Thursday, May 30, 2013

Maybe should have used Calgon…

…after all, the ad claims that washing machines live longer if you do….

On Tuesday, while running a wash load, the washer started to shake itself to pieces, with a horrendous banging noise coming from the drum. The drum appeared to be loose in the tub, so I dragged it out into the galley passage and set to with my spanners. The drum was loose, the spider that mounts it to the drive shaft had broken across all three legs.

Drum Roll Rattle

I got on the phone and found a company able to supply the required parts, two drawbacks though. The lead time for delivery was two weeks, and the cost was around £200. A bit of a no-brainer, really.

So I shopped around for a new one, finishing up with a deal for a Zanussi ZWC1300, another compact sized machine which will be delivered to us on the boat tomorrow. The company, Appliances Online, (you might have seen them on the TV) will take the old one and the new one’s packaging away with them.

If anyone out there needs a pump or motor, or door etc for a Candy Aqua 1000-T80 let me know ASAP before the thing disappears to washing machine heaven tomorrow. All free, just collect or pay postage. 0770 3728793.

Yesterday morning we’d reversed several hundred yards to the winding hole near Bollington, turning around to rejoin Chas near Dunham Massey Hall. Today we’ve had to head back up to Seaman’s Moss Bridge, turn around again and head back to the moorings near Ye Olde No 3, ready for the delivery. To kill two birds with one stone Mr Tesco is coming as well. Sod’s Law says they’ll both arrive at the same time.
Surprised smile

Before we moved though, Chas and I took the canines for a walk around Dunham Massey Hall’s deer park.

Finally spotted some cygnets!
Sorry about the poor quality; my phone camera doesn’t do zoom very well.

This afternoon as the weather steadily improved we had a gentle 90 minute cruise up to turn around and back to the pub moorings.

Through the narrows at the Bollin AqueductSAM_5628
This narrow concrete channel was constructed following a breach in 1971. It took two years and £250,000 to repair. The affected length was quickly isolated using stop planks, but the water level still dropped 14 inches in Castlefield, 10 miles away.

Ann is due back tomorrow from her trip home, Chas is cruising back to Timperley to meet her at the station. Depending on the delivery schedule, we may join him.

Locks 0, miles 5

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Spring, summer, autumn in 5 days!

Changeable, that’s what they said. They weren’t kidding, were they!

Friday was very early-spring-like, March winds and April showers chased us into Castlefield..

Poplars bend under the onslaught in Trafford ParkSAM_5597
You could hear the timber creaking and groaning, even over the noise of the engine.

We arrived in Castlefield a few minutes before Chas and Ann on Moore2Life, time enough to check out the mooring situation towards the Grocer’s Warehouse and to ring them to tell them not to head that way. No room. I don’t know if Peel has a mooring policy for the Bridgewater similar to C&RT, but if they have they need to enforce it. Several boats seem to have taken up residence on these popular moorings.

As it was it worked out OK. The alternative, on the opposite side of the railway bridges near the Castlefield Hotel, was fine. Not too noisy during the day, quiet at night and fairly open with a good TV signal. And it’s a stone’s throw from the excellent Museum of Science and Industry.

Moored outside The Y fitness centreSAM_5602
MOSI is up the steps beyond the white boat, and across the road. We spent quite a bit of time in there.

Saturday and Sunday were our salad days, warm and sunny, fetching the population of Manchester out in droves. Saturday was the Great City Games, a series of athletic events held on a special track built on Deansgate, and also in Albert Square. We didn’t go, preferring the view offered by the BBC, but Barbara and Malcolm (NB Pilgrim) went and enjoyed a trackside vantage point.

Pilgrim was moored on the Grocer’s Warehouse arm, as was a sister boat to Seyella, Orchard No 51, NB Anguilla.

Below Grocer’s Warehouse, first thing on SundayDSC_0110
Bill was kind enough to show us around Anguilla and give us a frank opinion of Orchard when we were considering buying Seyella. You’ll notice the livery is almost identical to ours. A popular choice.

Notice also the creative mooring solution chosen by NB Waterwheels. That was the only spot available on Saturday evening, the problem is that this is also the only place to turn around at this end of the basin!

On Sunday morning we toddled off up into town for my race, battling our way through the crowds. Sometimes I think these events are better when the weather’s poor, at least there’re less spectators!
Haile Gebrselassie was hoping for a 6th win here, he and I were disappointed. He came in 3rd, I came in 6114th!

Mags’ son George, grandson Steven and his partner Anne-Marie, and their children Luke and Courtenay arrived to watch the race as well, then joined us back on the boat for the afternoon.

