Friday, April 02, 2010

Queuing for the lift….

Did anyone get caught out yesterday by the story on the Pennine Waterways blog? The one about the raising and lowering bollards at Castlefield? Excellent!

We’ve hung around at Anderton for the last few days (seem to have done a lot of that so far this year) waiting for the weather to improve.
Today’s forecast was for a good morning, wetter later, so we decided to drop down the lift and have a few days on the River Weaver.
It’s got quite a bit busier on the water the last few days, so we weren’t surprised to see a row of boats moored on the 24 hour VM near the lift. As we chugged slowly past, we were hailed – “ Are you going down the lift?”. “There’s a problem, only one side is working so there’s a queue.”
We pulled over at the end of the row of moorings and I went down to the booking office, to have confirmed what I'd just been told.

One side of the lift has broken down, leaving just one caisson (tank) to cope with the Bank Holiday traffic. Replacement parts are due tomorrow, so normal service may be resumed later that day.
Each caisson can take 2 narrowboats, so theoretically they should still be able to shift 2 up and 2 down each hour.
But that’s reckoning without the trip boat schedule. Every couple of hours the “Edwin Clark“ (named for the lift designer) comes up, turns around and goes back down again. That’s fine. I know the money raised from the passengers allows us boaters to use the lift for free, but it is a bit frustrating when there’s only 2 or 3 of them aboard!
There’s a website about the lift I’ve not come across before here.

Later in the day… Edwin Clark a little better patronised, and the moorings fuller..
Anyway, the word is “Come back again tomorrow”, so that’s just what we’ll do. Bill and Leslie on NB Anguilla went past a while ago, heading for Acton Bridge, and we thought of joining them for the night, but it’s started raining so we’ll stay put. I think we’re getting just a tad lazy…..

The Anderton lift is not unique, on the continent there are several vertical lifts or inclined planes in operation. Currently the biggest is at Strépy-Thieu in Belgium, capable of lifting boats of 1350 tonnes a height of 128 feet. Some more good pictures here.

But even this monster will pale into insignificance when the 3 Gorges Dam lift in China is finished. This will be able to lift 3000 tonne vessels a whopping 370 feet!
This lift will enable vessels on the Yangtze River to pass the controversial hydro-electric project and will replace huge staircase locks. The dam has flooded a vast area, inundating 13 cities and displacing over 1.3m people.

Locks o, miles ¼!

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