A walk around Preston Brook’s listed buildings

Hello again people and pooches. Joe the Cocker here. The humans are still in lockdown, so my human dad is making me stay local. We live in a town called Runcorn in the north west of Cheshire. The town has a population of approximately 62,000 people, I am not sure how many pooches there are but, we meet a lot when we are out. In the south western corner of the town is the small village of Preston Brook with a population of around 800. While we were having a dry spell of weather, my human said that we should go to Preston Brook so that I could have a walk along the canal. I know how his brain works. He wanted to have a look at the Listed buildings in the area. He was using me as an excuse to get out again!

We parked opposite the Methodist Church building and crossed over the busy A56 at the bridge, over the Bridgewater Canal. After a short moment of panic, because I chose to do my business as we crossed the road, my dad dragged me to the safety of the pavement. On our left we came to our first stop of the walk while ‘David Bailey’ took photographs of Brook House. Actually, he is no David Bailey, with his Samsung Galaxy mobile phone and his complaints that the sun was too bright. I wondered why he didn’t adjust the settings of the camera or move to a better spot. But, hey ho, the muppet took his photographs and we moved on.

Brook House
Brook House – in poor light!!!

Brook House is a Grade II Listed Building and was built in the Gothic Style, on The Wharf, in the late 18th century. It is still a residential building and in beautiful condition. We moved on by walking along the towpath of the Bridgewater Canal and back under the main road. It was time for me to have a sniff around and a run up and down the canal bank. We passed a quaint row of cottages on our side of the canal and a number of old and new houses on the opposite side, with gardens leading down to the canal. My human said that the area looked beautiful in the bright winter sunshine.

The old Stafford Warehouse
The Old Number One

As I was busy chasing ducks, from the comfort of their resting places, on the edge of the canal, my human was busying himself taking photos of the Grade II Listed apartment complex, on the opposite bank. The three story brick building was constructed around 1772 as a warehouse called the North Staffordshire Warehouse and later, The Stafford Warehouse. The wooden loading bay has been renovated to provide balconies overlooking the canal. Nowadays, the building is known as the Old Number One and has previously been known as the Neptune Club, in the days when it was a night club. It was known locally as ‘The Neppy’. We continued along the towpath of the Bridgewater towards the Preston Brook Tunnel.

Preston Brook Tunnel north entrance

We soon arrived at the small hamlet of Tunnel Top North, at the end of the Bridgewater Canal where it enters the Preston Brook Tunnel. Eleven yards into the tunnel the Bridgewater joined the Trent and Mersey Canal in 1772. Directly above this point is a Grade II Listed mile marker. The tunnel entrance has a bridge over the top of it which has received a bump or two from traffic crossing it. The structure is also Grade II Listed and was built around 1777, from red brick with stone topping slabs.

Mile marker

We crossed the bridge and soon spotted the Grade II Listed mile marker, low down on our right. In the days when horses pulled the boats along the canal, this was the point where they were taken over the top of the tunnel, to the south end along a rough lane. The boatmen would then ‘leg it’ through the tunnel, lying on their backs on the top of their boats, and ‘walking’ along the roof of the tunnel. The mile post was made by R&D Stone in 1819 and indicates that Shardlow is 92 miles away. A walk for another time my human said.

Air shaft (north)

The tunnel is three quarters of a mile long and it was soon realised that the poor airflow through it was a problem for the boatmen. Fumes from their coal fires were choking them and so two air shafts were installed in 1777. This is another of the areas Grade II Listed buildings and is made from red brick with a circular six foot diameter. We found it next to the track, partly hidden by the hedgerow.

Air shaft (south)

After a walk along a rough and sometimes muddy lane we found the second Grade II Listed air shaft. This was a very similar structure to the northern shaft. My human seemed to be happy that we had found all the listed buildings in the Preston Brook area. We turned around and retraced our foot and paw steps, back along the canal, to where we had parked. The big feller was happy that he had done what he had wanted to do, and I had been exercised. He mumbled something about killing two birds with one stone. I was shocked as he shouts at me for simply chasing birds. Anyway, till next time!

Me having a sniff around on the towpath

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