Generation game, four of them!SAM_5603

It was quite a weekend for meeting folk, we had Malcolm and Barbara (NB Pilgrim) around, I had a chat with Bill on NB Anguilla, and Mags had chance meeting with one of the physiotherapists who treated her in Macclesfield General last November. She was on duty for runners who needed a post-race massage.

Malcolm and Barbara

Yesterday Chas and I had another couple of hours in the museum, he has forebears in the weaving industry, so particularly wanted to see a demonstration of a loom built by the family.

Another working exhibit, a replica of George Stephenson’s 1830 locomotive, PLANETDSC_0109

The fine weather was due to break, as clouds gather over the Beatham Tower….DSC_0107

Yesterday was cooler, with the odd drop of rain, but today…. Well it started bright and dry, but by 9 o’clock it was raining, and it’s continued all day. And it felt cold, too.

Reversing out of the wharf, in the rain.SAM_5605
The railway bridges date from 1894 (nearer, cast iron supports), 1877 (middle, brick supports) and 1849 (being restored). The near and far ones are embellished with turrets, in tribute to the Castlefields area, which gets it name from the Roman fort found here.
Front to back they are – The Great Northern Viaduct, Cornbrook Viaduct and the Manchester, South Junction and Altrincham Railway Viaduct. A bit of a mouthful, that, so it’s more commonly known as the Red Brick Viaduct.

Pulling away from the services, Chas getting M2L ready to follow.SAM_5606
The Beatham Tower is disappearing into the murk…

Chas is on his own for a few days, Ann has headed back to Southampton, returning on Friday. So we’re heading out of town to more dog-friendly territory for the duration, then Chas will be returning to Sale to pick Ann up when she gets back.

A left turn this time at Waters Meeting into Stretford…SAM_5611

…passing the fairly new Stretford Marina….SAM_5612

with boater services now fully open.

It’s always sad to see a flooded boat, but it’s unusual on the well-managed Watch House Cruising Club moorings.

Someone’s pride and joy

Stretford becomes Sale at the River Mersey crossingSAM_5615

By this time I was cold, damp and miserable. I got to thinking; how many times have we cruised out of Manchester in the rain? Too many to remember, I think. We usually seem to be on the Bridgewater at times of the year that are more likely to be wet than dry.

Chas pulled in near Dunham Massey Hall, we carried on to the roadside moorings near Ye Olde No 3 Inn. We had Mags’ sister Dot and nephew Paul arriving for tea, Dot has two new knees so doesn’t walk so far these days. This mooring is ideal for visitors, but not so good for dog walking. We’ll move back to join Chas tomorrow.

Locks 0, miles 11

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Early Bank Holiday traffic

Today we’ve seen maybe a couple of dozen boats heading in the opposite direction. Most were Bridgewater Canal registered, probably making for a gathering at Astley Green at the weekend.
The Federation of Bridgewater Cruising Clubs has a Spring Bank Holiday rally; this year’s is at the Colliery Museum.

We had a brief pause at Worsley to make use of the facilities, before pressing on to Trafford.

Worsley, M2L on the services, the Packet House in the distanceSAM_5570

Although often sunny, there was a brisk wind blowing from the NW, making it decidedly cool.

Lots of youngsters about now…

No cygnets yet, but it is a little early for them.

There was nothing moving on the ship canal as we crossed Barton Swing AqueductSAM_5587

M2L following

I was amused to see this family group on the towpath near the aqueduct. Mum and dad are obviously teaching the little ones well, they’re all in step.

Goose step?SAM_5593

We pulled up again outside the canal gates to the Trafford Centre, this time resisting the temptation to go retail shopping, instead topping up the food cupboards from the handy Asda.

Across the water from us is an extensive industrial estate. This used to be the site of Metropolitan Vickers, known as Metrovick, the breakaway British part of Westinghouse, an American company. During the last century they were one of the biggest heavy engineering facilities in the country, specialising in industrial electrical equipment.

During the war years they were contracted to build aircraft for A.V.Roe (AVRO) of Chadderton. As a departure from normal work, they built a new factory specifically for the project.

The first aircraft were Avro Manchesters, but 13 in build were destroyed during an air raid in December 1940, and production was then switched to the upgraded version with two extra, better engines.
This was the iconic Avro Lancaster heavy bomber.LancMain

All in all Metrovick produced 1080 Lancasters, shipped for assembly at Avro’s airfield at Woodford, Stockport. 79 Avro Lincolns, a bigger, heavier version were also built before production ceased in 1945 but didn’t see operational service in WWII.

