Friday 31 October 2008

Progress, slow but sure.

Swanley Marina DIY shed.

It was an unplanned late start this morning due to both of us sleeping in, something of a rarity for us. The first coat of blacking has now been completed and paint damage along the gunnels has been sanded and spot primed. Unfortunately the cold weather is slowing down the drying and the overall progress.  Forecast is for temperatures to rise over the next few days, thank goodness.

Snow closes Llangollen Canal

We received the following email from British Waterways this morning.

"Llangollen Canal
Thursday 30 October 2008 - Thursday 30 October 2008
The canal is closed at two locations between Chrik Tunnel and Chirk Marina and at Fron Bridge near Llangollen. Heavy snowfall overnight in the area has brought down several trees across the canal at these two locations.
Signage will be erected.
British Waterways apologise for any inconvenience caused.
Towpath has been closed"

We are glad we are inside even if we are busy.

Thursday 30 October 2008

That's the hard graft completed.

Still tucked up in our little shed.

Today was spent buffing off the sides especially below the water line. I even got into the weed hatch and gave that a good going over and that is now all blacked. Once I had finished I had to sweep up all the dust and dirt which was enough to fill a 5 litre bucket which a lot of boat yards just leave on the hull and paint over it. Personally I prefer my paint to be attached to the steel work not dirt which can lift off. Its the old story, if you want a job done well, do it yourself.

I have made a start with the blacking but by 5.30 it was time to put away the brush and head off to the showers for a nice long hot shower, Oh those aching muscles.

Lifting out for Blacking

The reason we are now at Swanley Marina is for the blacking of the hull and any other touchups to paintwork that are unable to be done while in the water. We are in the DIY shed for the next week and Derek certainly has his work cut out for him.

The tractor and trailer unit backing down the slipway.

Lining up Gypsy Rover

Then a gentle pull onto the trailer.

Ooh this looks scary.

Safely on the trailer and ready for water blasting.

Waterblasting finished and backed into the shed for the real work.

Wednesday 29 October 2008

What? Snow in October. Almost Unheard of!

4 Locks 6 ½ Mile. Now in the DIY shed Swanley Marina.

After a night of heavy rain we arose to occasional showers with intermittent blue sky. It was during one of these latter periods that we made the short dash to the marina to await our turn to be lifted out of the water on a trailer. Due to farming duties taking priority over the marina the tractor didn't show up until nearly 11am and he had to pull the previous tenant out of the DIY shed first.

Just as we started to move across the marina to the trailer ramp it started to rain again and continued until we were out of the water and on our way to the shed. While we waited for the marina staff to pressure wash the boat we sheltered in the shed out of the weather. It was at this point that the rain started to resemble flakes of snow and sure enough the snow got thicker and heavier until it started to settle on the parked cars by the shed. The snow continued for the best part of an hour by which time the hills on the horizon had taken on a distinctive white hue.

Eventually the boat was backed into the shed with more than just a few millimetres of snow on the roof. When this started to melt, it of course ran off down the sides of the boat slowing down the drying of the hull before I could start work. To speed things up I had to completely dry off the roof and parts of the cabin sides.

Yes that is snow as Gypsy Rover is reversed into the shed!

In the meantime I had a few odd jobs to do while waiting for the hull to dry. In the long run I made a start on the dry parts of the hull and hopefully the rest will dry out over night but I won't hold my breath while waiting as there is going to be a frost overnight. The last time I poked my nose outside the boat I could feel dampness on the boat even though we are inside a building. Just as well we changed to the winter weight duvet last week-end cos it's going to be a cold night.

1511 locks, 3189 miles, 51 Tunnels, 42 swing bridges and 39 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Saturday 25 October 2008

Heading back to the Llangollen Canal

0 locks, 3 miles, Now moored at bottom of Hurleston Locks

We left Nantwich around lunch time after a walk into town to replenish the larder, we wont be near any shops until we return in 10 days. The boat will be coming out of the water at Swanley Marina on Tuesday and going into the DIY dock for a week. This was to enable Derek to repaint the hull, hard to believe it is 2 years since he last did it. The original plan was also to repack the stern gland as we have been taking on a little water every day and the bilge pump has been working hard. He didn't like the idea of doing it while in the water. But last week while talking to Chas of Chas Hardern Boats he decided to give it a go while in Nantwich. The result! a much easier job than he was anticipating and easily done, now we have a nice dry bilge again. Just as we were leaving Nantwich we had a phone call from Leighton Hospital with an appontment for further tests for Derek on 12th November so looks like we will be in the area for a while longer. We are planning on being in Rugby for Christmas to meet Tracey so hopefully we will still make it. May be a few long days cruising I'm sure.

