Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Return to Northwich.

2 Locks, 10 miles. Now moored at Northwich town moorings.

We thought that we would get a quiet night last night being out in the country but no such luck. What with the strong winds and water lapping around the stern it was still a disturbed night.

Despite the weather forecasts for heavy rain it was only a light drizzle as we headed off back up river. As the morning progressed the wind got stronger but the rain never eventuated to much. After Dot had a long chat with Bryn at Saltersford lock we had a change of plans and decided to return to Northwich to do some shopping at the market and visit the Salt Museum. Again we had the river to ourselves except for 1 boat travelling in the opposite direction.

When we arrived in Northwich there was only one other boat on the moorings but by late this afternoon we have been joined by 4 other boats that presumably have come down the Anderton lift because we haven't seen them anywhere else.

This afternoon we wandered off up London Road to find the Salt Museum which turned out to be well worth the effort. We saw 2 short films on salt production and it's by products which are innumerable and another about the boatmen on the River Weaver. The old film footage taken within one of the factories showed men stripped to the waist working in the hot steamy conditions and there wasn't an ounce of fat on any of them. The speed at which they were working would make a 21st century worker cringe in horror.

The main display about the production of salt and the effect it had on the district was very enlightening, covering the subsidence of land due to many decades of mining and many buildings being rebuilt with wooden frames so that they could be re-levelled should minor subsidence occur again. However with wealth came squalor and sickness with many chimneys in the district pumping out acrid smoke from the use of low grade coal to heat the evaporating trays, the atmosphere wasn't exactly pristine. Also the coal burning ships that came up river added to the pollution.

One interesting display was the business in India prior to Independence. Salt was exported from the UK to India because of a shortage over there but the Indians had a Salt tax put on them which caused no end of hardship with many dying of the lack of salt in the diet and saw Mahatma Ghandi stir up a revolt with locals collecting salt from the beach against British orders.

There was also a temporary display of what is known as trench art by a soldier in the 1st World War and many press cuttings reporting on the war and its tragic stories. The artist had attended Art college prior to volunteering for service. He drew when ever the opportunity arose and filled many note books with pencil drawings.

The museum is a credit to the area and is well worth a visit but allow at least a couple of hours to take it all in.

1471 locks, 3091 miles, 51 Tunnels, 42 swing bridges and 39 lift bridges since Nov 2006

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