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Saturday 30 September 2017

Another great day.

It poured down in the night but was all quiet by about 0400. It got quite windy for a while and the mooring ropes were creaking.

It was very damp, but nice and calm by the time 0730 came about, and by the time we were under way the reflections in the water were still good.

A little further up the cut was this other shot of part of the Thirlmere Aqueduct. It is the longest in UK at  just short of 96 miles long. Most of it is a D section 'cut and covered' concrete trough. There are no pumps in the line and the water flows down at around 4 mph. due to the fall of 20 inches every mile. The water takes a day from the reservoir to Manchester. The first water arrived in Manchester in 1894.

There are some great views of the rolling countryside along the way and it looks as though these ewes have been busy, or rather the rams have, due to their red painted backs.

We were soon at Johnson's Hillock Locks. We stopped for water and thought that a boat was coming up astern of us. Yippee, somebody to share the locks with. He pulled in to the moorings! Boo Ho.

The gates seem to be leaking quite badly and it made them harder than they might have been. However the weather was lovely and nice and warm when the sun shone. The flight is quite pleasant too, with plenty of folk to chat to.

Fortunately the major leaks seemed to be for the bottom gates, but I was glad that a put a small tarpaulin over the back deck just in case of a cascade into the engine hole. You can see Helen cocked across the lock here to avoid any leaks at the stern, just having to back to the cill to open the gates ahead.

No mention of the number of locks in either direction though!

At the foot of the Johnson's Hillock Locks is the entrance to the Lancaster Canal heading north. The canal was completed to near Wigan but the Ribble crossing via aqueduct never got built in its steed a tramway was built. IN 1810 the Leeds Liverpool Canal Company came to an arrangement with the Lancaster canal to avoid having to build a parallel canal. In 1851 the Leeds/Liverpool leased the canal tolls and section for an annula rent and this became permanent in 1864.

It is an unusual sight in the distance. Is the Preston England Temple of the Later Day Saints. It was started in 1994 and completed in 1998. It was called after Preston due to that being where the first Mormons arrived in the UK in 1837. The exterior is made of white granite and roof of zinc, and it is lit at night so it certainly stands out on the horizon.

BOtany Bay Mill was originally called the Canal Mill and was built in 1855. It was first closed in 1861 due to the cotton famine caused by the American Civil War. It was bought and struggled on until the 1950's when it closed as a mill. By 1968 a vehicle and truck company bought it but then in 1995 it opened as an antique and shopping destination after having nine million pounds spent on it.

This is one way to ensure that nobody jumps the queue for the lock!!

Cowling Mill looks like t=one of those Inca temples that has been recovered from jungle. It was built in 1900 but is now unloved. The 5.5 acre site is for sale for £2.5 million and the present owner will arrange for the demolition and clearance of the site at his expense.

There werre some lovely stretches with dappled sun through the trees.

This is the aqueduct over the River Douglas. I'm sure we will see more of this river in the future.

I saw this concrete pyramid in a field by the canal and was about 1m tall. I wondered if it was the base of an aerial but there were no others around or anchorage points evident. Anybody have any ideas.

A bit of autumn colour in the sun.

As we passed Haigh Hall Country Park, (pronounced Hay) we passed the Bssin Quay. The bridge was very low and it seems that it was opened in the 1780's. The Earles of Balcarres mined coal on the land and then found iron. It was boasted that Haigh Hall was built from iron, stone and timber from their own land.

The dash of blue alerted me to the presence of a kingfisher and it obliged by sitting just about long enough for me to photograph it. We will just have to see what the weather will be like tomorrow for the Wigan flight.

Friday 29 September 2017

Blackburn Day 2.

Oops, this should have been before the last blog.

We got a leaflet from the Tourist Information that is in the indoor market. I liked the fact that the market was linked with the new massive shopping centre in the middle of tow.

