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Monument record MDR480 - Bugsworth Canal Basin and Peak Forest Tramway terminus, Buxworth

Type and Period (2)

Protected Status/Designation

Full Description

The canal basin at Buxworth (formerly Bugsworth)belonged to the Peak Forest Canal Company and was built between 1793 to 1797 at the terminus of the Peak Forest Tramway, which brought limestone from the Buxton area. A branch of the Peak Forest Canal connected the basin with the main canal at Whaley Bridge. It was in use until 1920, after which it became derelict and overgrown. This magnificent basin has recently been cleared of rubbish, cleaned out to its original depth of 5ft 6ins and made water-tight once again by members of the Inland Waterways Protection Society. (4-6) Dock building on three piles allowing barges to enter centrally and wagons to enter alongside. Completed in 1832 and extended in 1916. (7) This site contains the basins and wharves of the Peak Forest Canal, and is one of its two termini. There are tracks of horse-drawn tramways and remains of lime kilns at the site. Crist Quarry (granite) is nearby. The basin was opened in 1797 as the point of interchange with the Peak Forest Tramway. Limestone traffic via the tramway ceased in 1922. The canal is still navigable and the basin is undergoing restoration by the inland Waterways Association [1984]. There is public access to the wharves and the canal towpath. (8) Scheduled. The transhipment basin area of the Peak Forest Canal was engineered by Benjamin Outram in the 1780s and 1790s. The site expanded and was modified between 1790 and the 1860s when the lower and middle basins, lime kilns and warehouses were constructed to cater for the increased trade. The site declined in the 19th century after its peak in the 1880s and went out of use in the 1920s. It was located at the point where the gradient became too steep for canal transport, and the tramway was constructed from there to the quarries. The canal-tramway carried limestone, gritstone and other stone products from the High Peak downstream to Disley and Marple. Components include the following: a) gauging lock; b) Upper basin arm; c) middle and lower basin arms - associated with which are d) secure warehouses, e) wharves, f) tippler unit, g) transfer bridge, h) horse bridge, i) cantilever crane and j) stone crusher and k) lime kilns. (10) Authorised by an Act of Parliament in 1794, the 20 mile Peak Forest Canal and Tramway was constructed as a continuous linear transport communication to enable limestone to be conveyed from the quarries at Dove Holes Dale to Manchester and the industrial North-west. Lime was initially obtained from the canal side kilns at Bugsworth, Disley and Marple, the bulk production of which was later transferred to Dove Holes Dale. From 1796 to 1927, Bugsworth Basin provided a key link in the export of lime and limestone, essential elements of post-medieval economic expansion with many purposes: agricultural soil conditioner; for glassmaking; tanning, mortar, plaster, road and railway construction; and by the rapidly expanding chemical industry. Three major phases of construction at Bugsworth Basin are identified and described: Primary Phase (1795 to 1815); Secondary Phase (1815-1846); and Tertiary Phase 1846 to 1878). A final phase of Decline and Closure (1878 to 1927) follows. (11) Extensive and detailed IRIS records (Index Records for Industrial Sites) for Bugsworth Canal basin and tramway. (12) Buxworth was the terminal basin of the Peak Forest Canal, which was intended to join the Manchester, Ashton and Oldham canal with Chapel, Milton and Whaley Bridge. Benjamin Outram was the engineer, the first enabling act was passed in 1794, and the canal was completed in 1800. The basin was an important processing point for lime quarried locally, with lime kilns and stone-crushing equipment forming part of the basin complex. The basin consisted of a gauging lock, upper, middle and lower basins each with arms. The nearby Combs Reservoir was a storage reservoir for the canal. The warehouse/dock building complete with three cranes within and one outside, was completed in 1832; in 1916 the building was extended at the north end by the Great Central Railway. (13) Bugsworth Basin is the most complete example of a former transhipment port in Britain. It contains many archaeological features spanning the period 1796 to c.1890 that are unique to the combined industrial, transport and social heritage of Great Britain. Of particular importance is the close association with the Peak Forest Tramway, one of the earliest mineral railways in Derbyshire, contributing directly to the development of the British chemicals industry through its ability to maintain a constant supply of high quality limestone. The complicated sequence of events surrounding the origin, growth and eventual demise of the Basin complex have been subject to extensive research, and a chronology is set down here. The individual features of the Basin have also been the subject of an in-depth study and are catalogued and assessed. (15) The surviving features of the Peak Forest Tramway are in good condition and are actively managed by the Inland Waterways Protection Society. Surviving features of the Lower Bugsworth Basin (SK 0203 8205) include several long connected sections of sleeper blocks, the remains of a stone-crushing building, the bases of two cranes, a series of walls and two bridges that have been reconstructed. Surviving features of the Middle Basin (SK 0217 8205) include a short section of connecting stone sleeper blocks, three bridges for railway, canal and road, a series of walls and the remains of limekilns. The Upper Basin includes several long sections of connecting stone sleeper blocks, a series of walls, the bottom post of a jib crane, a tippler wharf (possibly reconstructed) and some remains of the interior of a lime-loading shed. (16) Scheduled area extended in January 2005. (18) Archaeological recording work was carried out in 2006 by Archaeological Research Services Ltd prior to the removal of a section of the Bugsworth Upper Basin washwall for trial repair and reinstatement. A trial pit 1x1m in diameter that was excavated by hand was also monitored and subject to archaeological recording. The trial pit revealed a solid and well-preserved section of the washwall core, and also allowed for a likely method and sequence of construction to be determined. It is likely that the first phase of work at Bugsworth Basin would have been the digging of a deep, broad cutting for the basin itself, after which a puddling mixture of sand, silt and clay would have been packed into the cutting to make it watertight. This would have been followed by the construction of the core, which was built of unmortared gritstone blocks that were packed in with more of the puddling mixture for added stability and waterproofing. It is likely that the drystone façade of the washwall was constructed next, which was then surmounted by coping stones. The whole structure was then backfilled. The repair of the façade was considered to be a potential priority at the time of the recording [2006], due to concern that if the façade were to collapse, the washwall core would be soon to follow. (19) Compromises of three separate linked basins, built from the mid 1790s to serve as transhipment points for Peak Forest Tramway Limestone. Until 1927 when it closed, the horse-drawn tramway (6.5 miles long, 4ft 12" gauge, built of flanged iron plate rails on stone blocks) brought the stone from the Dove Holes area to Bugsworth, where it was transferred to boats for shipment to the north-west. The iron rails of the tramway sidings have been removed but lines of stone blocks mark the railway line. (20)

