Displaying items by tag: Industry
THE GRAND UNION CANAL - LEICESTERSHIRE LINE
The Leicestershire line of the Grand Union Canal meanders from Leicester to Market Harborough passing through the Parish of Smeeton Westerby from a point southwest of the Smeeton Road Bridge (No. 70) to Debdale Wharf.
In 1793 an Act of Parliament was passed enabling the construction of the Leicestershire and Northamptonshire Union Canal. This new section of canal was intended to link the Soar Navigation near Leicester to the River Nene in Northamptonshire.
Debdale Wharf Inn
In 1799 James Barnes, an engineer working on the Grand Junction Canal (stretching from Braunston in Northamptonshire to the River Thames at Brentford), was asked to find a route for the to reach the Grand Junction Canal at Braunston in Northamptonshire. In 1802 he produced a proposal, to route the rest of the canal to Norton on the Grand Junction Canal, with a branch to Market Harborough. Another engineer, Thomas Telford, was asked for his opinion and he proposed a change of destination to Norton Junction for the join to the Grand Junction Canal. This route was agreed and in 1805 finance was raised and construction resumed. In 1809 the canal reached Market Harborough when once again construction was suspended.
By this time the Grand Junction Canal from London to Braunston in Northamptonshire had been completed and opened. A route for joining the Grand Junction and Grand Union Canals was discussed and it was decided that a separate company ‘The Grand Union Canal Company’ should be formed. A Bill was put before Parliament to authorise a new canal, known as the Grand Union Canal.
The Act of Parliament received Royal Assent on 24 May 1810. The Act was ‘An Act for making and maintaining a navigable Canal from the Union Canal, in the parish of Gumley, in the county of Leicester, to join the Grand Junction Canal near Buckby, in the county of Northampton.’
The canal link from Braunston to Foxton was completed and opened by 1814. This provided a direct route for the transport of industrial products and coal from the East Midlands to London.
The Grand Union Canal was never a commercial success and so with the development of the railways, trade using canals from the1830’s declined. In the years following, several proposals were made to speed up travel on the canal including the building of the Foxton Locks Inclined Plane.
During the 1950s and 1960s freight transport on the canal system declined rapidly. The Transport Act of 1962 transferred the canals to British Waterways. The 1960s saw the canal leisure industry begin to grow and this was acknowledged with the Transport Act 1968, Part Vll and Schedule 12, Part ll, ‘Cruising Waterways’. This Act required British Waterways to keep the waterways fit for cruising. This included the Leicester Line section of the Grand Union Canal. An example of the growth of the canal leisure industry can be seen at the Debdale Wharf Marina which has been operating at Debdale since 1974.
The Canal and River Trust
The Kibworth Harcourt Windmill, situated on the Langton Road, is an early 18th century postmill. It is a Grade 2* listed building and is also a Scheduled Ancient Monument. The mill is the last survivor of 211 postmills that were once used in Leicestershire.
The main feature of a post mill is that the whole body of the mill which houses the machinery is mounted on a single vertical post, around which it can be turned to bring the sails into the wind.
The post (trestle) that the mill turns on
The central trestle is from an earlier mill on another site and is dated from the 14th century.
View of first floor showing the tressle
There are a number of carvings inside the mill, the earliest is on the tressle.
Carvings on the trestle, "DANIEL HUTCHINSON MILLER 1711”
Another carving, 'T SMITH MILLER OCTOR 1837”
The mill had two cloth (common) sails) and two spring sails (a spring sail has a number of shutters controlled by a bar and a spring which adjusts to the force of the wind). The miller turned the mill into the wind by hand using the rotation beam.
Rotation beam used by the miller to turn the mill
The mill has two pairs of millstones, one of French Burr, the other of Derbyshire Peak Stone. One was used for animal feed and the other for flour. The top stone of the pair is called the runner stone, the lower stone is called the bed stone.
Flour Stones, the finer stones are for flour grinding
The stones are turned by a large wheel which runs the stone nut (a small gear). Once through the grinding process the ground grain passes through a flour dresser which separated the flour from the other pieces of the grain. A 19th century addition to the mill was iron governors which regulate the coarseness of the flour.