This building looks as though it should be next to the canal but it was in the centre of the town and shows just how much the town was industrial in the past. There seems to be a lot of Victorian industrial buildings that have a certain something, but not too much off it! I'm not sure what it is but it seems that many of them, even done up, would not be 'top class' buildings with that certain something!!

However St George's Hall is a monumental place. The foundation stone was positioned by an electric 'appliance' in 1913 operated by King George V from the steps of the old Town Hall at some distance! The building included a lecture hall, an assembly hall and the main hall. WWI delayed the completion until 1921. Overlooking the front of the Hall is William Gladstone. This is the the third site of the statue that was first unveiled in 1899. It was placed here in 1983.

This is called the Victoria Building and was built as a Jubilee tribute to Queen Victoria as the front of the original technical college.

The motifs are highly detailed and represent matters of art and science.

This is not a church but the Cotton Exchange. Maybe cotton was worshiped with more ardour than religion at the time. It was opened in 1865 and being very practical too, out of hours it was used for public meetings and concerts. From 1912 to 2006 there was a cinema.

On the side of the Old Town Hall was this sign. I wonder when it dates from. I knew that cars were run on gas in WWI and maybe WWI but when does this come from?

Up the hill again we passed Thwaites Brewery. It was founded in 1807 and has continued to brew on the same city centre site until now. They rare due to move to a smaller brewery in Mellor about 5 miles away. This happened after selling much of its brewing to Marstons who now brew Wainwrights and Lancaster Bomber elsewhere. Thwaites still brew beer for it's own houses.

Just up the hill, at the back of Eanam Wharf I found the Thwaites Brewery Stables. Horses were used for deliveries until 1927 but they were reintroduced in 1959. They currently have 4 horses and are regular winners for heavy horses classes. As you can see the stables are the original ones and need alot of money spending on them. In fact they are moving out with the new brewery. I do hope a new use can be found for these unique buildings as horse transport relics are few and far between.

This Eanam Street and it has the original setts on the road. On the right is one of the two three storey warehouses and on the left is the wharf managers house and workshops a little further away. 

I love the round end of the workshops. It seems that the people that own the site at the present are selling up and a new company has been set up to protect the site for the future. 2016 was the 200th anniversary of the completion for the canal from end to end and many events were held here.

The canopied warehouses are very similar to those at Burnley.

Under the canopy there is a cast iron milestone suspended up a post, out of the way of the feet of many workers. The buildings are all rented out to different people at the moment and so lack a unifying look. Maybe the new company will sort that out.

Thursday 28 September 2017

Out into the country.

We did a bit more shopping as there was a very handy TX Max and Helen was in Christmas shopping mode. I was sent for such things as cat litter!

The first lock for a while as we thread into the top lock at Blackburn after a very quiet night.

After four locks there is the lock cottage and facilities. We stopped to fill up with water and divest ourselves of all the rubbish we had picked up from the water and the tow path on our trip through Blackburn

The water is very close to the lock so we were glad that nobody came down. On the way down I noticed that many bridges etc had gates across. I had read in an old Pearson's guide that the local council had done this to make the tow path safer. I actually think the best way to make the safe for mooring is by having as many people as possible use them. Even with the gates closed I have no doubt that if folk wanted to they could gain access. I wonder how long the experiment lasted.

The quadrant to open the gates worked very well. It is needed due to the closeness of the bridge abutments. 

A little out of focus but I noticed that this milestone was not quite like the others and it turned out it was the boundary stone between Blackburn and Darwen and Chorley.

It is a shame that the trees haven't quite turned as it would be spectacular on this tree lined section of the canal. Mind you the leaves make a bit of a mess.

This looks like an old water tower that may have supplied the paper works that were near by. It would seem that it has now become a bat roost, or Bat Man has it as his summer residence in England, aking to the Bat Cave!

There are some lovely stretches of the canal and the sun was trying to come out. It got a little windier than of late but it was a lovely chug.

