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Monday, 29 August 2016

Double lock buddies.

We left about 0930 when it was still a little over cast and even had a few spots of rain.

The Metropolitan Line cross the canal just up from our mooring and before Cassio Bridge Lock. It seems that 67 journeys were taken on the Line in 2-11/2012 but not many of those would have been on a Monday morning Bank Holiday. There were not many passengers at all!  It seems that there are big changes coming in Watford as at present the Tube statiton is well away from the centre. They are going to be extending it to the central station where it will link with main West Coast Main Line Watford Junction. The current station will close and the disused a little further down will be reopened. Two new stations will be opened, Cassiobridge, Vicarage Road and join with the Watford High Street Station before terminating at the Watford Junction Station. It is also supposed to kick off this year and should be finished by 2020. I do wonder if there is a similar scheme in the Leeds Manchester area to help out in commuting. Bring on the Northern Powerhouse.

We stopped for water above the lock and picked up loads of rubbish whilst waiting and managed to pick some blackberries. The canal is very green and the river Gade enters and leaves the canal regularly and where it doesn't you can tell as it is very shallow. The river runs out of the canal often under these low bridges.

Helen was enjoying the lock work, especially when the sun came out. After the first lock we shared with 'By Appointment'. They moor in Little Venice and are on the way to Cow Roast for some work on the boat. Yesterday we spoke to a young land who said he had bid for a mooring in Rickmansworth and stopped at £7000. There are no facilities like water or electricity. The lady today was saying that they pay £6500 and there is water and electricity. If the information is correct it seems that everything is upside down. Mind you I'm not sure I would thank you for living on a boat in Little Venice for any longer than a couple of weeks.

The tow path was very busy with walkers in the sunshine. Iron bridge Lock always seems to have loads of kids aching to give a hand with a beam and adults trying to explain how a lock works, without really knowing! Grove Bridge is covered in scaffolding but looks as though it is just about finished with the painting and looks lovely.


Grove Mill was looking nice but there were plenty of boats moored around.

This is the poor relation of the Grove bridges and always reminds me of the 'Shroppie for some reason.

The M25 spur bridge is not even as pretty as the lesser Grove Bridge but it does make a great frame for the greenery.

I think that this is North Grove Lock. The time passed very quickly as the locks passed and we were chatting whilst rising in the lock. I forgot to take many photos too.

The M25 bridge is quite pleasing as there is a slight curve in the line but on Bank Holiday Monday I would rather be down here. It has been very quiet on the canal for a bank holiday. Maybe we are just in between the weekend distance from most of the marinas. 

We continued on and found a spot in the sun above Kings Langley. Since mooring up Helen has been baking and I have made some alterations to the ventilation of the loo and cleaned the filters etc. I will boil up my foraged fruits later ready to make some jam tomorrow. Things are slowly getting to normal after London.

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Shower swerving.

A boat passed as we were starting to get ready so we sped up and met them at Black Jack lock. They were fairly new to boating but were a good chatty couple to share locks with.

I managed to pick some apples to go with the damsons yesterday and last night I chopped the damson and one punnet of the apples and stewed them up for Damson and apple jelly/jam. I left the mush dripping overnight and ended up with a pint and a quarter of liquor.

This bridge allows the River Colne to flow out of the canal after coming in to it by Springwell Lock.

This is the bridge over the Troy Cut that was dug to service the Troy Mill. Later it would transport sand and gravel from the pits that are now worked out and are now nature reserves. 

the Grand Union hereabouts seems to meander like canals of a lesser size.

Later on you pass the sewage works that serve the west of Hertfordshire and a half a million people. There are two pipe bridges and judging by the diameter of a couple of them they are supplying the 'raw material'. There are moorings down the arm to the left but I suppose you get used to the smell.

I missed the coal duty post by Stocker's Lock but it was starting to rain and the farm across from the lock always catches my eye. We stopped at Tesco's at Rickmansworth for the Sunday paper and stopped for a cup of tea whilst the rain stopped. The supermarket was built on site of the old W.H. Walker and Bros. that were a prolific builder of wooden narrow boats. Between 1905 and 1964 they had built in 212 new boats and had repaired over 600 other boats.

