Thursday, May 31, 2012

Rain, an odd lock and something fishy up the Cheshire Flight.

As forecast, today dawned damp and stayed that way, mainly light, drizzly stuff, but it made for a less than enjoyable trip up the rest of the Cheshire Locks.

I mentioned the dead fish in the locks at Hassall Green yesterday, well we continued to encounter them all the way up through Rode Heath to Church Lawton today, so I gave the EA a call to report it. There’s obviously something noxious been released into the canal near Lock 50. Above this point there aren’t any corpses to be seen.

We had about 20 minutes to cruise before we got to our first lock today, then we had a short pound to Lock 53, Thurlwood Lock.

Thurlwood LockSAM_0463 Thurlwood
Meg is being fussed by a lass off the following boat….. and loving it!

The paired lock alongside has been filled in, just the tail bridge indicates that it was there at all.

Second lock at ThurlwoodSAM_0462 Thurlwood

During the 1950’s local subsidence caused by brine pumping made this lock unusable, so an experimental solution was proposed. This was Thurlwood Steel Lock, a complete self-contained lock chamber with guillotine gates. It was assembled at the lock site.
One of the pair of Thurlwood Locks was selected as the subject of this experiment in modern lock construction, but it was not successful; the prototype remained the sole example, and by 1981 the steel lock was not in use and the parallel conventional lock had to be used. The steel lock was removed and cut up for scrap in 1988. 
  © Copyright Dr Neil Clifton and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
© Copyright David Stowell and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
Thurlwood Locks todaySAM_0465 Thurlwood
The steel lock has now gone, and so has the roof on the building on the left.

We met a steady procession of boats coming down the locks, a lot of them hired and doing the Cheshire Ring from Anderton Marina and Claymore Navigation at Preston Brook. So we had a good, easy, trip up, with gates left open for us as we in turn left gates open for downhill boats.

Four locks at Lawton are in a pretty setting and close together so Meg and I stayed off to work them.

Lawton Locks.SAM_0467 Lawton Locks

Then there are the two Church LocksSAM_0472 Church Locks
Unlike the four below, the offside chambers of these locks are both derelict.

These are followed by a short breather, just over half a mile to the bottom of the six Red Bull Locks.

Going up Red BullSAM_0474 Red Bull

We watered and emptied at the services at the BW depot, then went up the next two locks, stopping just below the final one before the summit level.

At Poole Lock, just below the aqueduct carrying the Hardings Wood Branch over to the Macclesfield Canal, a group of BW engineers were discussing the best way to fit another handrail to the tail bridge.
SAM_0476 Discussing new hand rail
This will be part of the ongoing “safety improvements” following the fatality at Stourport last year.

We’ve not moored here before, usually stopping a couple of locks further back. But we want to get an early start tomorrow to get through the Harecastle Tunnel and then down through Stoke. It’s handy here for the Tesco, just around the corner, but we had to shuffle forward a bit to get the TV aerial out of the shadow of the steel industrial buildings alongside. Mags likes to watch the soaps….

Locks 13, miles 4

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