Wednesday, February 11, 2009

History at Stourport

We left our overnight mooring at around noon. With only just over a mile to go to the end of the road, there wasn’t any rush.

Watched by another Beardie coming into town

Coming into Stourport is just like coming into any other town with a canal; backs of houses, backs of pubs, backs of factories.
But the short straight section down to York Street Lock has been improved, with smart new apartments on the right, and 5 day moorings on the left.

Heading towards York Street Lock
The lock took a while to fill; at 12 feet deep there’s a fair bit of water got to go in. We dropped down to the level of the Upper Basin, and out into the basin to the water point.

In York Street Lock

And out again
Filling with water, the Clock Warehouse in the background.

We pulled on to the overnight mooring just along from the Sanitary Station, just as it started to rain. It had been fine and sunny all morning, after a hard frost overnight.

Looking at the profusion of shiny boats in the basins now, it’s hard to imagine what they must have been like at the height of their commercial activity.

In 1760, this point on the River Severn was chosen as the terminus of the Staffs and Worcs Canal. At that time it was no more than a hamlet. 5 basins were constructed on 2 different levels, and all were linked to the canal and the river, and each other, by broad and narrow locks. Later on The Tontine Hotel, now being refurbished as apartments, was built by the canal company. An indication of how important the new terminus, christened “Stourport” had become.
The port became one of the busiest inland ports in the country, and the town grew on the tide of this prosperity. It must have been a real boom town, with industry sprouting up around the junction. By 1795 it had 200 houses and 1300 inhabitants.
The official website is here.

The Canal Company offices and the Tontine Hotel
The narrow lock entrance from the river. The level indicator shows that the river is nearly on the red.
Up the first staircase pair to the lower basins, and then through the bridge arch near the middle of the picture and up the second staircase to the upper basin.
The Clock Warehouse, between the 2 upper basins
Elegant road bridge over the river.
Across the east upper basin, 18:30 tonight, in between showers.
Not sure what we’re doing tomorrow. We might stay in the town for another night, or go back out into the country. Watch this space!

Locks 1, miles 1¼


Adam said...

You could always go and say hello to fellow bloggers John and Cathy on Marmaduke. They moor on the far side of the upper basin.

dundustin said...

hiya, those locks look very narrow. Reading your blog is both funa nd informative.

Geoff and Mags said...

Done just that this afternoon. Thanks for telling me, I wouldn't have realised otherwise, and missed out on meeting a really nice couple.

Yep, they are! Ask Mags, she does all the lock navigating. I have the easy bit, winding the paddles and opening the gates.
Locks on the "narrow" network were built to accommodate 7 foot beam boats, though some have slumped a bit and are a very tight fit (Hurleston on the Llangollen Canal, for an example).The "broad" network has locks that'll take a 14 foot barge, or 2 narrowboats side by side.
Most new boats are built at 6'10", so they don't get stuck in narrow locks.....