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Author Worsley Colliery & Navigable Levels - Duke of Bridgewater's Underground Canals
Vanoord

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Worsley Colliery & Navigable Levels - Duke of Bridgewater's Underground Canals
Posted: 03/06/2008 15:34:57
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Tweak: I think this probably justifies its own thread!

Roger the Cat wrote:

The Worsley Colliery & Navigable Levels

I have a question about this colliery system which have always fascinated me, but it had scant treatment on these pages, possibly because of its high public profile and the fact that access to the site is, I assume, strictly controlled.

Apart from Grahami’s link to Dave Lane’s website above there doesn’t seem to be a lot out there unless I have completely missed it.

There seems to be very scant information and photographs regarding the underground areas of the site. I understand occasional inspections were carried out of the underground canals at Worsley in NCB days and Alan Davis describes one limited visit taking place in 1998 but apart from some photos of Waters Meeting and the famous arches there isn’t much out there as far as I can see, and very little information about artifacts in-situ, if any.

Worsley appears to have been an enormous system having 44 miles of canal connecting to a number of collieries. So my question is: are there any comprehensive surveys of the two systems and has anybody attempted a concerted photographic survey of them in recent years, noting major below-ground structures etc?


grahami wrote:

Here are two of my old negatives of the system map - apologies for the quality! You can see the main canal and its various branches in the various seams - they are lettered. Unfortunately I didn't take any pictures in colour at the time, as this would make interpretation easier. Glen Atkinson's book uses a lot of illustrations which are I guess based on this plan. I traced the levels from the plan at the same time, but again not in colour!

Hope these are of interest.

Grahami




(click image to open full size image in new window)




(click image to open full size image in new window)

Some further information here: [web link]

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IP: 81.139.133.42 Edited: 04/06/2008 14:59:06 by Vanoord
grahami

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The Worsley Colliery & Navigable Levels
Posted: 03/06/2008 16:11:33
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Thanks for that Vanoord.
Does anyone want me to post any more of the map images. (I'll post them into my personal album, so you could get at them there) There's a lot of overlap between them and I havn't got time at the moment to tidy it all up. The tracing's too large to scan! (Its in pencil as well, so I'd have to redraw or ink it.)Smile

Cheers

Grahami

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The Worsley Colliery & Navigable Levels
Posted: 03/06/2008 16:50:49
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I believe I have a copy of an old book on the Duke of Bridgewater Canals.

I will try and find it

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Vanoord

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The Worsley Colliery & Navigable Levels
Posted: 04/06/2008 09:58:23
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As far as I can find out, the two entrance tunnels meet about 500m inside and presumably one was 'in' and the other 'out'.

The really interesting thing was the underground inclined plane(s) which linked the various levels of canal that existed inside the system: I'm not aware of any such construction anywhere else, but I shall be happy to be proved wrong!

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grahami

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The Worsley Colliery & Navigable Levels
Posted: 04/06/2008 13:30:59
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Vanoord wrote:

As far as I can find out, the two entrance tunnels meet about 500m inside and presumably one was 'in' and the other 'out'.

The really interesting thing was the underground inclined plane(s) which linked the various levels of canal that existed inside the system: I'm not aware of any such construction anywhere else, but I shall be happy to be proved wrong!


You can see the parallel entrance tunnels on the map. Here is a drawing of the top of the Underground Canal Incline. I've had to clean it up and relabel it a bit as my original was none too clear. Atkinson's book contains a simplified version.



(click image to open full size image in new window)


The article also contains a longitudinal cross-section of the canal. It needs some cleaning up too - i@ll upload it when I've done that.

Grahami




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AR

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The Worsley Colliery & Navigable Levels
Posted: 04/06/2008 13:33:25
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A friend of mine went in fairly recently to do a condition check (officially) with some people from the Mines Rescue - they went as far as the foot of the incline, apparently the tunnels are still in OK condition overall. It does sound like there's a lot more exploration potential there if access could be arranged!

