Visits and walks 2010
On a damp evening the group set out to identify any evidence of the earliest known ironstone tramway in the Blisworth area. On reaching the canal we were in time to see a headlamp (attached to a boat) emerging from the tunnel. Although the site of the bridge over the canal was found, little evidence of the trackbed of the tram-way was seen.
Limestone was taken from quarries near Blisworth Stone Works on a tram-way to a canal wharf adjacent to the bridge. Again little evidence was found; perhaps a return visit in better conditions is required.
Evidence of quarrying was found on the outskirts of the village.
Burton Latimer was a small agricultural town until the 19th century when its clothing and footwear industries developed. Now all but gone, there are still remnants of the smaller sites. This 19th century stone building was home to Wards clothing company; now a restaurant.
The Free Endowed Grammar School was built in 1622. No longer used as a school, the building has been restored and is now a private dwelling.
A pleasant summer's evening was spent perusing the industrial past of Brackley.
Within a stone's throw of the Town Hall can be seen the last of the town's farms with an extensive range of buildings behind the house fronting on to the High Street.
At the lower end of the High Street the remains of two breweries were seen: Hopcraft and Norris on one side of the road and Belcowes on the other seen here.
A very pleasant summer's evening was spent exploring the Grand Junction Canal and its locks near Watford.
The West Coast main line crosses the canal on this bridge at a shallow angle. The space between the girders is filled-in with 'vaulted' brickwork as seen here from the towpath.
Walking under the road bridge leading to the village, it can be seen that the width of the original brick-built bridge has been extended with this concrete structure.
Rail and canal infrastructure south of Northampton was the subject of this walk.
The first site of interest was the original LNWR loco shed, which is the only remaining building on the former Bridge Street Station site.
Following the towpath of the Northampton arm of the Grand Junction canal the group passed under the line linking Duston North Junction with Bridge Street Junction and station, the only surviving part of the triangle of lines surrounding a later loco depot.
The 1881 route into Northampton crosses the canal close to a set of locks.
The return route followed the Brampton arm of the River Nene where this sluice gate protected the former wharf that served the small industries and timber yards of Old Towcester Road.
The canal came to Deanshanger in 1801 but only traces of its route can be found in village.
More significantly was the arrival of Richard Roberts in 1820; as the group heard a trip round the village is the story of the Roberts family. The only remaining foundry building is the Red Oxide works that closed in 1999.
During the course of the evening various Roberts's homes were pointed out. Several were distinguished by their decorative chimney pots, as shown here.
For the last walk of the season the Group visited the Nene Valley Railway. Starting from Orton Mere the group walked along the path towards Peterborough as far as Joseph Cubitt's cast iron railway bridge constructed for the Great Northern Railway in 1850.
The diesel-hauled train was taken to Wansford where tank engine No 22 completed the return trip to Yarwell.
After looking at the many exhibits at Wansford station the last train to Orton Mere was taken to complete the day's outing.
Huntingdon County Bats produce quality cricket bats for the professionals. Three sawn blanks of willow are turned on this multi-spindle copying lathe; the inset shows a detail of one of the bats.
After the handle has been attached to the blade, the neck is shaped using a draw-knife and spokeshave.
Hand planes are used to finish shaping the back of the bat before being sanded with varying grades of grit and buffed on a felt wheel.
Bradwell Windmill, owned by Milton Keynes Council, is operated by Milton Keynes Museum. Despite early enthusiasm, the mill has never been fully restored to an operational level. Although the basic millwrighting is sound, the upper structure is in need of work. It has a pair of common sails and a pair of spring sails, the damaged shutters of which have been removed.
The brakewheel and main gearing are all sound but the final mechanism for driving the stones requires some attention. Currently a pair of French burr-stones are in situ.
The main IA interest at Blatherwycke is the lake and its former corn mill. The 16th century Hall was demolished in 1984 following major damage caused by troops billeted there during WWII. Only the stable block, shown here, survives. From the path the group was able to identify the approximate location of the house and various features.
The former corn mill could be seen on the far side of the lake.
It was noted that the bridge carrying the public road through the village, like many estate cottages, carries the monogram SO'B, referring to the Stafford O'Briens.
Originally worked by Thomas Turnell in 1848, a working mill has existed on this site until 1966. A new mill was built in 1874 by William Butlin with the Turnell family continuing as millers. The mill was demolished in 1973 to make way for the new dual-carriageway leaving only water wheel and primary gear in situ.
It was possible to identify part of the leet and the remains of two wide arches defining the entrance and exit routes of the water as it passed under the wheel within the building as well two narrower arches defining the route of the by-pass channel.
The Storefield quarries opened in 1902. This is the site of the former level crossing with the route to the main line alongside the cottages for foreman and manager.
On the other side of the road nothing remains of the extensive railway layout, loco shed and calcine banks.
The trees in the distance stand on what was once Glebe Quarry and South Quarry.
The quarries lay dormant between 1929 and 1940 and were finally closed in 1971.
Little remains of the quarry workings between Loddington and Orton. The path descends into a small valley, passing the site of medieval fishponds before rising again to open fields. Once on top the group examined this unusual field barn. The path briefly crosses the remains of Manor House ironstone workings.
The Orton Trust's stonemasonry centre, founded in 1968, is situated in the deconsecrated church of All Saints. The adjacent village hall is used as a study centre. After a brief introduction to the work of the Trust the group saw the students at work. Some were beginners learning the basic skills whilst others were tackling more advanced carving and shaping of the stone.
George Wimpey built Grafton Underwood airbase in 1941 with three runways and 38 'frying pan' dispersals. It was occupied by US 8th Airforce with 42 B17 flying fortresses. Since wooden buildings were erected for dining and communal areas, little remains to be seen. This small square building may have been a boiler house with water tank to provide hot water for nearby wash rooms, etc. Between the woods and the road this low concrete structure was seen; further investigation suggested it was an underground bunker.
The annual Railtour visited Shrewsbury, Hereford, Malvern and Worcester. Members had a couple of hours to explore the town of Shrewsbury. From the castle there was a grand view over the railway station and its large signal box seen here with a Hereford-bound train.
There was time to explore the architecture of Malvern station building and a nearby hotel. This once had a direct connection through the 'Worm', a corrugated iron covered passage way, to the station platform.
This set of 20 cwt scales by Henry Pooley & Son Ltd was embedded in the platform such that the pan was flush with the platform.
Our journey continued with another change of train at Worcester Foregate for Birmingham.