It was a working mill until 1912 but from then its condition began to decline. By the 1930s the mill was in very poor condition and the owners, Merton College, had the mill inspected by the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB). The inspection concluded that repairs would cost £100.00.
In 1936 Merton College transferred ownership of the mill to the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) who carried remedial work on the mill in 1936 and again in 1970.
On 8th August 2017 during an inspection of the mill one of the sails collapsed and fell to the ground. This caused the opposite sail to swing violently and it was badly damaged when it hit the ground.
For safety reasons the remaining sails were removed.
Postmill with sails removed
The Mills Section of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) has decided that a major overhaul of the mill is required and when completed will return the mill to a working condition. The overhaul will involve repair of the trestle and work to the roundhouse. Four new sails will be made, two common and two spring and a new tailpole and ladder. It is anticipated that the work will commence 2020.
Addition (October 2023)
The project has been completed and the article below is an extract from the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) website.
Text courtesy of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB).
Kibworth Harcourt Mill Project
In 2020-21, we undertook major repairs to Kibworth Harcourt Post Mill, removing it from the Heritage at Risk Register and making it operational for the first time since the 1930s.
Kibworth Harcourt Post Mill
This Grade II* listed windmill is a Scheduled Ancient Monument, with the majority of the mill dating from 1711 or earlier. It was a working flour mill until 1912 when its condition began to decline.
Merton College Oxford gave it to the SPAB in 1936 and in 2021, thanks to a generous bequest, we were able to start a year-long repair project to bring it back into working order.
Kibworth Harcourt Post Mill once again looks like its former self, with a white body and sails, black sheeted roofs, a roundhouse and a curved tail pole. The interior is covered with burn-marks and witch-marks designed to ward off evil spirits, and graffiti left by millers and visitors from the past 300 years – a fascinating insight into its long history.
Our mill is the only surviving post mill in Leicestershire. There were once dozens of post mills in Leicestershire alone – now, there are only 50 post mills left in the whole country.
A post mill is the earliest type of traditional windmill found in the UK. The weight of the mill rests on a single post so the mill can be turned to face the wind. This post is supported by a trestle which sits on brick piers, and at Kibworth, that trestle is enclosed in a brick roundhouse.
The repair project
Repairing a historic windmill is no easy task! Here’s how we did it...
We contracted Millwrights Dorothea Restorations to undertake most of the repair work. They lifted up the 15-tonne buck (body of the mill) on a temporary steel support frame so they could repair the severely decayed original oak trestle (substructure of the mill) beneath it.
They scarfed new oak sections onto the sound timber to re-establish the original joint, then re-installed the softwood side plates.
The original interior weatherboarding was in good condition, so we kept it, and fitted new white-painted exterior weatherboarding to match the original wide boards. We repaired the brickwork on the roundhouse using locally sourced lime mortar, just as the original builders would have done.
We kept all the original graffiti, comprising initials, dates, names, sketches and witches’ marks, which so eloquently tell the story of the people who worked here over the years.
We fitted new exterior steps and a tailpole, repaired the internal machinery, and added a cutting-edge VM Zinc roof on the buck and roundhouse to protect it all for years to come.
The previous sails had been removed in the 1970s as they were beyond repair. So, we fitted new common and spring sails, made at a workshop in Bristol. These are now fully operational and can be seen in action at our Open Days (wind-permitting, of course!).
The bequest that funded these repairs also funded a Millwright Fellowship. We can’t maintain our mills without skilled millwrights, but millwrighting is sadly on the Heritage Crafts Red List of Endangered Crafts.
We were therefore delighted to have carpenter Toby Slater as our first Millwright Fellow in 2021. Toby worked with Dorothea Restorations on the repairs, helping construct new sails and crafting the new external oak steps.
Interested in applying? Find out more about the Millwright Fellowship.
