In 1804 Samuel Oldknow boarded his boat 'Perseverance' and fittingly became the first man to navigate the newly built Marple flight of locks. Now, more than 200 years on, they are part of a thriving waterway that brings holidaymakers from all over the world to visit the area.
On 3rd July 2004 there was a day-long celebration of the Bi-centenary of the original building of the locks along the length of the flight and in Marple Memorial Park organised by Marple Locks Heritage Society. This Virtual Tour was orginally created to commemorate those celebrations.
Between Lock 10 and Lock 12 the canal runs alongside the grounds of Marple Memorial Park. This land was gifted to the people of Marple by the Carver family, who owned Hollins Mill, as a memorial to the 141 Marple men who died in the First World War. The laying-out was done by public subscription and the memorial itself was originally dedicated on 22 July 1922. It was extended again after WWII, during which 50 more local men lost their lives.
Lock 12 was another busy area. Moult's Timber Yard and Workshops were situated here so that their supplies and products could be transported using the canal. The area alongside Lock 12 pound opposite the towpath and now occupied by the bungalows for the elderly was once the site of a coal wharf called Black Wharf.
The official name for Bridge number 18 is 'New Mills and Stockport Road Bridge', although it's better known as Posset Bridge. It was built during the last stages of construction of the locks and Samuel Oldknow, who was anxious that one of his boats should be the first to navigate them, was concerned that it may not be finished in time. Oldknow encouraged the workmen by providing them with ale possets for breakfast. These were prepared at the nearby Navigation Inn and must have been a success as the bridge was finished in 1804, in sufficient time for Oldknow's boat 'Perseverance' to make the first trip through the locks when they were completed.
Less than 100 yards towards the centre of Marple along Stockport Road is the Navigation Hotel, a fine place to stop for refreshments. This is one of the original five 'Navigations' on the Peak Forest Canal and was owned by Samuel Oldknow after he purchased it from Richard Arkwright in 1791. He used it as a brewhouse to produce free ale for his workforce at the Lime Kilns and for the many Irish navvies constructing the Peak Forest Canal. What a great employer he must have been!
This photograph looking at Lock 14 from Lock 15 locktail bridge, we think taken in the sixties, shows a much harsher scene than the present-day shot below, which has been softened by the growth of trees and shrubs.
The road running alongside the canal from Posset Bridge on Stockport Road to Top Lock is called Lockside. On the opposite side of the canal, at Lock 13, Lock 14 and Lock 15 are extra large pounds for water storage to minimise loss during operation of the locks. In days long gone, when the Lime Kilns were operating, these pounds would also have been used for boats to queue whilst waiting for their turn to access the lime loading sheds.
Lock 16 is better know as Top Lock, a name given to the whole area, rather than just the lock itself. In the panoramic shot below Top Lock House dominates the view from Bridge number 1 of the Macclesfield Canal. It was originally built by Samuel Oldknow, who had a boat-building yard adjacent, and it's thought that the manager of the yard first lived in the house.
This Virtual Tour of Marple Locks would not have been possible within extensive reference to the following superb works on the subject of the Peak Forest Canal by Olive Bowyer:
This Education Pack was created by Marple Locks Heritage Society, a community group that operated from 2004 to 2016 but is now disbanded. It was aimed at pupils in Key Stage Two and activities were designed to meet aspects of the National Curriculum for this age group at that time.
"To make special efforts to encourage children from the local primary schools and other youth groups to take an interest in the locks; to help them understand its value in the environment and to the community in the belief that they may continue the work of ‘The Society’ in future."
Each activity/lesson plan had with it the relevant references to link it to programmes of study in the National Curriculum. Some of the links no longer works and the pack may not meet modern requirements but is available to local schools on request via the Marple Website Contact Form.