Sunday, April 29, 2012

Every cloud has a silver lining..

Or so they say. It’s been extremely blowy here today, with more of that horizontal rain that seems to be a speciality of northern climes. Just along the towpath from us the wind has uprooted a hawthorn bush, so I did my civic duty and removed it from the towpath with a bit of work with my bowsaw. Of course, the fact that I got a couple of of sizeable logs to supplement the coal ration is immaterial, isn’t it?

Blocked towpath. I couldn’t just leave it there…

Brian and Ann Marie came past this afternoon, NB Alton still supplying customers even in these bad conditions. A little later they went past again, backwards, going to the assistance of the trip boat, NB Judith Mary. She’d broken down at New Mills with a full complement of guests aboard.
Unable to turn her around, she had to be towed in reverse back to Whaley Bridge.

 There’s nothing like a challenge…DSCF0532

Meg hasn’t done so well for walks today, we had an hour out this morning but this afternoon she just had a  ½ hour on the meadow alongside the river.

The windswept look….DSCF0541

There’s not been that many boats around today, hardly surprising under the circumstances. But yesterday was quite busy, quite a few heading up towards Bugsworth.  I hope there’s still room there for us tomorrow.

On our way up the Macclesfield I was told by another boater to stop at New Mills and have a walk along the river, it’s well worth it. Well yesterday we did, and I can’t disagree. In fact I’m delighted.

New Mills was originally just a scattered hamlet with low scale coal production. But late in the 18c as the cotton spinning industry started to grow the potential for power from the fast flowing Rivers Goyt and Sett in Torr Gorge was recognised, and mills began to pop up down in the depths.
Most of these are now gone, fire, flood or general decay finishing them off, but the relics are a fascinating insight into a unique industrial landscape.
With the coming of industry better bridges needed to be built over the gorge, the first of which was Queens Bridge, carrying Church Road.

Queens BridgeDSCF0502

Under the bridge runs the remains of a mill leat, carrying water to the waterwheels of Torr or Schofields Mill.

The mill leat to SchofieldsDSCF0503

Little remains of the mill, it was substantially damaged by fire in 1912.

Schofields Mill today. It stood 5 stories high, and from 1846 was steam powered.pano

The large viaduct in the background carries Union Road. The pack-horse bridge in the foreground was once the only crossing point. The mill was on the right, rising 5 stories. Beyond the mill foundations can be seen the chimney built when it was converted to steam power.

Next to the remains is a modern take on harnessing water power; the town has it’s own hydro-electric generating plant!

Hydro power.DSCF0514

Unfortunately you can’t see much through the safety cage, but the water drives an Archimedes Screw which in turn runs the generator.

Click to enlarge picture.DSCF0510

Walking downstream under Union Street Bridge there were two more large mills facing each other across the gorge. Rock Mill is almost totally demolished, but Torr Vale still stands and was still in use till 2000.

Rock Mill (appropriate)DSCF0520
Torr Vale MillDSCF0518
This mill was considerably extended, with a weaving shed added and an engine house and chimney. Up until 1940, though, it still used a combination of water and steam power. The mill stream went under the arch just to be seen below the lean–to.


Jarringly modern in this rugged, stone environment, the Millennium Walkway starts here and swings around the rock wall, cantilevered out over the water.

Millennium WalkwayDSCF0523

We didn’t take this along the gorge, instead we headed up the steps to Market Street.

A lot of clogs have been up and down here…DSCF0526

The town itself seems to be doing well, plenty of busy shops and small industry in the still standing mill buildings. We’ll stop here on the way back, so we can check out the rest of the gorge.

The wind seems to easing a bit and the rain has stopped, so it’s looking good for moving on tomorrow.

Locks 0, miles 0


Carol said...

What a fantastic place - love the little pack horse bridge!

Pete said...

A fantastic post - will have to have a look one we get to live the dream, keep up the good blog.



Geoff and Mags said...

Thanks both
It's a fascinating spot, looking forward to having another look around on the way back.