Shropshire Tub Boat Canals
The Hay Inclined Plane is a canal inclined plane in the Ironbridge Gorge in Shropshire, with a height of 207 feet (63 m). It was located at the end of the Shropshire Canal, part of a network of canals that linked the industrial region of east Shropshire with the River Severn. The inclined plane was in operation from 1793 to 1894. It can be visited as part of the Blists Hill Victorian Town and is also a waypoint on the South Telford Heritage Trail.
The proprietors of the Shropshire Canal held a competition in 1788 to find the best means of raising and lowering heavy weights between the canal and the river Severn. They selected a design by Henry Williams and James Loudon, which was also used at a number of other inclined planes in east Shropshire. Construction of the Hay inclined plane was completed in 1793. By 1820 it was in poor condition and substantial repairs were needed. Further repairs were also carried out in the 1940s.
In 1857 the Hay inclined plane was taken over by the London and North Western Railway. The following year the LNWR closed the Shropshire canal between the Wrockwardine Wood and Windmill inclined planes, leaving only a short section of canal to serve the industrial area of Blists Hill. In 1861 they opened the Coalport branch line from Wellington to Coalport which passed underneath the Hay inclined plane near Coalport.
The last recorded use of the Hay inclined plane was thought to be in 1894 and it was formally closed in 1907.It was restored in 1968 and again in 1975, including the reinstatement of rails, as part of the creation of the Ironbridge Gorge Museums.
The Shropshire Canal used box-shaped tub boats 20 feet (6.1 m) long with a load capacity of 5 tons. Twin railway tracks were laid down the incline. The tub boats ascended and descended the inclined plane on wheeled cradles which ran on the rails. At the bottom of the incline the rails went underwater allowing the cradle to become submerged and the tub boat to either float free or be floated into position. At the top of the incline the rails also started under water then climbed a short slope out of the water to the top of the incline.
In operation an empty boat would be loaded into the bottom cradle and a full boat would be loaded into the top cradle. A rope would be attached to the loaded top cradle and it would be drawn out of the water to the top of the incline using a small winding drum driven by a steam engine. The main incline rope would then be attached to the cradle and the loaded boat would descend the incline, counterbalanced by an empty boat ascending on the other rail line. The speed would be controlled by a brake on the main winding drum. On reaching the summit a rope from the small winding drum would be attached to the cradle to control its descent into the upper basin.
Although the loaded boats were travelling downhill, and so the plane was mostly worked by gravity, a small steam engine was also provided and drove the winding drums. This was of Adam Heslop's design, a twin-cylindered rotative beam engine, to a design patented in 1790. The remains of the brick boiler house and winding mechanism may be seen at the top of the incline.
The system was worked by four men and took around four minutes to raise or lower a boat.
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An inclined plane is a system used on some canals for raising boats between different water levels. Boats may be conveyed afloat, in caissons, or may be carried in cradles or slings. It is a type of cable railway.
The Chard Canal was a 13.5 miles (21.7 km) tub boat canal in Somerset, England, that ran from the Bridgwater and Taunton Canal at Creech St. Michael, over four aqueducts, through three tunnels and four inclined planes to Chard. It was completed in 1842, was never commercially viable, and closed in 1868. The major engineering features are still clearly visible in the landscape.
Blists Hill Victorian Town is an open-air museum built on a former industrial complex located in the Madeley area of Telford, Shropshire, England. The museum attempts to recreate the sights, sounds and smells of a Victorian Shropshire town in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It is one of ten museums operated by the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust.
A cable railway is a railway that uses a cable, rope or chain to haul trains. It is a specific type of cable transportation.
Coalport is a village in Shropshire, England. It is located on the River Severn in the Ironbridge Gorge, a mile downstream of Ironbridge. It lies predominantly on the north bank of the river; on the other side is Jackfield.
The Shrewsbury Canal was a canal in Shropshire, England. Authorised in 1793, the main line from Trench to Shrewsbury was fully open by 1797, but it remained isolated from the rest of the canal network until 1835, when the Birmingham and Liverpool Junction Canal built the Newport Branch from Norbury Junction to a new junction with the Shrewsbury Canal at Wappenshall. After ownership passed to a series of railway companies, the canal was officially abandoned in 1944; many sections have disappeared, though some bridges and other structures can still be found. There is an active campaign to preserve the remnants of the canal and to restore the Norbury to Shrewsbury line to navigation.
The Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust is an industrial heritage organisation which runs ten museums and manages multiple historic sites within the Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site in Shropshire, England, widely considered as the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution.
The Tar Tunnel an abandoned tunnel located on the north bank of the River Severn in the Ironbridge Gorge at Coalport, England. It is one of ten Ironbridge Gorge Museums attractions administered by the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust.
The Ketley Canal was a tub boat canal that ran for about 1.5 miles (2.4 km) from Oakengates to Ketley works in Shropshire, England. The canal was built about 1788 and featured the first inclined plane in Britain. The main cargo of the canal was coal and ironstone. The inclined ceased to be used in 1816, when Ketley Works was closed, but the upper canal was not finally abandoned until the 1880s. A few traces of the canal are still visible in the landscape.
Dukart's Canal was built to provide transport for coal from the Drumglass Collieries to the Coalisland Canal in County Tyrone, Ulster, Ireland. It opened in 1777, and used three inclined planes, rather than locks, to cope with changes in level. There is little evidence that it was ever used, as the planes could not be made to work properly, and they were dismantled in 1787.
The Tavistock Canal is a canal in the county of Devon in England. It was constructed early in the 19th century to link the town of Tavistock to Morwellham Quay on the River Tamar, where cargo could be loaded into ships. The canal is still in use to supply water to a hydro-electric power plant at Morwellham Quay, and forms part of the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape World Heritage Site. It is unusual for a canal, as it has a gentle slope over its length, resulting in a considerable flow of water.
A tub boat lift is a type of boat lift designed to lift tub boats between different elevations of a canal. Tub boats are small boats used to transport coal and other minerals, sometimes working singly, sometimes in long trains. A tub boat lift lifts the boat out of the water. Most other types of boat lift such as locks or inclined planes are designed to move the boat afloat in some kind of water-filled tank, and, apart from maximum dimensions, are not restricted in the type of craft transported. Tub boat lifts and tub boats are designed to work together as a system. A given lift will only be able to lift boats designed for the lift.
The Shropshire Canal was a tub boat canal built to supply coal, ore and limestone to the industrial region of east Shropshire, England, that adjoined the River Severn at Coalbrookdale. It ran from a junction with the Donnington Wood Canal ascending the 316 yard long Wrockwardine Wood inclined plane to its summit level, it made a junction with the older Ketley Canal and at Southall Bank the Coalbrookdale (Horsehay) branch went to Brierly Hill above Coalbrookdale; the main line descended via the 600 yard long Windmill Incline and the 350 yard long Hay Inclined Plane to Coalport on the River Severn. The short section of the Shropshire Canal from the base of the Hay Inclined Plane to its junction with the River Severn is sometimes referred to as the Coalport Canal.
A tub boat was a type of unpowered cargo boat used on a number of the early English and German canals. The English boats were typically 6 m (19.7 ft) long and 2 m (6.6 ft) wide and generally carried 3 long tons to 5 long tons of cargo, though some extra deep ones could carry up to 8 long tons. They are also called compartment boats or container boats.
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, and parts of it were taken over by the Shrewsbury Canal Company in 1792, who built an inclined plane at Trench. It lowered tub boats 75 feet (23 m), and 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.
James Green (1781–1849) was a noted civil engineer and canal engineer, who was particularly active in the South West of England, where he pioneered the building of tub boat canals, and inventive solutions for coping with hilly terrain, which included tub boat lifts and inclined planes. Although dismissed from two schemes within days of each other, as a result of construction problems, his contribution as a civil engineer was great.
The Museum of the Gorge, originally the Severn Warehouse, is one of the ten museums of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust. It portrays the history of the Ironbridge Gorge and the surrounding area of Coalbrookdale, Shropshire, England.
William Reynolds was an ironmaster and a partner in the ironworks in Coalbrookdale in Shropshire, England. He was interested in advances in science and industry, and invented the inclined plane for canals.
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