Metrovick also built and developed our first jet engine, designed by Frank Whittle.

After the war the company returned to it’s core production of heavy industrial electrical equipment, being finally taken over by GEC in 1967.

Tomorrow we’ll be braving heavy showers and gale-force winds to get to Castlefields for around lunchtime. We’ll be staying there the weekend; my (literally) trial run this morning has convinced that I‘m going to be able to join in the Manchester 10K on Sunday.
Might be a bit sore after, though. My right Achilles tendon is still tight, but I’ve still 48 hours of therapy before the gun.

Locks 0, miles 4½

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Back to Boothstown

After a day off at Plank Lane we headed back towards Manchester today, stopping for the night at Boothstown.

We’ve had some pleasant walks around Pennington Flash, even though the weather has been windy, cool and occasionally damp.SAM_5541


The flash was caused by subsidence following coal mining, and a row of cottages has obviously suffered the same consequences, the row strapped together with steel braces.

Mutual support…SAM_5543

The lift bridge crossing the canal at Plank Lane has historically had a bridge-keeper in attendance. Although only a “B” road, it’s a pretty busy route, especially at rush hour.
Now this cushy but probably boring job has been contracted out – to us boaters!SAM_5544

Alongside the bridge there’s a large expanse of cleared land, the site of Bickershaw Colliery. Once the largest pit on the Wigan coalfield, it was also the last to close, in 1992.
This area is due a makeover, a mixed development of housing and commercial building, and a 40 berth marina. The marina pool is the only bit so far completed, and this is not in use having no mooring pontoons installed yet. I guess another victim of the recession.

The grandly named Diamond Jubilee MarinaPanorama Bickersdale Marina

We got away around 10:30 and had a fairly bright but breezy trip back through Leigh.

Leaving Plank Lane
The well surfaced path is part of the Greenheart Jubilee Way. This multi-user path runs from Leigh to Wigan along the towpath of the canal, and also includes part of the Douglas Valley. The Greenheart Regional Park is a project aimed at revitalising the areas abandoned by the loss of the mining industry, encouraging wildlife, leisure, economy and sustainability.

Recorded for posterity, the team responsible for creating the route.SAM_5551

With a short, squat tower, St. Peter’s at Westleigh could be mistaken for being Saxon. In fact it’s Victorian, a Grade II listed building from 1881.

More Victorian architecture entering Leigh. The nearer stone building dates from her uncle, William IV’s, time in 1821, the brick structure is from 1894. Both were warehouses, now converted to make The Waterside Inn.

Leigh (ex) warehouses.SAM_5559

Butts Mill chimney and blue skies

Between Dutton Stop Lock to the south, Poolstock Locks to the north, Runcorn to the west and the bottom of the Rochdale Canal at Castlefield, there’s around 45 miles of level navigation here. It’s understandable then that there are lots of stop-planks with attendant cranes, standing ready to stem any breach.

Near the East Lancs Road Bridge there are two opposing sets of stop gates for the same purpose.

Stop GatesSAM_5563
The local kids have found the blank faces of a stack of metal stop-planks irresistible….

We filled with diesel, replaced an empty gas bottle, disposed of several days of rubbish and even bought two bags of solid fuel at Bridgewater Marina. Still buying smokeless in May! Huh! The weatherman is predicting frosts….

I suppose we shouldn’t really complain, it’s better than in Oklahoma….

Leaving, topped up, from Bridgewater MarinaSAM_5565

We pulled in just along from the marina, on the offside again. Just for tonight this time, tomorrow we head to the Trafford Centre for a bit more retail therapy.

I’ve made the decision to go ahead with repainting Seyella this summer. The paint shed at Canal Cruising in Stone is booked for early August, and we’ve finalised a colour scheme. We’ll be mainly dark blue and mid-grey, just for a change. Grey Dk Blue preferred option
Red hand rails will add a bit of relief. The roof will remain cream, the gunwales black. I’ll also be adding mouse’s ear’oles on the stern cabin panel.
Back Panel
Signwriting has yet to be determined…

Locks 0, miles 6

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Back on C&RT waters

We left Worsley on Friday, cruising just a short distance to moor in the bushes on the offside near Bridgewater Marina.

Worsley Delph, the raison d’etre of the Bridgewater Canal.SAM_5503 Worsley Delph

Back in the mid 1700s Francis Egerton, 3rd Duke of Bridgewater, had a problem. He had extensive coal mines in the Worsley area, and a ready market in the Industrial Revolution driven expansion of Manchester. But he just couldn’t shift the stuff fast enough using horse and cart. As a young man he’d done the “Grand Tour” of Europe, and had seen first hand the operation of canals and pound locks, and realised that water transport on an artificial navigation could be the solution.