Our plans are to go up the Hurleston flight on Sunday weather permitting. The forecast for tomorrow is heavy rain and wind so we will just see what happens. I have a good book!

1507 locks, 3176½ miles, 51 Tunnels, 42 swing bridges and 39 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Wednesday 22 October 2008

Aren't We Lucky?

"Emergency closure of Beeston Iron Lock due to sunken craft

Wednesday 22 October 2008 - Friday 24 October 2008

Due to a sunken craft which is lying on its side at Beeston Iron Lock on the Shropshire Union Canal, the lock will remain closed for up to 72 hours whilst craft is recovered. Dewatering is possible.
Winding is available below Whartons Lock and above Bunbury Staircase Locks.
British Waterways apologises for any inconvenience caused."

We went through here on Sunday.

Tuesday 21 October 2008

I Hate Goodbyes!

0 locks, 3 miles, Now moored at Nantwich

This morning we headed into Nantwich arriving about 10am, filling up with water at the facilities and then moving onto the 48 hour moorings by the aqueduct.

After an early lunch it was time to walk Brent to the railway station and us catch a bus to Leighton Hospital. He had plenty of time and was to meet up with a friend and his sister Tracey for a drink before leaving tomorrow. It was great having him with us for a week and a complete surprise. He had been planning this for nearly a year and we had no idea. A lot of planning went into it but nobody was more surprised than he was when he found us so easy. I suppose it was one chance in thousands that we would be the first boat he saw when getting off the train in Ellesmere Port. he is flying to Los Angeles and then on to Vegas before heading back to Wellington next week.

1507 locks, 3173½ miles, 51 Tunnels, 42 swing bridges and 39 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Monday 20 October 2008

Windy Weather!

6 locks, 14½ miles, Now moored below Hurleston Locks

Beeston Iron Lock (note the unusual walls of iron sheets overlapped and riveted together the same as the construction of the Ponticyllte Aqueduct)

Sorry no internet last night so no blog. This morning we set off from Beeston Castle around 10am and shared the 4 locks with Nb Rangitira (of course there has to be a NZ connection there) The lady owner who is half kiwi and half english has a mooring at Chester where we were a couple of days ago and was taking her boat to Venetian Marina for repairs. Autumn is now on us and the canal was covered with lots a leaves today due to the high winds and fouling the propellers of both boats at times. The trip was uneventful but there were more boats on the move today than we have seen for a while. We are now moored at the bottom of the Hurleston flight and will move onto Nantwich in the morning for Brent to catch a train to London heading home to New Zealand and Derek to catch a bus to Crewe Hospital for tests.

After lunch Brent and I took a walk up the flight and after a chat with the lady lockkeeper we had a look at the reservoir which supplies Nantwich and fed by the River Dee by the way of the Llangollen Canal. Brent and Derek are now happily watching a video while I am reinstalling the software after a complete format of the computer last night. Almost done with good internet here and all the Vista updates are now safely installed and antivirus software up and running.

Hurleston Lock flight (gateway to the Llangollen Canal)

1507 locks, 3170½ miles, 51 Tunnels, 42 swing bridges and 39 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Saturday 18 October 2008

No more alarms please!

8 locks, 3½ miles, Now moored at Christleton

The green in the centre of Cristleton

This morning we breathed a sigh of relief over the quietness of the night. The previous night a house alarm across the road went all night. During the day it was quiet and then the alarm went again at 8pm and we thought we were in for another sleepless night, but phew it only went for about an hour before stopping. The amazing thing was that the blue alarm light had been flashing for over two days and nothing appeared to be done about it. After checking the Internet re noise nuisance in the Chester area we found that the complaint is to be laid between 9am and 5pm at the Council offices. Yeah right.