There were a couple of boats coming down the lock so we pulled on to the water point and topped up whilst we waited. The rain got really heavy, but tailed off by the time the boats were coming down and as we had finished topping up. By the time we got to the top the rain had stopped though.

As we cleared the lock I looked back and saw this monument on the off side in a private garden. I have tried to find out something about it but I couldn't see anything. The writing on the base seemed to be late 1700's or early 1800's to my eye. Anybody know anything about it? Rickmansworth is a poor mans Venice as there are three rivers, Colne, Chees and Gade along with the canal and many flooded gravel pits. The second lock went up in to the River Chess and to a gas works and wharf nearer the town. Before the lock there was also a wharf off the canal to wharfs that were behind St. Mary's Church. Above the lock on the tow path side was another lock to the town wharf that was built in 1903.

We tried to find a spot to moor in the sun but where ever there was a bit of sun we couldn't get any where near the side. We ended up above Common Moor Lock and between the bridges between Cassio Bridge Lock. Whilst there I made four jars of jam.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Heading North.

After hearing that there was a B&M Bargains in Yiewsley we decided to head over for a look see. It was gone 1000 when we left and came out with £20 of 'stuff'' that we didn't know we needed when we went but 'will come in'. We then walked round to the tool shop that we had been told about to find that it was closed. It was gone 1100 when we finally got off. Mind you we didn't go very far as once passed the Slough Junction we arrived at the services just as a bloke was leaving. We pulled over to fill up wuth water and to dump the rubbish that we had been collecting from our moorings since leaving London. We were soon off again and enduring the boredom of tick over past miles of moored boats. Cowley Peachy Lock came along to break up the boredom. We went up with a boat that promptly stopped for water. There was a voluntary lock keeper there, off duty, who was telling us that he wasn't on over the Bank Holiday, and that no voluntary lock keepers were allowed to be on either as their was nobody in the office in case there was an emergency. Obviously I'm not sure whether this is actually the case, or if it is just this Bank Holiday or this region. It seems unlikely as somebody has to be contactable in case Joe Public has an emergency, surely.

I am mentioned these Lock distance markers previously, and I have read about them in forums etc but have never been convinced by what I heard. The ones I have noticed in the past have been cast iron and of a different design. These ones on the Grand Union are concrete so to appear to have been installed during the enlargement in the 1930's so indicating that they were still in use at the time and not just from the early days of canals. In general it seems to be agreed that the first boat past the mark had priority at the lock, over a boat coming from the other direction I suppose. I have heard that you sounded a bugle when passing the post, or cracked your whip?! I'm not sure how far that would be heard, and the markers do not seem to be a uniform distance from the lock. In any case I thought that there was a lock keeper at each lock during carrying days. I would love to have the definitive story of these posts.

We have passed this boat over a few years now and witnessed the car body being on the room, then just placed in position and now fixed and made weather tight. I was a little curious as to how it is driven as I couldn't see a tiller, and a closer look there doesn't even seem to be a rudder. In therefore conclude that it isn't driven sitting in the drivers seat but acts as a butty with it strapped alongside or on short lines astern.

Before heading into London we came up to the Uxbridge Boat Centre to take fuel and I then realised it is an old place. It seems it was a Fellows Morton and Clayton yard. I'm not sure whether the premises of the Hillingdon Canal Club next door were part of the FMC site or, as the building looks like an old warehouse, it was seperate.

It seems that that the place was active by 1896 when they were building wooden butties. They were mainly named after 'Towns' and 40 were built up to 1912. After 1922 they built 27 boats named after 'girls' the last of which was built in 1933. There is a slip and a dry dock here. They seemed to have a very comprehensive chandlery today too.

All these locks seem to have a water cannon at the lower gate where the rubbing bands of boats have worn away a furrow on the edge of each gate when entering leaving with only one gate open. You would think that it would be possible to devise something that could be easily replaced periodically as it is above the waterline. These doves were billing and cooing on the roof of the lock house at Denham Deep Lock and I thought it looked nice.

After Denham Deep Lock I had the feeling that we had finally escaped London as there was large gaps between boats and there was a much more country feel to the tow path

The lock house at Wide Water Lock looks like it is under restoration, but it seems I remember it has always looked like this when we have passed.

