When construction on the 32 mile long Rochdale Canal first began in 1794, many workers came into the area from across Lancashire. These navvies were housed in shanty huts and lodging houses along the canal, including here at Gauxholme.
We were fascinated by the shape of the upper room in this house. It must have been interesting trying to walk around under that ceiling!
At the top end of Gauxholme Highest lock is this old stone warehouse. Built in 1798 as part of the Gauxholme Wharf complex, it looks to have been converted into a business premises. The arched opening on the lower floor of the end of the building was where the narrow boats would draw up to load and unload.
The canal climbs in earnest from this point, navigating a series of locks to reach its highest point at 600 feet above sea level, topping the Pennines to create a first canal transport link across the chain of hills (1804); beating both the Huddersfield to the south (1811) and the much longer Leeds and Liverpool to the north (1816). In total, the building of the Rochdale Canal required 92 locks, but it provided a quick and easy means for the transportation of coal and stone to Manchester in the west or to the port of Hull (via Leeds) to the east.
We also must go upwards from here, but not along the canal. This is the point at which we leave the water, crossing it via the Bacup Road and immediately climbing the steep hillside.
Towards the top of the hill we came across more evidence of the industrial heritage of this part of the Pennines; a lead smelting chimney. The lead would be smelted in a furnace-like oven with a fireplace at one end and a chimney at the other. The ore would be let down into hoppers behind the fire. The draught then blew the flames over the ore, smelting it to separate out the lead. All that now remains is the blackened chimney, leaning slightly as though to emphasise the hard work of the past.
Talking of hard work, we aren't quite at the top of our first hill yet. Onwards and upwards :)