Report - - Rubber Dinghy Rapids – Stockport Aug 2013 | Underground Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Rubber Dinghy Rapids – Stockport Aug 2013


Choose life, choose tunnels
Regular User
Crew members: Alley, Myself, Ninja M and SoundLightGo


After spending the past few months doing “this and thatâ€, it was about time we gathered the required material and formed a multi-mission report.
Our journey began with two start points, both upstream of the formation of the River Mersey.

Proper Goyted!

Our initial start point was a sandy mini-beach on the banks of the River Goyt.

In the shadow of Pear Mill, under the lush canopy of the imposing tree line, we dropped our increasingly heavier kit, took a breather whilst assessing the river level, and started pumping away. Sounding like a wheezing steam engine, the pump was uncoupled, stowed, and our rubber river tub was ready to rock.

Aside from the flies, being at river level was a welcome relief from the heat, so with a few synchronised beats of the oars, we were mid-river scouring the banks for any signs of tunnels, new or old.

The River Goyt was once saddled by numerous mills and workhouses. Within a few feet we had paddled over to an outlet of a sandstone tunnel that would have serviced Pear Mill. Being steam-powered, it didn’t use river water for a wheel (probably using a borehole instead, like the nearby Welkin Mill), but it would have disposed of waste water into the river. Sadly, this was to be one of a few tunnels that the passage of time and silt had taken its effect on, making it impassable.

Our gentle passage downstream allowed us to take in the remnants of what stood on the banks many decades ago. Brick and stonework, although very old and forgotten about, seems to have taken on a proud, steely, defiant attitude, if you can personify inanimate objects that is. No amount of industrial clearance and weathering is going to remove the only remains of industrial heritage and time gone by.

It’s quite fascinating to see how what looks like just a building on the side of the road, when viewed from river level, is built right on the edge of a vast formation of rock, with a shear face down to the river. Brilliant industrial engineering in my opinion.

With the gentle massaging effect of rocks rubbing the passing hull, we were cautious to the path taken to avoid “knee capping†ourselves. Approaching the horse-shoe in the river, a modification to the water course to enable the construction of the M60, we were about to hit some rapids. Now, considering that two of us work in the marine industry, we’d tackle it with ease...sorry, not so.

Picture the front passengers on a log-flume ride, eyes wide open, teeth gritted, arms flailing…I exaggerate, but you get the impression. Aside from sore knees and the completion of a doughnut or three, were under steady pace again passing under Carrington Bridge, the date stone reading 1864.


Onwards from this point, we passed an area which, in the late 60s and early 70s, fell into the slum clearance programme. The land now stands empty, overtaken by nature. From the objects we found, it had been used as a convenient way of discarding unwanted items, bottles, bikes, engines even a very old heavy duty sewing machine.


Both sides of the river at this point offer an element of eye-candy. On the left, water tunnels – outlets of the ancient corn mill tunnels - carved out of the soft red sandstone.


On the right, the remains of Needhams Iron Foundry, world famous manufacturers of, amongst other things, manhole covers.





Drifting downstream, we spotted a somewhat amazed and puzzled fisherman sat within the shrubbery, “What’s surprising about people paddling down the Goyt...oh yeah, that’ll be SLG with his pirate costume onâ€. Yes, we had a real life pirate aboard!

A quick laugh shared with us all, and we then headed off towards the site of the old power station and bottled out of doing Millgate weir.


We hoisted the kit onto road level and prepped for packing away…….
â€Open the van Ninj’……sh!!!!!!!t†Cue a long walk back to the mill to get my car, with the van keys in, gutted!

The Tame of our lives

Our second trip started on the river Tame, the entry point out of view under Stockport Road, Denton, by the old waterworks.

The trip was more of a “let’s just do it for the fun of it†as opposed to gathering pictures.

It was a trip that turned out to be a serious night-time operation, from getting the oars wet at about 18:30, our passage took a little while longer than anticipated, beaching the boat at about 23:15.

Taking in the total peacefulness, with the odd splashing of oars, there was an abundance of wildlife to be seen, all probably miffed that we’d invaded their patch - ducks, herons, kingfishers, dragonflies and, in the twilight, bats galore.

