Ellesmere Yard –
Ellesmere Yard is located on the Llangollen Canal, formerly
the Ellesmere Canal, just outside the town of Ellesmere in north Shropshire. Much
of the site is listed grade II* including the blacksmiths and joiners shop, dry
dock and Beech House, the former head office of the Ellesmere Canal Company.
The Yard’s development dates from around 1806. Major
alterations were carried out to the workshops between 1884 and 1901 when the
site became a full scale canal engineering works. Ellesmere Yard, once typical,
is now a rare example of an unspoilt and therefore cherished canal scene. Ellesmere
Yard is an important part of our waterway heritage.
Ellesmere Yard is an example of the type of maintenance
depot which was common across the inland waterways of England. By the 19th
century most canal companies had one as the routine upkeep of a canal and its
equipment was essential.
The siting of the yard was dependent on the layout of the
canal; they could be in towns, villages, at locks or, as in Ellesmere’s case,
on a canal junction. They would normally comprise a group of buildings with a
variety of functions from storing materials, servicing and repairing boats,
making new bridges and timber lock gates to forging ironmongery.
Ellesmere Yard consists of a series of buildings and
facilities including workshops and stores, a blacksmiths and joiners shop and
dry dock, grouped around a central space which opens out onto the canal. The
site is dominated by the joiner’s and blacksmiths shop at the south western end
of the site.
The significance of
The site illustrates the physical remains of a pattern of
work that has been repeated every day at canal maintenance yards in England
over the past two hundred years. Past methods of work, some still continuing
today, are evidenced by sets of blacksmith’s tools timber patterns, notebooks
with sketches of items to be made at the Yard and Shropshire Union Canal
Company marks stamped on cupboards.
The blacksmith’s shop
The building dates from around 1806 with changes made since
then to accommodate belt driven machinery and the interior is dominated by the
forge and its chimney and the belt driven machinery overhead.
The floor is would have been brick originally but now
covered with concrete and features a huge assortment of blacksmith’s tools
remaining from when the forge was a working smithy.
The building is grade II* listed due to its historic and
architectural importance. The last blacksmith at Ellesmere Yard was Jack
Strange who was a well known local figure. The buildings at Ellesmere Yard are
still being used today and an important part of the nation’s canal heritage.