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Vanoord

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The Worsley Colliery & Navigable Levels
Posted: 04/06/2008 14:11:17
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Interesting pic Graham - thanks for uploading it Smile

This seems a very complicated version of an inclined plane, in that it involves two sets of locks at the top, in order to remove the tub boat from the water. Presumably the thing was operated by someone standing on the barrier between the two locks - I can't imagine that being a very pleasant place to work!

The one at Coalbrookdale used a slightly different method in that there was a crest at the top of the incline with a small drop the other side down into the upper canal. That way, there was no need for locks as the carriage was lowered into the upper canal and picked the tub boat out.

Whilst I suspect it would have been just as easy to quarry out the inclined plane in that manner in this instance, the problem would have been that it then wouldn't have been self-acting.

The Coalbrookdale example used a small engine and winch to drag the carriage from the upper canal to the top of the inclined plane proper, something that would have been a problem to install underground. Thus, despite the fact that the double-locked method might be more difficult and costly to construct , it would be much cheaper to run in the long term.


EDIT: there's also the consideration that when this system was built in the 18th Century, haulage engines which could be installed underground were probably far and few between Roll Eyes

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IP: 81.139.133.42 Edited: 04/06/2008 14:20:52 by Vanoord
Vanoord

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The Worsley Colliery & Navigable Levels
Posted: 04/06/2008 14:26:03
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AR wrote:

A friend of mine went in fairly recently to do a condition check (officially) with some people from the Mines Rescue - they went as far as the foot of the incline, apparently the tunnels are still in OK condition overall. It does sound like there's a lot more exploration potential there if access could be arranged!


Was that the 1999 survey?

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Roger the Cat

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Worsley Colliery & Navigable Levels - Duke of Bridgewater's Underground Canals
Posted: 04/06/2008 17:33:45
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Does anybody know who 'owns' Worsley?

I understand from Alan Davis's webpage, they had to go to a great deal of trouble to negotiate access permission and then only with a mine rescue team present.
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LeeW

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Worsley Colliery & Navigable Levels - Duke of Bridgewater's Underground Canals
Posted: 04/06/2008 17:45:19
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The Coal Authority 'own' the underground canal, they 'own' and licence all the coal mine entries and the coal itself.


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AR

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Worsley Colliery & Navigable Levels - Duke of Bridgewater's Underground Canals
Posted: 04/06/2008 22:17:54
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Vanoord wrote:

AR wrote:

A friend of mine went in fairly recently to do a condition check (officially) with some people from the Mines Rescue - they went as far as the foot of the incline, apparently the tunnels are still in OK condition overall. It does sound like there's a lot more exploration potential there if access could be arranged!


Was that the 1999 survey?


It was last year, I believe - they used canoes, and apparently one of the mines rescue lot stood up in his canoe with predictable results.....

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Boggy

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Worsley Colliery & Navigable Levels - Duke of Bridgewater's Underground Canals
Posted: 05/06/2008 22:35:57
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considering how many branches lead off the main tunnels directly to most of the collieries in the area were the branches sealed when the collieries shut, i know some are sealed,was mossley common the last pit to pump into the underground canal.
but it is a quite amazing engineering feat for its time and is sadly lacking in internal images.and from what i remember when they damed the entrances and started pumping the water to filter beds to stop the canal from being orange there was an outcry from the locals who liked it orange.

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westmine

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Worsley Colliery & Navigable Levels - Duke of Bridgewater's Underground Canals
Posted: 13/06/2008 09:12:55
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The book you need on the navigable levels

The Canal Dukes Collieries Worsley 1760--1900
By Glen Atkinson ISBN 0 9506257 7 9
PAPER BACK A4 SIZE Cost in I think 1980 £3.50
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moldyolddough

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Worsley Colliery & Navigable Levels - Duke of Bridgewater's Underground Canals
Posted: 19/06/2008 17:08:30
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Spent 3 happy months in about 1987 drilling and grouting the Black, White and Windmill Seams around Walkden, (new Tesco if I remember correctly?). These workings would have been worked from galleries taken out along strike from the main tunnel.

