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Macclesfield Canal - Engineer's report

The Engineer to the Macclesfield Canal, William Crosley, was required to make a report to the Chairman and committee each year on the progress and problems during construction. This page provides the report dated July 1829.

To The Chairman Of The Committee Of The Macclesfield Canal.


FOR the information of the Committee and Proprietors, I beg to report the present state of the works upon the Canal; and in order that I may make what I have to state more simple and intelligible, I have thought it convenient to divide the Canal into various lengths, and to report separately upon each.

1st. From the Peak Forest Canal to Highlane, being a distance of 2¼ miles:

In my report at the Annual Meeting on the 17th of July last [1828], I stated that this portion of the Canal was navigable; since that time the water has continued upon the same level with the Peak Forest Canal, without leakage or accident.

2nd. From Highlane to the southerly side of Middlewood Embankment, half a mile long:

This length comprises the deep cutting and large embankment at Middlewood. There are about 40,000 cubic yards of earth to remove, 30,000 of which will be completing the Embankment. This part of the work in rapid progress, there being two sets of hands engaged upon it almost day and night. In consequence of the heavy pressure upon the Culvert under the embankment, the face of some of the stones has been partially crushed; but this does not affect the stability of the work; and I consider it of no other importance than as regards the eye; and merely notice it in this place, being desirous of bringing before the Committee and the Proprietors at large, every circumstance that has occurred connected with the execution of the work.

3rd. From the south side of Middlewood to the northerly end of the embankment, situated at the division of the Townships of Adlington and Pott-Shrigley, 2¾ miles long:

The whole of this division is in a state to be filled with water, with the exception of a short length at Hag Brook, which requires some side puddle. The stoning and gravelling of the towing path, and the planting of the quicks are yet to be done.

4th. From the northerly end of the last mentioned embankment to Styperson Park Corner, a distance of ¾ of a mile:

In this length there is a heavy embankment, and some deep cutting at Hibbert's Brow. The embankment has been very troublesome, from the slippery nature of the materials which it has been necessary to use in its construction. About 14,000 yards of earth will be required to complete this embankment, if it should stand; but if there should be any further slip, a greater quantity will be required. Nearly the whole of the stoning and fencing of the towing path, and also some trimming and soiling remain to be executed.

5th. From Styperson Park Corner to the northerly end of the embankment at Bollington, 1½ mile:

The digging and embanking are complete, except in a short length where the marl has been reserved for puddling over the embankment at Bollington. The fencing and stoning of the towing path are in a forward state.

6th. From the northerly end of the Valley at Bollington, to some buildings called the Glue Sheds, ¼ mile:

This distance comprises the large embankment at Bollington, and a small quantity of digging, which is chiefly rock. A slip has taken place in this embankment, which has not only retarded the work, but has injured the masonry of the Culvert. The cause appears to be this:-- Finding that the embankment would be chiefly composed of stone, I concluded it would stand upon a much narrower base than was intended by the original Contract, and that, by making the slopes 12 inches to a foot, instead of 24 inches to a foot, a saving of about £1,700 might be effected; and, I was the more induced to recommend this alteration to the committee, as, in the event of its not answering, I considered that the original plan might be resorted to, and the work completed at a sum not exceeding the amount of the original Contract. When I found the work giving way, a stop was put to it for about six weeks, in order that the effect produced by time and the heavy rains which were then falling, might be seen. The work was resumed several weeks ago; and, as no further slip has taken place, I am of opinion that the embankment will stand without any extension of the base. But, if I should be deceived upon this point, and it should be found desirable, either as a matter of necessity, or of prudence, to adopt the original Contract, the extra work will be performed for the sum which has been deducted from the Contract, so that no additional expense will fall upon the Company. With respect to the injury of the Culvert to which I have before alluded, an inner arch has been constructed in that part; which, if continued entirely through, will render it quite safe. Should the work stand without any further alteration, about 20,000 yards will complete the embankment. Of the Masonry in this division, there is one bridge to build, and part of the road Aqueduct, the towing path is also to be fenced and stoned.

