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Monday, 23 April 2018

A Bitter Pill.

We stopped where we had moored up opposite one of the Mersey Motor Boat Club at Lydiate. There is just enough length of concrete edge with a clear view for the solar panels. As it was Sunday I went in to the village, just a short walk over Bridge 17 to find a newsagent, a Londis and a take away and a pub that looks quite a nice gastro pub if you fancy a meal, the Weld Blundell. I have no idea where the name came from. We then sat and listened to The Archers whilst the rain passed over, which it did.

We hadn't gone far when we saw a group of kayaks being launched. A narrow boat then came past the group. As he passed us he told us to mind out as they were an uncontrolled rabble and dangerous. We must have been lucky as they were just excited boys and girls of the scouts, who chatted to us and were marshaled by plenty of leaders. We just passed nice and slowly on tick over and there was little that could go wrong. 

I'm not sure how the herons are doing in numbers at the moment but we don't seem to be seeing as many of them as we have in the past.

They really do look like pterodactyls, flying dinosaurs.

When we came the other way towards Liverpool I said that dredging had been going on on this stretch. Actually it was the opposite. The water bourne digger was actually taking clay out of the pan and patting it down on the bed of the canal, trying to plug a slight leak in the aqueduct that ran underneath. The waterway that the canal crosses actually marks the boundary between Merseyside and Lancashire.

 As we approached Downland Cross I noticed this building that was on the outskirts of a farm. I wondered whether it was a disguised pill box, something I had never seen before. Or was it converted from a pill box following the War. The slits look like precast concrete items with brick surrounds.

When you look closely it may be painted brick, but why? Is it concrete that has been marked to disguise it as brick? If it was just a farm building the wall would not be as thick as it appears in the photo.

This launch was looking quite 'tiddly' and the name caught my attention first, quickly followed by the flag painted on the hull. It was that of the Pacific Steam Navigation Navigation Company. It was actually started by an American but he couldn't raise finance in the USA but did so in the UK, with a Royal Charter and got started in 1840. By 1873 it was the largest shipping company in the world. Factors worked against it and the ships were sold to Orient Line and Royal mail Lines. The routes were down the east coast of South America and up the west coast. Eventually they were amalgamated into Royal Mail Lines, until becoming independent again in 1932 until the 1960's. I don't think there was ever a ship of this name but there was a pair of passenger ships called 'Reine del Pacifico' and 'Reine del Mar'.

As well as the Haskayne Navvy there is this stone with bench that was placed at the same time. The design carved on the stone was produced by local school children.

I'm not sure if this was at the Saracens Head or at Heaton's Bridge, but again it looks like a observation post or something from WWII. You can see it also had a lower level of slit. I suppose it could be some form of storage place with small windows, but I would like to know.

We arrived at Burscough Bridge and the wind was getting up and it was quite cold. We wanted to fill up with water but found a boat tied up on the water point with nobody aboard and no sign of a water hose. We had to moor under the bridge and run lines of hoses to fill up. They came back, out of the pub, and off they went. Not a word of apology. There was a line of vacant moorings, with bollards, just next to the water point. If it had been me I would have felt so guilty I couldn't enjoy a drink, even if I wanted to. I just don't understand how folk can be so selfish and feel so entitled.

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Its not the Leaving of Liverpool...

Saturday was leaving day. We had to be up earlier than normal as we were supposed to be off at 0800. Since last Monday there has been a new system in place for the trips in and out of Liverpool. It seems that now everything is self service, the locks and swing bridges, that previously were operated by C&RT. We were a little late setting off and had obviously missed another boat that had gone ahead.

It was a lovely morning as we left the pontoon and headed for the gut way between Salthouse Dock and Albert Dock. There is so much to do and see in Liverpool that we hadn't really stepped in to the Albert Dock area at all.

In Albert Dock we couldn't really see whether the sluice that kept the water levels in Albert dock, and the rest of the northern docks, was open or not. But then we saw the green light and continued. It was interesting to see that the maximum height of the water in the dock was 30'.

Once in Canning Dock we were looking for the Mann Island Lock entrance. The morning light really emphasises the contrast in styles, materials etc on Man Island and the Pier Head. It is not easy to see the cut to the lock but just ignore the two dry dock entrances. Is we turned the corner we could see another boat just leaving the lock. The levels were almost the same so it didn't take long and we were on our way again to catch them up by the next lock.

