In 1993 Len Kirkham, a local mines historian, led a team to uncover and explore the remains of an old tunnel and associated tramway that has lent much to local legend and forms a major part of the history of Mow Cop and its surrounding area. This film is the result of their enthusiasm and our desire to record what can still be seen of a once busy and important local transport system.
The tramway was built to take coal in horse-drawn wagons from the local Towerhill and Stonetrough collieries to the Macclesfield Canal at Kent Green. The route incorporates an ingenious braking and balanced hauling system for transporting the heavy wagons down the steep hillside, and cuts clean through the gritstone spur of Mow Cop in a 382 yard long tunnel.
As well as taking you into the partly flooded tunnel itself – with its colourful stalactites and eerie dank atmosphere – we talk to some of the local people – each with a fascinating story to tell. Some of the sayings associated with this feat of Victorian engineering remain in the local dialect to this day, such as “ho’d thee po’”! (“hold the pole!”) This comes from the use of heavy poles in the braking system referred to above and means slow down or hang on!