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Thursday 30 November 2017

June by Bridge and Lock; part 2.

The last blog found us heading up the River Hull and half way through the thirteen bridges that span the river within the city. I was nervous about the timing of the trip as we had to be able to pass under the last bridge otherwise we would be stuck.

The next bridge we came to was also the oldest. Sculcoates Bridge was opened in 1874. The 56ft span is crossed by the cast iron girder bridge which is counterbalanced over the land side. There is the short fixed span too.

The next bridge is the only rail bridge that now crosses the River Hull. It was built to replace an earlier bridge in 1907 by the North Eastern Railway. The railway closed in 1968 but it is still in uses as a footpath and cycle way.  You can also see the British Extracting Co Limited Mill in Wilmington that was designed by well known Hull firm of architects, Gelder and Kitchen and erected in 1919. It has some nice Baroque revival details in the 6+ stories. It was built to receive grains from river and road in collecting store and then placed in the silos ready for use. The soya, flax, cotton and rape seeds came from home and abroad and the big extracting industry that started up in Hull led to other industries like paint and machinery.

This bow string Wilmington swing bridge was built for the North East Railway in 1907 and still carries freight trains that eventually connect up with the eastern docks after a circitous route round the north of Hull.

As you can see the river level is coing up and the air draft is reducing. There was plenty of room to slip under the pair of Stoneferry that were opened in 1991, replacing a swing bridge erected in 1907. Before that there was said to be a ford here. One bridge carries a carriageway each.

Apparently the machinery and control room are neo- Georgian and the Sutton Road Bridge is a Scherzer rolling or walking bridge was opened in 1939 and looks very sturdy indeed. As you can see there is still plenty of room under this bridge.

 The Ennerdal Ling bridges were built in 1997 by the same builder as the Stoneferry bridges, and hence they look similar. They were needed when a planned partly built tunnel flooded. The air draft on a rising tide is crucial here as these are the lowest we have to pass under before high water. As you can see there is less room here, and I reckon I had another 30 mins before it was getting a bit dodgy.

Once through the Ennerdale Bridges we could relax and slow down a little to try and arrive at the Beverley nearer to high water. There had to be plenty of water to get over the sill, but with just 2 ft draft I don't think we need worry about that. We made it in the sun and after a little poke about we worked out how to make everything work. We had been given the combinations of the locks on the paddle wheels and even remembered to take the pin out connecting the two inner gates.

After a few days down on the Beverley Beck, with electricity, and plenty of visitors, we decided to continue our exploration of the River Hull and see how far we could get towards the original terminus at Driffield. The first obstacle would have been the Grovehill Bridge that was opened in 1953. We would have had to leave the lock as soon as possible to fit under the bridge but luckily the barge 'Syntan' was going on a jolly up river and would need the bridge lifting so we could tag on behind. The bridge replaced a ferry bridge. The area was the site of Cook, Welton and Gemmel ship yard that built tugs and trawlers in abundance.

 Almost he last two bridges on our trip are at Tickton. The first is the foot bridge that was erected in 1976 replacing a rolling bridge built in 1913 and through the span is the Tickton by-pass road bridge that is a standard concrete bridge built in 1974.

The head of the tidal limit is at Struncheon Lock, where there is also a weir alongside. The lock was built between 1803 and 1811 to Yorkshire keel size. The lock gear requires special windlasses to work them and we had been kindly lent them by the Beverley Barge Preservation Society. The 'Syntan' winded above the lock so we were on our own from here.

 Above the lock the route become the Driffield Navigation, rather than the River Hull, and the next navigational problem is Bethell's Bridge. The original bridge was built at the same time as Struncheon Lock as the new cut and removed a series of meanders of the river, but access was still required. There is a fixed section and a swing portion. By the late 1960's lack of maintenance meant it had jammed shut, plus damage from overweight lorries. The local framers needed access and so they did the work themselves along with other members of the Driffield Navigation Amenities Association. It was restored in the late 1970's and has been maintained in working condition since, if somewhat rudimentary.