Sources/Archives (20)

  • <1> Article in serial: Baxter, B. 1949. 'Early railways in Derbyshire', Engineering. Vol. 167, pp 573-576. p 575.
  • <2> Article in serial: Clowes, P. 1963. 'The Peak Forest Limestone Trackway'. The Railway Magazine 109. 109. pp 611-612.
  • <3> Bibliographic reference: Lamb, B. 1968. 'The canal, Bugsworth complex and tramway: a discourse in maps', The Peak Forest Canal and Tramway.
  • <4> Bibliographic reference: Hudson, K. 1976. Industrial Archaeology. p 220.
  • <5> Bibliographic reference: Burton, A. 1977. Industrial Archaeology Sites of Britain. p 102.
  • <6> Bibliographic reference: Holt, G O. 1979. Reg History of Rlys Northwest. p 14.
  • <7> Index: NDAT. 2031. 2031.
  • <8> Bibliographic reference: Fowkes, D. 1984. Derbyshire Industrial Archaeology - A Gazetteer of Sites. Part I. Borough of High Peak. p 15.
  • <9> Bibliographic reference: Ripley, D. 1989. The Peak Forest Tramway (1794-1936).
  • <10> Scheduling record: English Heritage. 1990. Scheduling Notification. 27775.
  • <11> Unpublished document: Findlow, A (Inland Waterways Preservation Society). 1996. Bugsworth Basin: A Chronological Perspective, 1795-1927. Historical Research Paper 1.
  • <12> Archive: Brian Lamb. 1999. IRIS records for Peak Forest Tramway.
  • <13> Index: Council for British Archaeology (CBA). CBA Industrial Archaeology Report Card. Whaley Bridge, canal basin.
  • <14> Unpublished document: Findlow, A (Inland Waterways Preservation Society). 2001. An Assessment of the Archaeological and Historical Significance of Bugsworth Basin.
  • <15> Photograph: ARCUS. 2003. Cromford & High Peak Railway and Peak Forest Tramway Survey, Project 738b. Digital photograph. pp 1-12.
  • <16> Archive: Jessop, O. 2003. Cromford & High Peak Railway and Peak Forest Tramway Survey. ARCUS 738b. Feature nos. 1-3.
  • <17> Bibliographic reference: Blakemore, M & Mosley, D. 2003. Railways of the Peak District. p 65.
  • <18> Scheduling record: English Heritage. 2005. Scheduling description: Bugsworth canal basin, tramway, quarry and limekilns. 35608.
  • <19> Unpublished document: Hewitt, R (ARS Ltd). 2006. Archaeological Recording on the Bugsworth Upper Basin Trial Repair, Buxworth.
  • <20> Bibliographic reference: Fowkes, D (ed.). 2004. Derbyshire Industrial Archaeology: A Gazetteer of Sites, Part I, Borough of High Peak (second edition). pp. 18.



Grid reference Centred SK 02083 82045 (485m by 138m)

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Events/Activities (2)

  • EDR1790
  • EDR2743

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Record last edited

Jan 18 2024 7:10PM

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