these piers, which comprised a series of horizontal beams projecting from the retaining wall masonry, supported by vertical posts mounted on padstones at wharf-deck level. Each mobile tippler comprised an upright braced timber framework approximately 13ft high, 6-7ft wide, and 10-12ft long, supporting an upright 14ft diameter spoked wheel balanced by an axial chain barrel (see photograph). This framework, mounted on four wheels, approximately 12in in diameter, set onto the outer rails, straddled a gang of waggons parked on the 'L' section inner track.

The chain barrel incorporated into the wheel axis, to which the two chains were fastened, lay above and across the beam of the waggons, these being uncoupled from one another and the tippler unit positioned over the last waggon of the gang. Once the chains were attached to the hitching eyes at the front of the waggon, and the gate at the back removed, the wheel was turned manually by the operator, who 'climbed' the spokes. This action wound the chains around the axial chain barrel, thus raising the secured end of the waggon and discharging the stone between the rails and horizontal beams onto the wharf-deck below. The waggon was then lowered, un-hitched, and rolled off the pier, whilst the tippler was moved over the next waggon, and the process repeated. Upright wooden deflector boards were mounted on the wharf edge to prevent stone from falling into the canal.

Four piers and three mobile waggon-tipplers are known to have existed at Bugsworth, two of which operated in the Upper Basin; one on the short wharf and the other on the north bank. This latter extended towards the limestone storage pens adjacent to the Chinley Road (Silk Hill) bridge, and the reconstructed beam recesses are visible in the upper coursings of masonry. One waggon-tippler was constructed on the north bank of the Lower Basin, this being the longest pier of the four. The shortest pier was located on the north bank of the Middle Basin, although there exists no photographic evidence of a wheeled trolley. This may, therefore, have been an auxilliary wharf, stone being discharged manually onto the wharf-deck.

Waggon Tippler c1927