Visits and walks 2011

The former Kelmarsh Arms

Southern tunnel buttress of Kelmarsh tunnel

On a damp evening the group walked along part of the course of the former LNWR line between Northampton and Market Harborough and in particular to look at Kelmarsh tunnel. Over the track from the station was the former Kelmarsh Arms.

The tunnel portal walls are finished with stone cappings, seen here at the southern end of the tunnel.

Islip Mill from the south

Nine arches bridge, Thrapston

Thrapston had an important position on Northants' railway map as it was the crossing point of two railways and had two stations. The first was the LNWR Northampton to Peterborough railway of 1845 with its station in Bridge Street, closed in 1964 by Beeching. The single track Kettering to Cambridge Varsity line was constructed in 1865 with a station in Midland Road. It closed in 1959.

Other sites on the walk included Islip Mill, which ceased operation in 1960, and a river-side view of the Nine Arches bridge over the River Nene.

Both images courtesy Ron W.

body shells being assembled

marking out the aluminium skin for a door

buffing a wing unit after spraying

internal trim being fitted to the body

the new morgan three-wheeler

The Group visited the Morgan factory in Malvern where traditional hand crafts are still used in the manufacture of their cars.


The body is still made from wood and then clad with an aluminium skin.



With the body work finished, the car is wheeled into the paint shop where it is hand-sprayed and buffed.


Although pre-cut to a nominal oversize, all of the internal trim and soft top are hand finished as they are fitted.

There is no such thing as a catalogue; each car is a special built to the owner's requirements.



To celebrate 60 years of production Morgan decide to return to its roots and build a new three-wheeled car.

the stopped end of a wooden organ pipe

the voice end of a wooden organ pipe

the pipe tuning bench

An evening visit was made to Northampton's pipe organ builder. Here we can see the stopped end of wooden organ pipes.



The middle image shows the voice end of some wooden pipes.




Metal pipes are also made and in the bottom image can be seen the tuning bench. The wall-mounted thermometer ensures each pipe is tuned to the correct pitch.

former factory of Thomas Johnson

former shoemakers workshop at the bottom of a garden

The home of John Kitchener

The shoe trade became Olney's main trade from the 1850s. The former factory of Thomas Johnson, a manufacturer in the shoe trade, 1887-1915. It appears to be a converted barn raised to three stories. Johnson's private residence was behind the factory in the High Street until 1939.


Small shoemakers workshops can be found at the bottom of gardens.



Tucked away behind the frontages there can be found a multitude of former workshops and factories. Note the taking-in door and crane.


leather dressing factory built c1880

Unicorn Works built c1887

leather dressing factory built c1880

For the last walk of the season, the Group visited the Boot & Shoe Quarter in Northampton. This building in Overstone Road was built c.1880 as a leather dressing factory and later used by a range of leather companies. In the 1960s and 1970s it was AJ Tear's bedding factory.

Although more recently associated with printers and book binders this building built c.1887 in St Michael's Road was used by boot manufacturer James Branch and then Beale & Co unto the 1920s. Note the the taking-in door and crane at each end.


This factory building in Lorne Road dates from the 1870s and was used until c.1933 by AG Heritage, described as a boot and shoe manufacturer. In 2013 the building was cement-rendered; the taking-in door has gone as has the 'side' window behind the figure and the stone motive and lower window on the corner wall.

some of the many bells in he servants passage

the Butler's accommodation list for guests

The season started with a visit to Kelmarsh Hall and in particular for a 'below stairs' tour. As we entered the servants' passage we were surprised at the large number of bells mounted on the wall: shown here for Luggage Hall, Small dining room and Library.


This blackboard was used by the butler to record to which rooms guests had been assigned.

Walker's shoe factory in Walgrave

iron kerb edging

houses built for Stephen walker's family members

shoemakers workshop behind each house

Stephen Walker's shoe factory in Walgrave, built c.1900, produced boots for the army for the Boer War as well as for both world wars. Under the ownership of George Webb the output increased from 700 to 2,200 pairs per week. The factory closed in 1980; from 1982-92 it was used by the Regent Belt Company. Converted into three town houses in 2003.

Nearby could be seen this length of iron kerb edging.



Stephen Walker built these four houses in Bakers Lane for family members in 1895. The bay windows were added after 1900.


Behind them they have shoemakers workshops. It is reputed that two men and four boys occupied such a workshop when it was in use.

track bed to the calcining banks at Finedon

The level of the cricket field in Finedon is several feet below the level of the adjacent roads: the result of Charles Barlow quarrying the ironstone in the early 19th century.

Our walk continued down the incline, on which a standard gauge track had been laid on concrete sleepers, as far as the site of the calcining banks. Here the ore would have been layered with coal and burnt to remove impurities in readiness for smelting.

Mind the gap. Bridge abutments without the bridge

A view of the viaduct from the east

a track-side water tower with details of internal pipes

Mind the Gap! Catesby viaduct once carried the Great Central Railway between Brackley and Rugby. Here we followed the Jurassic Way to this accommodation bridge, of which only the abutments remain.

The approaches to the viaduct have suffered through erosion seen here at its southern end.



Standing at the bottom of the embankment adjacent to a water course is this brick-built tower, about 4ft square and 15ft high. Through an open door facing away from the track could be seen the remains of three large diameter pipes running up inside the tower. Presumably the tower once had a water tank on its top which would have been roughly level with the rail tracks.

road bridge (No 53) over the canal at Stoke Bruerne

the weigh bridge in the dry dock at Stoke Bruerne

detail of the support fulcrum for the cradle of the weigh bridge

Having walked up from the Lower Locks car park, members discuss the design and construction of the skew arches in the bridge over the canal at Stoke Bruerne. The name 'skew arch' is derived from the fact that the brick courses are laid at an angle to the horizontal as in the inset.

Members look at the boat weighing machine located in the dry dock. In 2013 it was dismantled and taken to the National Waterfront Museum in Swansea where it is being cleaned and restored before being re-assembled.


A detail view of one pair of suspension pivots for the cradle.

Looking down to Torr Vale Mill at New Mills

A view of the tail races from Torr Vale Mill at New Mills

Sluice gate at the entrance to the headrace in to Torr Vale Mill at New Mills

This year the Railtour took the Group to Manchester via Sheffield. At New Mills we got our first sight of Torr Vale Mill, a cotton mill built c.1788, as we made our way to New Mills Newtown station for the next part of the journey.

The return journey was broken to further explore the Torrs gorge. Taking the 'lower' route, two tunnels could be seen leaving the Grade II* listed building into the River Goyt.

Above the weir can be seen the iron sluice-gate (bottom left) at the entrance to the headrace, which carried the water to two large water wheels. Steam power came with an extension to the mill in 1856; both steam and water power continued until the 1940s when electrical power was installed. The mill closed in 2000.