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Hay Inclined Plane

Coalport, Shropshire

Location Guide

The Hay Inclined Plane is currently the most complete remains of an inclined plane in Britain.

It lifted boats through 63 metres (207ft), a height that would normally be achieved by using 25 locks.

It operated from 1792 to 1894, before falling into disuse and decay.  The original rails were removed in 1910 and the canal basin filled in during the 1920s.

Restoration work started in 1969, continuing later with the re-laying of the railway tracks and the clearance of the canal basin.

Brief history of inclined planes

The idea of using inclined planes to move boats over obstacles or between water levels dated back to the Greeks in 600BC, but it was the late 1700's that saw it first becoming of interest in Britain, with a first recording I can find of a suggestion to use being in 1773, in Cornwall on the St Columb Canal at Lusty Glaze joining the canal to the sea. In 1788 an inclined plane was used for the first time in England to raise a boat on the Ketley Canal in Shropshire, Wikipedia, and was in use for 28 years.

The Ketley Canal joined the Shropshire Canal and nearby, in 1792, another inclined plane was opened linking the Shropshire Canal at Blists Hill Down to the River Severn or a canal at Coalport that joined the Severn. There are slightly different accounts. This is now known as the Hay Inclined Plane, the one we are looking at on this page.

The Hay Inclined Plane, lifted and lowered boats 63m using a combination of steam power and gravity.

Good views of this inclined plane can be had from the bottom at Coalport. It is also well worth the walk to the end of the canal at Blists Hill to see the remains of the basin and the base of the steam winding engine at the top.

The canal at the top, other parts nearby and the inclined plane can be visited as part of the Blists Hill Victorian Town, part of the Ironbridge visitor attractions. During 2009 a new incline plane is being created, very similar in design to the Hay Incline and this new one will be fully functional and able to be ridden on.

The Blists Hill Open Air Museum is well worth a visit but you need at least half a day to see it. Within it you will find a Victorian town, industry, a beam engine and far more.

A free bus service operates around the various attractions for passport ticket holders. Telford Connect Bus Service  PDF leaflet and timetable.

The FREE Entry Route

The Ordnance Survey map also shows a public right of way running up the side of the inclined plane that's is labelled as the Monarchs Way, and South Telford Heritage Trail which is a walking route visiting many remains around the area including the inclined plane by going along this path.

Click this button to see more views of the Inclined Plane and surroundings

Location: Hay Inclined Plane, Coalport, Shropshire

Grid Reference: SJ694027 Ceremonial County: Shropshire

Map Link: Multimap

Aerial photo: Multimap

Getting there: Exit J4 of M54. Follow signs for Ironbridge Gorge. Then follow signs for Blists Hill Museums more direct route from other directions.

Access: From museum or from trail. There is also a car park for access to the trail near to the inclined plane at Coalport.

Website:  Ironbridge Open Air Museum  Download handout for 2009/2010 (PDF)

Other Useful Websites: Wikipedia    Wikipedia - South_Telford_Heritage_Trail (walk)

Map and guide to Heritage Trail      detailed page on hay inclined plane

Postcode: Telephone: 01952 884 391

Opening Times: Public right of way along the path would appear to be open all the time.

Blists Hill Open Air Museum - open Seven days a week, all year
10am-5pm 28 Mar-8 Nov 2009; 10am-4pm 9 Nov 2009-19 Mar 2010

Charges: Walking route along Heritage Trail or Monarchs Way - FREE.

Blists Hill Museum only - Adults 13.25, 60+ 10.50; Child or student 8.50
Passport tickets that allow access to all 9 attractions and visit as many times in the first year as you like, cost Adults 19.95, 60+ 15.95, Child/student 12.50; Family (2+3) 54.95

Nearby Locations:  The Heritage Trail has a large number of items on the route, there is a lot to see in this area. The Trust that runs the Blists Hill Open Air Museum runs 9 attractions in the area.
Other Location Pages: Hay Inclined Plane Gallery

Bedlam Furnaces

Blists Hill Victorian Town

Broseley Pipeworks

Coalport China Museum

Darby Houses


Jackfield Tile Museum  

Iron Bridge and Toll House

Museum of the Gorge Ironbridge

Museum of Iron

Tar Tunnel

Other Relevant Pages:  Canals                 Canals for photographers  

Major Canals and Waterways             Major Canal Features  

Canal Tunnels                              Lock Flights and Staircases  

Canals in England                          Non Navigable and Lost Canals  

Further information - canals  

Living History Section

List of Living History Museums

Living history museums introduction

World Heritage Sites     

World Heritage Sites - Further Information

World Heritage Sites in the UK

Industrial Heritage

Anchor Points and The European Route of Industrial Heritage  

The Industrial Revolutions

Technological Developments in the Industrial Revolution

Transport in the Industrial Revolution 

Further Information on Industrial Heritage 

European Route of Industrial Heritage - UK Sites   


Please let us know any other information that we can add to the Grid(s) or page and any errors that you discover. Before making a long trip to any location it is always wise to double check the current information, websites like magazines may be correct at the time the information is written, but things change and it is of course impossible to double check all entries on a regular basis. If you have any good photographs that you feel would improve the illustration of this page then please let us have copies. In referring to this page it is helpful if you quote both the Page Ref and Topic or Section references from the Grid below. To print the planning grid select it then right click and print the selected area.

Please submit information on locations you discover so that this system continues to grow.


By: Keith Park Section: Canal and Waterway Section Key:
Page Ref: Hay_inclined_plane Topic: Canals & Waterways  Last Updated: 10/2009


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