Whilst waiting for Cowley Peachy Lock I managed to pick a punnet of damsons. We have moored up just below Black Jack Lock and there are lots of little apples here. The order of the day will be some damson and apple jelly I think. We also have plans to walk up the hill to the Old Orchard after tea.

Friday, 26 August 2016

Short hop to shopping 'Mecca'.

We haven't moved very far today. It has been a glorious, if very warm day today and we couldn't summon up much energy for anything. Over night a very run down boat trailing a worse wreck astern arrived at Bulls Bridge and of course tied up on the water point. This morning they put a hose out and they must have very large tanks as they were 'taking water' for over an hour. There appeared to be no glass in any of the windows, just cardboard. What will they do in the winter? I think if they had a dog aboard it may well be lawful for the RSPCA to enter the boat. I am not very sure whether the same would be true to ensure that there were fit and sanitary conditions aboard. If the boat has to have a BSS Certificate does it contain elements for the washing and toilet facilities, storage of food etc etc. I'm sure that houses would not be allowed like this.

We had no energy in the heat and as we had already decided to stop at Yiewsley to do some shopping we agreed that we would stop there for the day. We like an ALDI shop so soon after mooring we were off to fill the cupboards. Once back with three bags full we had a light lunch and a rest with a couple of tea listening to the afternoon play. We then set off again to TESCO next door. Just one bag this time and we then vacated the boat as it was too warm and sat on the bench near the stern reading.

Once the sun had gone down a little and the towpath side had cooled somewhat I filled a couple of buckets of water and washed down the st'bd side to get rid of two weeks worth of London dust. After a chat with another we discovered that there was a B&M Bargains in town at which Helen's ears pricked up so we have that to visit in the morning. I also learned where I could by my strap or filter wrench so we wont be having an early start tomorrow. There is also a Morrison's so a bit of an easy shopping destination for a boater.

I had wondered where Yiewsley got it's name and apparently it is a corruption of Wifel's woodland clearing in Anglo Saxon. It is not in the Doomsday Book but seems to appear in 1232. Nothing much happens to change the hamlet until the canal was dug. Between Yiewsely and West Drayton was a branch canal called the Otter Dock that accessed the Hillingdon brick fields. At it's peak 5 million bricks were been carried from them to a wharf in Paddington for the growth of London. The coming of the Great Depression put the seal on the loss of the work and by 1935 the brick works had closed and the Otter Dock was filled in. Ronnie Wood of the 'Faces' and the 'Rolling Stones' was brought up in the town. With the Cross Rail or Elizabeth Line coming here in the next year or two I expect that there will be a little bit of a boom in house building around here, and inevitably the house prices will go up.

Sorry there are no photos today. I promise that I will do better tomorrow.


Thursday, 25 August 2016

Leaving the smoke.

We left our long time mooring with a heavy heart as we have had a great time in London. After over two weeks it is tough to disconnect the shore cable too. We left once No.1 daughter arrived to come with us for the day.

Saying goodbye to the St. Pancras basin and lock.

There was plenty of traffic at Camden Locks but the gongoozlers hadn't amassed by the time we went through

As we arrived at the sharp bend where the Cumberland Basin left the Regent's Canal is this floating Chinese restaurant. Once again there didn't seem to be too many folk walking about.

The good hot weather seemed to have brought the birds out so that we could get a good view in the aviary.

We even saw some wild dogs and this wart hog as we passed too. 

We came to the Macclesfield Bridge that was opened in 1816 and was named after the Chair of the Canal Company. The fluted columns were made in Coalbrookdale. On 2nd October 1874 at 0455 a tug was pulling five boats behind it. One of the boats, the 'Tilbury' was carrying loose bags of gunpowder and barrels of petroleum. Some how the gun powder was ignited and a massive explosion took place. The sound was heard 25 miles away and debris was flung great distances. The bridge was destroyed and three men and a horse were killed. The canal was only closed for four days. The bridge was later rebuilt using the same fluted columns that were damaged on the side of the explosion, so they just turned them round.

Here we are about to leave the Regent's Canal under Warick Avenue Bridge and enter Rembrandt Gardens and Little Venice. I'm not sure how much the moorings are along this stretch but you don't get much for the money and the road is noisy.

