Author Topic: The canal, Diglis and sewage!  (Read 1220 times)


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The canal, Diglis and sewage!
« on: June 04, 2013, 09:24:37 PM »
The canal, Diglis and sewage!

The Worcester and Birmingham canal was begun in 1791 and the last link to the River Severn was completed in 1815, when the first cargo was delivered to Diglis Wharf by Pickfords. The delay was partly due to the cost of the enterprise and partly to the obstruction of landowners, and was to have dire consequences for the company. Before the canal had been in business for ten years the railways had become a viable and much faster method of transporting goods. As a result the company started with financial difficulties and continued to struggle financially.
Lowesmoor was originally intended as the principle ?port? for local industry along the canal, but was later superseded by the two large basins at Diglis.
Also in 1815 two warehouses were built for the storage of salt on the east side of the inner basin. These warehouses were demolished in 1973. Another warehouse dating from a similar time was built between the basins and let to a carrier named Mr. Danks, whose boats also carried coal.
Much of the Diglis site consisted of open wharfs for the storage of coal and timber, but as the century wore on, stables were built on the south-west side of the inner basin for the horses that pulled the boats. Attached to the stables was a stableman?s house and a loose box for sick horses.
In the 1850s the area nearest the river was leased by the Webb family who owned the Worcester Chemical Manure Company. Here they built a vast factory for the processing of guano (the long-accumulated dung of sea-fowl, used for manure).
By the 1870s the factory was an imposing structure with a wooden tower and tank for storage of acid. The stench created by the process and the raw material was appalling, and drifted across the city on a south-west wind.
Sewage disposal was thankfully a plan that Diglis eventually avoided. Three sites were nominated in 1886 by the council. On the north side of Kempsey, near Cherry Orchard; on the west-side near Diglis Weir and on the west side of the river near the river Teme. The site at Diglis was proposed near to the Chemical Manure Works, logical I suppose? However they received complaints from the Severn Fishery Conservators, ratepayers near Cherry Orchard, residents in Bath Road and a Mr. Binns of Diglis House. In 1889 the Severn Commissioners also objected to the scheme as affecting navigation locks. In 1892 after many debates and arguments the council finally agreed that Mr. Henry Portman?s  Bromwich farm should be purchased for the treatment of sewage.       
A plan in the 1850s to create a port facility at Diglis linking the river canal and railway by enlarging the basins, constructing new and larger locks to the Severn and providing a rail link via the Blockhouse were aborted.
At the entrance to the basins the Anchor Inn started life as a beerhouse. It was probably established prior to 1834 as it was in all likelihood the beerhouse built on company land that they tried to suppress that year on the grounds that too many bargemen and boatmen had drowned in the canal after drinking there. To the relief of many locals the Inn survived and is still with us today.

Reference: The story of Worcester by Pat Hughes and Annette Leech