Saturday, 27 July 2013
Summit Level - near Albert's Dock
A recent question on Twitter was about the purpose of the inlet on the non-towpath side, near Albert's Dock on the summit level, on the stretch between bridges 31 and 32. Which is cordoned off by CRT.
There is no evidence that this piece of water was ever a legal part of the canal. When the canal was built in the 1770s there would have been a stream running down the hill at that point, from Peck Mill, and thereafter flowing into the canal.
Over time the stream's outfall seems to have been widened, (by the landowner?) and it may have been used as an unofficial wharf on its western side.
The earliest trust-worthy maps we have are the 1890 Ordnance Survey, and the 1892 survey of the entire canal by Fowler - an extract of which is shown above.
From the Fowler map we can measure that the inlet was then 82ft long, an almost perfect length to allow the turning of a horse-drawn 70ft narrowboat. If that's what it was, why was an unofficial winding-hole developed there? My theory dates back to the 1840s when, for a number of years, there was a regular boat-traffic being loaded with the stone to build the current Houses of Parliament - at a wharf near the "malt kiln" shown on the map above. It seems very likely that the inlet was used to turn the boats, prior to loading, for their trip back to West Stockwith, and/or an off-line boat-storage mooring with a stable for the boat-horses?
Yorkshire Stone to London - To Create the Houses of Parliament
Presumably it's cordoned-off by CRT because they have no legal responsibilty to maintain or use it.