Monday, August 21, 2017

Steadily down to Stoke

We spent the weekend on the bank near Endon. The weather wasn’t particularly good to cruise, or in fact to do anything much outside, but I kept myself busy…
Bacon butties on fresh-baked bread for lunch, followed by a slice of chocolate cake. Lovely.

So yesterday we set off back towards Stoke under grey skies but with the promise of a little brightness later.

Past the pivot for the old rail spur to Victoria MillDSCF0861
The area to the left was a small marshalling area for wagons waiting to cross the canal to the main line to the right of the navigation, or to be shunted up to the mill. The mill produced glazes and ceramic colours for the pottery industry. There’s a lot more info here.

Another 15 minutes saw us arrive at the top of the five Stockton Locks, to find a boat just coming up.
This set the pattern for the rest of the flight, boats coming up left all but one of the chambers full and ready for us, and we were often able to leave the bottom gates open for the next one.

Mason’s marks on the stonework in Lock 9.

A stonemason had his own unique identifying mark, and used these to indicate his work. These, likely to be banker marks, would demonstrate to his employer the extent of his labours and used to calculate his pay.

With boats coming up we had a quick run down, and were actually locked down the bottom lock by two guys waiting to come up.

Mags waiting above Lock 5

Last lock on the Stockton flight

The two lift bridges were passed without incident, then we were on our way down the last lock of the day, Engine Lock.DSCF0877

We’ve moored below here in the past, but today we carried on into Milton, mooring on pins to the south of the bridge.
There was plenty of space the other side of the bridge but it’s a bit wooded there and you’re right opposite people’s back gardens.

This morning was another grey start, but today it stayed that way.  We were off just before ten, following a couple of boats that got away earlier.

It’s pleasantly bosky until the industrial fringe starts near Bridge 14…DSCF0880

…a little too bosky at times!


Bridge 15 has taken a bit of punishment from passing boats…DSCF0881

Mags negotiating Ivy House Lift Bridge

The Eastwood Pottery, established by Charles Meakin in 1883, is still in business alongside the canal next to Bridge 8

Loading at Eastwoods, 1952

Long views to the south-east over the Trent valleyDSCF0890

We had a short wait for a boat coming up Planet Lock, but had a longer one at the double staircase at Bedford Street. There were boats waiting to come up and one ahead of us to go down, and the slow progress clearly demonstrated why most of the original staircase flights on these Midlands canals have been replaced by single chambers.

But we got down in the end, mooring up outside the museum.DSCF0893

I’m waiting for a couple of items to be delivered to Argos at Festival Park, so we might be here tomorrow, too.

Locks 9, miles 7½


Carol said...

An interesting blog Geoff.

Coming from Stoke and working in the pottery industry (albeit wholesale/retail) until we got wed, I've wondered for some years about Bridgewater Potteries because it was not a name I recognised.

I didn't know that it was once Meakins - now it makes sense to me!

When I left school I worked for a company called British American Glass who were wholesale buyers (I was the buyers secretary) for a chain of china and glass shops (Lawleys Limited) whose flagship shop was in Regent St London with about 30 other shops all over the UK and guess where their premises were? In Bedford Street!

So thank you for that.


KevinTOO said...

See I knew there would be a better alternative to the GBBO... :)

Geoff and Mags said...

Hi Carol. Emma Bridgewater took over the Eastwood (Meakins) Pottery in 1985. Website here - Meakins had a strong presence in the US, so you probably had dealings with them!

Hiya KevinToo. Not ready for the fame yet. We'll keep it low key for now, eh.

Carol said...

No wonder I didn't make the connection Geoff, by 1985 I'd been married for 15 years and left Stoke on Trent and my job behind 15 years earlier. GBBO ? am I missing something here Kevin? x