The legacy of Bugsworth Basin
A teeming, thriving industrial centre, Bugsworth Basin was once a kind of open-air factory on the grandest scale. Today it is a place of remarkable natural and man-made beauty, peace and quiet, but it still offers a fascinating insight into a unique industrial heritage.
The Bugsworth Basin heritage trail with its detailed and informative interpretation panels, will guide you through this extraordinary arrangement of canals, tramways, warehouses and wharfs, and give you a glimpse into another era.
Follow our trail and discover the only surviving complete canal and tramway interchange remaining in Britain.
Middle Basin and Silk Hill Bridge
The Sounds of Industry
As you walk alongside the tranquil, entwined network of canals , bridges and paths of Bugsworth Basin it is hard to imagine the deafening activity that once took place here. The calls from the boat crews as they awaited the 'gauging' of their boats and payment of tolls, would be almost drowned by the sound of stone being loaded and the crash as the men working the wagon tipplers, clambering like gymnasts up the spokes of the giant tippler wheels, poured wagon-loads of limestone onto the wharfs below.
The Satterfield family seem to have been associated with the New Road kilns at Bugsworth from about 1811 until the late 1860s, after which the were operated by William Pitt Dixon who eventually merged with others to form Buxton Lime Firms. Robert Satterfield was described as a 'lime burner, brick maker, coal and slate dealer and he was almost certainly operating the kilns from the 1840s until the 1860s.
A Century of Toil
For over 100 years Bugsworth was a centre for the production of burnt lime. The remains of massive batteries of lime kilns can still be seen at Gnat hole. Others now lie hidden alongside the Black Brook where nature has reclaimed them after man moved his industry elsewhere. Flames, dust and smoke would have belched from the kilns as they were charged until the valuable lime was drawn from the hearth at the bottom — a vital raw material for building, farming and the booming textile and tanning industries.
Quarrymen at Barren Clough gritstone quarry
Joined up History
Linking it all together was the Peak Forest Tramway, weaving between the many wharfs, lime kilns and tipplers. Along these tracks, wagons once clanked on primitive L-shaped rails — you can still follow the distinctive sleeper blocks, many unmoved from their position for over 200 years.
The Birth of Industry
Built right at the start of the Industrial Revolution, the canals were the super-highways of their day — connecting manufacturers with their raw materials and their markets, joining cities, ports, mines and factories.
The Peak Forest Canal, of which Bugsworth Basin is the southern terminus, was first proposed in 1791, and soon came to epitomise the advantages of the canal system. Bugsworth was one of the largest inland ports ever created on the once massive English narrow canal network which once extended to over 3,000 miles of canals.
The Rise of Rail
Unprecedented change brought about by the Industrial Revolution and the growth in conventional railways during the 19th Century saw the gradual decline and eventual abandonment of this extraordinary place. Bugsworth Basin was finally closed around 1927 when the tramway was scrapped and the buildings dismantled for the stone they contained.
Bugsworth Basin remains a permanent testament to a distinctive era of our industrial history. Although the buildings may be gone, the canals, paths and bridges still map out a system of transport and production unlike any other in the world.
Bugsworth Basin has natural woodland, grasslands and micro-habitats like mounds, rubble, damp hollows and areas of permanent shade, where all kinds of plants and animals thrive. With herons, kingfishers and other waterfowl to see, Bugsworth Basin really is a great place to explore.
Entrance basin today