After passing through Princes Dock Lock you come to Waterloo Dock and the old warehouse have been well adapted to a new use of offices and hotel space and it looks lovely in the sunshine

After Waterloo Dock you approach Sid's Ditch which has cut through a filled in Central Docks. There are two areas of buoys that are supposed to define the way. However they do not really make it that clear if you haven't been before in this section keep close to the port side wall (on the way inward). At Princes Dock keep to the st'bd wall (on the way in).

Having shared Princes Lock with the other boat we found that it was a hire boat from Heritage Boats, Kidsgrove. The couple aboard were extremely experienced as they told me that they had hired the same boat for about 25 years, for a fortnight at a time. They were thinking of hiring a more modern on next time. We heard from them that the Lock Keeper had been delayed by the police first thing so they had to wait for the sluice gate at Albert Dock to be opened. She then dashed about unlocking gates and paddles and finally got to us again half way up the Stanley lock flight. It is much easier with two boats, especially when they are so easy to work with.

Once at the top we went ahead as we wanted to stop at the Litherland services to dump rubbish and to buy some milk from the Co-Op right next door. This is Bank Hall Warehouse again, but from the other direction and in the sun. The date above the hoists is 1874.

The stone copings on the top of the brick wall surrounding Linacre Gas Works was a great place for these young mallard drakes to keep out of site and soak up the lovely warm sunshine.

The canal circles round the pitch and so we were able to watch the match as we passed. Only one wicket taken whilst we passed. It is Maghull. There were several bridges between the top of the Stanley Locks and it was great to piggy back with the 'Sutton' and this all went well. We were stopping at Lydiate but the others were heading onwards to get the miles in in the good weather. They did in one day we we did in two days.

Saturday, 21 April 2018

Liverpool Miscellany.

I have been dashing about backwards and forwards between home and the boat in Liverpool, so soory for the lack of a blog. The following are just a few photos of our walking journeys around the town.

Not far from Albert Dock is Castle Street, close to where there used to be a castle (parts of which were used to build the first dock as seen in a previous blog). It is on the way to the Town Hall. This is the British and Foreign Marine Insurance Co. Ltd. building that was designed by G.E. Grayson and was completed in 1889. It is Grade II Listed. The most outstanding feature is perhaps the Venetian Mosaic that were installed by Antonio Salviati. He started his first workshop in 1859 on the island of Murano in the Venice lagoon. It is still there. The top picture is fairly badly damaged but you can easily make out the nautical theme. You can also just about make out the signature bottom right of Frank Murray 1889, the designer. The Salviati company had already installed around 50 mosaics in churches in England and Wales.

This is a building with bling. It was built for the Adelphi Bank with terracotta ground floor. There are statues in niches in the second floor. To the left of the corner is a statue of a girl with a bird on her should and a mother with a child at her breast. On this side are a girl with a ships rudder, a figure of bling justice and a night in armour. There are many cherubs around etc. Unfortunately you can't see the original bronze door that are heavily embossed with pairs of figures, David/Jonathon, Castor/Pollux, Achilles/Patroclus, Roland /Oliver and Thomas. Adelphi apparently means brothers or siblings. It was done by Thomas Stirling lee in 1892.

This old brick building seems quite lost in among the brand new glass and steel new buildings on Mann Island. It is all that is left of the pumping station that kept the Mersey rail tunnel dry. It also was ventilation for the smoke from the steam powered trains. When it was built in 1882 the Mersey rail tunnel was the longest undersea tunnel in the world. In the dock near here in 1974 I sat my Efficient Deck Hand Certificate and Lifeboatman's Certificate.

 50 years after the Beatles played their last gig in Liverpool the Cavern Club donated this 1.2 tonne statue of the 'Fab Four'. It was unveiled in 2015 and was by Andrew Edwards.

I always find the Merchant Navy Memorial to the lost in war moving. It is a shock to find that it wasn't erected until 1998. There was a greater portion of Merchant Seamen lost in WWII than any other service. 

This is craved on the opposite side. There are several other memorials to seamen of other nations that were lost in wars too.

On the west bank, Birkenhead side, of the Mersey was the dazzle Ferry 'Snowdrop' that was painted like this in honour of the dazzle painted vessels of WWI. The design was made by Sir Peter Blake in honour of the First World War Commemorations.

Close by the Merchant Navy Memorial is this much larger one that was dedicated to those men of the Merchant Navy that were working with the Royal Navy Auxillary service. Nearly 13,000 served in this force in vessels like Auxiliary Cruisers. 1400 of them were lost. It was unveiled in 1952.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Model Army.