Trellick Tower is a definite landmark in the area. It was designed by Erno Goldfinger and was completed in 1972 in the Brutalist style and was a council house block of 31 storeys. The side tower actually houses the plant and pipework. It was oil fired but now is electric. Not long after opening it was known for socail and crime problems but now they are desirable properties, and most are now in private hands. It is not very energy efficient but has been Grade II listed.

There is another unusual building further on at Ladbroke Grove. It is an old 1930's water tower that held 5000 gallons of water. It was bought in 2005 by designer Tom Dixon and work started in 2009. It was completed in 2012. The 60' tower is now on the AirBnB list if you fancy a visit.

Here's the gang crossing the North Circular aquaduct.

The lighthouse on The Broadway Uxbridge Road, Southall is to advertise the Shurgard Self Storage company for some reason.

The trip from St. Pancras seems to go on and on, so it was good to have Amy with us. We stopped at Alperton so that she could catch the tube back home after we had our lunch. It was sad to see her go after seeing so much of her for a week or so., but we will see her again in a couple of weeks.

When we left Little Venice I started to make a note of the boats we passed. I counted the ones that displayed an in date licence, those that had an out of date one and ones that displayed nothing. I was I had counted the total number of boats we passed to but I couldn't see windows of some boats so those don't figure in the tallies. I counted 403 boats and I estimate I missed about 60 or 70. This was between Rembrandt Gardens and Bulls Bridge. I counted those in Engineers Wharf but not Willowtree Marina. My figures came out at 57% displayed a valid licence, 26% showed no licence at all and 16% showed an out of date licence. Obviously I only saw on side of each vessel and the fact that in date licence wasn't displayed doesn't mean they were out of date. However I think that it is a regulation to display a valid licence on each side of the vessel at all times. The money and time required to check everything must be great. I also saw just two prominent over stay notices pinned to vessels. Nothing conclusive in these figures, but interesting none the less.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Kings Cross renewal.

I came back to London, my wife and the boat late on Monday night. On Tuesday Helen was going home at lunch time and after she had gone I set to changing the oil in the engine and gear box and the filters for the 750 hour service. I couldn't get the main fuel filter off so will have to get a strap wrench. I checked the first filter in line and it was squeeky clean so no hurry for changing it I'm thinking.

When I got up this morning there was only a little duck weed on the canal and the reflection of the gas holder and crane were great.

I was meeting my friend at the tube and then going on a walk but I had seen this statue on Monday night. At first I thought it was one of those human statues but then realised it was 2300 and it was a little larger than life. They must have put it in the concourse of Kings Cross during the weekend. It is off Sir Nigel Gresley. He was the Chief Mechanical Engineer for the Great Northern Railway 1911 to 1923 and then the London and North Eastern Railway 1923 to 1941. He had offices at Kings Cross and it was here that he designed the iconic locomotives like the 'Flying Scotsman' and the 'Mallard'. It was made by Hazel Reeves.

Our walk was round the Kings Cross development. They put on regular walks between March and November, look on www.kingscross.co.uk/tours for the details. This is the inside of the old grain store. The grain was brought in by train. You can see the circles on the floor and these were turntables where individual wagons were turned into bays.. From here it was sent off in carts and boats and barges.

On the left is the back of the granary building. A lot of the granary has been taken over by the St Martins campus of the University of Arts, London. The passage way under the metal beam was the western transit shed which is going to be filled with shops and restaurants accessed from outside. The area under the glass roof that joins it to the new section of the University was where the individual wagons were once again assembled into trains. You can still see on the brick wall the outline of the roof. There are still line numbers there too.

Behind the last photo was a similar access through the Eastern Transit shed that is being used by the University. You then come to this, the West Handyside Canopy. Under here fish and other perishable good would be handled. When Billingsgate was closed on Sunday sales took place here. Trains finished here in the 70's. It now still hosts regular markets and other events that can be undercover in this huge area. The building on the right is the Midland Goods shed. It was originally built as a temporary passenger terminal whilst the present Kings Cross station was built. Queen Victoria de-trained here several times and even once Kings Cross was completed she liked to get off here as she didn't like travelling under the canal. It is now a Waitrose, but not just any Waitrose as it contains a cookery school, cafe and restaurant and wine bar, and no car park.

