DUKE OF BRIDGEWATER'S UNDERGROUND CANAL AT WORSLEY.
No changes externally at Worsley Delph!
There is now a campaign by some Worsley residents against the water treatment plant proposed by the Coal Authority to remove the red ochre (the orange colour) from the water coming out of the tunnels at Worsley. Some local people say that the orange water at Worsley is part of the history of the area, and some believe it looks "nice" and adds to the picturesque nature of the village. The Coal Authority are bemused! In all other areas of the country where they have offered to improve the quality of the water coming from old mine workings, local people have given their total support. We like be be different! By the way, in case you didn't know, the red coulour is really nothing more than "rust" ................. the rocks in the area contain traces of iron and the water merely leaches the rust colour out of those rocks and the once clean water emerges at Worsley all "rusty"!
On the subject of the tunnel entrances ...... it has been noted by some people that the amount of water coming from the tunnels is nowhere near as great as it once was, especially following periods of heavy rain. I have never taken any measurements myself. I also understand that the water table in the Walkden area has risen considerably over the last few years and currently stands at a MUCH higher level than the water level in the underground canal. Some have claimed that this indicates that there is now a "blockage" in the canal somewhere between Worsley and the centre of Walkden. I have been unable to confirm any of these details and merely gain this information second or even third hand. However, IF ...... and it is perhaps a big IF ... the above is true, then one wonders about the possible massive pressures (and I really do mean massive) of water which might be building up behind a "blockage" and what effect this would have on Worsley should the water eventually break through. Also, IF the water levals are rising in Walkden I only hope the "authorities" have some way of "venting" the rising mine gases which must also be rising. If I remember rightly, someone was killed a few years ago in Walkden when the top blew off an old mine shaft due to rising gases. I MUST repeat, all this information is ONLY heresay ..................................... but even if it were NOT true, one has to start thinking about what would happen if such a "blockage" ever occurs in the future. This yet one more reason why the Underground Canal at Worsley should be properly maintained not merely for historical purposes but also on safety grounds.
Needless to say, if anyone has any EXPERT knowledge (not just second hand heresay) on the subject then I'd just LOVE to hear from you! You can always contact me here
Things are happening at the Delph! Firstly, the good news. You can now SEE the tunnel entrances clearly. All the rapidly growing trees and bushes have been cleared away and the whole site is now visible. Well done Salford Council!
The bad news? Well, we're going to experience a large amount of disruption in the area due to the proposed "minewater treatment" plant which is to be built in Worsley which will involve the building of a "barrier wall" or dam along with a new footbridge and pumping station all at Worsley Delph. An underground pipeline will then be constructed from the pumping station, across and along Worsley Road, underneath the roundabout then across to the opposite bank of the canal and thence under the towpath to the new proposed water treatment works due to be constructed in Carrs Meadow .......... that's the big field to your left at the side of the motorway on the northbound exit at Worsley. The treatment plant is 5.6 hectares in size and includes a "water cascade building, wetlands, pumping station and outlet pipe into the canal".
This whole scheme has become necessary because of the rising water table in the area (as reported earlier). As the polluted waters from the mines are rapidly rising in levels, steps have to be taken to purify the water before it reaches the surface. This is the purpose of the new proposed works - or so they claim! I say "they claim" because the amount of water recently emerging from the Delph tunnel has recently reduced in quantity quite markedly which would seem to indicate some sort of blockage in the main tunnel.
At the time of writing, a copy of the planning application for the whole scheme is available on the City of Salford website planning page but it is likely to be on public display for only a fairly short period. (Your computer needs to be able to read documents in Adobe Acrobat PDF format to read the document). At present I have no further details of the scheme.
The water table seems to be rising fairly rapidly in this area of Salford. When underground water levels were measured a few years ago down the main shaft at Wet Earth Colliery near Clifton it was some 110 meters down to the water level. Recently this figure has reduced to only 15 meters below ground level. This could be due to the fact that since Agecroft Colliery closed and pumping ceased in the area, the water table has slowly risen reaching it's now fairly alarming level. You may well ask what this to do with the Worsley Underground Canal? Although the Underground Canal is not linked directly to the Clifton area, it is now almost certain that some water is now percolating through the strata from Clifton to Worsley. As Worsley Delph also drains the old mines in the Walkden area it is essential that the Underground canal is retained, if only for drainage purposes in the whole area. During the recent very wet spell, the amount of water issuing from the Delph entrance has increased considerably. A total blockage of the Underground Canal could have dire consequences not only for the water levels of the area but also because of the rising gases which would ensue. Yet more reasons to ensure the viability of the underground canal.
Due to the amount of e-mail I receive on the subject of the underground canals, especially from abroad, asking questions about what is currently going on at Worsley I'll try to keep this "latest news" page updated to reduce the letters and mails I have to reply to!
Unfortunately there is very little happening! Nothing has been heard about the application for lottery funding and since the "feasibility study" was undertaken a couple of years ago, the Delph (where the tunnel entrances are located) has remained unvisited, unwanted and unkempt. The local council cannot even be bothered tidying the place up and it is now becoming so overgrown that even the tunnel entrances are barely visible from the vantage point on the nearby road bridge (see pictures below - yes, the tunnels ARE still there, you just can't see them for the undergrowth!) THIS is how the City of Salford treats what MUST be one of the countries most important industrial archaeological heritage sites! Visitors (especially some of those from abroad) are bitterly disappointed at how little they can now see of the tunnels when they visit Worsley.
If any news does become available about what may or may not happen about the underground canal, I'll post it on this page immediately.`
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