Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: _SWW012

 

SHROPSHIRE CANALS 

  

Home

About Canals

The Canals

Canal Trails

Canal Pioneers

Further Information

 

Ketley Canal

 

 

History

 

Miles

Locks

Opened

Closed

Route

1

1788

1880

SJ699102 (Greyhound Junction)

SJ673108 (Ketley Ironworks)

 

In 1788, Richard and William Reynolds had a canal built to convey coal and ironstone from mines at Oakengates to their ironworks at Ketley.  There was a 20 yard tunnel at Potters Bank and another of 20 yards just west of Ketley Hall. The big obstacle was the difference in height of 73ft between the canal and the ironworks.  Reynolds discounted the idea of using locks, as the water supply for the canal was pumped from the mines (there are rumours that the water level in the Ketley Canal was fed by the underground “Derbyshire Level” dug from Old Park in Dawley to Ketley).  Instead Reynolds invented an inclined plane.  At the time, this was quite revolutionary and was the first inclined plane to work successfully.  A similar device had been tried previously in Ireland but that one did not work. To fit on the incline, Reynolds used tub-boats carrying 8 tons rather than narrowboats.

 

In January 1788, William Reynolds said in a letter “… Indeed I have my hands full - we are making a canal from Oakengates to Ketley and have between 200 and 300 men at work upon it and I am head and sub-schemer, Engineer and Director”. The canal was finished in the summer of 1788.

 

1816

 

Joseph Plymley writing in 1803 said “…Mr William Reynolds, of Ketley … having occasion to improve the mode of conveying ironstone and coals, from the neighbourhood of the Oaken Gates to the iron-works at Ketley, these materials lying generally at the distance of about a mile and a half from the iron-works, and at 73 feet above their level; he made a navigable canal, and instead of descending in the usual way, by locks, continued to bring the canal forward to an abrupt part of the bank, the skirts of which terminated on a level with the iron-works. At the top of this bank he built a small lock, and from the bottom of the lock, and down the face of the bank, he constructed an inclined plane with a double iron railway. He then erected an upright frame of timber, in which, across the lock, was fixed a large wooden barrel; round this barrel a rope was passed, and was fixed to a moveable frame; this last frame was formed of a size sufficient to receive a canal boat, and the bottom upon which the boat rested, was preserved in nearly an horizontal position, by having two large wheels before and two small ones behind varying as much in the diameters as the inclined plane varied from an horizontal plane. This frame was placed in the lock, the loaded boat was also brought from the upper canal into the lock, the lock-gates were shut, and on the water being drawn from the lock into a side pond, the boat settled upon the horizontal wooden frame, and as the bottom of the lock was formed with nearly the same declivity as the inclined plane, upon the lower gates being opened the frame with the boat passed down the iron railway, on the inclined plane, into the lower canal, which had been formed on a level with the Ketley iron-works, being a fall of 73 feet.

 

1840

 

Very little water was required to perform this operation, because the lock was formed of no greater depth than the upper canal, except the addition of such a declivity as was sufficient for the loaded boat to move out of the lock; and in dry seasons, by the assistance of a small steam engine, the whole of the water drawn off from the lock, was returned into the upper canal by means of a short pump.”

 

The inclined plane worked as follows.  The slope was about 300ft long at an angle of 1:2.  Two parallel tracks were laid on a steep slope between the two levels. At the top of the incline, the canal ended in a pound-lock, with a sloping bottom, into which the tub-boats were floated. They were gently lowered onto a wheeled cradle as the water was emptied from the lock. The cradle was designed with a larger lower and small upper pair of wheels so that the tub-boat would remain reasonably horizontal as it was lowered down the plane. A connecting rope was coiled around a brake-drum at the head of the plane and linked to another cradle at the bottom. As the cradle with the full tub-boat began its descent on one track, it helped to haul the cradle with the empty one up the slope. The rate was controlled by a man operating a brake on the drum. At the bottom of the incline, the tub-boats were floated into a short stretch of canal leading into the works.

 

The benefits of the inclined plane were substantial. A whole staircase of expensive pound-locks was not needed, the time taken by the tub-boats was reduced, and perhaps more importantly the system wasted very little water.  In dry periods, a small steam engine pumped the water lost from the top lock back up from the bottom of the plane. Reynolds wrote to James Watt in 1789 that “Our Inclined Plane answers my most sanguine expectations … we have already let down more than forty boats per day each carrying 8 tons - in average about thirty boats daily and have not yet had an accident”.  The rails used on the Ketley incline were not those of the wooden waggon ways but cast iron 'L' section plates. This was probably the first time this type of rail was used in the area but many of the older waggon ways were soon to be rebuilt as horse-drawn plateways.

