I was up at 0545 and was ready to catch the bus to take me to the station, to catch the train from Hull to Manchester. We arrived at 0945 and I was at the boat for 1000. Helen had paid Ben at the New Islington Marina, 2 nights free and then £10 per night, and had the boat just about ready for the off.
Here we are leaving the Marina and turning right on the Rochdale Canal to start out marathon ascent of the locks at 1030.
No. 81 was the first lock of the day and we already seem to be looking down on Manchester. I was already looking forward to getting to our destination as I had realised just how slow the locks filled and how heavy the gates were! I was younger when we passed this way previously!!
A little further on is Victoria Mill at Miles Plating that was built in two stages in 1869 and 1873 for William Holland who were fine cotton and doubler spinners. It was to symmetrical blocks with the engine house between. The unusual thing is that the chimney ran up a stair well and at the top of the building there is a circular glassed room, but it can't be seen from this time. The factory closed in the 1960's and was nearly lost before being restored in the 1990's.
This photo is really to allow me to have a breather, and I am only 5 locks into the challenge. If this was my lock I would sell it, or part exchange for a narrow one somewhere!
I was expecting that this club had something to do with WWII but it seems that it has only been going for 40 years. Interesting to see the Banks's advert up here in Manchester.
16 locks in and I was very relieved to be here at all. Things had gone slightly awry at about Lock 69. Helen had gone through a narrows for an old bridge hole and keeping to the right as there are very shallow areas in this leg of the canal. There was no mention of the compost bin or dustbin that she managed to ride over. It took us a good while to wriggle the boat of it as it was jammed under the hull! All the thrashing about meant we collected lots of rubbish so the prop had to be cleared too. The kids were fine and two girls stayed and quizzed Helen about life on a boat and how the lock worked. They seemed to find it incredible that the boat could go up hill. Mind you I was beginning to think the same.
Approaching Failsworth there is Regents Mill. It was built in 1906 for cotton spinning and had a marine triple expansion steam engine to drive the machinery. After WWI the trade declined and the Government set up the Lancashire Cotton Corporation to take over struggling mills. In the 1930's it was taken over by Courtaulds until the 1950's when it was bought by Pifco and now Salton Europe who are suppliers of smaller domestic appliances. I notice that a lot of the mills have the big windows in a building next to the mill itself so must be the old separate engine house.
It was great to see that this old old wooden tow line roller is still in place. Must have now decayed away and just have the brackets left.
There was no index number or annual licence displayed on this vessel. It is an exotic breed of boat to find this far up the Rochdale.
I was beginning to sniff the end as we approached Lock No.65 after Failsworth. It certainly looks like we have left the city behind in this scene. There is still a few miles to travel but we have definitely broken the back of the locks for the day.
By this lock is the Ivy Mill. It was built in 1883 and was extended regularly through to 1921. It actually ceased trading in 1934. It became a munitions factory in WWII and then later was a mail order distribution centre for J.D. Williams and Littlewoods. It is now a small office space business centre.
The Rochdale Canal Restorers managed to ensure the survival of the canal when the M60 was built as they managed to have this tunnel made to navigable standards under it. It is similar to the one on the Droitwich Narrow Canal, but much more commodious.
There was then an electric bridge to navigate, and once Helen had pointed out the control box to me I enjoyed operating it and holding up quite a few cars, joggers, cyclists and do walkers as the bridge unusually lifted vertically up. I was feeling smug about my power and admiring the queue I had formed so much that I forgot to take a photo!
One more lock and a short trip round the corner to complete a seven hour 18 lock marathon. The final indignity was the fact that we couldn't get the stern close to the bank, but with my long legs it was close enough. I wasn't going any further!!
I reckon I must have walked about 15 or 16 miles as I did much of the route three times, once to set the lock ahead, back to open the gates of the last lock and then the third to return to the lock above. I will sleep well tonight.