Thursday, 2 October 2008

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

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