There’s a Yorkshire saying, “Where there’s muck there’s brass.” Brass is slang for money up here and muck refers to the filth of unregulated industry: coal mining, steam powered factories, and industrial pollution generally. It was early anti-environmental framing, stating that you have to put up with a filthy environment if you want to get rich. Curiously, the people who were most impacted by the filthy environment were not the ones getting rich.
Dirty industry, and in particular coal mining, is a large part of the history of the Aire and Calder, but times are changing. Wind turbines compete with coal fired power stations…
… and the abandoned Kellingley coal mine now has a five megawatt solar energy farm over the old mine workings.
The Aire and Calder joins the River Aire at Knottingly, and from then on the banks are largely wooded with no towpath. In 1988 one bank of the Aire burst in this area, filling up an old open cast coal mine, to the delight of both archeologists and birders. The birders had a new man made lake to attract waterfowl, and the archeologists found several historic sunken boats on the now empty river bed. The waterway was repaired, but the result combined two locks into one huge and scarily deep lock chamber.