Tuesday, 10 April 2018

The Dyke, High Wycombe

The Dyke in High Wycombe is an artificial lake created by the flooding of an old road within the former grounds of the Wycombe Abbey School. The Dyke and a wooded area next to it was donated to the Chepping Wycombe Corporation (later the council) by the Marquis of Lincolnshire in 1923. The Dyke is fed by streams and has a separate watercourse to the adjacent river Wye.

Now the Dyke is a haven for nature and also used by pleasure boaters and people enjoying a walk!

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

River Cole (West Midlands)

The West Midlands River Cole flows North West across the Birmingham plateau. The river source is at Hobs Hill near Wythall. The river then crosses across the South East of Birmingham through the likes of Yardley, Chelmsley Wood and Shard End before joining the river Blythe at Coleshill. From the waters join the Tame, Trent and eventually the North Sea at the Humber estuary.

The Cole is a non-navigable waterway though had twelve watermills along it at one stage. It is usually shallow but due to the nature of the clay soil in the area the river is changed quickly by heavy rainfall and can easily flood.

The earliest recorded name of the river from 972AD is Colle which is an old English word for Hazel.
At Shard End

At Wythall (rather swollen by recent heavy rain)

Thursday, 29 March 2018

Canal Restoration

A 1962 Pathe news story on the restoration of the Stratford-upon-Avon Canal. The restoration of this canal in the 1960s was just the start of the regeneration of the inland waterway network we have today.

Sunday, 25 March 2018

Scarfields Dingle Aqueduct

Aqueducts come in a variety of sizes, for example the M5 Aqueduct that takes the Tame Valley Canal over the M5 Motorway or the 145m long Edstone aqueduct that takes the Stratford Canal over railway lines. A rather more modest aqueduct is the Scarfields Dingle Aqueduct near Alvechurch. The aqueduct has no apparent road or stream it allows under the canal, there is a rather low walkway and that is it.

In fact the aqueduct was built for a once well-used track between Alvechurch and Droitwich. The track was built for the salt trade and existed from before the Domesday Book, which lists Alvechurch having a number of salt houses supplied by salt from the saline springs at Droitwich. The track was known as Cobley Lane (the aqueduct is sometimes known as Cobley Lane Aqueduct). More about Cobley Lane can be seen here.

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Macclesfield Bridge

There are hundreds of bridges that cross Britain's canals and rivers, the names of which are sometimes quite straightforward to understand though others are rather more mysterious. Take Macclesfield Bridge that crosses the Regent's Canal near Regent's Park for example, how did it get this name?

The bridge, which was designed by James Elms in 1829, was in fact named after the Earl of Macclesfield who was the chairman of the Regent's Canal Company at the time. It gained a new name in 1874 when a barge carrying gunpowder exploded under the bridge destroying it. After the bridge was rebuilt bargemen often referred to it as "Blow Up Bridge"! [1]

[1] Michael Essex-Lopresti, Exploring the Regent's Canal (Brewin Books, 2008) p. 51