A quick reverse to fill up with water while Derek had a quick shower and then we were up the Northgate Staircase Locks and moored up to top up the pantry at Tesco. Brent wandered into town to take a few photos with his new Canon camera that he bought yesterday. Fantastic service from the photo shop in Frodsham Street who were very helpful and supplied the forms to apply for a VAT refund when leaving the UK.

One of the old buildings opposite the green

Washing done while we were negotiating the staircase I now put on the drier while we travelled up the next 5 locks to Christleton. By the time we moored up the laundry was all dry, great.

We went to the Cheshire Cat for an afternoon drink and spent a pleasant hour with Maggie and Kenny from Nb Kiwi Dragon and had a lovely meal courtesy of Brent. We may see these two again in Nantwich next week.

Interesting weather vane on one of the old lock cottages(nb the narrowboat)

1501 locks, 3156 miles, 51 Tunnels, 42 swing bridges and 39 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Thursday 16 October 2008

Chester Zoo

0 locks, 5 miles, Now moored by the Dry Dock at Chester

With an overcast shy and rain promised for the later in the day we moved off and headed up towards Chester. Brent was interested in some sightseeing so him and I headed into town after lunch and left Derek on the boat to do some varnishing. With the forecast for rain tomorrow we will stay here until Friday before heading up the locks towards Christleton.

1493 locks, 3152½ miles, 51 Tunnels, 42 swing bridges and 39 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Wednesday 15 October 2008

National Canal Museum

Manchester Ship Canal in the foreground with the River Mersey behind with the tide out.

Gypsy Rover moored outside the Canal Museum

No gold at the end of this rainbow just a son a long way from home

Ellesmere Port

Manchester Ship Canal at Ellesmere Port

Locks alongside Ellesmere Port National Canal Museum

Moorings in the basin at Ellesmere Port

Surprise Surprise!!

8 Locks, 14 Miles. Now moored at Bridge 134 Chester Canal 

The delay in writing the blog is because the blogmaster has resigned and quit his position.  Now I am unable to compete with the standard that has been set previously but will try.

Yesterday morning we watered up before heading off for Ellesmere Port.  No locks just a straight run and we moored up in front of the museum.  After a light lunch in the cafe we spent the next 4 hours wandering around the museum.  It was very well presented and such a shame that the National Museum is so far north and I'm sure a lot of boaters never get there.  Around 4pm we decided that we would return to bridge 134 by the zoo that we intended visiting today.  Ellesmere Port being so close to the motorway is rather noisy which would have meant another sleepless night for me.  After years living in a quiet cul-de-sac I find it very hard sleeping if there is much noise.

As we passed under the motorway bridge on our way back towards Chester a voice from the lone walker on the towpath heading towards us called out 'Kiwi'.  I gave him the thumbs up and then looking harder couldn't believe my eyes.  That can't be Brent, sure looks like him but he's back in New Zealand.  Hang on a minute yes it is my son Brent "Good Heavens".  He called out to Derek "Hey can I have a lift?"  "Cheeky Bugger" Derek said, I realised that he was not going to pull over so grabbing the centre rope I said to Derek pull over at the next bridge and I'll get off.  Wow, what a totally unsuspected surprise.  My elder son Richard was in on the secret and speaking to him the previous evening he had asked where we were, how long for and our plans.  Finding where we were moored on Google Earth I never suspected a thing. 

Brent had been in Europe on a tour for the last three weeks and had caught the train up from London to Ellesmere Port.  Walked out of the station towards the towpath that the train had just travelled over, he saw a boat coming.  Guess Who?  Absolutely Unbelievable.  He had walked less than half a mile and found us.  Of course it helped that we were the only boat on the move.  But it couldn't have been planned any better if we had tried.  There were so many variables that could have changed the outcome even by 5 minutes.  Someone up there was looking out for us.

He will stay with us until we get back to Nantwich on Monday and then catch a train back to London before heading back to New Zealand next Tuesday via the states.  Please excuse me if I don't blog so often we have lots to talk about.

Today we have spent the whole day at Chester Zoo and were a little wet and bedraggled by the time we got back to the boat about 4.30pm.

Tomorrow we will head the mile or so back to Chester for a couple of days to do some more sightseeing.

1493 locks, 3147½ miles, 51 Tunnels, 42 swing bridges and 39 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Monday 13 October 2008

Chester Cathedral

One of England's eccessiastical masterpieces.
In 1742 Handel gave his first public performance of the 'Messiah' in the cathedral.