These bridges were almost mirror images as we approached Withnell Fold. The visitor moorings were empty so we tied up to explore the village before it started to rain.

The paper mill here was started in 1843/44 and by 1855 they had three machines working, 74, 66 and 60, called after the width of paper they made. They made many types of paper, writing, tissue, cartridge and newsprint that was for newspapers in Preston, Bolton and Liverpool. The mill was owned by the Thomas Blinkhorn Peake until 1890 when it joined with well known paper maker Wiggins Teape. The factory closed for good on 23rd December 1967.

The village was started at the same time as the paper mill and was a model village. Each house had a front garden and as seen here outside loos. He also built a school that doubled as the Methodist chapel until he built a separate school in 1897.

The family also provided a reading room that had a billiard room, reading room and and upstairs concert room with a sprung floor for dancing. Kathleen Ferrier who became a classic contralto singer played the piano for the concerts. It was built in 1890.

These Memorial Gardens were originally a holding pond for the paper process, but when not longer required they were given to the villagers as a memorial to the fallen of both world wars. On of the villagers remembered is James Miller was awarded the VC in WWI. In the background you can make out some iron railings above a stone wall. This is part of the Thirlmere to Manchester aqueduct that was built between 1890 and 1925.

We went on to walk round the settling ponds that have become a nature reserve and we saw this lovely moss on a railing.

Blackburn part 1.

Once moored up and fed and watered we went off to explore the city. It was an easy walk down hill to the centre around the Cathedral.

The cathedral is a bit of an amalgam of churches as it was originaly the parish church of St Mary the Virgin. This church had been built in 1826 replacing a previous church that had fallen into disrepair. There had been a church on this site for more than a thousand years, and the first stone building from Norman times. In 1926 the Diocese of Blackburn was created out of that of Manchester and the parish church was made a cathedral. This church is now actually the nave of the current building. Fund raising started and by 1938 enough was saved to start building. WWII got in the way and money was tight so plans had to be altered. The church's distinctive lantern tower was completed in 1967 but it was 1977 that the cathedral was fully finished and consecrated then.

The high altar has the corona above to represent the crown of thorns. The lantern tower is above and had to be virtually rebuilt in 1998 and further work to the roof had to be carried out in 2000/01 and it is really only after this that the Cathedral was felt to be truly completed.

At the opposite end to the altar is the 13' aluminium and black iron sculpture by John Hayward called 'Christ the Worker' and it a real focal point of the light and airy church nave.

The lantern tower can be seen from the outside. The church is home to many modern pieces of art that really gives this newest cathedral in England.

This is the old town hall and it started to be built in 1852 and was finally completed in 1856 and included assembly rooms, council chambers and offices, and also the police cells and offices until 1873.

Inside the entrance  wer a set of beautiful tiles, these representing science and labour.

A little further up the road is the museum and art gallery. Unfortunately it has very limited opening and today was not a lucky one for us. The carvings on the exterior are superb and this one seems to be concerned with science and engineering. It was one of the first purpose built free to visit museums in the country when built in 1871.

Not 100% sure what helen was gurning at but this statue of William Henry Hornby was erected in 1912 and this is the second place it has been positioned. It is not the block who started the Hornby Model Railway company but the first Mayor of Blackburn in 1951. I thought it was brand new or made of non stick plastic as it was spotlessly clean. No bird has obviously been brave enough to defile the image!

Blackburn seems to have many more modern sculptures dotted around and these on Church Street represent the growth of the cotton plant along with the growth of Blackburn.

The Old Blackburn Bank was erected at times when there were cotton riots in the town, around 1878, and it was built to show dependence and reassurance. May be that is also the reason it has a massive gate and very high windows?

Opposite the Old Bank is another modern piece called the Woven Globe that was commissioned for the Millennium and with an almost twin in Darwen nearby. The white buildings are pavilions that were built in 1835. They became dilapidated but once restored they were connected by the glassed areas and are in use once again.

The rest of our visit will have to be for another day.