Thursday, October 30, 2014

A fine day for a bit of windlass work.

What a difference a day makes. Yesterday’s wind and rain were replaced by bright skies and just a breath of a breeze. It was warm enough outside for just a T shirt and shorts.

We had a better start today, leaving Polesworth at around 10. A couple of boats had passed by this time, probably from the moorings at the other side of the village, so once again we expected to queue below Atherstone Locks.

It’s around 2½ miles from Polesworth to the bottom lock, through flat farmland bottoming the Anker valley, and with the Trent Valley section of the West Coast Main Line always within earshot.IMG_2105

Grendon Dock, near Bridge 49, is home to several old working boats. We had a close encounter with motor boat Jaguar earlier, usually paired with butty Northolt.

Empty Jaguar swinging around the bends near Hoo Hill.IMG_2106

Butty Northolt at GrendonIMG_2111

We passed Ling nearer Polesworth, in British Waterways livery.IMG_2103

Both motors spotted were built on the River Weaver at Yarwood’s in Northwich, Jaguar in 1927, and Ling 7 years later. And both were commissioned for Fellows, Morton and Clayton’s fleet, based in Birmingham.

We were surprised to see only one boat ahead when we arrived at the bottom of Atherstone, and he was already in the lock. I had to empty this one, but most of the other five were set ready for us by descending boats.

Atherstone LocksIMG_2114


The flight is due to be closed for maintenance on Monday, hence the number of boats about. Major works include replacement of the rather rickety bottom gates of Lock 10.IMG_2117
These were fitted in 1993, so they’ve given 21 years of service.

Baddeley Basin was another of those combined rail and canal loading basin for Baddesley Colliery. Coal was brought to the basin by a 1½ mile long mineral line.
In May 1882 32 men lost their lives in a fire and explosion in the mine, caused by misuse of an underground steam pumping engine. Nine of the dead were shiftworkers, the other 23 comprised the rescue party caught in the explosion.

Baddesley Basin
The wharf and basin are now a marina and yard of Barry Hawkins Ltd. Once a respected boatbuilder, the business went to the wall in 2009. Now their business activity is listed as “repair of personal and household goods”. Quite a wide definition.  There is some boat-shaped activity in the dock, so I guess that’s “personal goods” under repair.

We moored above Lock 6, six of the eleven locks done.

Lock 6, seen through the widened Kings Head BridgeIMG_2120

It’s handy for shopping here, not that we needed any. I had to collect an alternator from Cox Auto Electrical, just 10 minutes away. They’d repaired two for me, but I wasn’t happy with the performance of one of them so they collected it at Mountsorrel to check it out.

Tomorrow we’ll head up the last five locks, then probably end up somewhere near Hartshill for the weekend.

Locks 6, miles 3½

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