Monday 14 July 2014

Peeps at the Past

This is just one of a series of around fifty old newspaper articles that I have been reading. I have been researching from old newspapers and magazines the last 200 years or so of the inland waterways. With particular interest in the issues of the day that were effecting the canals. The most active periods for evaluation and change, has always been just prior, during and shortly after the two world wars. It should be remembered that between the wars the ownership of some of the canals changed hands as the railway companies bought up the waterways to get reduce competition. What is not clear is the effect this early form of asset stripping had on the viability of the inland waterways. Its good to take a look back at what people were saying and doing in the past. Most surprising of all are some of the problems that beset the canals back then - are still prevalent today. Reading old newspapers can throw up some rather interesting stories. Here is what we would call today a public interest story.

Caveat: Some of the articles are difficult to read and even using modern electronic  scanning and text conversion methods. The odd punctuation, word or character may have been transcribed in error. 
Northern Star
Wednesday 28 April 1909
Peeps at the Past

One of the earliest of the old Outram ways from which modern tramways are supposed to have derived their name has just been closed for traffic after an honourable career extending over 138 years. This interesting link with the past was the property of the Derby Canal Co and connects the terminus of their, waterways at Little Eaton, about two miles north-east of Derby, with the famous coal pits at Denby, Kilburn, and Marehay. For a good many years the section, beyond Mr. Drury Lowe's pits at Denby has been closed, and latterly the chief patrons of the old line have been the Derby Co-operative Society, who have annually brought some 10,000 tons of coal from Derby for the use of their members at Derby, by means of the tramway and the canal. The line, how ever, is out of repair, and it has been estimated that the Midland Railway, Co can perform the service more economically and with less trouble. After more than a century's good work it is recognised that the 'Gangway' as it is locally termed, has outlived its usefulness.

With Josiah Brindley, born at Chapel-en-le-Frith, and Geo. Stephenson ending his days at Chesterfield, Derbyshire, would seem to be sufficiently associated with the birth of canals and railways. By means of, the Outrams, however, the Peak County is brought into still closer contact with the improved methods of inland communication that came into existence at the close of the 18th and the early part of the 19th centuries. The Outrams were a very remarkable family. Old Outram, father of Benjamin, and grandfather of the famous general the Dayard of India was born In 1738, and lived at Alfreton. He was an engineer, surveyor and ironmaster and filled pretty much this position in relation to the Duke of Norfolk as did Brindlcy to the Duke of Bridgwater. His Grace placed implicit reliance in his judgement and advice in the developing of his mining properties, the greater part of which Outram surveyed and reported on. He it was who advised the Duke of Norfolk to pull up the whole of the wooden way to his colliery at Sheffield and to lay down his own design of cast-iron plates in the shape of the letter "L" these plates being spiked down to cross the sleepers of wood in order to maintain the gauge of the line at 5ft outside.

Authority was given to him to carry the suggestion into effect, and the result is that in 177o Outram commenced the manufacture of these plates at his foundry at Butterley, Derbyshire, and they were laid down in the following year. Outram's judgement was confirmed in the most sterling manner, and the Duke of Norfolk was so delighted that he actually had his private carriage adapted for use on the Outram way.

So successful was the new system that fewer horses and drivers were required, and the colliery employees were so indignant that they tore up the plates, burned the sleepers, and brought the whole thing to an abrupt and violent end. Old Outram sought to circumvent the men by re-fixing the plates on iron boxes, but the men smashed in the sides of the boxes, and the trains were once more rendered useless. Then Benjamin Outram, his son, came forward with the suggestion to fix the plates on solid blocks of stone, and this was so far successful that no more smashing tactics wore resorted to, and the system was gradually extended to other parts of the country. The Little Eaton, Denby, Kilburn, and Marehay line was laid down by Outram in 1795 the terminus being within a mile or two of his residence at Butterley. Perhaps it was this proximity to the line which led him to take such a keen interest in its welfare, and formed the origin of the tradition that it was the first Outram-way in England. Anyway, there is scarcely a  Derbyshire guide-book published which does not perpetuate the legend, though the evidence to the contrary is almost overwhelming, as shown.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please put your name to your comment. Comments without a name may automatically be treated as spam and might not be included.

If you do not wish your comment to be published say so in your comment. If you have a tip or sensitive information you’d prefer to share anonymously, you may do so. I will delete the comment after reading.