Thursday, August 24, 2017

Through the “Ports” of Stoke on Trent

I can’t find a definitive reason for the origin of the  -port suffix of several place names alongside the canal as it winds through the built up area, but they appear to have developed between in the gaps between the Six Towns following the completion of the canal in 1777. Industrialisation of these suburbs, and the use of the navigation as transport for raw and finished goods, led to them becoming known as ports.
So today we cruised away from Etruria, past Burslem and through Newport, Middleport and  Longport to Westport.

We’d spent an extra day moored at Etruria; the ebay purchases I’d expected at Argos on Tuesday didn’t turn up till yesterday, but no harm done. The extra day did give us a chance to meet Brian and Diane on Harnser for the first time.

The Harnser crew leaving this morning…

…And a goodbye to James Brindley as well.

Out onto the Trent and Mersey again.

It’s hard to imagine now, but the area north of Etruria was once filled with the clamour of heavy industry. Collieries occupied the east side of the canal, and a massive steelworks straddled the navigation with blast furnaces to the east and rolling mills to the west. The primary employer in Stoke was of course the numerous pot-banks, but at it’s busiest the Shelton Iron, Steel and Coal Company employed 10,000 and covered an area of 400 acres.
1900 map from
Quite a contrast to the current situation…

All gone now, the steelworks ceased production in 2000.DSCF0904

Skeletal trestle bridges cross the canal, now going nowhere.DSCF0906

It’s not all doom and gloom, though. Burgess and Leigh, a well established family company,  built a new factory alongside the canal at Middleport in 1889, a state of the art facility to produce both earthenware and china. It’s still going strong, although with a name change to Burgess, Dorling and Leigh after being rescued from receivership by Rosemary and William Dorling.

Another manufacturer with a good order book is Steelite at Longport, although their target customer is hotels and restaurants.
Their factory is rather newer… over a century in fact!

We pulled in at Westport Lake, popular moorings but plenty of space when we arrived at half-eleven.DSCF0918


One of the items bought over the last few days is a new throttle cable for the engine. The old one has got progressively tighter until it’s getting a bit of a chore for Mags.

So I spent a successful 90 minutes fitting it.

The new one is the red one.
The hardest bit was refitting the little split-pins on the Morse control linkage. It’s a lot freer now.

Tomorrow we’ll head through the tunnel, then turn at Hardings Wood Junction onto the Macclesfield Canal.

Locks 0, miles 2¾


Mike Todd said...

A very long time ago we came down the T&M when it ran right through one of the huge Shelton works. You could see the hot metal working at close quarters. Very impressive - sadly long since disappeared.

Geoff and Mags said...

Hi Mike, yes I'd heard that and would have liked to have seen the rolling mills in action. No chance now though.