The original proposal placed before Parliament involved two routes from Worsley, one to Salford and the other down towards Warrington to meet the River Mersey. The Salford cut went well, not so the Mersey section, which was abandoned in favour of an extension of the Salford route to Runcorn.  At Stretford the line was cut almost due east, finally reaching Castlefield in Manchester in 1765. The Duke’s commitment to reduce the price of coal delivered to the city was realised, dropping to 4d a cwt, around 33p a ton.

The arched opening in the picture above was the entrance to the underground mines, ultimately 46 miles of tunnels with inclined planes connecting the levels. The lower levels were canals carrying the coal out into daylight in double-ended boats.

Worsley is now a peaceful, well, mainly, suburb of Salford. But in the 18th and 19th centuries what is now the green was a hive of industry, with forges, carpenters and all manner of canal and colliery related trades active on the site.

The Packet House stands alongside the short cut to the Delph.

The Packet House, Worsley.SAM_5507
From here, fast horse-drawn packet boats would take passengers into Manchester. The trip, taking less than 2 hours, would cost around 1s. That’s 5p for those who can’t remember £sd…

We covered the 1½ miles to our weekend moorings at a lot slower speed, finding a spot long enough between the bushes on the offside for both boats.

After a quiet, uneventful couple of days we set off, the first port of call should have been Bridgewater Marina for diesel but they’ve run out, so we’ll make that stop on the way back.

Leaving our weekender.
SAM_5511 Moorings near Boothstown

From here to Wigan the primary industry was “black gold”, coal. So much was extracted from  deep underground that the countryside has subsided to a remarkable degree, leaving the canal, with it’s successively built-up banks, standing high above the landscape.

Cruising towards LeighSAM_5514

I always think that this section is a bit desolate, with low scrub vegetation struggling to get a living from the poor soil, mostly landscaped pit waste. But I suppose it’s a far better view than it would have been 100 years ago.

To compensate for the slowly sinking scenery, Bailey Bridges have been pressed into service at many of the crossings.

Whitehead Hall Bridge
SAM_5512 Bailey Bridge

Under the span the headgear of Astley Green Colliery can be seen, now a sole survivor of the many that would have punctured the skyline, and marking the Colliery Museum.

The canal cuts into Leigh, a town who’s fortunes were built on the textile industry. Cotton and silk spinning mills were built to supply the growing demand, five of which still stand.

Leigh Mill, or Leigh Spinners.SAM_5519 Leigh

Butts Mill chimney
SAM_5522 Butts Mill

Leigh is a typical Lancashire mill town, what you see is what you get.

Mather Lane MillSAM_5525 Leigh

Little and Large – narrowboat and, I think, a “Duker” a motorised Bridgewater barge.SAM_5527 Bedford Basin Built in the 1950s specifically for use on this canal, this class of barge was made redundant as recently as 1974, when Kelloggs at Waters Meeting shifted to road transport.

Leigh is also the furthest west the Bridgewater Canal penetrates, this section from Worsley was built in 1795, and was connected to the Leeds and Liverpool Canal when the Leigh Branch of the L&L was finished in 1820.

Leigh Bridge, from the Bridgewater to the L&LSAM_5530 Leigh Bridge

Leigh boasts almost as many supermarkets as old textile mills, Ann and I did a good shop at Tesco, about 10 minutes away. We could have used Aldi, right next to Leigh Bridge, or Lidl, a bit the other side of Tesco. Then there’s Sainsbury’s, on the north edge of town but a bit too far to walk back laden. I think there’s an Asda knocking about somewhere, too.

From Leigh we had another half-hour to Plank Lane Bridge, where we turned around and moored.

Moored at Plank LaneSAM_5536 Pennington Flash

Pennington Flash lies alongside and below the canal, a large depression caused by coal extraction now filled with water.

Pennington FlashPennington Panorama
Weather permitting we’ll have a walk all the way round tomorrow. There are paths all across the area, with some interesting features….

“Book” made out of old lock gates
SAM_5535 Pennington Flash

Thanks Carol, and Doug and James, for your comments regarding my leg. It's maybe not as bad as I first thought; and intensive regime of icing, massage and stretching is showing results, I might be OK for next Sunday after all. A trial short run on Thursday morning will be the deciding factor...

Meanwhile, Chas is feeling a bit better though still has to be careful not to twist too sharply. Ann's knee is an ongoing problem that she can cope with, although once again she has to be a bit careful.

Locks 0, miles 7½