It takes an awful lot of talented and dedicated people to make a repair project like this happen. Our thanks go to:
- Millwrights Dorothea Restorations who undertook most of the repair work
- 2004 SPAB Scholar Naomi Hatton, the engineer in charge of the project
- Former SPAB Technical Advisor Luke Bonwick who assisted and provided drawings for Dorothea Restorations
- 2021 SPAB Millwright Fellow Toby Slater who worked on the repairs, helping construct new sails and crafting the new external oak steps
- Terra Measurement who did a full engineering report, 3D survey and fly through
- Cambridgeshire Windmills Consultancy who prepared the schedule of work
- Buildings archaeologist James Wright of Triskele Heritage who investigated the graffiti
- Local historian David Holmes who provided valuable information
- Mills Section Committee Chair Mildred Cookson who was a technical advisor on the project
- All our volunteers who have donated their time to looking after the mill and opening it to visitors
To find out more
Visit the SPAB YouTube channel to watch a fly through of the mill, find out all about Kibworth’s historic graffiti and see how the oak staircase was made. You can also hear more on BBC Radio Leicester.
How to visit
Kibworth Harcourt Post Mill is on private ground so only open to the public on select open days in the year. Subscribe to our e-newsletter to hear when the next one is.
Want to help keep the sails turning at Kibworth Harcourt? Contribute to the Mill Repair Fund.
JOHNSON & BARNES LTD
Dover Street, Kibworth Beauchamp
The company was started by John Thomas Johnson who was working for a hosiery manufacturer in Fleckney when he decided to start his own business. He installed two knitting frames in a shed in Kibworth Beauchamp and started production. He was joined by William Barnes in 1901 and the Johnson and Barnes Company was created.
A factory was built in Dover Street and equipped with knitting machines to manufacture fully fashioned hose. The company expanded rapidly and in 1906 a factory was opened at Lutterworth and two years later new machines were purchased for the Kibworth factory. These new machines proved highly successful and the original building in Dover Street was extended.
Johnson and Barnes factory, Dover Street, Kibworth Beauchamp
The company purchased premises in Rutland Street Leicester which provided offices, showrooms, and warehousing space.
About this time Johnson and Barnes introduced the trade name ‘Excello’ for their hosiery products and the company became one of the leading manufacturers in the hosiery business. Growth continued and in 1912 the business became a limited company.
The World War l years saw changes to the company, in 1915 a former lace-making factory in Stapleford, Nottinghamshire was acquired, John Thomas Johnson died in October 1917 and in 1918 the factory at Lutterworth was closed.
Post war the company thrived as demand for longer stockings increased with the company reacting to this fashion change by installing new machines
capable of producing longer and wider stockings which were marketed under the trade name ‘Flexcello’
New factory, warehouse and office space was acquired in Charles Street and Rutland Street Leicester and the head office was moved from Kibworth to the new premises.
William Barnes died in December 1932.
During World War ll the factories produced half-hose for the ATS, WAAF, and WRNS.
After the war the company continued to prosper and on 23rd February 1948 a factory was opened in Worsbrough, near Barnsley. Kibworth’s production was centred on fully fashioned ladies stockings and boys' three-quarter hose with production increasing to 3,500 dozen pairs a week.
In 1951 Johnson and Barnes celebrated their Golden Jubilee.
However, this was the beginning of the end of Johnson and Barnes as the hosiery trade was threatened by cheap overseas imports. This was followed in the early 1960s by the introduction of the mini-skirt and the demand for tights instead of stockings. Johnson & Barnes had insufficient capital to invest in new machinery required to produce tights. The company suffered during this time and in 1961 the Worsborough factory was closed. The business diversified into the production of knitted garments and the company was acquired by a Canadian financier, Joel David Lerner. In 1970 the Leicester premises were sold, the Stapleford factory was rebuilt and the Kibworth factory was closed in 1971. By 1977 the business had been bought by an investment company, however it continued to lose money and in May 1981 a Receiver was appointed. The Stapleford factory closed that year. Liquidators were appointed in August 1983 with Johnson & Barnes Ltd dissolved in January 1987.
Kibworth History Society
Kibworth and District Chronicle
Leicestershire’s first turnpike road was a section of the main road between London and West Scotland which is now the A6. The road was built in 1726 and ran through Loughborough, Leicester, Kibworth Harcourt and Market Harborough.
