Panel E – Lower Basin and Limestone Crusher Building
The Lower Basin, or New Drop as it is otherwise known, seen here with tippler staging and tracks still in place but otherwise no longer in use. The wharf below is overgrown and the long-disused boat Winnie is moored alongside. On the left, bridge No. 58 still stands and beyond is Canal House.
Opposite the Lower Basin tippler stood the Stone Crusher House, here in the process of being demolished in the 1930s. The square holes in the sidewalls are where the bearings for the main pulley shaft were located. Loaded wagons entered the building on an elevated track where their contents were tipped directly into the hopper of the crushing engine. The crushed stone was graded in a rotating variable mesh sieve and loaded into boats at the lower levels. The empty wagons were winched through the building on a further elevated track to rejoin the tramway on the Central Peninsula area. It is believed that, originally, the crusher was powered by a steam engine but which was later replaced by a Mirlees oil engine. Sadly no written records exist nor have any photographs of the mechanism or engine come to light.
Seen from the hillside opposite, this photo, dating from the late 1920s, shows the crusher building in its final form prior to demolition. By this time the chimney has gone and a lean-to extension with sliding door has been added. There are no obvious signs that the building and crusher are still in use for their original purpose although the tramway tracks are still in place and the canal is at normal water level. The remains of a tippler mechanism straddle the staging of the northern wharf of the Lower Basin.
The site of the Limestone Crusher as it appears today. All that remains is the massive central foundation bed for the engine and crusher mechanism. Having been built by the railway company, the engine house floor is an early example of reinforcement using lengths of railway line. The yard to the left was the site of the boiler hose which housed two Lancashire boilers. To the right, it is believed, stood a water tank.
Artist’s impression of what the stone crushing mechanism may have looked like. Wagons entered the building at engine room floor level via the wooden staging. A lifting mechanism attached to one end of a wagon tipped stone through the staging into the hopper of the crusher. The crushed stone was then graded to size and deposited on the wharf side for loading into boats.