Posts Tagged ‘cast iron’

Acton Moat Bridge

November 21, 2013

Back in 1974 I was by no means a canal ‘virgin’. My wife and I crewed a trip boat on our local Kennet and Avon Canal and we knew parts of that quite well. But the K and A was derelict at the time. The locks were out of use so I really only had theoretical knowledge of how to manage them as we set off for our first canal holiday. Five of us had hired a 47 foot long boat from Penkridge in Staffordshire. There was a lock nearby so we were helped through that and then we were on our own. I don’t think we experienced any particular problems as we made our way northwards (roughly) up the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal. I was straight away taken by the way the bridges on this canal had names as well as numbers, and within a couple of miles I had a photo of the bridge name plate at Acton Moat.


The photo was taken with my little Canon Demi camera using Agfachrome film.

Back in 1974 people didn’t paint these signs but there it was in all its glory, just above the arch and on the rather battered brickwork of the parapet.

The bridge is what I call an accommodation bridge. It takes a track or footpath over the canal. It leads from the village of Acton Trussell, over the canal, then over the River Penk and under the M6 motorway before dumping walkers on the A449 road.

You can find pictures of the bridge by searching on the web. They show a scene which looks very rural – but with a neatly painted black and white bridge sign.

It was a great week – still fondly remembered.

A letter box

September 15, 2013

When our house was built, in the early 1950s, we know that the man who built it acquired materials from local cottages being demolished at the time. The interior walls are made of these second hand bricks.

Maybe a pigsty storage shed – which predated the house, was in need of a new door. It certainly always amused us that our pigs (yes, we used the pigsty and kept pigs) had their very own letter box. I imagine that the door came from the old, demolished cottages.

The pigsties have gone now as well but amongst the retained demolition material we have the letter box. It is far too small for modern usage but it is quite an ornamental piece.


Yes, very decorative! I am delighted to be able to have this on display. But it is very small as a shot with a ruler shows.


The opening is less than five inches long – about twelve centimetres. Even an A5 sized document would need bending to get through that. It can’t be used!

The back of the flap, which would be largely unseen, does have a maker’s name.

image006 There’s enough left here to know that the letter box was made by Kenrick and Son who were (and are) well known iron founders in the Midlands. Right at the bottom we can see a part of the registered number. Kenrick’s own number appears to be 31.

An Ebay seller thinks letter boxes like this were made from the 1890s to the 1940s. Other sellers just call them Victorian.

As to age, I don’t really mind and this one certainly isn’t for sale. I think it is lovely.

Longden upon Tern Aqueduct

June 13, 2013

Bridges that carry water have a fascination all of their own. An unsung hero of this genre is the aqueduct at Longden upon Tern.

It ought to be world famous!


There we are. I even give a map so you can find it. The big place at bottom left is Telford.

Yes, we are in the cradle of the Industrial Revolution in Shropshire.

Sadly, the aqueduct is no longer in use and most of the Shrewsbury Canal that it carried has reverted to nature. But the aqueduct still stands.


There it is, back in 1991 with a posing daughter. The aqueduct was built in 1797 and was designed by Thomas Telford. It replaced the earlier stone built aqueduct which was washed away by floods in 1795. Telford conceived the idea of the iron trough as a simple, cheap and effective method to keep the water in and allow canal boats to cross. His iron trough is 57 metres long and was designed to take narrow boats, just seven feet wide.

Because the trough is dry, it serves as a footbridge over the river so here’s son posing in the trough.


It isn’t only we humans who make use of it. There are animal feeding troughs as well!

For canal use we must imagine that the aqueduct is pretty well brim full of water. The boat would have fitted across the width and if you stepped off the boat you’d go over the edge and plunge down to the valley floor.

Telford’s system worked and he adopted it for his much larger aqueduct on the Llangollen canal at Pontcysyllte. Longden upon Tern Aqueduct is a grade one listed scheduled ancient monument. As the prototype iron aqueduct, I think it deserves more than being almost a nothing in a field.

A canal side mile post

May 17, 2013

What is it about cast iron signs? I love them. They often give information and tell some history at the same time. Just look at this one, photographed by me back in 1976.


Well first and formost it told me I was five miles from Braunston. That’s a canal junction where the Oxford Canal meets the Grand Union Canal. Braunston is in Northamptonshire.

But this wonderfully long lived mile post was set up by the G.J.C.Co. That’s the Grand Junction Canal Company.

The Grand Junction was the original name of the canal from London to Braunston – now part of the Grand Union.  The first bits of canal, around Braunston, opened in 1796 so there’s a fair chance the old sign dates from the 18th century.

If you search on the web you’ll find lots of these signs – now all neatly painted and properly supported above ground level. They look good, but I like the lost world look of this one from days of yore.