Canals and tramways around Swannington

Tramway at Jeffcoats Lane

Part of the tramway network is still visible at the bottom end of Jeffcoats lane, Swannington. It can be accessed from the bottom of Church Hill.

Coleorton Railway

Coleorton horse-drawn Railway, opened in 1833 fed the bottom of the incline with coal from the Coleorton coalfield. This picture shows it emerging from its tunnel which runs under St. Georges Hill towards Peggs Green and breaks ground on land behind the New Inn car park.

Between 1791 and 1794 the Charnwood Forest canal, a contour canal, was built to take coal from the mines of the village and neighbourhood to the River Soar in Loughborough which it was planned to canalize into Leicester.

Charnwood canal map

The canal went from nearby Thringstone to Nanpantan and there were horse-drawn tramways at either end; one from Nanpantan basin to Loughborough and two others from Thringstone to the Swannington and Coleorton coalmines. Much evidence of these tramways remains in the village landscape.

Coal entrepreneurs such as Burslem, Boultbee and Raper and Fenton spent money to develop their mines to more modern standards with a view to being able to exploit the bulk carrying capacity of the canal. Amid great hopes for future employment and prosperity a boat carrying 10 tons of coal from Burslem's mines delivered its load to Loughborough, which was then transferred onto another boat to be carried to Leicester in October 1794. The operation proved expensive however requiring three transshipments from wagon to boat, boat to wagon, and then wagon to boat. Problems were also encountered in building a reservoir dam at Blackbrook and this eventually burst on February 20 1799 "like a clap of thunder" and the reservoir emptied itself in 11 minutes, inundating the land as far as Dishley on the River Soar and destroying all obstacles in its path. The proprietors were required to compensate for damage and rebuild the dam. However the coalmine owners had had enough of the problem and either sold or closed their mines, even though the canal was open for use again by 1801. In 1804 the reservoir was emptied and the dam dismantled.

  Typical horse tramway.

The line of the horse-drawn tramroad, through cuttings and on embankments, to Raper and Fenton's mine on Limby Hall Lane can still be traced from Thringstone Bridge, and parts of the tramroad to Boultbee's and Burslem's mines can be detected.