Thursday, April 20, 2017

A longer day than planned.

We ran out of fresh fruit and veg a couple of days ago, we need to resupply else face scurvy! (or is it rickets?…). Shopping opportunities are limited until Middlewich, so we decided to have a delivery at Henhull Bridge again, on the way to Nantwich. It means going a little out of our way, but at least we know the Tesco driver can find us!

The delivery is scheduled for late morning tomorrow, but, as Mags pointed out, if we didn’t get there today we may be struggling to moor conveniently. My idea was to stay the night at Barbridge, but I bowed to her better judgement.

On the Sandstone Trail with Meg this morning.
The moorings above Wharton’s Lock are in the middle distance, the bulk of Beeston Crag rises behind and the rest of the sandstone ridge trails off to the north. I wonder why each summit has a gentle slope to the south and a steep drop-off to the north? 

With a fair way to go we set off around half-nine this morning. The first lock was the unusual Beeston Iron Lock, the one designed by Thomas Telford to replace the original subsiding chamber.

Elizabeth outside Chas Hardern’s boatyard.IMG_4025 
Originally a horse boat, then a towed butty, she was sold by Fellows Morton & Clayton in 1929, worked as a gravel boat on the Trent, then converted into a house-boat in 1936. She’s not changed much since.

The two Beeston locks, Iron and Stone, are close together, then there’s a bit of a gap before Tilstone Locks. I reckon this is the most attractive on this stretch.

Lots of ducklings along here too

Tilstone Lock

These locks heading up away from Chester are all deep and have heavy gates. One saving grace though is that they’re not savage fillers. The ground paddle culverts emerge near the upstream cill, so there’s no bashing about from side to side like in some broad locks.

Our last for today was the double staircase at Bunbury.IMG_4036
Note the still-legible lettering on the end of the old warehouse.

In 1844 the proprietors of the Chester Canal, including the Wirral Branch from Chester to Ellesmere Port, amalgamated with the newer Birmingham and Liverpool Junction Canal Company, running from Nantwich to Autherley in order to reduce costs in the face of increasing railway competition. The Ellesmere and Chester Canal Company, as the joint venture was known, soon was looking to convert the navigations into railways, using the filled in canal bed for the permanent way. An Act of Parliament was obtained to form a new company, the Shropshire Union Railways and Canal Company to do just that, but luckily for us the plans were dropped in 1849.
The Company’s canals were leased to the London and North Western Railway Company who were quite happy to allow the canal to continue trading and even expanded the water-born operation, to compete with the local railways running under the Great Western Railway Company banner.
The company’s canal assets remained in profit until around 1914, in fact in 1902 they owned 450 narrowboats. But the subsequent decline was swift, the LNWR buying the company outright and in 1921 selling off the majority of the carrying fleet. An Act of Abandonment was granted in 1944, effectively closing the outlying, less profitable branches, and leaving just the main routes open.

A boat had just started down the staircase when we arrived, but another turned up at the top as he left the bottom, so we were able to do the shuffle, crossing over from bottom to top chamber with the descending boat.IMG_4037

I just wish he’d kept a little further over…IMG_4039
On the new paint! It’s been on less than 24 hours!

After the locks we pulled in for water and rubbish at Calverley, then pressed on, past Barbridge Junction and Hurleston Junction, mooring up at Henhull Bridge.

Barbridge Junction
We’ll be back here tomorrow, heading for Middlewich.

I had to make an unscheduled stop just past Hurleston. The engine had developed a ticking, shushing noise just before the junction. I was pretty sure what it was, but pulled in to check.

As suspected, an alternator drive belt just about to break.IMG_4043 

Five minutes later we were rolling again, the spare having been a straightforward swap. A lot of alternator drives are now flat, multi-vee belts, but ours are both conventional fan belts. They’ve done well, this is only the second I’ve had to change. I should be able to get another spare at Venetian or Kings Lock chandlery.

Hi Steve (Amyjo) Thanks for coming breaking off from your paintwork to come across and say hi at Bunbury. Enjoy your week.

Locks 5, miles 8


Jaqueline Biggs said...

Good post and lovely to see the Shropshire Union again and the single locks. I note in my calendar diary that we met up with you and Mags a year ago today. How happy I am that we had that opportunity to spend a couple of days getting to know one another. Les would have loved all the history in this post as in so many of yours.

I am on the move at last albeit slowly. After nine months of doing no boating and surgery on my right knee five months ago, the order of the day is to take things slowly.

Give Mags a hug from me please and take care of each other,

Jaq xxx

Geoff and Mags said...

Hi Jaq. It's funny, Mags and I were just the other talking about meeting up with you both near Coventry last Spring. Glad to see you're back, take it easy. We'll be in the Midlands this year, we'll aim to meet up if we're close. Hug passed on...