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Thursday, 5 April 2018

Bang on time!!

There was only blue sky out of the windows today, and by 0800 the sun was on the roof, and solar panels. We set off before 1000 and it was lovely to have the sun on your face and the slight, cool, wind at your back.

We soon passed this converted Leeds/Liverpool short boat. The hull is old and the coamings of the hold have been kept intact.Even less cover for the helmsman on these boats than on a working narrowboat.

Spencer's Swing Bridge was shortly in sight and is a semi automatic bridge as you have to close the barriers manualy. The stone cottages making a nice feature. The little cruiser is moored on the last bollard of the landing but as it is a short landing there is now room for a boat to land or pick up crew there.

As the miles slowly ticked by I noticed the stone built sides of the canal. That got me to thinking where had all the stone come from? It must have been a logistical nightmare in the days when the roads were not good.

We had a quick stop at Parbold for some milk and were soon off again. The mill and bridge make a nice canalscape. We will stop for longer when we pass again soon.

Just on the outskirts of Parbold there is a bit of a 'notch' in the canal. The 'Rose of Parbold' charity boat normal moors here. As she wasn't there we expected to see her later today. By the wooden fence in the picture is the remains of a dry dock. This was the site of Sheldon's Boat Yard. The last boat to built there was the 'Angelo' in 1927. The struggled on until the late 1930's doing repair work for, among others, Richard Williams' boats.

As I was comtemplating the source of stone for the canal I was regarding the west face of Parbold Hill and there was no obvious sign of quarrying however as we passed further east there were apparent signs of quarrying in the form of rough scrub land. When I later checked the OS map there is also working indicated.

The overhanging limbs of the bare trees, even in the sunlight, made me think of J.R.R. Tolkein for some reason!

In among the trees I made out stone structures and then noticed a stone wharf that was proud of the normal bank. You can even see the vertical timber fendering in the photo. What is doesn't show is the suggestion of a gently sloping plate way that may have brought the stone to the jetty.

It was then I remembered a massive quarry that was filled with water that we discovered in 2013 when we had a walk around Appley Bridge. It is a huge hole in the ground and it must have been lucky to escape getting filled with refuse from Wigan or further afield. It is called East Quarry so the one closer to Parbold would have been the west quarry. I'm not sure if these quarries were the suppliers of stone for the canal, but in my mind they should have done!

These old swing bridges after Appley Bridge always bring to mind a by-gone age. Maybe it is the state of dereliction, or the fact that they aren't needed now as farming practices have changed and transports is also different.

We moored up on a stone edge before Crooke, not far from Gathurst. We are opposite the old explosives factory that is slowly been lost to the trees. It is a huge site as the processes and storage had to be spaced out to prevent chain reactions. It was started in 1887 and manufactured Roburite explosives that were mainly used in mining. In WWI it was pressed into service to make explosives for muntions. In 1916 there was an explosion at the factory and several were killed. The factory managed won a medal for the work he did to save the situation getting worse. In 1918 ICI purchased the site, and it eventually closed in 1981. There have been several applications to build over 100 houses on the site but there are great rumblin  as the site is now a wildlife haven. 

After lunch I put another shelf in Helen's cupboard to help her store her closes so they are more accessible. I then did so paintwork sanding ready for an undercoat and touching up etc. I also mended the galvanised bucket for ashes with a bit of cement!

I forgot to say that they workers were as good as their word as the bridge was working soon after 16:30. More to the point the pub had electricity and we went to check to see, and have a drink, and book a table for later. We had a very nice meal. I had gammon and Helen has steak pie. All ingredients were sourced locally, and the beer was all from local breweries.

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