Friday, April 22, 2011

Up the hill, through the hole and back down the other side.

Good Friday? Oh yes. Another fine day and a very pleasant cruise.

We knew today was going to be quite long so pulled pins and got away before 9 o’clock.

Past the Wedgwood Factory…

Josiah Wedgwood was the driving force behind the construction of the canal. Along with 2 other local businessmen, Erasmus Darwin and Thomas Bentley, he recognised that a canal from the Trent to the Mersey would enable him to ship his pottery products more quickly and safely, as well as bringing coal and raw materials in to the factories.

20 minutes took us to Trentham Lock.

I don’t think that should happen….

There must be quite a large void behind the lock wall….

These are known as “pissers”.

I wonder why?

While we were in Trentham Lock I tried to remove the chimney from roof collar, ready for Harecastle Tunnel. I knew it was a bit dodgy….


That’s why I made a dash into the chandlers yesterday, for a new one. We might need one again, yet.

From the lock the canal cuts through Trentham itself then heads for the southern outskirts of Stoke.

Cock Turkey showing off.

This factory on the side of the canal at Bridge 109 is a common landmark for us.

Not just from the canal; it also stands alongside the A500 link road to the M6 from the east, a route we often used to drive. Don’t know what it makes but I’d guess it’s pottery related.

There are 5 locks through Stoke to the summit level, the last one being the very deep Summit Lock next to the Etruscan Bone and Flint Mill.

Summit Lock, a long way down.

The first time we came up this lock I raised the paddles too quickly, the boat shot forward and stopped with a jolt against the cill. Unfortunately quite a bit of the glassware didn’t….

Needless to say I take it very gently, now.

We’d done well with the locks, either they were in our favour or a boat was on the way down. Often there was another waiting as well, so we didn’t even have to close the top gates.

The canal winds around the cleared area where the extensive Shelton Steelworks once stood.

No more steelworks in Stoke.

In it’s heyday Shelton Bar employed 10,000, and had it’s own collieries and railway system. Closed in 2000, it has now been completely demolished.

Iconic Potteries – restored bottle kilns.

We arrived at the south portal of Harecastle Tunnel just after 1 o’clock, joining a Black Prince hire boat waiting to go through. They’d just picked the boat up from Festival Park Marina, and were taking it around the Four Counties Ring. With 10 on board, they’ve plenty of lock wheelers, anyway!

Waiting at Harecastle.

There were 2 boats in the tunnel heading south, and as it’s one way working controlled by tunnel-keepers, they had to be out before we could go in.

This is the “new” tunnel, completed in 1827 to a design by Thomas Telford. It was needed because the old Brindley tunnel, also being one-way, caused a major bottleneck as the canal got busier. For a time both tunnels were in use, one northbound and one southbound, but in 1914 the old tunnel had to be closed due to a partial collapse, believed to have been caused by vibration from the adjacent railway tunnel.

Brindley’s original 1777 tunnel.

There are two more bores through Harecastle Hill, carrying railways. The first was built in the mid 19th C, and ran parallel to and slightly above the Telford canal tunnel. This was closed in the late 1960’s when the line was diverted around the hill, with just the short 243 yard Kidsgrove Tunnel at the northern end. There’re some pictures and info about the railway tunnels here.

We were in the tunnel after an hour’s wait, and emerged into the sunshine 1¾ miles and 40 minutes later.

Out of the northern portal, boats waiting to head south.

The ochre colour of the water is caused by iron ore deposits in the hill washing out into the tunnel.

We passed Harding’s Wood Junction where the Macclesfield Canal heads off, then dropped down the first 3 locks of the Red Bull flight before pulling over below Lock 43.

Out of Lock 42, with Poole’s Aqueduct carrying the Macclesfield Canal over the Trent and Mersey.

6 hour’s cruising today, but it’s been very enjoyable. A day off tomorrow, though.

Hey, Carol. Never mind what it looks like, how does it taste???

Locks 9, miles 11½


Ted said...

I usually look an move on,the reason is I us a two finger system of typing an I have a problem with spelling.I enjoy reading your bog .On my grandmothers side of the family they came from England an took on the name Chadwell I name of a village I understood some where close to London,that all I know about that.I enjoy your posts ,You are being followed.

Bruce in Sanity said...

Hi Geoff

The "factory" is the Stoke municipal incinerator, forever etched in our minds after the time we ran out of diesel whilst passing it. 20 minutes earlier, we'd been chugging through Harecastle...

All the best


Alf said...

The "Factory" is in fact an incinerator for local rubbish !


Geoff and Mags said...

Hi, Alf, Bruce.
It's not bad looking for a rubbish incinerator, is it!
Hi Ted
Good to have you aboard. We've several Chadwells, but near London there's Chadwell St Mary, east of the city and just north of the River Thames. If you look it up on Google Earth, you'll see it's just near Tilbury Docks. I wonder if that's where your Grandmother's family sailed from?
Cheers, Geoff

Carol said...

Hi both, a bit slow this morning to comment on the blog - as has already been said George recognised the incinerator near Wheeldon Road Stoke adjacent to the new Britannia Stadium. The old Stoke City ground (Victoria) was about half a mile away from here and my Dad and brother worked at Doulton's Sanitary Ware also within half a mile of here. It's also withing walking distance of where I grew up!
Regards, Carol

Carol said...

It's me again - forgot to say that my first job on leaving school in 1964 was about half a mile from Shelton Bar!!