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

Sunday 23 June 2013

Grantham's Bridge (Bridgewater Canal) - Saturday 22nd June

Muffin dictated our waking up time this morning which he hasn't done for some time but it was 7.40am.

Dutton stop lock
We set off for Dutton Stop lock and had trouble mooring up as you can see from the photo - both boats were tied up on the waiting area.  Muffin's friend, Scamp, came along and they had chance for a quick play at the lock.  We had to wait about 10 minutes at Preston Brook tunnel as northwards you can only go through the tunnel on the hour and then only for 10 minutes.
Preston Brook tunnel
We emerged from the tunnel onto the Bridgewater Canal and up to Preston Brook where we tied up so that I could pop up to the local Spar shop.  I had been along the Bridgewater as far as Lymm a few years ago with Penny and Jim and as I turned off the canal onto the road I realised that I had been to the Spar shop then too.  

Preston Brook used to be one of the busiest canal centres in the North West as a port where cargoes were transhipped between wide beam Mersey 'flats' and narrowboats.  This continued until the end of the WWII and, in fact, trade continued until the 1970s.

I see from the Pearsons guide that Tesco were/are shipping wine in containers into Irlam twice a week which has given the Manchester Ship Canal a boost.  We like wine from Tesco - in fact we like wine from anywhere!!!

We went through Lymm where they were getting ready for the Lymm Historic Transport day. Tomorrow there will be not only the historic working boats but also vintage and classic cars, motor-bikes, bicycles, a steam roller as well as train and tractor rides.  There were lots of working boats - I've never seen so many in one place before.  Here are just a few.

Gifford (wonder why I chose this one!)
Gifford was built for Claytons as a horsedrawn tank boat with the hold decked to make a watertight tank for moving liquids in bulk. Carried gas tar from gasworks at Oxford and at Leamington in 1930s and 1940s, fuel oil from Stanlow Refinery to the midlands in 1940s and 1950s until Claytons finished canal carrying in 1966.  In the boat collection since 1976 at the National Waterways Museum, Ellesmere Port, operated and cared for by the Boat Museum Society.
Tug Kennet
The colourful Tug Kennet was built in 1931 by James Pollock Sons & Co for the Thames Conservancy. Powered initially by a 3-cylinder 54bhp Gardner and later by 4-cylinder 72bhp Crossley Diesel engine, she was used for many years towing maintenancers on the river above Oxford. She towed mud barges from the dredger to where the mud could be dumped on the Bank. Other work included moving a piling rig, clearing away river-obstructing-trees and dragging floating debris off the weirs. She also towed the lock keepers' coal barge. In 1973, she was rescued from an Iver, Slough Arm of the Grand Union Canal scrap yard, starting a Thames pleasure craft life, based at windsor and visiting Henley. In the early 80's, she was reused for occasional towing for Brentford's E.C. Jones & sons' boatyard, and for many years loaned to Gloucester Docks & the Sharpness canal Museum by David Mitton of the C.T.S. TUGS (featuring the adventures of the two New York tug fleets) and was painted to look like Ten Cents from the series. She was sold in September 2008 and was moved to Sawley on the River Trent. Now based in the North West, around the River Weaver, and fitted with a 4-cylinder 56 bhp Gardner.  We saw her on the River Weaver in 2011.
Flyboat Saturn
Saturn is the only floating example of a horse-drawn Shropshire Union fly-boat in the world. She was built for the Shropshire Union Canal Carrying Company in 1906 at the company’s dock which still exists at Tower Wharf Chester. Her public health registration number was Chester 630.  Saturn was a ‘cheese fly’: That is, she was built primarily for the fast carriage of cheese from the producing towns of Cheshire and Shropshire to major markets such as Manchester.  She would have carried return loads of perishable goods. However, she would have also worked to other destinations on the Shropshire Union network and other waterways throughout the North West, the Midlands and Wales. For instance, the boat is recorded loading corn and soda at Preston Brook for Mills & Co. of Wolverhampton in August 1917.  Fly-boats were the express craft of the waterways. Running non-stop, day and night they delivered the important and perishable goods, around the clock throughout the waterway network. Worked by four-man crews, changing horses on the move, they ran to strict timetables throughout seasonal conditions, except the thickest of ice. They had priority over all other traffic, except during the era of passenger packets which took absolute precedence.  We saw Saturn both at the Macclesfield festival and on the Llangollen when she was blown across the canal by the wind.

Did you know there were pirates on the canals??
However I was looking for one boat in particular, Alton, a real working boat that carries coal, diesel, logs, kindling, ropes, fenders and other boat consumables for retail sale to other boats and canalside properties.  We were almost out of Lymm when I saw them breasted up alongside a narrowboat fueling them up.  I follow Brian and his wife, Ann Marie on Twitter and it was nice to put a face to a name, albeit very briefly.  Hopefully we will meet up with them again on the Macclesfield Canal later in the summer. 

Working Boat Alton
I would have liked to stay and visit the festival tomorrow but we spent more time than we bargained for on the Weaver and just don't have the time. (I am lost without my laptop as it has our planner on there and I've no idea of where we should really be now!

We moored up a short way out of Lymm and took Muffin for a walk before the rain came in.

13.10 miles
1 lock
1 tunnel

1 comment:

  1. Malcolm Richardson23 June 2013 at 12:21

    We did a tug-driving course on Kennet at the Waterways Museum. It was years ago when she was painted in New York colours. Christine did an article about it for Waterways World.