Thursday, July 11, 2013

A short cruise to Church Lawton

We were off quite early again today, to try to avoid the hottest part of the day. We’re going all continental!

Leaving Rode HeathSAM_5934
It’s a shame, but I don’t think we’ve ever seen this canal looking so overgrown. All our regular “wild” mooring spots are heavily forested, so the shears have been put to good use. If it gets any worse, though, a strimmer will become essential equipment!

Probably the prettiest locks on the Cheshire flight are at Church Lawton. Lawton Treble Locks, numbers 50 to 52, lift the canal 28 feet.

Like all the locks from Wheelock to the summit, these were duplicated during the first quarter of the 19thC to speed up traffic. What I didn’t know till speaking to a local today was that these three actually replace a three-rise staircase slightly to the north.

Thomas Telford was tasked with the improvements to the original James Brindley route, and recognised that a staircase will always cause holdups, although it was easier to build. So he moved the channel to the south and built three parallel pairs of single locks instead.

The old line is now a stub below Lock 49…SAM_5941
…and runs round to rejoin below Lock 52.

The towpath changes sides here, crossing over the twin entrances to the lock over the extended bridge.

Bridge at lock 49, Brindley’s original span on the right, Telford’s extension on the left.SAM_5942
Around 50 years separate the the two arches, but they are alike in all but the arch.

This afternoon, now moored above Church Locks, I went to see if there’s any trace of the 1770 Brindley staircase. A long shot, I know, after 240 years.

The canal went down here, close to the right hand hawthorn hedgeSAM_5945

The drop off at the end of the pasture is now heavily overgrown, but may have been the site of the top of the staircase. There’s a bit of brickwork visible.SAM_5949

And a shed has been built into the bank below, maybe in the old chamber?SAM_5948

I couldn’t get any closer from this end, I might have a look from the bottom end tomorrow morning before we leave.

Back at the Church Lawton moorings. They’ve filled up a bit since we arrivedSAM_5954 

Nev asked yesterday to explain the term “flatting”. It’s basically preparation of fresh paint to receive another coat. Fine wet and dry (I’m using 400 grit for this job, but on a classic car I’d use 1200) on a sanding block is used with water to remove brush marks and to key the paint to improve adhesion of the next coat. Each coat will be treated this way.

I was sweatily rubbing away on a hatch frame today when I was thankfully interrupted by the arrival of Bruce and Sheila, NB Sanity Again. They are moored a little way ahead of us and knew we were heading here so came to say hello. Good to see you both again.

Locks 6, miles 1½

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