Thursday, 24 July 2008

Boats galore.

5 Locks, 3 Miles. Now moored at Shardlow. Trent and Mersey Canal.

It was time to say farewell to the Erewash Canal this morning. After watering up it was down through the Trent lock out onto the River Trent for the short run up to the start of the Trent and Mersey Canal. One last chance to give the motor a good blast through before we start pottering along the canals again.

We called into Sawley Marina for diesel and took on 109 litre's at 89p per litre. With the central heating unit not being used at present the diesel is lasting quite a bit longer.

Once we had found a mooring opposite Dobsons boatyard we wandered into the village to investigate this historic area. We started off with the Heritage Centre which is in an old salt warehouse. This gave us a good overall picture of what has taken place here over the centuries. Shardlow started out as an inland port around 1777 and with the building of the Trent and Mersey canal Shardlow rapidly grew. As the railways started eroding the profitability of the canals old warehouses were turned to other uses such as mills, grain stores or workshops. When the cargo's finally ceased in the 1950's the whole area fell into decline until 1974 when it was designated a conservation area and restoration took place putting the village on the tourism map. Sadly the designation came too late for Zachary Smith's Trent brewery which was demolished 4 years earlier.

The Old salt Warehouse. Brindley's 17th Century inland port.

While in the heritage centre I read some history about the local school and some of it was quite amusing. Children absent from school, reason, (1) taken pig to market, (2) helping with hay making, (3) cutting and stripping willow for cane maker and helping Mum with the baking. Other entries such as, school was cold today, child rostered for fire lighting didn't arrive until 9.30, Johnny and Billy reprimanded for fighting in the village after school, class given detention for not doing homework (nothing changes there) and complaints of monitors not doing their designated chores. Children these days don't know how lucky they are.

The Malt Shovel Pub originally built for the Manager of the Malt Warehouse alongside

With a heritage pamphlet in hand we wandered off around the village to look at the warehouses that had been converted to a pub and residential apartments. The Malt Shovel pub used to be the home of the Manager of the malt warehouse and was built in 1798. Near the village green there are a row of terrace houses built by Dickenson's, who were a nationally known plant nursery, to house their staff. Unfortunately many of the glasshouses were destroyed by enemy bombing during WWII. Old nail makers sheds, stables and blacksmith shop, lock keepers cottage and opposite the latter is a private house which used to be a tavern brewing its own ale, baking its own bread and butchering fresh meat for the many boatmen and their families that passed through the village.

The Clock Warehouse with its internal loading dock. Now an upmarket pub.

At the end of our little tour is was obvious why this place is one of the waterways of England's historic sites and popular with boaters. Since being here we have seen more boats on the move than we have in the last 2 months so we must be back in civilisation.

The Heritage Centre Shardlow

1339 locks, 1914 miles, 43 Tunnels, 42 swing bridges and 19 lift bridges since Nov 2006

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