Chester Castle

View taken whilst walking the City Walls on Saturday.

River Dee in Chester

Sunday 12 October 2008

The Walled City of Chester

After an almost sleepless night moored in the centre of Chester (it was Friday after all) we decided this afternoon to move alongside the city walls and through Northgate Staircase locks to moor opposite Telfords Warehouse. We will hopefully get a better nights sleep tonight.

The city wall towered above us.

You can still see the pick marks where the rock has been cut out all those years ago.

Saturday 11 October 2008

Friday 10 October 2008

'For Sale'

Overlooking Beeston Iron Lock- Isn't it lovely?

Beeston Castle

2 Locks, 8½ Miles. Now moored at Christleton

As it was another beautiful day we went for a walk into the village to see if there was a track up onto the mound were we spotted the deer yesterday. Unfortunately this proved to be a lost cause even though we did get closer to the deer. Apparently they are not truly wild as they are owned by somebody. In NZ farmed deer are used for many things and one of them is the deer velvet from the stag's. The antlers or velvet is removed before the antlers calcify and is sold to the Chinese for herbal remedies.

The unusual sides to Beeston Iron lock. Designed by Telford due to the unstable ground conditions.

After our morning constitutional walk we set off with the intention of stopping at Wharton's lock so that we could walk a track up to Beeston castle. Well we moored up at the lock and set off across the fields. The track was a bit wet and boggy in places but the closer we got to the castle the higher the hill, on which the castle was built, seemed to be getting. After about 1/2 an hours walk we decided that the track was too wet and muddy so we aborted the attempt. Shame really because the view from the top must be awesome on a sunny day like today.

Other than the trains on the Crewe to Chester line there was only a rural outlook for most of our journey. One interesting train was an overnight sleeper carriage hauled between 2 Wrexham and Shropshire loco's.

Moored behind us is another part owned Kiwi narrowboat called Kiwi Dragon. Maggie is the kiwi and her husband Kenny the Welshman.

1485 locks, 3133½ miles, 51 Tunnels, 42 swing bridges and 39 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Thursday 9 October 2008

Hawks and Stags

4 Locks, 10 Miles. Now moored above Beeston Iron lock.

Yesterday was a good day to chill out as it was very windy with the occasional shower. We headed off into town to top up the larder before heading off to Chester.

This morning was a complete opposite with a clear blue sky and the sun blazing down making it a brilliant cruising day. We actually travelled further than planned but in weather conditions like today it was a pleasure. We called into the BW facilities at Calveley but were only able to take on water as the pump out hose was to short to reach over the roof of the boat. Instead we carried on up to Anglo Welsh at Bunbury and got a pump out there once they had finished their lunch.

It was at the Bunbury staircase locks that we came up against an Anglo Welsh boat that had slipped its moorings and was blocking the canal. As AW staff were at lunch I had to secure the boat myself, no problem. The next problem was that there were only 2 boats to go down the flight and 3 waiting to come up which meant not much room at the bottom of the flight with AW boats breasted up all the way to the next bridge. With a bit of manoeuvring we got one boat out of the lock and bought the first boat in so that the other boats could start to move forward. We then moved forward to let the next boat into the lock . I sat under the bridge waiting for the third boat to move forward onto the lock mooring clearing the way for me to move up to the pump out facility. How ever the skipper of this boat was reluctant to move even though he was aware of our intentions so I just moved forward and breasted up against the AW boats that were already breasted up.

This put us 3 abreast forcing him to go through the overhanging trees which knocked off his chimney and the cooly hat got hung up on a branch. Madam first mate was not very impressed over loosing the chimney but the skipper managed to save the chimney and we recovered his cooly hat later which they came back for after clearing the locks.

Former Lengthsmen storage shed beside Beeston Stone Lock

After clearing Beeston Stone lock we found a suitable mooring with a flock of sheep as neighbours in the field opposite. We hadn't been here long when a Land Rover pulled into the field opposite and 3 young men proceeded to unload a pair of Goshawks and 2 white ferrets. They were clearing the farmers property of rabbits by putting the ferrets down the burrows and then any unfortunate rabbit to emerge above ground was then run down by a hawk.

