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Saturday, 10 September 2016

Heritage weekend and a race to the top.


We had a nice meal at the Old White Hart very close to the final lock on the canal and slept well with full stomachs and a couple of pints. Well the weather had to let itself down for the last day of our guests visit. Luckily his train was in the morning so he didn't have to endure locking in the rain. After we had said our goodbyes we walked into Northampton.

The first building that caught our eye was All Saints Church. A church here was mentioned in the Domesday Book. But this building dates from around 1675 which was after the Great Fire of Northampton. To the right and left of the entrance portico are cafes and bistros.

The interiors are sumptuous and it was very busy. 

The dome was beautifully lit and added to the grandeur of the place.

The local bus preservation and appreciation society were starting to assemble them in the rain along side the church.

At the rear of the church were what looked like war memorials and the roman numerals are 1919, 1939 and 1945. I have never seen them outside before where the flags are painted and look very lifelike.


We realised that it was National Heritage weekend and after we found the Tourist Information that it was in the Sessions House where a tour was starting at 1000 so we walked on to the first tour of the morning. The Session house was the court building until not too long ago. It was another building that was erected after the Great Fire and housed to courts and the Northamptonshire County Council chamber. The ceilings were lovely and apparently the craftsman who took seven years to do it was paid the equivalent of £14000 today.


The council chamber was not that comfortable but I suppose that if it was they would all be nodding off!

Below the courts were the holding cells. They were in use until about 20 years ago too. We went out into the court yard and we could see where the scaffold was for the hangings to take place along with the steps up and the door to it.

Further up the road was the Guildhall. It was built in the Victorian Gothic style between 1861 and 1864 and further extended in 1889/92. I'm not sure if it had recently been refurbished but it looked magnificent.

The statues showed little sign of erosion.

St. Giles Church was built in the 12th Century and rebuilt in 1616 after the tower collapsed. It has a real mishmash of periods from Saxon, medieval to Victorian where they have also tried to copy Norman. The stained glass was very good though.

There was also a tour of the Phipps Brewery, The Albion Works, but we missed it. As we were passing we went in to the pub and tried a pint of their Cobbler, which was nice and malty. Helen was getting hungry by now but they didn't do food so we traied a little further down at the Pomfret Arms, that just happened to also be the Cotton End Brewery. Unfortunately they didn't do food either but I tried a pint of their wheat , Lemon Grass and Ginger beer. I expect that on a hot day it may be refreshing but it wont become my regular tipple that is for sure. We walked back of the The bridge over the Nene and saw this old warehouse and moorings actually on the river.

It was still raining when we got back to the boat at about 1400 and after we had sat down to some lunch the rain had eased off a little and we couldn't put off leaving anymore. By the time we had winded before the lock it was 1450 as we set off back up to Gayton Junction. On these locks there are no walk boards on the bottom gates and yesterday when it was nice and dry I felt safe to stride across but today I wielded the boat hook to pull/push the off side bottom gate open/closed.

We were lucky as most of the locks were our way and we sped along. There was a bit of a low pound between Locks 5 and 6 as the pounds are very small here. We got through though and didn't need to run any water down.

By the time we got near the top the sun was out, In truth I only had a waterproof on for about 5 minutes as the rest of the time it was the odd drizzly period. It only took us 3hrs and 5 minutes from the winding hole to leaving the top lock, and 3 and a half hours to be tied up on the services. We filled with water and got rid of everything else. Helen then went in to get the tea ready and I carried on a little to find a mooring for us. We were done and dusted by 1920. 

It has been a good day and we had a quick look round Northampton that has some lovely buildings and the shops seem okay with a largish market too. It was somewhere where we would come back to. We sped up the Arm to the Junction so we have managed to achieve a lot despite the rain.

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