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Clean-up crew turn Time Team at Rugeley canal

By Staf Newsletter  |  Posted: October 15, 2013

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AN HISTORIC tramway which may have helped Rugeley residents enjoy clean drinking water a century ago has been unearthed by a tidying team.

Volunteers from the Lichfield branch of the Inland Waterways Association discovered the tram route’s remains while clearing overgrown shrubs and greenery near the Trent and Mersey Canal.

They have been working with Rugeley residents and the Canal and River Trust over the past year to improve the area around the ‘Bloody Steps’.

There was a canal wharf at the Bloody Steps in the early 20th century and it is thought the tramway would have been used to supply coal, arriving by canal, to the steam engine at the nearby water works.

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Tom Woodcock, heritage advisor for the Trust, said; “The tramway is a very useful find as it adds to the picture of life in Rugeley over a hundred years ago. We already know the very colourful history of the canal but this discovery tells us a little more about how the canal contributed to day-to-day life in the town.

“The volunteers have been doing a brilliant job to look after the canal and this discovery is a great reward for their hard work. It gives them a terrific opportunity to help preserve this interesting feature but, perhaps more importantly, enables them to record for the very first time the important role the canal played in supplying clean water to the people of Rugeley.”

The volunteers have been keeping the area clear while a full heritage assessment of the site takes place. They will be out again on Friday morning to clear overgrowing greenery and repair an historic wall.

They have also interviewed a local couple who remember the tramway and who remain active in the campaign to preserve the water works.

In the future it is hoped the tramway line can be marked out so people can see how it might have looked and learn more about the canal’s role in local life.

Margaret Beardsmore, Work Party Coordinator for the Inland Waterways Association said; “Our volunteers are really enjoying their work as a local Time Team and uncovering a previously unknown heritage gem.”

The Bloody Steps got their macabre name from the murder of Christina Collins in 1839. She was due to board a boat to London but was brutally killed by the crew, who had been drinking heavily.

Her body was discovered in the canal and carried up the sandstone steps, which are said to have been stained by her blood.

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