Unfortunately there were not many rabbits to be had due to most of the burrows being flooded out with recent rain, but they did manage to get 1 rabbit and a pheasant so the birds will dine well for the next few days.

While watching the Falconers I kept hearing a deer stag roaring but I couldn't see where they were. I suspected they might be in some trees between Beeston village and the mound of Beeston Castle. A short while later while looking up at the horizon to the North of the Castle which is fenced 2 red deer stags and 2 hind's appeared. One stag had a good 7 or 8 point set of antlers but was too far away to photograph. We might have to go for a walk tomorrow and investigate this further because the fencing around the field is not the usual type of fencing used by deer farmers in NZ. So are they wild or domesticated?

1483 locks, 3125 miles, 51 Tunnels, 42 swing bridges and 39 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Tuesday 7 October 2008

A Glorious Day

0 Locks, 5 Miles. Now moored at Nantwich aqueduct moorings.

Well last night's sunset was most certainly an indicator of good weather to follow. There had been an overnight frost and mist rising off the water as we ventured forth this morning. It was cold but gloriously sunny as we headed back to Nantwich.

At Hurleston junction we came across our first what can only be described as canal hogs. As we approached the junction he had just untied and was reversing back towards the junction, I slowed but kept moving. He then reversed right back into the bridge hole blocking my way and at the same time put his hand up in a stop sign fashion. At this point I had no option but to stop. He then spent the next 10 minutes trying to turn his boat so that he could get onto the Llangollen canal. If the nincompoop had waited until I had passed before attempting his manoeuvring he could have spent all day trying to turn without affecting anybody else.

The second canal hog was at the Nantwich junction where the Basin arm veers off at a 45 deg angle to the canal. To get out of the basin it is best to head north and if you wish to travel south merely go a mile to the nearest winding hole, turn and return. Well this gentleman decided he could turn his 65/70 footer and head south straight out of the arm. He appeared to be completely unaware that there were other boats on the move and managed to wedge himself bank to bank across the canal. It took some pole work by one of his crew to extricate himself and eventually get round. It wasn't until he had nearly completed his manoeuvring that he used his bow thruster which if he had used sooner may not have got himself wedged in the first place. Another nincompoop and he never even acknowledged our presence or the fact that he had inconvenienced anybody.

Ah well,  it's a beautiful day and the sun is shining and we are safely moored for the next 48 hours.

1479 locks, 3115 miles, 51 Tunnels, 42 swing bridges and 39 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Monday 6 October 2008

Sunset on the Shroppie

Does this mean a great day tomorrow?

Sunday 5 October 2008

Was it something I said?

2 Locks, 5 Miles. Now moored at Cholmondeston on the SU Canal Middlewich Branch.

It would appear that the railways and public transport are still and I think will always be a hot topic of conversation and controversy. Thank you to everybody that sent us emails on the subject.

Now the weather forecast for today was dreadful but we had to move so that if tomorrows weather forecast eventuates we can sit it out until Monday. Except for the wind the rain didn't come to much until after we had moored up. However they are predicting over 60mm of rain overnight so we are quite pleased not to be on a river.

Despite the weather and the time of the year the hire boat companies seemed to be doing a brisk trade today as we passed quite a few of their boats mostly at the locks,where else! We called into Venetian Marina to top up the diesel tank because with the drop in overnight temperatures the Mikuni central unit has been working quite hard over the last few days.

1479 locks, 3110 miles, 51 Tunnels, 42 swing bridges and 39 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Saturday 4 October 2008

Dr Beeching Got it Wrong

6 Locks, 4½ Miles. Now moored by Bridge 22 Middlewich Branch, Shropshire Union Canal

It has been a glorious day for cruising with a cool breeze just to spoil it all. Now it's the end of the tourist season things are starting to get very quiet on the cut with just a handful of boats on the move. Where we are moored is above what I presume you would call the Weaver Valley with the river Weaver wending its way towards Northwich and a large lake or Flash as they call them around here which has been created by subsidence from the salt mining. Very picturesque.

Now last night on BBC4 there were 3 programme's about British Railways and the aftermath of Dr Beeching's 1963 report on reshaping British Railways. It would appear that he wielded his axe too far and about 1/3rd of the lines that got the chop should have been retained and then perhaps there wouldn't be the congestion on today's roads. Talking about roads, this is where MP Mr Marples comes along and is only too happy for the railways to be closed as it gives him the opportunity to build roads and motorways and amass his fortune. Nice one if you can get it. Now politicians have come to their senses and are starting to talk about rebuilding the railways.

