Thursday, April 03, 2014

Up to the Stoke summit.

Today has been dull and grey, but the odd spots and spits of rain we had never amounted to anything.

We got away at around 10:15, a little earlier than usual for us but we did have a moderately long day ahead.

Swan’s nest near Oldroad Bridge
We crept past very quietly…

After some doubt over it’s future, the Wedgwood factory is still goingSAM_8813

Trentham Lock, our first for today, was about 15 minutes away.

Into Trentham LockSAM_8814

All the locks up to the summit are pretty deep, now, although it’s a gentler slope than on the north side. On that side the bulk of the locks lift the canal 250 feet in 7 miles, this side it’s taken since Burton on Trent, 42 miles, to make the same height. 33 locks this side, 26 down the other.

The other side of Trentham the canal passes under a pipe-bridge, with this graffiti on one of the pedestals.
Every time we come this way I wonder if it’s a left-over from a long-ago local election, or an exhortation to support capital punishment in schools…

Between Trentham and Stoke there’s a “green zone”, with the railway on one side and grazing on the other. The incinerator on the left and the Britannia Stadium on the right always to me mark the start of the conurbation, although it’s a while before hedgerows and trees give way to walls and concrete.

Municipal incinerator.SAM_8818

The further the canal penetrates into the town, the more evidence of past industry appears on the banksides.

Old wharves….SAM_8821

…and disused, truncated arms.

A bit further on and even the River Trent has been channelled and constrained as it passes under the canal.SAM_8823
After passing under the canal it continues it’s subterranean route for a few hundred yards, meeting daylight again on the other side of the A500.

Before the canal starts it’s last climb to the summit, it passes the junction with the long-defunct Newcastle-under-Lyme Canal.
Opened in 1800, this was the pet project of mine-owner and iron-master Sir Nigel Gresley (hasn’t he got a steam locomotive named after him?). He’d linked coalmines and ironworks at Newcastle by canal, and wanted to make a potentially lucrative connection with the prosperous Trent and Mersey to bring coal to the potteries.

Newcastle Canal Junction on the rightSAM_8827
Unfortunately his enthusiasm wasn’t matched by the industrialists in the Five Towns, and the canal became a costly failure.

The canal was finally abandoned in 1927, the last short stub filled in during construction of the A500. More information here…

The first of the Stoke Locks is a concrete replacement for the original chamber, another casualty of road development. It’s ugly and tediously slow to empty and fill.

Stoke Bottom Lock
Before and after pictures here…

The five locks up to the summit level are spread over about a mile, Cockshutts almost lost under the railway. I always try to get a photo of the lock with a train going over…

Approaching Cockshutts

In Cockshutts Lock, with a train!SAM_8833

The top gate was new last year is remarkable (and unusually) leak free.SAM_8832

From this point the locks are close enough together to justify walking between them, it also meant that I could get them ready as Mags slowly cruised up. This took a little longer than it should as I had to close the top gate of each before I could empty it. They were left open by the single-hander ahead of us. The annoying thing is that he knew we were following, we’d even had a short chat as I closed the top gate of Trentham Lock for him.

Preserved Potteries bottle kilns alongside the canal opposite Hanley Cemetery.SAM_8834

The last lock, number 40, is just before Etruria Junction, alongside  the C&RT workshops and just above Jesse Shirley’s Etruscan Flint and Bone Mill.

Etruria LockSAM_8836
The mill is now part of a museum, with a working blacksmith’s forge and steam driven machinery. This weekend the engine is in steam…

We made the sharp right onto the Caldon Canal, filled with water and moored just outside the museum. It might be interesting to stay for the weekend, but these are 48 hour moorings. Just around the corner though they’re unrestricted….

Moored at EtruriaSAM_8840

Locks 6, miles 5½


Adam said...

Capital punishment might be a bit extreme (and final) for most schools!

Geoff and Mags said...

Oh, I don't know....

Geoff and Mags said...

Well spotted anyway. Deliberate mistake or Freudian slip?