7th. From the Glue Sheds to near Clarke Lane, one mile: this will be completed in about two months, except the stoning and fencing of the towing path.

8th. From near Clark Lane to Foden Bank, three miles: this length is nearly full of water, and completed, except the planting of the Quicks.

9th. From Foden Bank to the head of the Locks at North Rode, a distance of 4¼ miles:

This is capable of being filled with water, subject only to the removal of about 5,000 yards of earth, and the lining of about 200 yards in length, with a small quantity of side puddling in Gawsworth. The fencing and towing path are in a forward state.

Having understood that some doubts had been entertained whether the Canal at Fool's Nook was quite safe, from the peculiarity of the situation and the slippery nature of the ground, I have thought it desirable to adopt some additional precautions, which I feel quite satisfied will render it perfectly secure.

The result of the above remarks is, that the whole of the summit level, being 16¼ miles in length, with the exception of about 1½ mile, may be filled with water in two months; and I feel very confident that unless some unforeseen accident occurs, this level will be completed by the first of January next.

10th. The first Lot upon the lower level, including the Locks, being nearly 3 miles in length, is now proceeding with very great activity:

All the Culverts and seven of the Bridges are finished--two Bridges are in progress. The masonry of two Locks is completed, and two others are in progress.

The large Aqueduct over the River Dane is included in this division. In consequence of the foundations proving very unsound, it was thought advisable to consult Mr. Telford as to the propriety of a deviation from the original plan. Mr. Telford being of opinion, after considering the circumstances, that the sort of Aqueduct originally intended to be adopted could not be relied upon, and having suggested various alterations, the work is now proceeding according to the plan drawn out by him; by which all doubts that were entertained of the safety of the Aqueduct are now removed.

11th. The second Lot upon this level is about 2¾ miles in length:

The digging is proceeding with great spirit, but the masonry has been retarded, in consequence of the difficulty of conveying stone to the Bridges, &c. in winter. The Contractor is now enabled to go on with greater rapidity.

12th. The last Lot, which terminates at Hall Green, completes the Canal, as the junction with the Trent and Mersey Canal will be effected in that place:

This portion is about 4¼ miles in length, and is in a very forward state. All the Culverts are completed, as is also the remainder of the masonry, except four Bridges and the stop Lock. The digging is also completed, except about 10,000 yards, and the stoning and fencing of the towing paths are in a forward state.

By the terms of the Contracts for the execution of the lower line of the Canal, that portion of it between the Trent and Mersey Canal and Congleton was stipulated to be finished by the 1st of January next. This I have no doubt will be the case. The remaining part of the line of this level, which includes the very great and important embankment of Dane-in-Shaw, the different Locks, and the Aqueduct over the Dane, was to be completed by the 1st of January, 1831; but in consequence of the unavoidable delay occasioned by the deficiencies in the foundations for the Aqueduct over the Dane, and the necessity of making some alterations, the time for completing this Aqueduct has been extended to the 1st of May following; and I feel quite satisfied that every part of the works will be completed within the periods that have been fixed upon.

The Locks are executing by Messrs. Nowell and Sons, the Contractors, in a very superior manner, and with respect to the whole line, with the exceptions which have been pointed out, the whole of the work is going on without accident; and the different Contractors are executing their respective portions in a manner perfectly satisfactory.

The Reservoir at Bosley is proceeding rapidly: the pipes are laid for taking water through the embankment, and the masonry at the end of xxx finding a good foundation for the puddle, in the centre of the embankment, I have concluded to have a lining puddle under its seat, and along the bottom of the Reservoir, till it can be tied into firm and watertight ground.

The forming of the Feeders has also been commenced. The Reservoir, together with the Feeders, will be completed by the time they are required for the use of the Canal.

(signed) WILLIAM Crosley

July 16th, 1829.