We got as far as North Frodingham Wharf as after there there is nowhere for a 58'9" boat to wind. The navigation to Driffield is all but complete. The onky stumbling block to getting our boat to the river head is the low bridge that had become fixed and presently there is a problem with the riparian owner of the area so things are on hold. At least I think that is the problem. Above is the Struncheon Hill Lock on the way back down to Beverley on the way down. It was a great trip up and Beverley is certainly work the visit.

Tuesday 28 November 2017

June by bridge and lock, part 1.

We started June having been home to Hull, the City of Culture, for a week of volunteering and attending shows. We were governed by tides and times as we were heading to tidal waters. The Stainforth and Keadby Canal passes through the flat lands of Thorne Moor and despite there being few villages there are plenty of bridges to navigate.

The canal passes through the low lying land and so in any wind it can be quite exciting as you have to tack through the landscape. There are five swing bridges between Thorne and the Godnow Bridge above. They are all electrified so it is not too bad with a crew but must be awkward on your own.  The railway line runs very close to the canal on much of the route and two of the bridges are right next to the level crossings of the railway. At Godnow Bidge and level crossing I think that the keeper is in touch with the vazon railway bridge so they have advanced notice of your arrival.

There are several passenger trains and plenty of goods trains passing over these tracks and so you inevitable have a wait until there is a suitable gap in the traffic to operate the bridge. There was originally a swing bridge here but was replaced by this sliding bridge in 1925. It is pulled to the side by wires and was originally operated by battery. The original bridge was replaced once again in 2004 and is mains electrically operated and actualy opens the lines at an angle. The batteries are retained as a back up.

We had a couple of days to wait before it was our turn to head out of Keadby Lock. We had been to see the lock keeper and he had done his best to put us off our course of action but I just told him that if the worst came to the worst we would head back to him. As the River Trent is tidal there are two sets of outer gates one to keep the canal water in and one facing the other was to keep the high tides of the river out of the canal. To further complicate things there is a road bridge over the tail of the lock too. Our aim was to descend down the River Trent to it's junction with the River Ouse at Trent Falls, and where it becomes the Humber. We had to leave on a rising tide and push in to the current to have any chance of getting to Hull in time. The last words of the Lock keeper was that we were the first narrow boat he could remember that had turned left out of the lock, rather than right!

The weather turned out to be not quite as we had hoped it would be. There was supposed to sunny periods and little wind. It was overcast with drizzly showers and the wind was a little stronger than we had hoped too. The trip against the tide went as planned and we made the expected speeds. By Burton Stather the tide had changed and the speed picked up, but not quite as much as I had planned for! We had friends on the foreshore at Hessle, seen under the other end of the bridge in the photo above. I was worried about not having enough water to be allowed in the lock at Hull Marina so I was cutting all the corners I could to shave off a bit of time. As it was a falling tide I had to be a little careful

I called the Marina regularly with up dates as to our ETA and they said that there would be water enough for us at 3 hr 40 mins after HW. The published lock times for the marina must be for large vessels or with a keel. As we have only a 2 ft draft we were able to sneak in. Above you can see the lock is open and that there is plenty of mud showing in the outer basin. The first problem however was to get in the basin. We swung round head to tide a bit before the entrance so as we would drift down to the entrance rather than have to push against the current. You can see the push of the tide on the steel pier. It was then just a matter of angling the bow across the tide to edge further in and then out of the run of the current that can be up to six knots.

 We safely negotiated the entrance and were soon secure in the lock with ropes to the vertical risers along the lock wall. The lock is of the sector gate type where they provide the greatest range of tidal openings rather than having a permanent fixed sill and require enough water to support the gates. The sector gates rotate and 'crack' the seal to allow water in/out of the lock. The photo looks like there is a torrent but the keeper was very gentle with us. We were soon making a level with the marina and released to find our way to the allocated pontoon. Off the river the wind had dropped and the temperature risen adding to the joy of a safe arrival.

After a week or so in the marina it was time to move on. After some lovely weather the sun went to hide and it was a wet departure. The conundrum on departure was how soon we could escape the lock as we had to make a passage up the River Hull early enough so as there was sufficient water and not too much water so that we wouldn't fit under the many bridges. Just as we left the lock the heavens opened. Here we are clearing the lock, but still in the outer basin.

