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Record from the pit 1969 - 1981
SOME CANAL FEATURES AND EVENTS IN MORE DETAIL
Sykes Hollow Picnic Area – this amenity area of tables and barbecues was created by the Shropshire Union Canal Society in 2009 with grants from British Waterways, Crewe and Nantwich Council and the Charles and Elsie Sykes Charitable Trust. Up until 2002 it had been a working clay pit owned by British Waterways Board and known as Cholmondeston or Barbridge Clay Pit. The heyday of extraction was in the late 1980s. We are not sure when the pit was opened but think it was sometime in the late 1960s. The clay was used to reline the leaking aqueduct just east of Aqueduct Marina.
Cholmondeston railway experiment - in 1888 about a mile of 18” railway track was laid along the towpath (on the straight stretch between Chomoneston Lock and Sykes Hollow Picnic area) and a small locomotive from Crewe railway works was used to haul barges. Although the locomotive had successfully pulled two, four and then eight boats at speeds up to 7 mph the process proved impracticable and no further action was taken.
Church Minshull Canal Breach 12/10/58 - the breach at the present viewpoint between bridges 12 and 13, was purported to have been caused by a burrowing rat and drained 7 miles of the canal from Minshull Lock to Stanthorne Lock. A 3 hour cascade of 2,600,000 gallons of water flooded into the field and the River Weaver below, resulted in a gouge 30' deep by 60' wide. This is information is taken from an article in the Crewe Chronicle, an article from the British Waterways inhouse magazine (bottom left) has slightly different facts. Family album pictures courtesy of a local farmer.living in Church Minshull.
Brickyard Bridge takes its name from a brick kiln works set up in 1842 in the next field on the towpath side of the canal. The wooden bridge replaces a brick road bridge which was demolished because of safety issues. (Bridge 10 was demolished at the same time and was not replaced.) It is still possible to see where the clay was excavated from spoil banks which were deposits of clay from the original building of the canal. There was also a wharf in this area.
Barbridge Junction - transhipment warehouses and wharves were built at the same time as the construction of the Middlewich Branch, although the branch saw little traffic until the Birmingham and Liverpool Junction Canal opened in 1935. The wooden warehouse spanned the canal but was demolished in 1958 and only a brick built store remains today by the water point.. The building on the Nantwich side of the gauging point is the store of the Mission School which closed in 1972. The Jolly Tar pub, a familiar sight at the junction, was destroyed by fire in April 2016 although it was scheduled for demolition.