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Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Nelson Wharf, Stockton.

A couple of years back cruising towards the Stockton flight boaters and walkers could be excused for not realising what lay behind the greenery overhanging the offside just before the Boat pub at bridge 21.
 The only clue if any of us noticed would have been the curve on the concrete edging to the right of the picture.

Two years on and the view is a bit different.
The arm led into the Nelson cement works. The white footbridge has been installed because the arm had been filled in beneath it and the recent (1970ish) right of way had to be re-instated. The right of way is the bed of the old London and North Western Railway line between Weedon and Leamington.
In the picture above, from the English heritage archives dated 1930`s, you can see the canal passing under the railway and also the branch lines entering the cement works from both directions.

Records of 1860 show Charles Nelson being at Stockton in the cement and lime business. Nelson`s had their own fleet of canal boats and in 1870 a dock was built to sevice the fleet and it was later extended to allow boats to load inside the works. In 1905 18,000 tons came in and out by boat. In the 1940`s the works closed.

Nelson built cottages at the works and also owned many houses in nearby Stockton. The working mens club in Stockton was provided by the company and retains the name to this day.

Use this link to see map of other quarries in the area.
Also this link has some interesting memories of villagers and workers. 
Willow Wren Training who now own the site have some interesting stuff on their pages here. Look for the Tramway wagon wheels that have been found in the arm.
Map dated 1885 before the railways arrived. Tramways from the quarry to the works are marked on the map. These fed Limestone into the kilns on both sides of the canal.

One day we will once again see boats under the railway bridge as Willow Wren are to provide moorings along the restored arm. Talking to someone on site it seems there was once a slipway in the basin according to locals so I can see this arm becoming a useful addition for boaters services. Also there are rumours that a work boat was left in the arm when it was filled in.

From the footbridge looking in towards the works site.
Some Kilns being revealed as the arm is excavated
From the footbridge towards the canal mainline.
If you want to look around the site as I have said it`s a public right of way. Moor up near the Boat pub. Cross the bridge and directly opposite the pub entrance you will see a gate marked Taskers meadow. Follow the path across the field slightly to the right and you will come to a gate into the old railway trackbed. Turn left and the footbridge over the arm is just ahead of you. Before you move away from this gate look right and you can see a sign board near to which one of the quarries can be viewed by following a few steps in the slope.
As you cross the footbridge over the arm the footpath is marked going to the right. Everywhere else is private remember. 

Clearing the arm and basin will not be cheap and certainly the cost will not be covered by a few moorings along the arm. I can see this developing into something big. Just look at the aeriel picture of the works and tell me you can`t imagine a marina. At least some history is being uncovered and if it did develop into a marina it will certainly have an historic entrance.


Carol said...

Very interesting Les. Thanks for the link to Willow Wren’s website too, lots of opportunities there for boaters’ facilities as you suggest. Will keep an eye on the progress with interest. Love to you both. xx

Mike Muir said...

Thanks for posting this, Les.
We have been past the entrance in it's Amazonian Jungle condition on our first day out on Garnet and did not see it at all! Last time was after the Willow Wren crew had started training out of there.
Lot's o'luck, W. W.
Mike on GARNET

Les Biggs said...

Hi Carol
Anything with some history grabs my attention. I can for sure see a marina there in the future.
Hope you both are well.

Les Biggs said...

Hi Mike
Lots of other places just like this. An old arm was also in place opposite the Kayes arm. Very little in the way of clues but you can make out it's route just.

Anonymous said...

We are the owners of Nelson's Wharf and I would like to thank you very much for your supportive words. It goes a long way to making it all worthwhile.
Just for the record, there will never be a marina here. We are restoring the basin to its original profile to restore the heritage of the site and will only offer moorings for around 8 boats.
We have to see a small return on our investment but the overriding objective here is to put something back to the waterways that has given us so much pleasure for many years.
It will be special at Nelson's Wharf but not over commercial.
Keep an eye on the website for progress.
Steve Vaughan

Les Biggs said...

Hi Steve
The history of anything connected to the place I live has always interested me.
I do hope your right about there not being a marina on the site. Although saying that if a small one appeared I could appreciate that it would help towards what must be a very expensive project you are undertaking.
Best wishes for the project.

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs