The Peter A. Norton Archive, 1955 - 1959, the Final Working Years ( Part 2)
Peter Norton died shortly before SCARS was formed, but he influenced the Society's formation through the publication of his "Railways and Waterways to Warrington" (Cheshire Libraries & Museums, 1984). This large format survey of the subject was well illustrated with many of his own photographs, taken from the mid-fifties.
The Sankey features prominently, and brought the then-derelict canal back into the attention of the general public. The book is described as a "Second Edition" - the first having been published in 1974 by the Railway and Canal Historical Society as a much smaller, unillustrated booklet under the title of "Waterways and Railways to Warrington".
Many of the additional illustrations in the later book were supplied by Society Members.Peter carried out research for a number of waterways authors, painstakingly copying out Boat Register entries, newspaper articles, and other data. His photographs have also appeared in the works of others.
Please click on individual image for further notes.
The swing bridge at Bewsey - the half-timbered building on the left is the lodge to the historic Bewsey Hall in the woods behind. The lodge on the left is still standing - the bridge has been converted to a concrete plinth, with a footbridge behind. To the right in the distance can be see the cottage for Bewsey Lock.
Warning Notices on the Bewsey Swing Bridge. Placing a swing bridge across the lock saved creating a narrowing elsewhere to accommodate a local crossing. At this point access would be required by the canal company itself (until Nationalisation the Railway Companies - London Midland Scottish having taken over from the LNER whose name appears here). Above the lock was an overflow for water flowing in from the Sankey Brook, and this would require regular maintenance using the bridge.
The first lock after those which raised boats from the Mersey is Bewsey Lock. The lock cottage was still lived in in 1957. The lock had a swing bridge across its chamber - the timbers of which can be seen above the lock gates.
The sign reads: "the Captains of vessels or flats using this Canal are hereby notified that all person leaving open the drawbridges on the canal are subject to a penalty of FORTY SHILLINGS and any person or persons wilfully leaving open such drawbridges are subject to a penalty of FIVE POUNDS under the Act of Parliament of II Geo Cap 61, Section 141 By Order". A survivor is displayed in the "World of Glass" in St. Helens.
WIDNES, the 1881 dredger, photographed below Bewsey Lock. The craft was self-propelled by the same engine that powered the dredging bucket and upplied to the canal in 1881 by Priestman's. . It was permanently on station above Hulme Lock, coping with the silt brought down by the Sankey Brook at this point.
The dredger WIDNES in the dry dock at Winwick Quay Maintenance Works prior to being broken up after traffic ceased in 1959.
Perhaps her starboard name plate had been acquired as a souvenir by someone...?
Taken a decade later than the rest of this archive, this view shows the top gates of Bewsey Lock in 1966, following the 1963 Abandonment of the canal. To the left may be seen the overflow weir, with a high fence guarding it - the drop to the left was 2.5m. To the right guides, often seen at river locks, but seldom on canals, assisted the barges when lining up for the lock entrance when the canal was carrying heavy flood waters.
The destination of the Sugar Boats until 1959 - the Sankey Sugar Works. The shelter on the left kept the sugar bags dry as they were unloaded and carried from the hold into the refinery by the overhead crane which straddles the canal.
A picture full of action and history - the cock-boat providing a ferry service across the Canal... sugar boats awaiting unloading, the dredgings floats and the crane off-loading the spoil.
Newton Common Lock - the abandoned flats (see Arnold Archive) in the foreground, the limit of navigation after 1931 (see Barker Archive) in the distance.