Wednesday, January 02, 2019

Wide river, broad canal.

Last night’s sunset promised us a fine day today…DSCF5235
…and it started OK but clouded over by late morning.

Just above Bulhome Lock is moored MV Freda Carless, a barge built in 1964 by Harkers yard at Knottingley, now converted to live aboard. At 132 feet long and 17½ wide she’s a lot of boat.

Bulholme Lock drops the navigation down to rejoin the river, and is the first of the locks that can accommodate trains of barges towed or pushed by a tug. The 450 foot-long main lock is divided by an intermediate set of gates so a shorter chamber can be used.DSCF5239

Still plenty of room for us, though!

The river is starting to get quite wide now…DSCF5244

It’s about 5 miles from rejoining the Aire to finally leaving it at Ferrybridge. The last mile is flanked by the extensive Ferrybridge Power Station. DSCF5246

Up until 1986 long trains of compartment boats, attached to tugs delivered coal to the power station. The compartment boats, nicknamed “Tom Puddings” were loaded at St Aidans, Kellingley and Stanley Ferry collieries, and unloaded using a overhead hoist which lifted each pan in turn and emptied it onto a conveyor. Each train of three barges would shift 510 tonnes of coal in a trip.

Now disused, the discharge system still stands alongside the river.DSCF5247


We met our first boat for the day along here, a smart-looking barge.DSCF5251

With the river levels being normal we didn’t expect Ferrybridge Flood Lock to be closed and we were right. We leave the river here.
Ferrybridge Flood Lock to the right as the Aire heads off to the left.

Through the lock, open at both ends.

The canal now winds it’s way through Knottingley until it splits again at Knottingley Junction.

A three narrowboat convoy passes us near the junctionDSCF5263

Big boats at Harkers Yard

The original route to Goole was to the left here, through Bank Doles Lock and back onto the Aire. This is still the way to the Selby Canal and the Ouse up to York. but below West Haddesley it’s now no longer navigable. Our route now is on the Knottingley and Goole Canal, opened in 1826. Still a part of the Aire and Calder, the name arises from the fact that a new Act of Parliament was requested for it to be built. At the same time the extensive new docks at Goole, and much of the town too, were constructed, making Goole a serious rival to Hull. Yorkshire coal was transhipped from canal barges and compartment boats for delivery to the continent, and passenger ferries kept regular schedules to Europe.

The wide and deep K&G Canal.
Kellingley Colliery was the source of a lot of the coal that passed through Goole as well as that which supplied Ferrybridge Power Station. It ceased production in 2015, the shafts have been capped and the site buildings demolished.

Ironic sign at Kellingley’s coal wharf.

In a curious twist, between Kellingley Railway Bridge and Stubbs Bridge, to the north of the canal, a massive solar farm has been built on land adjacent to the former colliery. The array covers 28 acres and is designed to produce up to 5MW of electricity.

We pushed on to Whitley Lock, passing another barge on the way, dropped down the lock and moored just below.

Whitley Lock, just past the M62 bridge.

Moored Below Whitley Lock
It’s pleasant here, there are picnic tables and a barbecue stand, and plenty of grass for Meg. But we’ll not be stopping; tomorrow we’ll head on for another couple of hours to Sykehouse Junction.

Locks 2, miles 10½

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