Friday, August 26, 2011

From Hest Bank to Glasson

We had an uneventful trip from Hest Bank to Lancaster yesterday, arriving around 11:00 to meet Mag’s grandson Steven and his family.

It was a fine morning, giving us tantalising glimpses of the Lake District tops as we headed south.

Lake District skyline just visible.

The River Lune was in a better mood this time as we crossed the Lune Aqueduct on the way into the city.

Over the Lune

There’s an old dry dock near Bridge 104, overgrown by shrubbery and overlooked by houses.

Disused dry dock

And St Peter’s RC cathedral looks across at the Priory and castle as we approach The Waterwitch.

The elegant spire of St Peter’s.

We collected Steve, Anne-Marie, and the children Luke and Courtney near the pub, and set off for Galgate after lunch.

We had a gentle couple of hours cruising, with some interesting moments as the children had a go on the tiller….

Everyone had a good afternoon, but I failed to record any of it. It was only after they’d left to catch the bus home that I realised I hadn’t taken a single photo!

Sorry guys, but it was good to see you all again.

After a showery night we had a dry, bright morning and were off at 09:00. We wanted to get going early(ish) to avoid the showers forecast for later, and also to beat anyone else to the Glasson flight of locks. The first 3 were full and ready for us, as I found out on Meg’s morning ramble.

We filled with water just before the junction then turned right under the junction bridge into the top lock.

Into First Lock

There are 6 locks dropping the Branch 52 feet in 2¼ miles from the main line to Glasson Basin and the access to the sea. Built in 1826, there was a distinct lack of imagination when it came to naming the locks. There’re often named for local landmarks; farms, hills, streams. But these are First Lock, Second Lock etc, all the way to Sixth Lock.

Heading down the Branch

The chambers are stone built, in the same way as those up at Tewitfield. The upper paddle gear is of the same design, too.

Upper paddle gear, Glasson Branch Locks.

The lower gear is gate-mounted, using a variation of the Leeds and Liverpool sliding clough arrangement.

Lower Gear.

The paddle is opened by winding the rack and pinion gearing.

They’re quite slow, but it doesn’t matter as you travel through this glorious countryside.

The Bowland Fells rise in the background as we drop towards the sea.

Sixth Lock is an exception. The other five have gates in good condition, although they are heavy. This one is in need of some TLC. The chamber was empty when we arrived although it should have been full as we’d passed a boat on the way up earlier. The lower gates are in poor condition and leak badly, one of the balance beams has rotted and been replaced by a fabricated wooden monstrosity, with no paddle gear refitted.

Out of Sixth Lock

As you can see, the top gates leak quite badly, too.

Another mile of canal, dead straight, and we came out into the wide open spaces of Glasson Basin.

Lots of sea going vessels moor in this sanctuary.

Lots of masts.

You wouldn’t get them under canal bridges….

Taken from the near the lock into the dock area. Seyella is just left of centre…

Below the canal basin there’s the dock with it’s own lock into the Lune estuary and the Irish Sea. There was a coaster from the Isle of Man loading concrete blocks on the wharf.

MV Silver River loading

The dock was opened in 1787. It gave the opportunity for larger vessels to deliver goods to Lancaster, which were too large for the Lune-side wharves in the town. Initially cargos had to be moved by cart, but with the opening of the canal branch and basin the dock became much busier. But then the railway arrived….

The dock is still active, but the railway is now a cycle track. Hah.

Locks 6, miles 11


Mich said...

Hi Geoff and Mags
I dont know if you are still in Glasson however if you are and you like sausages just take a walk up to the main road and i think the pub is called the stork take a left along the track and there is a farm shop best porkers ever!
Regards Michelle

Roger Smith said...

>The dock is still active, but the railway is now a cycle >track. Hah.

Which just goes to show how little a threat the canals were to transport ministers Ernest Marples plans to increase the countries dependance on roads.

[edit]Conflict of interest

Beeching had been appointed to his post as head of British Railways by Marples. Marples was not just a government minister; he also owned a construction company, Marples-Ridgway, whose main concern was constructing roads. They contributed to several motorway projects during the 1950s and 1960s and also constructed the Hammersmith flyover in London. When it was pointed out that being transport minister as well as a road builder might be construed as a conflict of interest, he agreed and divested himself of his shares in Marples-Ridgway. However, this was to his wife, with a clause to buy back the shares at the sale price when he ceased to be a minister: something not disclosed at the time.
In 1959, Ernest Marples had given the go-ahead for the first inter-city British motorway, the M1. This initially ran from London to Nottingham, closely following one of the London to Nottingham railway lines. Marples-Ridgway was given the contract to build the M1.
As such, Marples, as Minister of Transport, was able to select a civil servant to produce a report recommending the closure of a significant proportion of Britain's rail network, which would otherwise compete with road construction projects that he oversaw. Projects were awarded to a company that he had previously owned and whose ownership was now held by his wife, but that was not publicly disclosed. Such an arrangement, although perhaps legal, represented a grave conflict of interest and a highly unethical position for a government minister.
Taken from