Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Newport Canal - Lower Oulton Locks

Newport Canal
Lower Oulton
Post 1 - Norbury Junction to Maltshovel Bridge 3 - incl 5 locks
May 2010

Other posts in this series:
1. Norbury to Maltshovel Bridge - this post
2. Maltshovel Bridge to Oulton Bridge
3. Upper Oulton to Sutton
4. Forton Village
5. Forton Aqueduct and Skew Bridge
6. Meretown
7. Newport
8. West Newport
9. Edgmond to Buttery Farm
10. Kinnersley Junction
11. Wapenshall Junction

Follow this link to posts covering the Shrewsbury Canal.

Well, the sun shone from a blue cloudless sky with the thermometer topping 29 degrees when we finally set out on our much delayed expedition of the eastern end of the Shrewsbury and Newport Canal.

Newport Canal to dry dock

This length is actually the Newport Canal, the final element of a whole network of canals in Shropshire and the one which joined the more distant disconnected elements to the main Shropshire Union at Norbury Junction. This expedition covered the first 10 miles as the crow flies (and as the canal runs) but the bicycles notched up an impressive 20 miles as we dodged back and forth along monor roads and farm tracks to try and stay as close to the line as possible and thereforte seeing all the remaining structures we could. We did a two car shuttle so we could make this a one way trip, parking up on the main road near Wappenshall Junction.

Maltshovel Bridge

We have to start at Norbury Junction and the short arm which remains in water leading up to the dry dock which occupies the first lock chamber on the canal's long drop down to the Shropshire farmland below.

Lock No 6 from bridge

We cycled round under the aqueduct to the south of Norbury and along the lane to Lower Oulton, with views across the fields showing the line of the canal stepping down. The view from Maltshovel Bridge in the village gave us our first surprise. We had assumed that the four lock chambers on the hill down from the dry dock had been filled in, but this isn't the case. The first two chamders remain in place and are structurally sound, althought the first is rather covered by vegitation. A walk through the stinging nettles (I was wearing shorts) gave good views of this lock which has had its top gate removed and replaced by a concrete dam wall. The wall serves no purpose as the water supply hs been cut off and the bed above is now virtually dry, dry enough for me to climb inside the paddle culvert and take a closer look at its inner workings.

Bump stop in Lock 5

Then the next lock up (number four) emerges from the undergrowth, even better preserved with all this masonry in place and given its remote location in a deep cutting is completely free of rubbish. It is just as it was left when it was abandoned 60 years ago. Between the two of them these are the locks that time forgot.

Sluice in Lock 4

 Lock 4 chamber

 Old top gate on bank - with tree!

I am not sure what lies beyond because the nettles got too bad and further exploration in the winter is called for then the undergrowth has dies back. Another thing for my to do list.


Halfie said...

The dry dock is where Hazel from Middlewich Narrowboats was repaired after it nearly sank one night (with us on board!)

The undergrowth looks a bit tricky for bicycles. I assume you got as close as you could to a feature and then walked, returning to the bikes for the next bit.

Captain Ahab said...

You are right, cycles were used for moving between features and then we explored on foot. The places were so remote I didnt even lock the bikes up. The area is well worth the time spent on it.
We got at far as Wappenshall and will return to do the second leg to Shrewsbury next month.
I have enough material to feed the blog for a couple of weeks whilst I am away - boating of course!

Brian Maxfield said...

Hello Captain
The Norbury Local History Group are compiling a history of Norbury Junction, start of the S & N, and would love to use some of your great pictures. Could we use them please if we gave you an acknowledgement ?