Visits and walks 2014

crankshaft of Stretham Old Engine

control for the variable steam cut-off

A.G. Wright Sluice

Stretham Old Engine was built in 1831 as part of a scheme to drain the Cambridgeshire fens. Driven from this crankshaft, the scoop wheel could lift 120 tons of water per minute into the Ouse.

The beam engine was driven by a single double-acting piston. In 1909 the valves were replaced: The main valve was driven by the eccentric on the crankshaft. A steam cut-off valve driven from the beam was added; the degree of cut-off could be varied by the operator.

The steam engine was replaced by a diesel engine driving a Gwynne's centrifugal pump in 1925.

Later the group visited the Denver Sluice complex in Norfolk to understand how flooding is controlled through a series of channels, a scheme first proposed by Cornelius Vermuyden in 1649. Here the group is looking at the A.G. Wright Sluice.

Fish and coal offices by Regent's canal

the coal drop building adjacent to the Granary Store

crane survives by its loading door on the upper floor of the coal drop building

The Great Northern Railway reached London in the 1850s with the opening of King's Cross (1852). They developed a huge goods yard and cattle market to meet London's ever increasing demand for coal, vegetables and meat.

Excluding coal and cattle they were bringing over a million tons of goods in to London by the end of the 19th century. By the 1920s there were 35-40 potato warehouses on the eastern side of the goods shed. At peak times there could be up to 1000 loaded potato wagons waiting to be unloaded.

This walk looked at the remains that can be seen amongst the new developments. The top image shows the Fish and Coal Offices by Regent's Canal; in the centre is a view of the coal drop and the lower image shows one of the cranes by its loading door.

Drage shoe, artwork seen on the end of the former Drage shoe factory in Bozeat

Former school then John Drage's factory.

Bozeat is notable for the Drage and Botterill family boot and shoe businesses that operated in the village, although long-since disappeared. The first image shows the artwork on the former Drage factory.

The building in the lower image is believed to be once that of John Drage's factory.

Three different grades of malt used in brewing

the loading door and hoist on one of John Smith's former malt houses

offices of the former Anchor brewery

On a hot summers evening the group was introduced to craft brewing. Whilst simple in concept and execution, the flavour of the resulting brew is very dependent on the type of malt (samples of dark (chocolate), light- and medium-roasted malt in the top image) and hops used. This was very ably explained by the head brewer and later confirmed by a tasting.

Appropriately the visit was followed by a tour of Oundle looking at the remains of its brewing industry. One of John Smith's malt houses has been converted; the former loading bay and hoist is now a dormer window (centre image).

The buildings in the lower image were once the offices of the Anchor Brewery.

Holme Mill and the River Ivel

the 'engine room'; the water turbine turns the large gear in the centre which then in turn drives the line shaft

three roller mills

Holme Mill has been in the Jordan family for over 150 years. Rebuilding the mill following a major fire in 1899, the opportunity was taken to switch to rolling-milling and replace the waterwheel with a Gilbert & Gilkes water turbine. The mill closed in 2000 following EU regulations banning the use of wood in the food industry.

The shaft from the water turbine drives the line shaft through a pair of bevel gears (centre).




The lower image shows three roller mills working from the coarse grade to the finest grade at the front.

Boulton and Watt Lap engine, 1788

die moulded 1/16th scale clay bricks ready for firing

detailed view of a haystack boiler for a winding engine

David Hulse has made a study of eighteenth century steam engines and the development of rotary motion. His collection of working models is claimed to be the only one in the world.

The top image shows a detailed view of Boulton and Watts Lap Engine built in 1788 employing planetary gearing to generate rotary motion.

For this and his other models, more than 151,000 1/16th scale clay bricks have been produced; the middle image shows some of these before they are kiln-fired in a reducing atmosphere.

A haystack boiler similar to that in the lower image was constructed from 69 pieces of mild steel, representing wrought iron, and 1,749 rivets.

skull 110 in Rothwell bone crypt

bellchamber of Rothwell church

The summer programme started with a visit to Rothwell Church. Like many churches it has a crypt, but unlike many churches this crypt is full of bones and skulls. It is thought these remains of some 1500 individuals date from about 1600. Some of the skulls were been numbered during a research programme.


With 10 bells in it, the bell chamber is a little cramped. The bell in the centre of the picture was recast in 1906.

Looking into the main yard

mechanism for controlling greenhouse window vents

Chester Farm is Northamptonshire County Council's Heritage Jewel representing a unique piece of historic landscape. The site includes a walled Roman town, ancient field systems, deserted medieval village, 17th century farmhouse with later ranges, an orchard and former kitchen garden and areas of former ironstone extraction.

The group learnt about the buildings around the yard. The lever for controlling the greenhouse windows was manufactured by Messenger & Co Ltd of Loughborough.

Charles Bull's factory

the factory of Cunnington Brothers

Knight and Laurence factory

Starting in Park Road, the group explored the remains of the boot and shoe industry in the southern part of Rushden.

Boot and shoe manufacturer Charles Bull was here from 1893 until c1910. The building was later used by the Rushden Argos & Echo as its printing works.

Two coloured brickwork in Flemish bond creates a chequerboard pattern on this factory built in the 1880s. Originally built with five bays facing Park Road, it now comprises only four bays. Cunnington Brothers were here from the start until the factory was taken over by Bignells c1837.

Built as a three-storey block c1893, this was used from new by boot and shoe manufacturer WC Knight. Knight and Laurence were still manufacturing here in 1982.

Two locos in the station waiting for the off

loco named Netta under way

Another pleasant afternoon was spent in the company of Northampton Society of Model Engineers in Delapre Park, Northampton on a return visit.

They regularly attract visiting engines from other societies for their open days.

The lower image shows 0-8-0 Netta under way on the raised track.

tunnel portal of one of the Midland Railway bridges

track bed of the Midland Railway

bee orchid flower see by the roadside

On a pleasant summer's evening the Group explored the area of former quarries around Cransley. The top picture shows a tunnel portal of the Midland Railway's Loddington branch. The next image shows the track bed in a cutting giving an idea of the gradient. When the group arrived, the cattle were on the far side of the cutting in the distance. They were curious as to who was talking about their field!




An eagle-eyed member spotted this bee orchid on the roadside verge.

the remains of the Southam cement works

Shop lock showing the narrow and wide lock chambers

Looking upstream to Shop lock showing the narrow and wide lock chambers

The former Warwick and Napton Canal near the village of Stockton crosses an outcrop of blue lias limestone, which resulted in considerable industrial activity relating to the cement and limestone industry. Of the three cement works only the Southam facility remained open until 2000, since when it has been demolished.

Opened in 1800 with narrow locks, the canal was absorbed into The Grand Union Canal Co in 1929. Wider locks were fitted between 1932 and 1934, seen here from both the upper and lower pounds.