Lower Peak Forest Canal

Newton Wood Private Branch
& Victoria Colliery

This branch was about 247 yards long and it was situated on the offside of the canal between Dukinfield Hall (or Well) Bridge and Newton Hall Bridge. It was used by the Duknkirk Coal Company and its successors. By 1888, Jamieson's Dye Manufacturing Works had been built alongside it. The Tithe Map of 1850 shows that there was a path on the offside of the canal from Newton Hall Bridge that extended for about two thirds of the length of the branch. It is possible that this was a basic path for boat horses to use rather than a properly constructed towpath with coping stones alongside the canal.

For details of Dunkirk Coal Company click here » Dunkirk Coal Co

Newton Wood Private Branch
Lower Peak Forest Canal

Grid Refs: Newton Wood Private Branch SJ 939 966, Victoria Colliery SJ 944 972
Tithe Map: 1850, Ref: EDT 143/2
Courtesy: Cheshire Archives & Local Studies

Remains of the Newton Wood Private Branch, 8 May 1976.

Victoria and Albert Mills stand in the background on Victoria Road.

Coal from Victoria Colliery was conveyed down a tramway to a staithe on the Newton Wood Private Branch. National Coal Board records refer to this colliery as Newton Wood Colliery and the local name was Lakes Pit. The tramway was just over half a mile long and it was almost in a straight line. It passed below Dewsnap Lane, over the line of the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway and then over Victoria Road. Between Victoria Road and the staithe the tramway was on a sizeable inclined embankment. Below Dewsnap Lane bridge there was also a turnout leading to a siding alongside the railway so that coal could be taken away by rail as well as by canal. At the foot of the inclined embankment the tramway crossed over the branch. At the branch a waggon tippling device was provided that enabled boats to be loaded with coal. The tramway was rope operated and by the time of the Victoria Colliery Disaster in 1866 it is known that it was double track. Edge rails were used and these were fastened to wooden sleepers.

Operations to fill the shaft of Victoria Colliery commenced in September 1903 and today there is no trace to show its former existence. Its site is now a large playing field in the angle between Boyd's Walk and Armadale Road.

The local name of Lakes Pit was derived from 'The Lakes', a large house built near two small reservoirs referred to as lakes. For many years, this house was the home of William Bass, a steward for the Astley family, who was a member of the brewing family. He died in 1889, aged 63 years. A later occupant was Dr Frank Gerald Ralphs (1881 - 1969) a striking man, 6 feet 7 inches tall, who had a military career as a surgeon serving with the Royal Army Medical Corps. Later, he became a Coroner for the area. The two lakes are no longer extant as Dr Ralphs had them drained and filled in after a man drowned in one of them. Dr Ralphs died in 1969, aged 87 years, and he left 'The Lakes' to Mrs Eileen Meredith who converted it into a nursing home. Today, it is still a nursing home and it stands on Ralphs Lane off Boyd's Walk.

Victoria Colliery Disaster, 1866
On the Thursday, 14 June 1866, an underground explosion occurred in which 38 miners were killed. It was an explosion of fire damp, the ignition being caused by a naked flame. At the time of the disaster, the colliery manager was Mr Wadding.

For details of the Victoria Colliery Disaster click here » Victoria Colliery

Line of the former Newton Wood Tramway, 27 July 2007
Looking down the tramway towards Victoria Road. The original tramway bridge over the railway line has been replaced by a footbridge. Looking towards Victoria Road from the footbridge. This section of the tramway is now Wood Street.
The near end of this low stone wall is all that remains of one of the abutments of the tramway bridge over Victoria Road. The brick wall and trees beyond are where the inclined embankment once stood.