Having looked at the river course (about one mile as the crow flies, about eight miles by river) and mentally noting the position of Harrison’s weir, I was keen, very keen, to ensure we got out well before we tested the functionality of our reverse procedure. “AAARGH paddle like hell guys†was my rehearsed cry.

The rubble that can be seen at the foot once made up the construction of a stepped weir.
According to sound sources, in the 40s and 50s, young lads (girls being too sensible) used to swim about naked, the braver ones jumping from the top. Of course, boys being boys, they got a rap round the ears, but carried on anyway!


With the light fading fast, the thunderous roar of the weir round the corner was enough warning for us to bail out onto the bank. This is the point where my stupid jokes and childish innuendos with Ninja M stopped, sorry Alley, sorry SLG; we know you love us…

The boat and kit weighed a lot by this point, and trying to find an entry point proved time consuming. Being split up, a little patience and torch waving brought us back together again, with the addition of a bust wrist!

With the lighting-power to rival a rally car, we thrust our way towards the bridge over Tiviot Way. Our mission was to GTFO.


“Got your keys Ninj’?........Yeah, ‘course I have!â€

Diiinghy…down t’ Merrrrsey

This is the trip that we were most excited about; our plan was to get back onto the river under Tiviot Way, head to the confluence of the Goyt/Tame and paddle straight under Merseyway.

Confluence of the Tame on the left, and the Goyt on the right. The Mersey flowing out of shot behind the camera.


Strange to think that what was once an open river is now entombed by Merseyway shopping centre, suspended in place by gaping concrete arches.

The plan for the covering was issued in 1930 with improvements to Mersey square starting in 1934.
On the 5th August 1938 Union Bridge, approximately 200 yards downstream of Lancashire Bridge, was dismantled to make way for Mersey Road. Two years later the road was to be used for the first time, and on the 2nd January 1968 it was closed to traffic for the construction of the precinct.
The Mersey reached its highest level for 75 years in 1931.

The first historical feature to be seen is the bricked up tunnels that serviced Park Mills, the site which a supermarket now occupies. Second is Lancashire Bridge, only visible from river level. Due to the growing population of Stockport the bridge was widened in 1891.



It was under Lancashire Bridge where we moored up and scaled the outwardly angular river bank, not very graceful, but in the company of friends, that didn’t matter.
I’ve always wanted to get onto this side as I have recollections of the toilets that were accessible from the precinct above, near the foot of the big escalators. 9 out of 10 people I ask if they remember them, don’t. Some of the old tiles are still in situ, now it’s used as a communal area to get access to and from the river.

Walking further downstream, we took the opportunity to grab some shots.

This chimney could be from Hollingdrake Iron Founders.


An old doorway?


Water tank


The outlet points for a CSO discharge through two box openings can be seen on the river line.
On a previous tour of Tin Brook, we used this point to access the South bank. In 1933 Chestergate was flooded by Tin Brook, and again in 1973.

Purpose made photography gantry…


…for the following shots, looking East



Looking West



Lick them bars, I dare you!


On our walk back we noticed what looked like rat droppings but, on investigation, it became clear it was from a roost of bats, and lots of them, moving the torch light off them quickly, we left them be.

Just one more quick look before we get in the boat

This is a buzzin’ photo


We pushed off the bank with the intention of sailing straight out, but no, we came across a pipe which has been photographed before from the other bank but, to my knowledge, not been investigated.

I’m going to name it Skully


New CSO chamber and screener under Mersey Square. Locals may have noticed UU working in Mersey Square.
We’d been talking about the new CSO for months, finding the right time to do it, as it happens. It came as a bonus at the end of a pleasurable evening.




This was the most weirdest scene I’ve ever seen, asking Alley to shine the light up created this skull image.
The tunnel was pitch black, with this crisp image appearing to dance and shimmer about with the slightest move of the torch…what topped it off was a drip coming from the roof in the area of what would be an eye socket, absolute spook n magic!



We continued on our journey, by now well into the night, full beams and max paddle power. Cutting a long story short from here, Alley and SLG beached themselves on the weir downstream; I tested how deep the water was with my wellies, and Ninja M saw fit to laugh at my expense…so did the other two actually!

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