Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Sir John Ramsden’s Canal

The Huddersfield Broad Canal was promoted by Sir John Ramsden, who recognised the value of connecting the town with the new (at the time) waterway of the Calder and Hebble Navigation. The Ramsden family owned large amounts of land and had interests in the local textile industry.
The canal was to prove successful in moving coal in and finished goods out. Roughly following the Colne Valley, the canal was opened in 1776 and rose 54 feet through 9 locks.

The Calder and Hebble Canal, opened six years earlier, was built to accommodate Humber and Yorkshire Keels, typically 58 x 14 feet in size. Sir John Ramsden’s Canal was built to the same dimensions. It was originally known as the Cooper Canal, from it’s junction with the Calder and Hebble, then named for it’s promoter, but now is commonly called the Huddersfield Broad Canal.

This differentiates it from the Huddersfield Narrow Canal, rising out of the town to go higher up the Colne Valley and finally connecting to Stalybridge and Manchester on the other side of the Pennines.

Cooper Bridge Weir through Cooper BridgeSAM_3786 Cooper Br Weir under Cooper Br

The barrier ahead protects the weir (or more properly protects boats from the weir), and the the entrance to the canal lies on the right hand side.

Mags in Lock 1.SAM_3787 Mags in Lock 1
 She’s smiling now; lets see if she’s still happy on Sunday afternoon after these 9 locks and another 42 up to Marsden and the eastern portal of Standedge Tunnel. Of course she will be…

We’re booked through the tunnel on Monday morning.

There’s a bit of industry around Cooper Bridge, but this is replaced by open playing fields and wooded banks as the locks are climbed.

Security on Lock 4. SAM_3788 Security at Lock 4
I suppose the scroats get everywhere.

Looking back from Lock 5SAM_3792 Lock 5

We’re 57 feet long, but add on the fenders at either end and we’re nearer 60.
We would have been struggling to share these locks. Mags had to go in, right up to the cill below the top gates, then swing the stern across so I could close the gate we’d used. I could have removed the tipcat and button from the stern, of course.

Cruising through a wooded section towards Lock 9SAM_3793 Towards Lock 9
Stone tail bridge at Lock 9SAM_3794 Lock 9

The locks are in good condition, all of them bar one were holding water from a previous boat. This meant I had to empty each before we could use them, but it wasn’t a chore.
Huddersfield itself starts to impinge on the canal above the last lock. It’s a mile and a quarter to the terminus at Aspley Wharf, and the stone textile mills begin to appear on the banks of the waterway that became their life-blood.

Mills and HillsSAM_3800 Mills and hills

Softened by Virginia Creeper at Hillhouse LaneSAM_3790 Virginia Creeperon mill

Old and new. 19thC mill chimney, 21stC waste incinerator chimneySAM_3797 Chimneys 
There’s a sharp S bend where the channel passes under Leeds Road, then the unusual Turnbridge Locomotive Lift Bridge is encountered.

Lift Bridge ahead.SAM_3801 Loco Lift Br
Not seen one of these before. The bridge deck lifts straight up, not swung or cantilevered. It’s not on a busy road though, so we only had three vehicles waiting by the time it was back down.

Seyella pokes her nose under the raised bridge.SAM_3802 Loco Lift Br

The bridge was constructed in 1865, and the deck used to be raised by windlass, but now’s it’s been electrified.
SAM_3806 Loco Lift Br
Counterbalance weights are inside the cylinders either side.
SAM_3803 Loco Lift Br
The “turnbridge” element of the name is derived from the earlier swing bridge at this location. It’s believed that the “locomotive” bit comes from the bridge’s similarity from early steam locos.

We moored a little further on, opposite Sainsbury’s. We had to shuffle about a bit to find a spot where we were close enough to the bank, it’s quite shallow.
The forecast for tomorrow is poor, so we’ll stay put. I can get the cupboards topped up while we’re here. Friday we’ll fill with diesel at Apsley Wharf, empty and fill loo and water tanks at the sanitary station then head off up the Huddersfield Narrow. Should be fun….

Locks 9, miles 4


Lyraboat said...

That bridge looks very interesting, it's a shame we won't see it as we're too long.
Good luck on The Narrow, we bumped along the bottom all the way up to the tunnel and back from the other side.

Geoff and Mags said...

Hi Bob
Yes, it is a bit different, isn't it!
You could get here, you'd just have to go back the same way, like Sue and Ken on NB Cleddau ( Takes a degree of dedication, that.
Take care..