As soon as we thought that we would come to Liverpool at this time of year Helen booked some tickets to see the Terracota Warriors exhibition. It was a good job she did as they are almost sold out for weeks ahead. However, apparently, they keep 20 tickets back for each day to sell on the door. They go on sale when they open at 0930 and on a first come, first served basis. Therefore book on line well ahead or get to the ticket booth early on the day you go.

The terracotta figures were buried to travel with the Emporer Qin Shi Huang to the afterlife that they thought was just the same as this life, in 210-209BC. They were buried in pits around the central mausoleum where the Emporer was interred. Above is a horse keeper, on on eleven buried in a pit that seems to have represented the Royal Stables. The horses had their tails plaited and had fancy saddles. In the pit were also 12 bodies of real horses that seem to have been killed before being buried.

This is actually a replica of the actual one of two chariots that were found. They were made of bronze and embellished with gold and silver. This one is the lead chariot that went ahead of the Emperor as he traveled his kingdom. All the terracotta figures seem bare, but when buried they were very brightly painted

This is a bronze cauldron that weighs 212kg that is the largest found. It was actually found on top of a pit where strongmen and acrobat figures were buried. It seems that part of the strongman's act was lifting such vessels.

This is the other bronze chariot, or a replica of, that was found near the mausoleum. The driver knelt up to drive. It is said that when the Emperor's body was brought to the site it had a cart of salted fish travelling behind to hide the smell of decomposition!

The figures are about 6 foot tall. This one is a man commanding a chariot and he would have been holding the reins in his hands. Originally he was buried with real wooden chariots that have obviously rotted away. On either side of him on the chariot would two armed guardians, and chariots were found in all the armies pits.

This is a kneeling archer who would have been holding a cross bow rather than a long or short bow. They were found in pairs surrounded by standing archers.

This chap was a General as can be decided by his uniform and armour. I think there were six full figures in all to represent several of the different kinds. The figures were produced in a production line of artisans. Around 100 of their names have been found engraved on their feet. There was a combination of moulds joined together with coiled clay. The legs and feet are solid. The nose ears and hair were added to the two part head and fine detail added by sharp stick. It seems that the hair and faces are all different. They were fired in near by kilns.

The figures were found in 1974 when local farmers were drilling a well. So far three pits covering around 22000sq mt have been uncovered. Each pit was divided into corridors with a brick floor and were covered over with wooden planks and bamboo matting with earth on top. When the planks rotted the pits filled. So far about 2000 warriors and horses have been uncovered along with 130 wooden chariots. They think there may be around 8000 in all! The warriors were found in battle formation, two pits with the bulk of the 'army' and a smaller one with the head quarters staff. There were infantry, cavalry, charioteers, archers, general, officers and a guard of honour. In other pits there were officials of the court, eunuchs and horse keepers etc.

Also in the exhibition are grave goods from a later period the Han Dynasty 206 BC to 220AD. In this case the 2000 infantry figures were not full size, but  a round a foot tall. They would have held wooden weapons.

There were also about 500 figures of horses and riders. They would have had  reins and a weapon in their hands and other details would have been painted on to them.

these anatomically correct figures are from a General of the Han Dynasty's tomb. When buried they had wooden arms and were dressed in silk, leather and linen. Sadly they have rotted away.

The Tomb of Emperor Jing, 188 BC to 141 BC, was buried with hundreds of clay models of many different domesticated animals, both male and female. They were mass  produced in moulds and were realistic. They were placed in the tomb to ensure the occupant had plenty of food etc when he got to the after life.

The 'Golden Horse of Maoling' was found in the burial pit of Emperor Wu 141 BC to 87 BC, or maybe that of his elder sister Princess Pingyang. It is that that it represents the type of horse that Emperor Wu had breed using stock from Uzbekistan and Kyrgystan. They were breed for speed, endurance and intelligence to assist him defeat the nomadic people to his north and help him achieve immortality. It is about 2 foot high.

It is one of those exhibitions that you may feel you need to see, and we were there for about 80 mins. There is a little queuing to get in as they are only allowed so many in the exhibition at a time, but you can stay within the space as long as you want. It is interesting to note that the actual Mausoleum of Emperor Qin, the First Emperor, has not really been revealed yet but is said to reveal an area set out with cities, as in a map. There are rivers and seas of mercury and the roof is painted with the celestial sphere. It is the tantalising thought that there is so much more to be revealed from this accidental find in 1974.

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Liverpool Under and Over.

We had a busy day today planned and it would have been nice if the 'heat wave' had arrived, but here in Liverpool it was draughty and cool with light rain periodically. We were booked in to the tour of the old, or original dock in Liverpool.