Another of last nights programme's was about walking the tracks along old disused railways lines and last night the young lady presenter was walking the Peak District. This showed that most of the infrastructure of the line was still in place,bridges and tunnels etc: (she had to get special permission to go through he tunnels as they are all sealed up and locked) and it looked as if it would only take replacement of track for the line to be re-opened. An interesting thought when David Cameron of the Conservative party is talking about a high speed line from Heathrow, London St Pancras, Manchester and Leeds instead of building runway 3 which would prove to be quicker and more environmentally friendly. With the problems the Aviation industry are having with fuel prices and airport congestion is sounds like a good scheme to me. Bring back the railways!

The final programme was of Victoria Woods the comedienne travelling from Crewe to the very top of Scotland and back via the East coast lines. This was both enlightening and entertaining as she had to change trains many times and from main line operation to single track lines . The scenery was stunning at times and something you can never enjoy driving along a motorway at 70 MPH. There is something to be said for train travel. One observation that came out which I thought very apt was that train travellers moaned about late trains or non arrivals back in the 60's and poured out onto Britain's roads when cars became more affordable. Now they moan and grizzle about the traffic congestion and delays, can't win can they! At least on the train you can read the paper or work on your laptop, you can't do that driving your car. Its all a matter of priorities.

It has been a well known fact for decades that freight on railways is the money maker and passenger services are just a public amenity running at a loss so what's so different with buses that Dr Beeching was so much in favour of running instead of trains. They are subsidised by tax payers, so should they be axed? I think not but as the old saying goes it doesn't pay to have all your eggs in one basket, so as far as public transport is concerned there is a place and need for road, rail and air to spread the load evenly. Politicians need to start thinking outside the square and not about personal gain, after all they are in parliament to represent the people, aren't they?

1477 locks, 3105 miles, 51 Tunnels, 42 swing bridges and 39 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Friday 3 October 2008

Black sky overhead.

0 Locks, 8 Miles. Now moored at bridge 176 Trent & Mersey Canal.

Despite the weather forecast and the black clouds all around it was time to move on. We waited until one heavy downpour passed over and then we were away. The funny thing was that as we headed south the weather improved and for quite a while we were cruising in sunshine, weird.  We did eventually have to put up with a couple of light showers but nothing too bad.

Along the way we spotted a cygnet standing on the bank all alone and not looking very happy. Hopefully it was the wet weather getting the better of him and he wasn't sick. There were no other swans around for about 3 miles. Later we picked up a huge length of timber across our bows which must have been about 20ft long  and about 10 x 6 in size. It looked like a piece of an old jetty that had broken away. The only way I could shift it was to go close to one bank and snag the timber in the reeds and spin it round to slide off the bow.

After find a mooring, the sun came out for a while and I took advantage of it and went fishing  which only produced 8 tiddlers. When I spoke to the proprietor of the fishing tackle shop in Northwich yesterday he said that it hadn't been a good season as his sales of bait were down by 1/3rd compared to last year. I know that I had a lot of better catches last season compared to this season.

Since we have battened down the hatches for the night we have had heavy rain and hail so I hope it improves before tomorrow.

1471 locks, 3100½ miles, 51 Tunnels, 42 swing bridges and 39 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Thursday 2 October 2008

Exploring the Anderton Lift

Still moored above the Lift.

Once we were all sorted on our mooring we decided it was ice cream time so we returned to the visitor centre for the said ice cream's and another look at the displays in the visitor centre.

Well there is only one way to describe the lift and that is from the beginning which was 1875. The original lift was built to try and speed up the shipment of salt to Liverpool as it was originally transshipped from barges on the Trent & Mersey down chutes to larger vessels down on the Weaver. With Brunner Mond building a new plant on the other side of the Weaver they also needed to get coal delivered and salt shipped out, so the lift was built to speed up the whole process. Barges carrying fragile freight from the Potteries would also be able to take advantage of this short cut because they couldn't use the chutes to transship their loads.

