The Peak Forest Canal and Railway – now out of print

Out of stock

PF Brakesman's cabin PF raildrawings PF Ice boat PF wagon Tipler


130 illustrations (11 in colour) + 19 coloured maps

Hardback ISBN 978 0 901461 59 9

h = 245mm, w = 170mm, 220 pages



This is is the history of the Canal Mania project on which its engineer, Benjamin Outram, perfected his professional skills. Here he built the highest masonry-arch aqueduct, the tallest/ steepest lock flight, and the most sophisticated gravity-operated railway inclined plane in this country. Here too he demonstrated his standards for plateway construction that became the model for most industrial railways built south of County Durham for the next thirty years.

But this is more than a history of an engineering monument, for the canal and railway were part of a vertically-integrated business enterprise that opened up the Peak District’s enormous limestone deposits, establishing a major industry that continues to prosper, still in its original location, over two hundred years later.

This book therefore interprets not only the physical features of the canal and railway and their geographical, industrial and transport context, but also the workings and fortunes of the business and its contribution to the economy of the districts it served.

Although conceived as a purely local enterprise, in 1831 the Peak Forest Canal became part of not one, but two rival, trunk routes from Manchester to the Midlands and London. Today it forms part of the Cheshire Ring, a popular itinerary for waterway aficionados. It owes its survival to a crucial, but little known, intervention by the Minister of Public Buildings & Works which ensured the repair of the Marple Aqueduct after its partial collapse in 1961. This proved to be a key event which helped to unlock obstructions to re-opening the Peak Forest and Ashton Canals, which in turn was the model for restoration schemes elsewhere on the narrow canal network.

’This is an all-too rare product of thorough and painstaking research from primary sources’ — Forward, the Journal of the Grand Central Railway Society

’The book sets new standards in presentation, with superbly detailed maps from Richard Dean’ — Waterways World

’A must have for anyone interested in our canal heritage’ — Inland Waterways Protection Society

’makes the company and its history come alive for the reader . . . well produced’ — Business History