Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Wet and windy river

We don’t normally cruise in the rain, but today we broke the rule and it wasn’t particularly pleasant. The brisk wind didn’t help, making it decidedly chilly on the tiller.

It had been a fine night, and it was clear first thing but by 8 o’clock the clouds had rolled in and the first drops of rain started to fall.

Moonrise over the power station last nightSAM_2569 Moonrise over Ratcliffe Power Stn

A few boats had gone past us heading for Cranfleet Lock so we fully expected it to be against us, but a small cruiser was there, waiting for the lock to refill. So we shared the drop down to the river.

Heading for Cranfleet LockSAM_2570 Cranfleet Cut
Looking back at the lock from the river.SAM_2571 Cranfleet Lock
The channel from Thrumpton Weir comes in on the left of the picture, giving us a shove downstream.

It’s four miles to Beeston Lock, and the river is now wide and deep.
A house on the left has been empty and semi-derelict for a long time, but I’m pleased to see someone has taken it in hand.

Good to see, it’s in a fine locationSAM_2573 House

Tucked into the bank on the right are a few moorings, including this fine boat in need of a bit of TLC. SAM_2574 Fine Boat
The hull is built up with laminated diagonal strips of timber, the next layer in will run in the opposite direction. It makes a very strong and relatively light structure.

Beeston Lock is where the navigable channel once again leaves the river, now for the last time. Beeston Cut was built at the end of the 18thC and joined the Nottingham Canal at Lenton Chain. This canal was built at around the same time, to link Nottingham with the Erewash Canal at Langley Mill. The section through the city is mostly filled and built over, but the western end is still in water in places.

Near Lenton Chain, NB Mister Fred has an eclectic mix of odds and ends decorating the mooring.SAM_2583 Lenton Chain

Now on the Nottingham Canal, the navigation passes Nottingham Castle Marina, then the popular moorings near Sainsbury’s, before arriving at Castle Lock.

Castle Gardens moorings, handy for shopping.SAM_2590 Castle Gardens Moorings

Just an odd glimpse of Nottingham Castle, sitting proud on it’s outcrop.SAM_2593 Nottingham Castle
The current building dates from 1678, but the prominent site has been occupied by a fortification since 1067 when a wooden fort was built. In 1170 Henry II replaced the wooden structure with a stone castle, the principal royal fortress in the midlands. It was from here, in 1485, that Richard III set out to meet the claimant to the throne, Henry Tudor at Bosworth. He didn’t come back….
In fact, after the battle his body was displayed on the city walls at Leicester, then buried somewhere in the Franciscan Friary. A dig is currently under way to find his remains, now believed to be under a car park at Grey Friars in the city.

Castle Lock drops the navigation 4½ feet, the only lock in the city.

Castle LockSAM_2594 Castle Lock

Alongside the lock is a marker, dating from 1869.  I guess the three named gentlemen, Messrs. Parr, Woodward and Godfrey, were overseers on the canal?SAM_2595 Castle Lock

Here’s one sign that won’t get a Canal and River Trust sticker slapped over!SAM_2596

Below the lock there’s extensive building work going on, new high rise apartments replacing old warehousing, then there’s a sharp right turn just beyond a bridge, where a short arm used to head towards the Lace Market.

Poplar Arms CornerSAM_2598 Sharp Right

A ½ mile straight then a left bend takes the canal to Meadow Lane Lock and the final drop back onto the river. There’s a handy facilities block here, which we took advantage of, filling the water tank and emptying a loo. Unfortunately, the showers and toilets are closed due to vandalism…

Meadow Lane Lock, recently tidied up with a new sanitary block and pleasant seating area overlooking the river.SAM_2600 Meadow Lane Lock

We’d had a short reprieve from the rain as we came through Nottingham, but it now returned just as we dropped onto the open river.

I always have to chuckle at this….SAM_2599
….”for men who know how to mow….”

Looking back at Meadow Lane Lock and upstream to County Hall.SAM_2601 Back on the river
The river is navigable up to County Hall, where there are moorings.

Lady Bay Bridge is the last crossing of the river for 9 miles, till GunthorpeSAM_2604 Lady Bay Bridge

Built around 1930, the large concrete warehouses alongside the river were used for storage of goods transferred between barges and a spur off the London-Midland-Scottish Railway. I understand that they were due to be demolished and the site redeveloped, but a quick web-search hasn’t revealed anything. Any ideas?

Transit WarehousesSAM_2605 BW Grain Warehouse
There’s a large dock basin just this side of the nearer building, and both were well equipped with modern loading and storage facilities.

A quote from the Nottingham Corporation book of 1932:-
“At the Nottingham end of the section, now controlled by the corporation, important progress has been made with the provision of new terminal facilities. A transit shed was the first building completed (by 1928) and close to it has since arisen a splendid new warehouse. This warehouse has a frontage to the river itself, but close to it is a basin, opening at right angles to the river, is being constructed and this will be flanked by Warehouse No.2 and Transit Shed No. 2. Railway lines run along side the warehouses and transit shed and link up with the L.M.S. Railway a short distance away. A short description of No. 1 Warehouse will serve to indicate not only its own excellent accommodation but also the nature of the increased accommodation that will become available when No. 2 Warehouse is completed. There warehouse is constructed of reinforced concrete and is considered to be the best of this type in the country. The riverside elevation, in line with the river wall, facilitates the loading and discharge of vessels. There are 4 floors each 170 feet long and 50 feet wide, giving a total floor space of 34,000 square feet. The ground floor is of reinforced concrete specially treated to ensure freedom from dust, while the upper floors are of wood on reinforced concrete.
The appliances for handling cargoes are specially designed for speed and economy. On the ground floor are electric transporters capable of travelling at a speed of 100 feet per minute for the full length of the warehouse, and in addition capable of stacking goods to a height of 9 feet above floor level. They can also discharge goods from barges direct to railway truck, or load lorries or drays at the various bays.
For working the upper floors, four electric hoists of ten cwts. capacity, hoisting at 70 feet per minute and travelling at 100 feet per minute have been installed. Two of these hoists work inside pent houses under which barges may be discharged or loaded in wet weather.
In addition to the electrically-operated machinery, spiral sack chutes are provided as well as gravity chutes capable of conveying loads 3 feet 3 inches wide. The warehouse is lighted throughout with electricity. Easy access is provided by means of a concrete road fifty feet wide which runs the whole length of the building. The railway track is bedded into the concrete road so that no difficulty will be experienced by the various forms of transport in loading or unloading. The adjoining Transit Shed is equipped with additional electrical hoisting and conveying machinery for discharging and loading vessels as well as temporary storage are thereby provided.”

They've convinced me!

We pulled in above Holme Lock, just a couple of (rainy) miles further downstream, between two other narrowboats. Both of whom have now started their engines to charge batteries. It’s a quarter to eight. Might have to have words in a bit…

Grey approach to Holme LockSAM_2608 Holme Lock

Locks 4, miles 12

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