Next to the Marina entrance is the pier where the former paddle steamers that were the link between the Lincolnshire side of the Humber at New Holland and Hull. The entrance to the River Hull is at Sammy's Point where ships were once built but now The Deep 'submarium' sits. Straight away there are two bridges, three if you add the tidal barrier in. They are the footbridge between the Deep and the Fruit Market area (Millennium Bridge), the Tidal Barrier and the Garrison Road bridge. Bringing seagoing ships in to the Old Harbour was always 'interesting' as the tide pushes you in, there isn't much water between the banks, and a wrong move means that you are stuck, and the road bridge operators, that can be seen in the distance, do not want to open until the very last minute to save holding up the traffic. With the tide up your chuff there is little chance to stop and stay off the mud!

The next bridge is the newest, Scale Lane pedestrian Bridge which is the only bridge in the country that you can ride on when it opens and closes. As we passed the 'Arctic Corsair', the last Hull registered 'side winder' trawler, that is moored outside the Street Life Museum, the heavens opened for a short period, and then that was that for an increasingly sunny cruise up the \river Hull. The next bridge to come to is the Drypool Bridge that has been painted especially for the year of the City of Culture and to honour a man of Hull John Venn who was the man who 'invented' the Venn diagram. His father had been an evangelical vicar and worked with mission churches and grandfather who worked with William Wilberforce. It is a Scherzer rolling bridge. On the left are converted warehouses from the 1700's.

The next bridge is North Bridge. This was the first bridge that was outside the walls of the old town and clear of the citadel and garrison on the east (right) bank of the river. This bridge replaced another in 1928 and is another Scherzer 'walking' bridge. My Mum was born just a few yards to the right of the bridge. The site of the old bridge can be seen just before the present bridge.

The river was a busy thoroughfare for ships until about the 1970's, and the breadth would be full of barges bringing cargoes from the hinterland and transshipped from the big ships in the docks. There were many animal feed and seed crushing factories along the waterway as well as tanneries and other businesses. You can still see some of the old warehouses and mills from the water that aren't really apparent from the roads. The Scott Street double bascule bridge that was opened in 1901. It is now kept open, since 1994 as it is too weak to take traffic. It would be great to have it reopened for pedestrians at least.

We vare just about halfway through the built up area and still have six bridges to negotiate. As you can see the tide is still low but the mud is covered so we have no worries depth wise. The big worry for me was that the last bridge is actually the lowest and if we didn't get there early enough to pass under it we would be stuck until a falling tide and then may not get in the lock and off the river at Beverley Beck.

Thursday 23 November 2017

May 2017, by bridge and lock. Part 2.

From Sowerby Bridge we continued down the Calder and Hebble and to what we were led to believe was the shortest lock we would encounter on our trips round the system.

'Holderness' is 58'10" long and we had never been down the Salterhebble Locks in her. I think the middle lock is supposed to be the shortest lock and as we drained the top lock ready for our decent I did wonder about taking the front and bow fenders off, but didn't. As we lowered down with the boat in the lock it became evident that we did fit, just, but to make things easier I loosed the stern fender. The big problem came when we got down to below the cill. The bottom of the gate was leaking badly and as we had nowhere to go and the water was pouring in the aft deck. By the time I had managed to kick the bow round the one gate to open and then leave the engine hole was  quite full. I think that if I came this way again I would perhaps come down the lock stern first as there is plenty of room to turn before the second lock. The two locks were a staircase at one time.

The bottom lock of Salterhebble is another one with a guillotine bottom gate and luckily it is electified. Even more luckily the C&RT carpenter was busy replacing a foot board on the top gates so said he would close up afterwards so we were speedily through and non the worse for wear from our experience.

The River Calder accompanies the canal closely at this point, and indeed a canal bridge was washed away. At Brookfoot Lock the scene is quite picturesque with a lock, a keepers, or toll house and nice stone bridge. To the extreme left of the photo is another lock that used to pen down into the River Calder itself. The canal cut was dug between 1805 and 1808 so the lock must have been constructed then. The Navigation sought to 'abandon' the river sections in 1834 so maybe that was when it was closed.