 

1850

 

When the Shropshire Canal was built in 1791, a short extension to the Ketley canal was built to connect to it, including one lock as the Shropshire Canal was 1ft higher.  The junction was generally known as Greyhound Junction after the nearby Greyhound Inn much frequented by canal workers. Although successful, it was not used for long since the Ketley ironworks it served closed in 1816.  The incline was no longer used after that but the canal section to Oakengates continued in use until 1842, bringing coal to a wharf near Ketley Hall.  By the 1880s, however, that surviving length had also been abandoned.

.

Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: C:\Users\Adrian\Documents\Data\Word\Telford Canals\Photos\KET003.jpg

 

The incline is shown on the reverse side of a halfpenny token issued in 1789 by the Coalbrookdale Iron Company, with establishments at Coalbrookdale and Ketley. The tokens were made payable in both places.

 

View a short video clip about the incline by Pete Collins on the BBC Radio Shropshire website

 

 

 

Route

 

1)   Junction with Shropshire Canal – Petershill Bridge

 

 

The junction with the Shropshire Canal was destroyed when the LNWR railway to Coalport was built over it in 1861. More recently, the railway was destroyed to create the A442 dual carriageway and the site is now a grassed over area next to Newlands Road (SJ699104).  The route then headed west across Station Road to a lock that is now infilled (SJ697104).  The canal seems to have been diverted slightly south to avoid a church and hamlet, so it crossed Watling Street (later rebuilt as Holyhead Road) by two bridges.  These are now demolished but were near Charlton Street (SJ693105) and Vicar Street (SJ692106).  It then ran between Holyhead Road and School Grove, before crossing Hartsbridge Road at a bridge (SJ688108).  The bridge has been demolished but there is a stone carving from it on the ground to the west of the road at this point.

 

Bridge Ornament on

Hartsbridge Road

(Gordon Cragg)

 

The route then passed under Beverley Roundabout (SJ686108) and to the south of Ley Brook, before crossing Holyhead Road again at the demolished Petershill Bridge (SJ684108).

 

 

2)   Petershill Bridge – Ketley Ironworks

 

 

From Petershill Brige, the canal followed Holyhead Road for a short distance before heading off west and passing under Shepherd’s Lane via a short tunnel.  The blocked tunnel portals are at SJ682109 and SJ681108, sited in private gardens.  Further to the west is a short section of canal that still holds water (SJ680108) but School lane Wharf (SJ679108) has been infilled.  The route then headed south under Redlees Bridge (SJ679108) and bent to the west to avoid Ketley Hall but this section has been infilled.

 

There was a short tunnel at the head of the incline and there appears to be water at the east portal (SJ677107) but this has not yet been visited.  The west portal (SJ676106) appears to have been destroyed and now built on by the industrial units at Woodside Road. The top of the incline (SJ675106) is under Waterloo Road but the incline itself can be followed down as a public path to the bottom (SJ674106).  At the bottom of the incline, just to the south, was the winding pool where boats could be turned around.  This still exists between Teamore Close and Waterloo Road (SJ674105).   A public footpath heads north-east, following the line of the canal, and over the line of the old railway (SJ673107) to where the terminal wharf (SJ673108) is now infilled.  The original Ketley Ironworks (SJ675108) has been demolished but the site is now occupied by the GKN factory.

 

 

Table of Features

 

Click on links for Google map (significant remains highlighted)

 

Location

Feature

SJ699104

Junction of Ketley and Shropshire Canals (infilled)

SJ697104

Lock (infilled)

SJ693105

Bridge (demolished)

SJ692106

Bridge (demolished)

SJ688108

Bridge (demolished)

SJ688108

Stone bridge carving on Hartsbridge Road

SJ686108

Modern Road- Beverley Roundabout

SJ684108

Bridge (demolished)

SJ682109

Shepherds Lane Tunnel East Portal (blocked)

SJ681108

Shepherds Lane Tunnel West Portal (blocked)

SJ680108

Section of Canal (containing water)

SJ679108

School Lane Wharf (infilled)

SJ679108

Bridge (demolished)

SJ677107

Ketley Tunnel East Portal (blocked)

SJ676106

Ketley Tunnel West Portal (blocked)

SJ675106

Ketley Incline Top

SJ674106

Ketley Incline Bottom

SJ674105

Winding Pool

SJ673107

Bridge (demolished)

SJ673108

Wharf (infilled)

SJ675108

Ketley Ironworks (demolished)