We set off from near the Red Bull services on Saturday morning, dull and cool but dry at least.
Heading to Lock 44
The locks dropping down onto the Cheshire Plain from Stoke were duplicated during the first half of the nineteenth century to speed up traffic on what was a very busy stretch of canal.
These three locks, 44 to 46 are still paired, but the Lock 45 offside chamber is out of use.
Around the corner are the next two, Church Locks, sometime in the past having lost both of the offside chambers. They are still there, but in a state of dereliction.
Mow Cop Castle finally appears out of the low cloud.
Following the Church Locks there are four on the trot, Halls and then the three Lawton Locks. Lawton Locks were built to replace a triple staircase that ran just to the north of the existing short flight.
The top of the “new” Lawton Locks from the bridge just below Halls Lock.
The wide to the right was the channel leading to the top of the staircase. There’s nothing left there now, apart from this and another at the bottom of the locks.
Of the three Lawton Locks, only one has working duplicate chambers. Lock 50 has recently, and hopefully temporarily, closed, but the towpath chamber of L51 has been filled in.
After dropping down Lock 52 we had a 25 minute cruise to Rode Heath, where we pulled up.
I did say we were having short days… And they get shorter!
We took yesterday off, a bright sunny start to the day encouraged me to clean down the two roof panels I prepped a couple of weeks ago, mask off the borders and slap a coat of roof paint on. I’d got the paint on by 1 o’clock, and the masking tape should have come off at around four. It’s best to do it after the paint has gone off but before it dries completely.
Unfortunately the rain beat me to it, so I started to strip the masking off in the wet, it didn’t go well… Water-soaked masking tape tends to fall to pieces leaving the glue behind. I got some more off this afternoon but there’s still bits left.
Anyway, another cool, overcast morning greeted us today, but the rain had stopped.
We left Rode Heath at soon after 10:00, heading down to Thurlwood Top Lock.
Towards the end of the 1950s an experimental lock was tried here, of steel construction with guillotine gates.
It was intended to be a solution to subsidence but was unreliable and slow, and most boaters still preferred the conventional lock alongside.Opened in 1958 it was closed in 1981 and cut up for scrap in 1988, leaving just the original lock. Lots of photos and info here, including the one I borrowed above.
Looking back at Thurlwood Top Lock, with the entrance to the Steel Lock on the right.
A little further on we dropped down Thurlwood Bottom Lock, then had time for a brew as we headed for the two Pierpoint Locks.
These are single chambers, and there’s very little to suggest that they were ever duplicated, apart from the overlarge bywash weirs and a bit of bridge abutment below the top lock.
We stopped just before lunchtime above Lock 57, just before another belt of showers blew through.
Another short day tomorrow.
Locks 9, miles 2¼ (Saturday), 4, 1¾ (today)