To the west of Wakefield is Thornes Lock. In the photo above you can see that there is an abandoned lock to the left and a newer, larger lock to the right. The new lock was opened in 1838. In 1834 the Aire and Calder Navigation was enlarging their locks  to 70' length and there was pressure from The Huddersfield and Rochdale Canals for the Calder and Hebble to do the same. Only a few were enlarged before they ran out of steam. The old lock was retained during the construction to allow traffic to continue to flow. 

This Fall Ings Lock dates from 1806 when the Calder and Hebble, jointly with the Aire and Calder, built the cut that by past the Wakefield weir. Previously the terminus of the Aire and Calder was on the opposite bank and ended in a basin. The terminus of the Aire and Calder was on the river above the weir where there are still warehouses.

Now working along the Aire and Calder we soon entered the Broadreach Cut that is dead straight for over a mile and at the northern end is the Stanley Ferry Aqueducts. In the photo to the left is the basin that was Lofthouse Colliery Basin where Tom Puddings were loaded until 1924. Then old tank barges were used to store oils in for distribution until  the 1960's when  T. Fletcher and Sons took it over for their barge business. The stone building is is an original toll office, complete with columns. The bridge is the trough suspension bridge that was designed and built by George Leather and opened in 1839. Mining subsidence meant it was due to be demolished once replaced with a new one opened in 1981 but it has since been refurbished and is now also open.

Just before the Castleford Flood lock the rivers Aire and Calder merge to become one larger Aire. This is not strictly a canal bridge but I love it with the conveniently stranded remains of the barge below and the largest stone ground flour mill in its time next to the bridge. Queen's Mill, formerly known as Allinson's Mill had 20 stones, steel and timber bridge was opened in 2008 as part of a regeneration scheme.

At the othger end of the Castleford Cut is Bulholme Lock back down on to the Aire, seen here from a hill of colliery waste at Fairburn Ings nature reserve that has been formed out of the waste heaps. The bridge is the railway that brought the trains of waste wagons to dumb there. We were watching cuckoos flitting backwards and forwards as we walked around here. 

The locks on the Aire and Calder are huge and can take the 700 t tanker barges that still occasional pass. Luckily they are all automated with a push button pedestal at either end. When commercial craft are a round a lock keeper works them through. The yellow signs on the end of each gate make it easy for the barges to see whether the gates are open or closed. Also the 'paddle gear' has indicators on the arm so that you can see in what position they are in. This is Whitley Lock with the M62 in the background.

This is Pollington swing bridge which is left open. This is below the bridge and lock and gives access for farm vehicles etc. As you can see it is worked by hand by a chain round a capstan. A good chance to practice your sea shanties.

This must be the largest lock on the entire system as it looks bigger than that at Sharpness, but I may be wrong there. The daimensions are 80' x 375' (24.38m x 114.3m). It is Ocean Lock at Goole that is the eastern terminus of the Aire and Calder Navigation and gives access out on to the River Ouse. It was opened in 1938 and the public right of way passes over it.

Again not strictly a bridge but an aqueduct. It spans the River Went that about a mile further east joins the tidal Dutch River that was built by Vermuyden in the 1620's to ensure a proper draining of the land through just one outlet of the river Don. In the past the River Went was part of two schemes to create anew waterway, but each time the Aire and Calder Co were able to out maneuver the bid by updating their own navigation. It is a great place to moor for a while as there is no road access and is nice and quiet, except for the gun club not too far away, and the large tanker barges that  turn down the New Junction canal on the way to and from Rotherham.

Monday 20 November 2017

May 2017 by bridge and Lock, part 1.

At the end of April we had left the boat in New Islington Marina in Manchester, and we were pleased to see that she was safe and sound when we got back after a few days at home. Perhaps we should have had a bit of a rest whilst at home, but as always when we are home, we filled the time completely. We may have needed the rest as we were now setting out over the Rochdale Canal.