What was more remarkable than the Duke's tunnels were something we came across called "Massey's Sough" which was 17th Century I think, and included hand excavated shafts (2 of which were found, capped and treated).

God knows what conditions must have been like for the poor souls who built that.

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Vanoord

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Worsley Colliery & Navigable Levels - Duke of Bridgewater's Underground Canals
Posted: 23/04/2009 17:47:45
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[web link] to database entry

Wikipedia [web link]



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IP: 81.139.127.223 Edited: 23/04/2009 17:58:49 by Vanoord
Vanoord

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Worsley Colliery & Navigable Levels - Duke of Bridgewater's Underground Canals
Posted: 23/04/2009 17:49:17
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Morlock wrote:

Not a lot about this colliery in the list, (unless I've looked in the wrong place).

http://www.d.lane.btinternet.co.uk/canal.html [web link]


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IP: 81.139.127.223 Edited: 23/04/2009 17:49:53 by Vanoord
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Worsley Colliery & Navigable Levels - Duke of Bridgewater's Underground Canals
Posted: 07/05/2009 10:33:41
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Some years ago I had to write a report on the history of the underground canal system At Worsley and found quite a lot of unpublished information in the Frank Mullineux collection in Salford Library. Details include notes on the various sizes of boat used in the mines. In the local mining museum at Zabrze, Poland, there are some excellent isometric-type contemporary drawings of the system there which was based on the Worsley mines. A film of the Polish underground mines was taken in the 1950s, and is very similar to the NCB film of Worsley taken around the same time. Friends in Poland have visited the mine recently and they are considering making into a visitor attraction. There is another such system in Poland, the Fuchstollen, which was restored as part of a museum project, but has had problems with subsidence. I visited it a few years ago when giving a paper on underground canals in Britain at a German/Polish conference. I'm always grateful to hear of any details of underground canals. IP: 82.71.31.139
Vanoord

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Worsley Colliery & Navigable Levels - Duke of Bridgewater's Underground Canals
Posted: 26/07/2010 15:54:04
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Tootles wrote:

Yes, thanks for that. I could answer quite a few of the questions on there, For instance, the furthest pit away from the Worsley entrance was the last to close, (Ashton Fields).

The inclined plain was removed many years past, but the chamber is just as 'fresh' as the day it was constructed. The whole thing is based on four levels, (the lower ones are flooded now), and had many concealed entrances. I went through twice in 1962.


Is the water now on the highest level? ie if the bottom of the inclined plane is at current water level, was that the top level?

(I'm assuming that the inclined plane joined two parts of the same level?)

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Worsley Colliery & Navigable Levels - Duke of Bridgewater's Underground Canals
Posted: 26/07/2010 20:05:25
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Pluto wrote:

I'm always grateful to hear of any details of underground canals.


S.R.Hughes 'The Development of British Navigational Levels', vol.27, 1981. Not sure which journal however (!) - possibly Journal of Transport History? This article rounds up all the significant unerground canals at mines, with special conentration on Welsh ones. It also suggests a chain of connections through various mining engineers for the spread of underground canals in mines in the UK.
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Worsley Colliery & Navigable Levels - Duke of Bridgewater's Underground Canals
Posted: 26/07/2010 21:27:25
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Many thanks Vanoord for resurrecting this thread.

This is all very interesting - but I wonder if there are a few ex-NCB staff from the '60s still around who can give us a first hand account of what it was like. I seem to recollect seeing some stills taken from the same NCB film that Pluto mentions showing the legging of a starvationer through the tunnels. Does anybody have a copy of the film that could go on YouTube - copyright permitting? Maybe it's already out there.

It appears from the photos I have seen that the water levels at Delft have risen in recent years - perhaps somebody can confirm this and that navigation would no longer be possible. I suppose the air quality would rapidly become very dodgy even if one could get in.
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