After a couple of trips up into Castleford to the Co-op (I forgot the bananas the first time) it was nearer 11 than 10 by the time we untied and set off down the cut to Bulholme Lock. It was a disappointing morning, I thought this was supposed to be the best day this week but it was overcast, cool and moist.
Below the lock we rejoin the river, pretty much the original river course but much modified to accommodate the large commercial craft that once used it.
You can’t see anything from the river, the immediate banks are wooded and the rising ground beyond is predominantly colliery spoil, grey and almost sterile.
The only boat seen on the move today, a large barge.
There’s about 4½ miles on the Aire before we finally part company at Ferrybridge.
Under the A1(M) near Fairburn, the cooling towers of Ferrybridge Power Station are just visible over the trees on the right.
The several elements of the the power station take up just over a mile on the west bank, including the redundant handling dock for compartment boats carrying coal from Kellingley Colliery.
Sorry, the sun was out by now and being a nuisance.
Three “Tom Puddings”, all linked together, were brought down by push-tug. A bolt-on bow section, know as a jebus, gave a semblance of streamlining to the square box-shaped barges. On entering the dock between the island and the bank each pan was tipped up, dumping it’s cargo of around 170 tons onto conveyors.
An earlier system, used to ship coal to Goole Docks, used smaller pans but up to 19 of them in a string. The locks from Castleford to Goole were all extended to over 450 feet long to accommodate the long trains of compartments.
The village of Brotherton sits on the opposite bank, the Church of St Edward the Confessor, dating from the 13th Century, looks out over much later modern housing.
Two bridges, the old Great North Road and the newer A1 bridge, itself replaced by the new A1(M) bridge further north as the main northern route.
Ferrybridge Lock is just beyond the new bridge, and I was pleased to see it open at both ends so we could cruise straight through.
Under normal river conditions it’s usually open, but on the way upstream earlier this year we had to work through it.
The navigation now leaves the river for the last time as it heads through Knottingley. The river runs just to the north, winding it’s way westerly to join the Ouse at Boothferry. It’s not navigable past the town, a couple of weirs, built for the flour mills, prevent that. But at the other end of Knottingley a junction gives access to Bank Dole Lock which drops down onto the river again. Running downstream from here is about 6 miles of navigable river until the junction with the Selby Canal at West Haddlesey.
One of those iconic shots, looking back at Ferrybridge Lock with the power station cooling towers in the background.
Straight on is the branch back onto the Aire, we turn right, past the assortment of craft moored at Harkers Yard, onto the Knottingley and Goole Canal.
The demolition work at Kellingley Colliery continues, since it’s closure last Christmas.
Wide and deep on the way to Goole Docks as befits a modern commercial waterway
That’s the coal-fired Eggborough Power Station making it’s own micro-climate…
The Czech-owned plant was under threat of closure, and it’s future is still uncertain, but there are plans to build a new gas-fired facility on the site.
Coal-fired power stations are on the Government’s s**t list. The plant at Rugeley in Staffordshire, owned by the French Company Engie (don’t we own anything in this country anymore?), closed in June.
The M62 bridge with Whitley Lock just beyond.
Moored below the lock, the lowering sun makes the autumn leaves glow.
As you can see it’s a pleasant spot, the only downside is the noise of the motorway above the lock. But it’s not too bad from here.
Locks 2, miles 11.