After turning right out of the marina there is a length of canal and locks that are hemmed in by mills and buildings, but after a while the canal seeks the daylight and it is found when the canal seems to pass through a park. I think this is more due to the buildings being knocked down around the canal, but luckily the 1869 to 1873 built Victoria Mill was saved and stands still majestically over the flight of the Coalpit locks

The Rochdale locks are wide beam and seem to be rather heavy. Everybody seems to say that once leaving New Islington you should not contemplate mooring and leaving your boat until you have reached Chadderton, a long 17 or 18 locks further on. To be honest we didn't really see anywhere that we would have stopped until well after Failsworth. We think that often the advice as 'never' to moor in a place is largely spread by word of mouth after an event and mainly not by folk who have experienced any problems themselves. I think you can use your own common sense on where to moor, and by ruling certain locations out you will miss a fair bit of what the canals have to offer. Just after Coalpits locks we came to this bridge with loads of school kids loitering. It makes you very suspicious but in actual fact they were quite chatty, but did not wish to help out with pushing a beam.

We moored that night just before the River Irk aqueduct and the next day, in the beautiful sun, we realised that we had left the Manchester conurbation largely behind. The setting of Walkmill lock is lovely but in 1927 there was a breach in the canal by the aqueduct and millions of gallons of water flooded down the valley and three people were drowned. A little further south in 2005 another breach occured but nobody was lost that time. There was a fulling mill by the lock that was called The Walk Mill that was used to finish the woolen cloth that was hand weaved in the area. I believe a walk mill was one that was driven by a horse going round and round rather than a water wheel.

This is the bridge at Walk Mill Lock with Helen just bringing 'Holderness' in to the chamber, the first of what could have been another 15 or 16 lock day, but we decided to stop after just 10 and go for a walk up into the hills. It is always better in the sun rather than in the cold and rain. I love these stone bridges that show the workmanship of a past age and the materials that were just standard in those days and now are almost classed as luxury.

Helen is just bringing 'Holderness' in to the Laneside or Slattocks top lock and doing the shuttle with the only moving boat we passed all day. I think the sheave on the bridge parapet was to loop the tow line round so that the horse can pull the boat into the lock by heading back the way it has come. (Am I right?). As the boat would never get enough speed up in the short pound after leaving the last lock the boat would need assistance to get it into the lock. Would this have been quicker than hand balling it into the lock?

We are now back in Yorkshire, so everything is right with the world. The sun was shinning and the scenery is spectacular. We stopped for a couple of days at Littleborough and had a very nice day out in Rochdale before making for the summit and staying for the night just after the summit pound that we thought may be prone to draining over night. It was strange to be going down hill again after our climb to the summit.

As you approach Walsden the canal opens up and seems as though you are on a navigable river once again. I'm not sure just how much you can stray of the line but there is a winding hole here. I expect that it was a way to have a ready supply of water to supplement the reservoirs for this lock heavy canal. the In a couple of locks time there was a dry pound and we had to wait for the C&RT lads to come and sort out. We were right outside Pollard's Chippy, but it was closed!!!

As the canal approaches Todmorden the valley sides close in a fair bit and the railway crosses, and re-crosses the canal. Why would they have built a bridge like this? Why would they have such aesthetic ideas as this in the past, and put their money where their mouth was, rather than just build a less pleasing bridge that would be cheaper. I suppose it was to generate a sense that the company was powerful etc. Much like a present day company would build a very grand headquarters building. One has to remember that the canals were built by private company's. These days infrastructure is built by Government agencies and they have to justify the spending of tax payers money.

The last hurdle to entering Todmorden is the Library Lock. The bottom gate is a guillotine gate. The good thing is that this one is electrified, unlike the one on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal near Slaithwaite that takes so many turns you continually need to check that it is still moving. I think that I have only worked that lock in the rain too!

As we got close to Hebden Bridge we passed through Rawden Mill Lock. In the floods of a few years ago the flood waters were right up from the river Calder next to the canal, over the canal and up to the bridge level. The tow path cum back had only recently been refurbished and the canal opened by the time we arrived.

The Calder Valleu opens up after Hebden Bridge and the wooded hill after Mytholmroyd. The strange name is said to stem from the Old English Myth that means river mouth and Royd that means field or clearing. No kidding but the canal in this section does remind of sections of the Thames!