The tour starts is the Maritime Museum lobby that is obviously close by the moorings. There is a little talk at the museum and then you walk across the main road, The Strand, to the Liverpool 1 complex. The Old Dock was the first enclosed dock in Liverpool, and it seems the World, that was used entirely for commercial purposes. The dock gates were roughly where the pelican crossing from the Dock to the shopping centre is. When they built Liverpool 1 they came across the remains of the old dock and the Duke of  Westminster, whose company were the developers, were instrumental in preserving what they found, despite the cost. The photo above you can see the far end of the dock, away from the river. You can also see that the dock was actually built on the actual bedrock of an actual inlet into the city, the Liver Pool, meaning muddy creek.

In this picture you can better see the bricks that were added on top of the natural sandstone bedrock. As this wasd the first dock bricks were used as the engineer who built the dock, 1710 to 1715, was Thomas Steers who has an acknowledged canal engineer. The archway was discovered when they started building and it turned out to be an old sally port that was a 'secret' tunnel to the old Liverpool castle about 400 mts away. It was uncovered at low water, the HW mark being about halfway up the bricks. The wooden bung was a sycamore post that was hollowed and used as a drain after the blocked it up when the dock was dug. The same sort of post was used as mooring bollards at the surface

Bricks were used for a dock for a first and last time as apparently they didn't wear well with the inundation of salt water. However they were at one time covered with lime mortar that was waterproof, and could be applied under water too.  It was also applied to the wall for protection.The bricks were further protected by having vertical wooden fenders every 10' down the face of the dock. This first dock was about 75yds x 200yds and could moor about 100 ships of the day. It is said that before the enclosed dock, due to the change in heights of the quay as the tide went in and out twice a day, could take two weeks. With the advent of the dock in only took a couple of days!

This is under the quayside and is an old sewer that went into the dock that had a sluice on it. One of the main causes of the death of the dock was the fact that it became the dumping ground of ship and household effluent. When they commenced the archaeological they found that the dock was full of S--T. So much so that the depth in the dock was so restricted it became unusable and was closed in 1824 and filled in. 

On the top of the bricks can be seen a square block of sandstone. These were used as coping stones to protect the top of the dock wall. many of them came from the old castle. They were pushed into the dock when it closed and then filled with sand. The dock, it could be argued was the start of the Industrial Revolution in the North, the making of America and obviously of Liverpool. With the increase in turn round town of the ships it meant that more products from the New World could be traded bringing more money to them. These products, like sugar and cotton, were than spread about the area and development took place. The tour is free, but needs to be booked. It is very informative and well worth going. It is on Tuesdays and Wednesdays 1030, 1200 and 1430. I would recommend it as well worth an hour or so of anybody's time as it certainly puts Liverpool into perspective.

The Radio City Tower, or St John's Beacon was built in 1969. It was opened by Queen Elizabeth II and is 138 mts tall. It had a revolving restaurant at the top originally, but it was closed in 1979. It was re-opened in 1983 but quickly closed again. It reopened in 2000 as Radio City. You can go up to a viewing gallery for a fee. We didn't!

The Queensway Tunnel was the first road tunnel under the Mersey and was opened in 1934. It took 9 years to build. 17 men were killed in its construction. The tunnel, toll booths etc are Art Deco and are listed Grade II. It is 2 miles long and costs £1-80 per journey.

We had a little time to kill so went to look round the Walker Art Gallery. It was opened in 1877 and is named after the main benefactor that was a Scottish Brewer. Amazingly, following the year of City of Culture in Hull, we were expecting to be overwhelmed by the size and quality of the collections in this massive gallery, compared with Ferrens Gallery in Hull. In fact we were disappointed with the quality of the art as well as the hanging. The lighting of the pictures was terrible.

Next door to the Walker Gallery are the Picton Reading room and Lecture Hall. These were completed in 1879 and named after the Willaim Brown Library and Museum, the fore runner of the Walker gallery, Sir James Picton. It is this shape to disguise a change of alignment of the buildings.

This facade of buildings was originally the William Brown Library and Museum, mentioned above, and with the Picton Reading Rooms and Lecture Hall make a complete run of Grade II* buildings. This building was opened in 1860. The right hand wing was the library and the rest the museum. In 2010 it closed to be brought up to date behind the facade. The left hand side is now know as the Liverpool World Museum.

The interior of the newly altered library remind me of the new Birmingham Library and was re-opened in 2013.

More tomorrow.