This is a view down the length of the Western Transit Shed. The arches are original and were where the rail lines entered. Each will now be a shop or food outlet, 

There are two viewing towers on the site. This one has the Kings Cross pond in the foreground. It is temporary and is a natural pond, but man made. It is cleaned by the reed beds and other natural systems. It is limited to about 160 a day so that the cleaning system can cope. It is all booked on line, but beware it is unheated. In the background is the rounded metal roofed building with the many chimneys is the Francis Crick Institute that opened last year. It is a biomedical discovery and research institute. In the middle ground is Lewis Cubitt Square. Named after the builder from a family of builders that must have had a hand in much of the development of London in the Victorian age.

In the other direction a question of mine has been answered. St. Pancras's platforms are on a higher level than Kings Cross. Kings Cross lines enter the station through a tunnel but those of St. Pancras are above ground, and hence make a lot of noise by our moorings. The tunnel is called the Copenhagen Tunnel and the Granary and transit sheds are aligned with tracks coming out. The lines for St. Pancras run in the covered tunnel above it.

Of the 3 million sq metres of office space in the development Google will be taking a million of them. There headquarters will be in this area under the tents. To the right of the photo is St. Pancras Square that is finished and is a peaceful area away from the hustle and bustle of the station area and there are plenty of places to eat and drink too.

In a previous blog I talked about various sight lines that must be maintained. The Google office building is not allowed to be too high to block this view of St. Paul's. It just happens to have the Shard in the background too.

This is the front of the Granary and on such a lovely day it looked like folk had come for the day for the kids to play in the fountains. There are four lines of fountains and they follow the lines of the tunnels that carried the canal into the building for the loading of grain.

The canal runs at the foot of the green stepped area. Where those steps are was where the tunnels left the canal to enter the Granary. The old brick building are the Fish and Coal buildings. They housed the clerks that monitored the comings and goings through the complex and keeping the books. The original block was built in 1851 and later bits added in early 1860's. Latterly there was a couple of clubs in the building but the place suffered a fire in the 80's. The whole lot is being renovated and has been bought by Jamie Oliver's empire head office. There will be studios, bar and restaurant as well as a cookery school. To the right of the photo in the middle ground are the coal drops. This was where coal was brought in on trains on four elevated lines and the coal was dropped into hoppers for transfer to carts. It was built in 1850 and has part of the overall complex. There are two lines of drops and they are being connected by a canopy. These will become a huge retail area for individual outlets.

This is the back of the Fish and Coal buildings. At present there is a floating pontoon to replace the tow path whilst building work is taking place. In the planning it says that there is to be an elevated park, or viaduct, along the front of the building that will connect up with the gasholder park. I'm not sure which is the front or the back and how they will elevate it on either side so it will be interesting

This is gas holder No.8. There were 15 in all. It was put up in 1850's. No.8 has been made into a park. It is stunning and the cast iron framework has been disassembled and sent to Yorkshire for reconditioning before re-erecting. The mirrored steel uprights and the grass area all makes it for a very pleasant. Net to the park are Gas Holders 10,11 and 12. They were built in 1860-7 and enlarged in 1879-80. These three holders were actually linked like Siamese twins. They have also being reconditioned and now they have had apartments built inside them, with windows so placed that the columns do not block any windows but can be seen from them.

The whole area is 67 acres, with 50 new or restored buildings, 1900 new homes, 20 new streets, 26 acres public areas with 42000 people living and working in the area. The development is to take 25 years from start to finish and it has already brought lots of people into an area that was a bit of a no go area, certainly late at night. I would recommend people come and have a look as there is plenty to please the eye and each time you come it will be different.

My mate headed off after we had a few drinks and lunch at the Lighterman on the edge of Granary Square where my daughter joined. 

Amy and I then headed back to the boat for a rest in the heat. We passed the Camley Street Natural Park. The gates are impressive and behind is a two acre space that were once coal yards. It became a park in 1984. We went for a look and it was being very well used by lots of parents with their kids. There was pond dipping going on, and lots of areas to sit in the shade.

I loved this dragonfly piece made out of stuff. I loved the head made out of a portable stereo.

Once back at the boat with a drink we both had a little nap in the heat. Our time in London is coming to a close and I should be returning to daily blogging again as we head north.