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Heartland

Tardebigge Boat Lift

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The boat lift as shown by Pluto in a recent post has been reproduced in different publications.

 

At the head in pen is the name J G Ames- or John Green Ames, wharfinger and canal/ river carrier of Stourport- so this report may have been his copy.

The boat lift was replaced by a conventional lock after it was decided to scrap the project. It was evidently used to assist with construction traffic, but there remains an issue which needs to be resolved. Was the lift chamber used for the new lock, or more likely was the lock built adjacent.  

848195.jpg

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The lock looks relatively central in the canal so if the lift were alongside was the lift located in full expectation of being replaced? 

 

The lock is also some distance from the rest of the flight and approximately twice as deep as all the others, I assume these two facts are related? 

 

I would assume that the economics of lifts means the bigger the lift the better, whereas with water supply issues this isn't the case for locks?

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Useful questions, however it needs to be considered that the canal terminated north of the boat lift at first and was constructed as Tardebigge Tunnel was finished. In Silent Highways, I quote the date of construction of the lift as 1810 and the trial were conducted in 1811. The lift was taken down in 1814 or 1815 and the metal parts offered for sale. So is possible that the lock was made adjacent. If you look from the wall of the lock beside the lock house the garden below is at the lower level.

 

Maps of the period are not of sufficient scale to show any difference in route, yet it is shown on the early pre ordnance map of the 1810 ish period  

Edited by Heartland

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On 27/01/2020 at 13:14, Heartland said:

The boat lift as shown by Pluto in a recent post has been reproduced in different publications.

 

At the head in pen is the name J G Ames- or John Green Ames, wharfinger and canal/ river carrier of Stourport- so this report may have been his copy.

The boat lift was replaced by a conventional lock after it was decided to scrap the project. It was evidently used to assist with construction traffic, but there remains an issue which needs to be resolved. Was the lift chamber used for the new lock, or more likely was the lock built adjacent.  

848195.jpg

That image is stated to be viewed from the lower level. So most of the lift structure is above ground level (as at Anderton) and there doesn't seem to be much of a chamber. 

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20 minutes ago, David Mack said:

That image is stated to be viewed from the lower level. So most of the lift structure is above ground level (as at Anderton) and there doesn't seem to be much of a chamber. 

 

I mostly agree, if the image was drawn to scale.

 

If that caisson is 4ft deep and pictured just clearing the lower water level, then that's about a 12ft rise on the lift (~3x the pictured depth of caisson).

 

The whole lift is then out of the water, and the lower chamber is only 4 ft deep.

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I think it more to be an 'artists impression' drawn to show the relative moving parts in relation to one another and likely to fit on a flyer, not an accurate portrayal of the lift as a whole.

 

Interesting to see the drawing done by W. Hawkes Smith. I wonder if that is the W.H. Smith of newsagents fame.

Edited by Derek R.
added text

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1 hour ago, Derek R. said:

Interesting to see the drawing done by W. Hawkes Smith. I wonder if that is the W.H. Smith of newsagents fame.

No.

 

Quote

In 1792, Henry Walton Smith and his wife Anna established the business as a news vendor in Little Grosvenor Street, London.[4] After their deaths, the business—valued in 1812 at £1,280 (equivalent to £83,741 in 2018)—was taken over by their youngest son William Henry Smith, and in 1846 the firm became W. H. Smith & Son when his only son, also William Henry, became a partner.

 

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I've sometimes wondered why this lift was considered necessary?

That lock is deep, but it's a simple/conventional solution as compared to the contraption in the picture.

In the context of Tardebigge, even two locks, or a staircase would seem easier?

Is it something about the terrain?

 

I'm sure someone will explain.... 

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38 minutes ago, zimzim said:

I've sometimes wondered why this lift was considered necessary?

That lock is deep, but it's a simple/conventional solution as compared to the contraption in the picture.

In the context of Tardebigge, even two locks, or a staircase would seem easier?

Is it something about the terrain?

 

I'm sure someone will explain.... 

they didn't have a water supply

 

IIRC correctly the millers of the area drove a very hard bargain and there would be no water spare to operate locks. In the end this was renegotiated

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1 hour ago, magpie patrick said:

they didn't have a water supply

 

IIRC correctly the millers of the area drove a very hard bargain and there would be no water spare to operate locks. In the end this was renegotiated

ah - yes - that would make sense - IIRC it's a little beyond the reservoir at the top of the flight. I will ponder no more...thanks!

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The water supply was partially resolved by the reservoir at Bittell and Tardebigge.

 

As originally conceived the canal would have had barge width locks to Worcester. The boat lift option came as the canal construction slowed and the committee were considering options to complete their waterway. A series of lifts were considered to avoid locks on the steep decline through to Stoke. The Railway engineers had a similar problem to resolve when the Birmingham & Gloucester Railway was made. The committee finally chose the narrow lock option and this is today's heritage. Cost of construction was another issue, but the canal was finally completed to Diglis in 1815!

 

There are historical parallel with the line of the Ellesmere Canal to Chester.

 

The site of their experimental boat lift, as Patrick is well aware, still needs an archeological dig to proove location. 

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Called at Tardebigge top lock on my way to visit dad last week.

 

It's very obvious the lock is built into a mound, it's above ground level. That would suit the lift. The garden of the lock house is actually the former side pond, which I'd never noticed before (I've been through the lock twice, both times "on the way to somewhere" so not really stopped to look.

 

I didn't expect any remains of the lift, but it struck me that the lift would have been very awkwardly aligned with the canal had it been off-cenre from the lock. It's footprint would also have been around twice as wide as the lock invert.

 

So, was the lift an experiment or a trial? The distinction matters. An experiment is to see if something works. A trial is to see if it works with a view to keeping it if it does. If the lift was being trialled it would be where the lock is, so they could use it if the trial was a success. 

 

A couple of pictures below 

20200205_095550.jpg

20200205_095802.jpg

20200205_100227.jpg

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When looking at the present, there does need to be thought of the past. It would be of interest to determine when the lock house was built. The view of the lock house garden could do with a study by an archeologist.

 

Mike Clarke has made some comments about John Rennie. The Worcester & Birmingham Canal asked for him to report on the boat lift and his basic comment was the loss of waste water had the boat lifts been used. He wondered about pumping from the Severn to replace it in both of his short reports.

 

Rennie may not have been a fan of boat lifts and he had definite views on the Weldon caisson  

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The boat lift was in use during 1813, although beset with breakdowns. Mr Woodhouse employed a man to look after this lift when it did operate.

 

During 1813 work continued to finish the canal to Worcester.

 

The early Ordnance Survey for this period does show the lift and locks built beyond it. So it was used during the construction of the locks to Stoke.

 

295030.jpg

Edited by Heartland

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