Monday, November 02, 2009

In the birthplace of the modern canal age…

Worsley, of course. Although it could be argued that the Romans started it, with the Fossdyke to Lincoln. But they didn’t pursue the idea to it’s logical conclusion, preferring to build roads instead.

We took a day off yesterday. We’ve cruised for 6 days on the trot, culminating in the Wigan Flight, so I reckon we deserved it. Anyhow the weather was ‘orrible yesterday, wet and windy. Meg and I got wet through twice, taking our constitutionals.

Today was much better, still breezy but no longer gale force, grey but dry. So we were off around 10:30, and had an uneventful cruise to Leigh.

Pennington Flash

Duck! No, Swans!
NB Kingfisher is looking no better than when we last came this way. Still sitting on the bottom near Bridge 6.

Someone's pride and joy, once.
The bridge keeper at Plank Lane must have one of the best jobs on the network. We’ve seen 4 boats on the move all day. Not exactly rushed off his feet! In fact there are busier opening bridges around that are boater operated.
It’s curiously known as Plank Lane Swing Bridge, although it actually lifts!

Plank Lane Swing Bridge
Leigh is the next town on the canal. It’s here, at Leigh Bridge, that we left the Leeds and Liverpool (Leigh Branch) and make an end-on connection with the Bridgewater Canal.

Leigh Bridge, we’re now officially on the Bridgewater Canal

Leigh is known as a mill town, and you can see why. There are some fine examples of 19thC industrial architecture not far from the canal.

Leigh Mills
Leigh Spinning Company Ltd
This area used to bristle with coal mines, all gone now. The only reminders are the landscaped slag heaps and the remaining headgear at Astley Green, now a Mining Museum.

Winding Gear at Astley Green.
We pulled in for the night at Worsley, after about 3 hours cruising.

Into Leafy Worsley
The Packet House and Worsley Delph
The Delph

The Delph is the basin and entrances to The Duke of Bridgewater’s mines. It was from here to Castlefield in Manchester that the canal was cut in 1763, bypassing the poor roads and making the transport of the coal from the mine so much easier and cheaper. It was the success of this project that led to the boom in canal construction, most of the results of which we’re lucky enough to be able to enjoy today.
The canal was later extended to Leigh meeting the branch of the L&L we’ve travelled these last two days, and also south to the Trent and Mersey and to Runcorn.
There's lots of information on Pennine Waterways site here.

Locks 0, miles 9

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