Friday, April 25, 2014

Following the hire boats to Middlewich

Before we set off this morning we were passed by a convoy of hire boats, all heading back to Anderton, presumably for hand-over tomorrow. It must have been busy at Wheelock last night! Mixed in were one or two private boats, too.

There was no rush for us to get going, we didn’t want to get involved in long queues at the locks ahead, the only imperative was to get tied up before the rain started.

By Ettiley Heath there’s a huge housing development going on, it must run for half a mile between the canal and the railway.SAM_9149

Just the other side of Moss Lane is another housing estate, this one now occupying much of the site of Foden’s, the truck manufacturer. The factory was a foundry in the mid-19th century, turning to production of stationary steam engines then developing steam powered commercial vehicles.
They started using diesel power plants in 1932, producing diesel trucks alongside the existing steam wagons. 1935 saw the end of the steam lorry production in favour of internal combustion.

Another company, ERF, was set up in 1933 by Edwin Foden  following a board level disagreement. Edwin was the brother of William, son of the founder, who (William) had retired in 1924. ERF was based nearby in Sandbach.

Both companies prospered through the heyday of the British motor industry, but declined during towards the end of the last century, subsequently bought by MAN, the Sandbach  ERF site was closed in 2002. Foden production, now under the ownership of the American truck company PACCAR, finally ceased in 2006, the last truck off the line delivered to the British Commercial Vehicle Museum in Lancashire.

We’re now entering one of the major centres for salt production in Cheshire, and a legacy of removal of brine from below the surface is subsidence. The canal banks have had to be repeatedly raised to keep the water where it belongs.

Successive layers of concrete raise the canal banksSAM_9152

Our first lock was Crow’s Nest Lock, and we arrived just as a boat was leaving.

Good timing…SAM_9153

Then, a little further on, we had the two Booth Lane Locks to deal with, alongside the busy A533.

Mags cruising between Booth Lane Top and BottomSAM_9154  

A kestrel keeps an eye out for lunch as we approach Rumps LockSAM_9161

Rumps was empty when we arrived and a boat was heading towards us from Middlewich so we waited and brought them up the lock before we went down.

Dropping down Rumps Lock

Above Kings Lock there’s a large population of swans, thriving under the protection of the local people.

Middlewich swansSAM_9165
In fact, the fence which keeps the birds off the road was largely paid for by local subscription.

We just made it, it started to rain as we tied up and it’s not stopped since.

Fish and chips from Kings Lock chippy tonight, shopping at the chandlery tomorrow then move on down the Middlewich Locks.

Locks 4, miles 4¼

1 comment:

Alf said...

"paid for by local subscription"

Plus £2000 fron (the then) BW !

Also in Wheelock St tomorrow is the artisan market.