I am Linda and along with my husband Richard and our dog Muffin we enjoy our summers on the UK's canal system

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Friday 19th August

We didn’t have far to go today so had a late start – well 9.45am which is still early for Richard and I! We hadn’t gone far when Mary H lost power, Richard wasn’t sure if it was something round the prop or something more sinister so we pulled over. I phoned Penny and told her and Jim started to reverse back up towards us when he got something round his prop too! It was pretty unbelievable!! In the end we had plastic bags and gunge around our prop and Jim had some nasty red wire and gunge around his. All this put us over an hour behind but as we hadn’t got far to go it didn’t really matter. There are three tunnels in quite a short space of time along this part of the canal, the first being Wast Hill Tunnel which is 2,726 yards long. The second is Shortwood which is only 613 yards and the third is Tardebigge which is even shorter at 580 yards. Just before we reached Alvechurch we pulled over and went to a nice pub for lunch – haven’t done that for a long time! We only had another hour before we reached the top of the Tardebigge flight – we have that experience to come tomorrow. Tardebigge is the longest flight of locks in the UK having 30 narrow locks on a two and a quarter mile stretch of canal. We moored up just above the top lock which has a rise of eleven feet, unusually high for a single lock. This lock was built to replace an experimental vertical boat lift. The canal had been constructed and open from Birmingham to Tardebigge by March 1807 without the need for locks. The Tardebigge vertical lift was invented by John Woodhouse and installed at his own expense, with excavation and masonry provided by the company. Finished on 24th June 1808, it was housed in a covered shed and used a fixed counterweight of bricks, connected by a set of eight parallel chains and pulleys. Lifting was performed by two men using a windlass. The 64 ton wooden caisson (lifting chamber) was sealed at each end by guillotine gates, as was the lock chamber. It succeeded in lifting 110 boats in 12 hours but was considered too fragile for permanent use. The remainder of the canal was built with locks, and the lift was replaced by one in 1815. The lift mechanism has gone but the outline of its balancing pit may be seen near the lock keeper's cottage.

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