The original design of the lift was, as it is now, hydraulic except that originally is used water whereas now it uses oil. The water was the downfall in the beginning because it was so toxic that it corroded everything and the hydraulic system was for ever breaking down. Repairs using copper just aggravated the corrosion as it react with the metal causing more problems.

In 1887 Colonel J Saner joined the Weaver Navigation trust and in 1908, after a 6 month closure converted the lift to an electric system using electric motors, cables and balance weights. The modifications entailed building another deck on top of the existing structure to carry the motors, gear wheels and pulleys and they also had to reinforce the framework holding it all up. Most of this is still visible on top of the lift but is no longer in use.

The lift continued in this guise until usage dropped away until 1983 when it was declared unsafe and closed. When the lift started in 1875 the tonnage passing through was 31294 tons and it peaked in 1906 at 192181 tons and there after declining. After closure English Heritage declared it a monument to the industrial era worthy of restoring so along with the Trent & Mersey Canal Society and many others the task of restoring it took place. Using corrosive resistant materials the lift was re-built to the original hydraulic design and re-opened in 2002.

A lot of the old equipment is still on display and the old counter balance weights have been made into a maze to amuse the children.With the visitor centre, viewing platform, picnic area and the trip boat Edwin Clark, named after the lifts founder, the lift is a very popular tourist attraction. The trip boat has also been used for functions and a wedding so its future looks secure. We feel privileged to have travelled on/in this amazing piece of 19th century machinery which was years ahead of its time. Long may it continue.

Norwich Swing Bridge in Action

0 Locks, 1½ Miles. Now moored above Anderton Lift, Trent & Mersey Canal.

What an interesting day today turned out to be. To start off we had to wind, pass back under the Town swing bridge to the BW facilities block. Just as we were mooring up the tug from Anderton arrived pushing the dredger. Not thinking I went for a shower while Dot filled the water tank. I had no sooner got into the shower when the thought struck me that they might open the swing bridge to allow the dredger to pass up river. Sure enough, Dot called out that they were opening the bridge and luckily she was able to photograph the whole thing. I made a quick exit from the shower but it was too late as the bridge was closed and traffic flowing once more.

We had started the morning in bright sunshine but this was short lived because by the time we left the BW facilities it was raining quite steadily and continued until we reached the Anderton Lift. We were the first to arrive at the holding moorings for the lift which was a good sign that we would get onto the first trip at 11.45am.

After booking in at the reception centre we had a quick look around the visitor centre when I heard a steam whistle emanate from the Trent & Mersey Canal outside, upon investigation it turned out not to be an old restored boat but a new boat with a boiler and 2 cylinder stream engine mounted in what is normally the back cabin. The eccentric owner had the side door open for all to see inside and was happily chatting away to some onlookers about how he had built the boat. It transpired that a lot of parts had been imported from the USA and arrived in its original packaging dated 1940. Somebody must have a rather large warehouse to be able to store stuff for that long.

On the roof he had built a 6 foot chimney so that he could see where he was going while under power instead of having smoke in his face continually. Naturally it had to be hinged to pass under bridges etc; with steel cables to lower and raise it. The other thing was 2 brass steam whistles of different tones which he had also imported from the USA. They sounded like an LNER and LMS railway loco whistles to me.

By this time it was time for us to return to the boat to prepare for embarkation onto the lift along with another boat that had just arrived. The whole loading process and the trip up to the top went very smoothly with 2 boats in the other caisson going down onto the Weaver.

Just as we pulled out off the holding pen onto the Trent & Mersey Canal a hire boat left its moorings near the winding hole. Instead of getting out onto the correct side of the canal he stayed close to the towpath and then all of a sudden decided to change course across my bows. I hit reverse but with the strong wind blowing finished up across the cut. The hire boat also went into reverse but forget to take it out of gear once we had the situation under control and went careering backwards into the bank by the winding hole and got horribly stuck. We pulled into the mooring that he had just vacated and tied up and he was still trying in vain to turn the boat because by this time the wind had turned him around to face the wrong way. Eventually I suggested that he got the boat over to me somehow and throw me a rope so that I could pull his bow in the right direction. In doing this he managed to turn the boat on his own. What came next surprised me, he only wanted to move forward onto the holding moorings to go onto the lift. Ah well, all's well that ends well.

1471 locks, 3092½ miles, 51 Tunnels, 42 swing bridges and 39 lift bridges since Nov 2006