Friday, 3 February 2012

Wombridge Canal pt 3 - Church Road to Wrockwardine Plane

Wombridge Canal Part 3
Church Road (Teague's Bridge) to Wrockwardine Inclined Plane
January 2012

The final half mile of the Wombridge Canal is all filled in and the concrete remains have been swept away by progress over the last century, but you cant hide a canal entirely.

Towpath beyond Church Road

We left the canal at the Donnington Wood Flour Mill, the final port of call before the waterway closed in 1921. Beyond this point the canal was progressively lapsing into abandonment. 

Bridge at Wrockwardine Wood - 1960's

The line follows a curving course to the east reaching the modern Wade Road in a few hundred yards. The route is then picked up in the aptly named Canalside which sports an array of garages before emerging into Oakengates Road with some very canalish properties on the corner. The canal crossed what was a plateway (primitive railway) at this point and swerved sharply to the right to skirt round a deep valley, the line marked by a curved stand of trees.

Canalside - a give away clue!

We are now very near the end and the junction with the earlier Donnington Wood Canal. The original junction was the site of the big Donnington Wood Furnaces and the later addition of the Wrockwardine Wood Inclined plane link into the Shropshire Canal made its layout somewhat complicated. 

The modern Smiths Crescent sits on top of the old junction and the associated furnaces, preventing a canal searcher from seeing any traces of the route first hand. Instead we have to rely on old maps and word of mouth. A short arm exited from a tight 180 degree bend to reach the bottom of the plane. Old maps show a tin Methodist chapel sitting at the end of Smiths Crescent, with the bottom of the Inclined Plane just behind it. 

Satnding on the junction, a tantalising glimpse up the route of the plane

As far as we can tell the canal, now possibly the Donnington Wood Canal? followed a tight arc in the back gardens of the houses on the north side of Smiths Crescent, making a sudden exit under a bridge which sits virtually beneath the last bungalow. Its worth bearing in mind that after the Inclined plane closed the area was used as a spoil dump which raised the far end of Smiths Crescent by 15 feet or more. All very confusing if you havn't done some research first! Hurray for Google Earth and old maps.

That confusing bridge under then end of Smiths Crescent

That bridge is interesting. As we walked over it we at first thought it was an aqueduct, then when we saw its opening we switched to a tunnel and finally realised the trick the infill was playing on us and settled for a bridge. I  think you need to take a look at the complexity of this little site to appreciate the challenge of fixing a firm route hereabouts. 

Possibly one of the best bits for an avid canal hunter.

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