Monday, 18 March 2013

Newport Canal ???


This weeks title is a tad misleading because we’re not really on the Newport Canal,that was abandoned in 1944,but we have been on the little bit of the Eastern end that still remains.Ok,its only a hundred and fifty metres or so but it’s still got enough water in it to float a boat.To tell the truth,we are really moored just around the corner from this canal,on the Shropshire Union Canal at Norbury Junction.Yesterday we had the opportunity to cruise along the short stretch of the Newport Branch Canal that goes from the junction to what was once,Lock No.1.

Norbury Junction 027 Norbury Junction 010

The view down the Newport Branch from the dry dock that was Lock No.1 on the left and on the right we’ve reached the other end of the branch at its junction with the Shroppie,which is just to the other side of the Towpath Bridge No.1 ahead.There are moored boats on both sides so you have to take things slowly.

Over the last few days we have been doing our usual thing of exploring the local area and,what you might find surprising,the canal history of this remote spot in Shropshire.There isn’t a great deal here but what there is has turned out to be quite interesting for me.As well as the trip down the arm,just a short walk from here has taken us to some more of the remains of the old Newport Branch canal,where it’s possible to see some of the old lock chambers and bridges of this former navigation that was opened in 1835.There are a number of buildings here that date back to the time of the canal opening too,as well as some that were built as the canals evolved.

Norbury Junction 023 Norbury Junction 014

A couple of pic’s of what’s at the rear of the dry dock,showing what remains of the tail end of Lock No.1

Norbury Wharf 017 Norbury Wharf 007

On the left is a view of Lock No.5 towards Maltshovel Bridge No.3 at Oulton,also referred to as Parton’s Bridge.On the right are the remains of the lock,viewed from the bridge,and in the distance,the filled in Lock No.4.

Norbury Wharf 012 Norbury Wharf 010

Lock No.7 on the left looking towards Oulton Bridge No.4 and the remains of the bottom gates of Lock No.6.Sad to see a canal in this state but there are plans to restore it.

To the south of our mooring here,is Shelmore Embankment,which took over five years to build with only hand tools and wheelbarrows,it would be a massive undertaking today,even with all the earthmoving machinery we have at our disposal.At each end of the embankment is a stop lock that was closed each night of the second world war to conserve water in the event of it being breached in a bombing raid.

Lisa's Norbury 007 Norbury Junction 043

One of the stop locks on one end of the mile long Shelmore Embankment on the left and on the right,one of the two road tunnels that go under it,giving a rough idea of its height.The spoil from the cuttings built North and South of Norbury was used to build the embankment,it took over five years and was plagued with landslips.

Away from canals a short distance there are the remains of Norbury Manor,a moated building that was built in the 14th Century and demolished in the early 19th.All that’s left is the moat but it’s worth the walk,which can take you back to the canal further North at Bridge no.39.

Norbury Junction 002 Norbury Junction 003

A brief history of Norbury Manor on the left and some of the moat on the right.

We left Wheaton Aston on Tuesday and made our way the five miles to Gnosall,a village we have stayed at previously on our hire boat days.There are a few shops there as well as three good pubs,our favourite being the Navigation at Gnosall Bridge No.35.Many times we spent the last night of our holiday having a meal there.On Thursday we replenished our supplies at the Co-op and the butchers before setting off to navigate the whole of two and a half miles to Norbury Junction,it was here that we often hired a boat from Norbury Wharf Ltd.We gained a lot of experience from them as their boats are closer to what we felt it would be like when we got our own boat.Among other things,they had solid fuel stoves which are vital in wintertime,which was when we hired the most,and their prices were good too,with no diesel surcharge.It is possible to get two weeks boating in winter,between the end of October and the beginning of March,for less money than one week in the summer months.The canals are also much quieter too,with fewer boats about,you can make your mistakes with fewer people watching.All you have to do is just check out the winter stoppage programme from C&RT.There are always some canals open and some hire firms,like Norbury Wharf,hire out all year round.

Norbury Wharf 006  Norbury Wharf 005

Lisa's Norbury 017  Norbury Junction 008

Three pictures of the canal at Norbury Junction and one of the unusual,but most photographed bridges on the Shroppie,High Bridge No.39.It was erected between 1832 and 1833 to carry the road from Newcastle-under-Lyme to Newport. Shortly after its construction, the pressure being exerted onto the bridge from the walls of Grubb Street Cutting that it spans,required the insertion of a strainer arch. In 1861 the United Kingdom Electric Telegraph Company installed telegraph cables along the entire length of the canal and the strainer arch was used for the siting of a telegraph pole. The wires were removed around 1870.

Well that’s all again for this week,we are moving again tomorrow,after we fill our water and fuel tanks,and heading a few more miles up the Shroppie.Since our last blog we have done 0 Locks and 7 Miles,giving us a grand total of 168 Locks and 203 Miles.Thankyou for reading and take care.

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