On Saturday, 9th September, to propel into action the North Cheshire Cruising Club’s 80th Anniversary Celebrations, the Rt Hon Lord Stunell OBE will cut the red ribbon on a rare surviving exhibit that was recently dredged out of the High Lane Arm on the Macclesfield Canal.
The historic relic, a significant section of tram rail that can be dated to 1922, is part of the Coal Tub Tramroad of the High Lane Colliery (Drift Mine). The drift mine was opened in 1906 and worked until 1922, when it was closed.
William Walker restored the tram rail, who resided at Wharf Cottage, adjacent to the Club, for over 40 years and was a highly valued Member and Director and Archivist. Sadly, William passed away on 6th June whilst organising the anniversary event. Hence, the Club has decided to devote a permanent tribute to him by mounting the rail as a feature in their Club Room.
Joined by other VIPs such as Stuart Mills, Chief Investment Officer at Canal & River Trust and Ian Edgar MBE, Chairman of Bugsworth Basin Heritage Trust, this official ceremony will also be accompanied by the unveiling of a celebratory carved stone plaque by Club Member and local stonemason, Ian Spooner.
The North Cheshire Cruising Club stands proudly adjacent to the Arm and is the longest surviving Cruising Club on the Narrow Canal system. It can certainly boast a very colourful history, strength, durability and longevity in keeping with its Oak anniversary.
The VIPs will be taken on a short cruise onboard the local charity boat, The Mary Sunley, to witness the first-class improvements undertaken to the canal and its environs by the volunteer Members. The canal has been dredged and piled in sections of the Arm to ensure that the area remains a most attractive, safe and biodiversity-inspired place for all Members.
John Fenton, Club Chairman and Commodore, says, “Throughout its 80 years of existence, the Club has maintained a vibrant programme of activities with everything from Commodore’s Cruises, Boat Rallies, excavation of old working boats in the 1950s, Easter Bonnet competitions, Quiz and Film evenings and even pantomime’s and live performances. We are very proud of what we have achieved and look forward to unlocking many more years of Member activities and expanding our engagement with our local community”.
The High Lane Arm on the Macclesfield Canal has always been, and remains, a significant part of the Canal network. In its heyday, there were impressive tonnages of manufactured goods, raw materials, coal and agricultural produce handled by the Macclesfield Canal Company transhipment warehouse.
High-class hat manufacturers such as Christy & Co, Chestergate Hat Manufacturing and Battersby & Co all had their raw materials, such as beaver furs and pelts and high-quality alpaca, all delivered to the High Lane warehouse as well as dealing with the despatch of finished goods for export markets in America, Canada and Europe.
At least 47 Cotton Mills from Hazel Grove, Great Moor, Heaviley and Stockport within 26 miles of the Canal were also shipping their goods via this historic site.
The culmination of the day’s 80 years’ celebration will see one hundred members partake of traditional afternoon tea, networking with the VIPs and mingle and reminisce with other Members on their far-reaching canal cruising memories.
The accompaniment of a local jazz band will be the perfect tribute to such a remarkable, historic and landmark day.
John Fenton concludes, “The North Cheshire Cruising Club has a sustainable and exciting vision for future years with aspirations to become a strong “Hub” in the village community as well as launching a programme of funding and events to work with local school children and other like-minded voluntary groups and associations”.