This is a lovely, typical Yorkshire, canal scene with the stone cottages and bridges seem to just be part of the natural landscape and blend in and look as if they have always been there.

We had a night in Sowerby Bridge as Tuel Lane lock has limited opening times as it is the deepest on the system as it is 19' 81/2". We couldn't have progressed any further as there was no water in the pound under the road bridge. There is now a Weatherspoon's just by the lock so not too far to go for a drink after a walk round the town. Sowerby Bridge is also where the Rochdale Canal ends and we descend on to the Calder and Hebble Navigation as we continue our journey east.

Sunday 12 November 2017

A very dangerous occurrence.

We have popped up to the boat this weekend. We arrived about lunch time on Saturday. Everything seemed fine and as we let it. There were a few leaves on the back deck but otherwise everything looked okay. I turned everything on and set the heating going and lit the fire to get the chill out of the boat, and after a bite to eat I set to to wash the side of the boat by the pontoon. The pontoons at fettler's Wharf are fully 60' so it was easy enough. By the time I had finished it was almost fully dark and I just had time to put the TV aerial up ready for the normal Saturday fare.

This morning, Sunday, being Remembrance Sunday, meant that The Archers was on earlier than normal so we had breakfast and listened to that before venturing out side to start the polishing of the pontoon side and the bow and stern. The boat was painted over last winter and I was advised not to polish the boat until the paint had had a good chance to harden, but just wash it normally. However it was best to get some polish on the paint before the winter set in for protection.

After The Archers Helen went off to get the Sunday Papers and other bits and pieces and I set too with the polish on the port side. I had sent for some Carnauba Wax polish from Craftmaster and due to one thing and another it didn't arrive as stated. Eventually it did, and they had sent a bottle of carnauba wash as an apology. I  had used it to wash the boat the previous day. When Helen got back she helped with the rubbing off. It didn't take too long at all and by the time we had finished there was enough time for me to wash the st'bd side of the boat from the gunwale. The Craftmaster wash makes loads of bubbles that are hard to get rid off unless you have a hose so I put less than stated on the bottle. I must say that is did seem as though a coating was left after a rinse and a dry with a leather. Once I had completed that it was lunch time and time for the paintwork to dry off.

After eating lunch I let Helen off further polishing as there is not really room for two of us. Helen took advantage to have a little sit and a read of the newspapers and some crocheting.

Macy the Cat seems to like being on the boat as she was meowing and settling in. She does need to get used to a reversed lifestyle as she is out all night at home, and we keep her in during the night on the boat. We are sure that she is pleased when we get here, but she isn't too keen on the travelling backwards and forwards.

Skye, the budgie doesn't seem to mind where she is as she doesn't seem to to do much where ever she is, but it is nice to hear her tweeting away and making telephone noises etc.

I must say that I am impressed with the Craftmaster wax polish. It is easy to apply and while not leaving great heavy deposits on the paint you can see where you have been when it drys a little. It comes off nicely without excessive rubbing and the shine appears to be deep and lustrous. As can be seen on the our port side.

I removed everything from the roof and gave it all a good wash. I'm not sure whether it is prudent to polish the roof but I did, mainly to give it some protection over the winter and make it easier to clean later. The shine looks wonderful.

On our back deck the black paint has polished up really well as can be seen by the reflection of the leaves on the deck in the paint.

Whilst I was polishing the boat a dangerous occurrence happened that could have disastrous consequence in the future. I am in mortal danger of becoming a certified boat polisher!! Yes I admit it I enjoyed myself and to see the results of the work was very satisfying. I will have to do my very best not to be sucked in by this habit that could destroy our lives on the boat together if I am wanting to wash and polish at every turn and I get worried about passing through locks and past bushes etc. The sight of beading water on a freshly polished boat could well be intoxicating enough to trap me in the lifestyle. Helen will have to use many and varied distraction techniques to stop me getting addicted to the smell of polish on a microcloth and the grin in the shine of paint work. I'm sure I will be able to wean myself off it for the next few months, but what about the next time I have to polish the boat? Will it tip me over the edge and I will be joining the shiny boat brigade?!!