BRITANNIA AQUEDUCT HISTORICAL SOCIETY
Aqueduct, Dawley Castle and Lightmoor Walk
This walk traces the western arm of the canal from the Aqueduct, through Little Dawley and on to Lightmoor.
Commencing from the Britannia Inn, originally built as a Chartermasters House in the 1840s, turn north along Aqueduct Road.
On the right is Fosters Row, seven rows of four houses built in the 1840s. Further along is St. Paul’s Church built in 1851. Opposite St. Paul’s Church is Chapel Lane, where in the 1840s four rows of houses were built, presumably for the people working at Aqueduct Bank.
At the Junction of Chapel Lane and Aqueduct Road is the site of a railway bridge, which once crossed over the main road from Wellington to Bridgnorth, the A442. Continue along the path to the left of the Silkin Way, which is the course of the original A442, to the Aqueduct, built in 1792 by John Lowdon to carry the western branch of the Shropshire Canal, over the road. The route of the canal was surveyed by William Reynolds.
Proceed under the Aqueduct, then turn left then right, along the path from the Aqueduct which follows the course of the original canal. Follow the path, turning left away from the canal and cross Castlefields Way.
Turn left into Majestic Way, then right into Pageant Drive. This is the site of Botany Bay Colliery. Take the first turning left following the path to Castle Pool. The path to the left of Castle Pool follows the line of the canal towpath, which will be the return route.
Take the right footpath then first left around the right side of the pool and straight on to the mound. On top of the mound can he found remains of the Castle Ironworks which commenced operation in 1810.
In front of the mound is the site of Dawley Castle. A section of stonework at the front of the mound may be from the castle. Continue around the pool then turn left over the bridges which follow the line of a tramway built to service the Ironworks.
Turn right following the path past Dandy Pool. This is the line of a tramway which led to the Coalbrookdale Ironworks. On the left is the site of a possible motte dating back to the Norman era.
Upon reaching Widewaters Pool take the right fork which was the original canal embankment and towpath. The left fork is the tramway.
Continue along the towpath where there is a section of canal restored by Dawley Hamlets Parish Council, eventually reaching the “Tub Boat Bridge”.
Retrace your steps turning sharp right at the first junction to reach the top of the “Tub Boat Bridge”. Follow the line of the tramway to the left. (Towards Lightmoor).
The pools on the right are all that remains of the Lightmoor furnace site. Continue to a “T” junction then turn left. This is the course of the Wellington and Severn Junction Railway which opened in 1858.
Follow the course of the railway to where a path crosses near to a stile on the right. At this point turn left. This is the line of another tramway which can be followed to the Ironbridge Way, which was also a tramway.
Turn left along the Ironbridge Way, eventually returning to Dandy Pool. A clear view of the castle motte can be seen on the return journey following the right side of the pools back to Pageant Drive.
Alternatively it is possible upon reaching the Ironbridge Way, to turn right instead of left, taking the left fork for the subway under the Ironbridge bypass to visit Madeley Court via Rough Park Way.
I have always been intrigued by the route that the Shropshire Canal took westwards from the aqueduct towards the Wynd (probably as so much of it is lost under many newer developments for housing, industry and agriculture). In particular I have been curious about the point at which the Canal crossed over the (relatively new) Castlefields Way. We can easily follow the curved path from the Aqueduct towards Castlefields Way but then all signs of a canal are pretty much lost in the undergrowth with the only obvious reoccurrence being some 300m away at the Castle Pools ‘stinky corner’ (which BTW is currently in the process of being turned into a reed bed).
Having perused many maps of the area and listened to many other people’s opinion I had previously come to the conclusion that the canal would have crossed the new Castlefields Way at approximately the position where the bus stop is on the East side of the road. So, it was of interest when this week (mid august 2014) that our Friends(?) at Western Distribution decided to lay new electric cables along a considerable stretch of Castlefields way. This involved digging an (approx) 1 metre deep channel alongside the pavement to house those new cables.
Seeing my opportunity I got into conversation with one of the workman asking if he had seen anything that might indicate the route of an old canal during his excavations. It turned out that the channel had intersected (for approx 20ft) a deep trench starting about 10″ below the surface which had been infilled with sandy coloured rubble (no obvious blocks or bricks that I could see – I did take some photos). The trench had apparently slowed the workmen down considerably so I’ll let you imagine the language he used to describe it 😉 .
Anyway, this discovery does make me question if in fact the canal crossed a further 50 metres south of my originally surmised crossing at the bus stop (this would have made it approx 200m south of the original route of the Southall turnpike road and nearly opposite the entrance to Majestic Way). If this was in fact the route of the canal I would guess that the workmen’s channel intersected it at an angle with the canal veering North West (as shown in most of the maps I have seen) and the trench would probably be approx 15 ft across (which would seem to be roughly comparable with some of the existing canal at Blists Hill?). Of course without digging another channel to calculate the actual direction of the trench more accurately this is all pure conjecture.
Hopefully this is of interest to somebody else?. If so I’d be really interested to hear any comments or theories?.