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Engine Arm Aqueduct, Birmingham Canal Wolverhampton Level

A Grade II* Listed Building in Smethwick, Sandwell

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Latitude: 52.498 / 52°29'52"N

Longitude: -1.9665 / 1°57'59"W

OS Eastings: 402371

OS Northings: 288894

OS Grid: SP023888

Mapcode National: GBR 5J2.NF

Mapcode Global: VH9YV.VGRX

Plus Code: 9C4WF2XM+5C

Entry Name: Engine Arm Aqueduct, Birmingham Canal Wolverhampton Level

Listing Date: 8 February 2007

Grade: II*

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1391874

English Heritage Legacy ID: 491438

Also known as: Engine Arm Aqueduct, Warley

ID on this website: 101391874

Location: Sandwell, West Midlands, B66

County: Sandwell

Electoral Ward/Division: Soho and Victoria

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Smethwick

Traditional County: Staffordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): West Midlands

Church of England Parish: Smethwick The Resurrection

Church of England Diocese: Birmingham

Tagged with: Aqueduct Aqueduct

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1868/0/10077 Engine Arm Aqueduct, Birmingham Canal
08-FEB-07 Wolverhampton Level

An iron trough aqueduct with tow path roving bridge. Built circa 1828 by Thomas Telford to carry the Engine Arm of the Wolverhampton level canal over the deep cutting of Telford's new Birmingham mainline navigation and thus ensure the continued supply of water from the Rotton Park Reservoir.

PLAN: The aqueduct is orientated north west to south east and has a tow path on both east and west side. The towpath roving bridge lies on the north west end of the aqueduct, is orientated north east to south west, and has blue engineering brick with stone copings and rusticated stone arch details. It was conceived as an integral part of the aqueduct scheme to allow the towpath to cross the entrance to the aqueduct.

MATERIALS: The aqueduct is an iron trough supported on a single span, cross braced to counter the outward thrust of the weight of water carried, springing from stone and brick abutments.

ELEVATION: Both the east and west face of the aqueduct are of the same design with decorative ironwork tracery of three orders; the grid-work of the cross bracing rises from a single span arch with fluted gothic columns supporting pointed arches and pierced quartrefoil spandrels above; plain square section railings, rising to trefoil arches immediately below the simple rolled hand rail. The handrail terminates in short octagonal stone end piers, seven faces of which have recessed oblong panels with decorative blind tracery, echoing the trefoil arches of the railings. Sloping octagonal stone copings, cap the piers. The abutments are constructed in engineering brick in English bond with deep rusticated stone coins and copings. The towpath has a brick surface with raised footholds. The humpbacked towpath roving bridge is constructed of blue engineering brick, in English bond with a flattened elliptical arch, and vermiculated rustication to the stone quoins. Sloping abutments set at 90° to bridge, or its south side, carry the tow path from the level of the aqueduct over the bridge, and have plain curved stone copings.

SOURCES: 'Smethwick: Communications', A History of the County of Staffordshire: Volume 17 (1976), 96-8; http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.asp?compid=36174. Date accessed: 25 September 2006.

SUMMARY OF IMPORTANCE: The Engine Arm Aqueduct is an unaltered example of a C19 iron trough aqueduct and canal roving bridge, which survives intact with elegant Gothic design details by the renowned engineer Thomas Telford. The aqueduct is an example of Telford's work at its best, demonstrating technical innovation in his use of the iron trough method which allowed aqueducts to securely straddle a far greater width than traditional masonry methods. The broad span latticework arch demonstrates Telford's development of engineering techniques which was taken further in his later work on suspension bridges and road bridges. The aqueduct also has strong group value with Telford's improvement scheme to the Birmingham mainline canal.

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