The Turnpike Acts authorised Trusts to levy tolls on those using the road and to use that income to repair and improve the road. Trusts could also purchase property to widen or divert existing roads. The trusts were not-for-profit and maximum tolls were set. In 1726 the first Turnpike Trusts, in Leicestershire were the Market Harborough to Leicester and the Loughborough to Leicester Trusts
The Kibworth Harcourt section ran along the current A6 Leicester Road from Leicester turning left into Main Street then following the dogleg of Main Street back onto the Leicester Road at the Rose and Crown Coaching Inn. At first the turnpike road was surfaced with gravel and small stones, but towards the end of the 18th century granite chippings from Mountsorrel began to be used.
In 1766, a fast public stagecoach service commenced from Leicester to London. Coaching Inns were built along the road examples being the Rose and Crown Inn and the Coach and Horses Inn in Kibworth Harcourt.
Travelers were often fearful of being robbed by highwaymen and the Leicester Journal for 12 December 1775 reported that: ‘On Sunday night last the coach bound for London was stopped by a single highwayman near to the second milestone on the Harboro’ Road. He took from the passengers about £14; told them that necessity obliged him to do that or go to goal’.
The first mail coaches passed through Kibworth Harcourt in 1785 and were apparently quite a spectacle. The carriages had emblazoned arms, the coachmen and guards in scarlet and gold. A blunderbuss slung over the guards’ shoulders, with pistols in their belts.
Examples of Royal Mail Coaches
A report by the Turnpike Trust on the route along the dogleg section of Main Street concluded that; ‘The man who could gallop a four in hand through such lanes must have been hard to find’. This report followed a number of accidents and at least one resulted in a fatality, when a coach overturned and several outside passengers were pitched through the windows of nearby houses. The report resulted in a new turnpike route bypassing Main Street which followed the line of the current A6 Leicester Road between the Main Street junctions. This bypass was opened in 1810 and built at a cost of £1,500.00. Such improvements were funded by the payment of tolls by the road users, Examples of the annual income from tolls for the Market Harborough to Loughborough Trusts are: 1834 £5592: 1835 £6798: 1838 £5911.
In 1822 the whole road was surfaced in tarmac. The volume of traffic began to increase until the railway between Leicester and London opened in 1875 when turnpike traffic dwindled and the Turnpike Trust was wound up in 1878.
Writteb by David Adams
The Leicester Journal
Who Were The Beaker People?
The Bell-Beaker culture, sometimes shortened to Beaker culture, Beaker people, or Beaker folk, c. 2900 – 1800 BC is the term for a widely scattered archaeological culture' of prehistoric western Europe starting in the late Neolithic or Chalcolithic and running into the early Bronze Age. They were called Beaker because of the shape of their pottery vessels.
The Beaker People were farmers and archers were also the first metalsmiths in Britain, working first in copper and gold, and later in bronze, given its name to the Bronze Age.
The Burial Ground.
A burial ground of Beaker People was found in 1975 situated to the south west of Smeeton Westerby on Smeeton Hill The hill is 500 feet high and on the west side of the hill lies the Beaker Burial Ground. No trace of a burial mound is visible on the ground but the situation would be ideal for one.
The site was discovered during drainage excavations work when at one point the contractor had to excavate a hole by hand to replace a broken section of pipe. It was during this work that the burial site was discovered and human bones and pottery were unearthed. The drainage work carried on and the burial site continued to be disturbed and some artefacts were removed although the majority were subsequently recovered.
Leicestershire Museums were notified and on 3rd September 1975 a team from the museum attended the site. They enlarged the hole and discovered a crouched burial. A crouched burial was a new form of burial rite, called the Beaker burial which began to appear around 4700 years ago, the burial is crouched inhumation where the body is interred, usually on its side with the hip and knee joints bent through an angle of more than 90 degrees, accompanied by a particular pottery known as a beaker. The burial was removed to Leicester Museum;
Beaker Close in Smeeton Westerby is a reminder of this important archaeological find.
Written by David Adams
R A Rutland, ‘A Beaker Burial at Smeeton Westerby, Leicestershire 1875’
This brief note is about Smeeton Westerby resident Captain Thomas Smithies Taylor (born 5 July 1863), who founded a company that was to dominate lens manufacturing in the inter-war period. Through his camera lenses, the world quite literally saw the twentieth century.