Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Poetry, prose and Polesworth in the rain.

We had a last brew with Pam and Terry off NB The Roosters’ Rest this morning before we pushed off. At least, the Roosters did, we had a wait to get onto the services opposite. All morning there was a constant stream of boats wanting water and disposal facilities.

Terry and Pam head off for a few days down on the Birmingham and Fazeley.IMG_2069

They took away a copy of this missive that Mags had acquired somewhere along the way. (You’ll have to click to enlarge, I reckon)
Pam was quite amused by it…

They’d headed off right at Fazeley Junction, we went straight on rejoining the Coventry Canal

Fazeley JunctionIMG_2071
In the background is Tolson Mill, built towards the end of the 19th century to produce legal tape. The stuff we often get tied up in that secures legal documents. You wouldn’t have thought that that would be a sustainable business, but it’s still operating! Modern production techniques mean that the core business takes up less space, so offices, workshops and stores are let to various companies.

Crossing the River Tame, still protected by a WWII blockhouseIMG_2073

Below Glascote Locks, at Kettlebrook Wharf, is the headquarters of the Tamworth Cruising Club. Which brings us to the first bit of poetry -IMG_2076
- on the bridge adjacent to the wharf. We were hailed from the wharf by a chap who wanted to know if we’d heard about the threat to Hopwas Hayes Wood. Local feeling is running high…

Glascote Locks are always slow to fill, especially the bottom one. So we expected a bit of a queue and weren’t disappointed.

Queue below Glascote LocksIMG_2078

Meg took advantage of the break to find some grass. The boat in front was single-handed, so I went up and closed the bottom gates, then trotted up and drew the paddles on the top lock so it would be ready for him when he got there. It helped him to get on, which in turn helped us. Odd though, no-one off the two following boats stirred their butts to help either me or each other.

Which brings us nicely to the second bit of rhyme for today - IMG_2079
- fixed to the rail around the disused side pond. Very good.

Going up Glascote LocksIMG_2080

All up and down the Coventry Canal factories and wharfs sprang up, to take advantage of water transport. Steve Hudson boatbuilders occupy what was an interchange basin between the canal and the old Midland Railway. The connecting branch lines have all disappeared beneath the burgeoning suburban sprawl.

Glascote Basin

Another brick wharf, now surrounded by modern housing, was the terminus of the Glascote Works Railway, connecting the canal to the colliery and clay pits of Gibbs and Canning, a large terracotta works.

The area looks rather different now than on the OS map of 1924!

Heading out of Tamworth, just before Alvecote there’s an almost indistinguishable short arm off the canal, only recognisable by the dip beyond the towpath hedge and the exposed brickwork of the dock wall.IMG_2084
This was a wharf that served Amington Colliery via a branch line that also connected to the LNWR. The main basin, a little further on, now used by Narrowcraft, served Tamworth Colliery.

Alvecote Basin

As it was…
Alvecote Colliery Basin
Borrowed from

It had started to rain in earnest by now, as we swung around the bends near the site of Pooley Hall Colliery. Boat loading was done here in a lay-by off the main line.

Pooley Hall Colliery loading wharfIMG_2096

This footbridge, Bridge 55, would once have rang with the clamour of hob-nailed boots at shift change, as the miners crossed to and from Polesworth village.IMG_2098

There’s moorings either end of the village but those at the north have poor TV coverage. so we cruised through and tied up alongside the playing fields just past Bridge 52.

We’d intended being at the bottom of Atherstone Locks but the late start and inclement weather put the mockers on that.

Locks 2, miles 6

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