The Hay Inclined Plane – Telford and Wrekin, England - Atlas Obscura

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The Hay Inclined Plane

Telford and Wrekin, England

One of the first canal boat-lift inclines ever created. 


The Hay Inclined Plane was in operation from the 1790s until the 1890s. Goods including coal, iron, and other products were carried in 20-foot-long wooden tub boats from the short section of the Shropshire Canal running through the industrial complex that is now the site of Blists Hill Victorian Town. Each could carry a load of up to five tons. From there, goods continued a short distance to the River Severn.

The 207-foot (63 meters) journey took four minutes to complete with two boats. The upper one was laden, the lower empty. The operation was mainly controlled by gravity. Horses were used to power the winding drums and cable on the incline when it was first in use. By 1793, a steam engine was installed in a brick engine house, the remains of which can still be seen today. 

The Shropshire canal was created in 1790 and closed to river traffic in 1944. Its construction allowed for the channeling of one of the mining regions of the County of Shropshire through several minor canals that connected the Union Shropshire Canal to the north, with the population of Coalbrookdale to the south along the River Severn. 

Know Before You Go

The lower end of the Hay Inclined Plane can be seen at any time from the Coalport High St bridge near the Tar Tunnel, or from the canal footpath near the south side of the Jackfield footbridge over the River Severn. 

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August 17, 2022

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