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Wednesday 30 December 2020

Forgotten Freight can be found.

After Hazelford Lock we continued up the Trent towards Nottingham.. The trip is fun, but with few places to stop. 

It was a lovely day to be on the river and there were the usual number of fishermen chancing their arms. I an always struck by how much gear they have with them to catch fish. Those critters must be mighty clever.

We shared Gunthorpe Lock with a boat who had left Hazelford a little after of us but were taking their time.

Stoke lock looked nice and quiet but we were heading further on. The lock keepers were all very chatty and helpful and pass on your ETA to the next lock after confirming that you are going onward.

Just through the Radcliffe railway viaduct is this wharf that was next to an aggregates quarry. It looks as though it has been used fairly recently and there has been a wharf here since the 1950's though.

In the 1930's Colwich became the site of the development of an industrial estate. Russian Oil Products ROP was a company that was set up in 1924 to market oil produced in the oil fields of the then Russian Baku and Grozny oil fields. They set up a depot here in 1930 and had four of their own barges delivering fuel there from the Humber. No petrol was brought into Nottingham via the Trent in 1928 but they had a 700% increase on their 1929 figure. The company was thought by the UK Government to be a vehicle to bring spies etc into the country and indeed two directors were expelled from the country in 1929. However they were granted equal access to the markets in the 1930's. 

The oil depots at Colwich, below Holm's Lock in the 1960's

By the 1960's there were 5 jetties on this one site. You can tell it was an oil jetty as there is a little derrick which was used to heave the oil pipeline up to the manifold on the jetty. ROP laso had a small depot at Althorpe, near Keadby Bridge and the Keadby and Stainforth Canal lock until the 1950's. They also had a depot at Blisworth, right next to the Marina at Gayton, on the Grand Union that was supplied via the canal. Another company that had a depot in Colwich was the Power Petrol Company that was set up in 1923 and also marketed Russian oil, and they also had their own boats for the work. Nottingham also had depots for  Shell-Mex and BP but they used the vessels of Harkers, Whitakers or Cory's. ROP and Power became quite large against the others as they were undercutting their prices by a couple pence as the market was growing. There were another couple of jetties a little further up river and I'm not sure if this was the Shell-Mex/BP terminal and the ROP and Power shared the other one.

Very nice posters from the two Russian oil marketing companies.

A little further towards Holme's Lock was this wharf that was set up to service a concrete products factory after WWII but doesn't look like it has been used since around the 1970's.

We went up through Holme's Lock and moored above. This is next the Holmes Pierre Point Water Sports Centre and you have a first hand view of the white water rafting course. We decided to take a stroll round the long rowing lake on a lovely afternoon.

The next day it was gloomy and with a hint of drizzle in the air for our arrival in Nottingham. before arriving at Meadow Lane Lock we passed the old Trent Basin. In 1922 Nottingham Corporation took control of the river from the Trent Navigation company and set about improving/enlarging the locks between 1922 and 1926. The last one to be finished was Hazelford that was reopened by Neville Chamberlain. In 1928 they started on the Trent Basin terminal. By 1933 there was the basin with 6 foot of water at summer river levels with No.2 warehouse. On the river front was No.1 warehouse. there were also

This is Trent Basin in the 1960's with railway lines down each side of the basin and lots of transit sheds to the west. Just to the west of this plan is a terminal that was built in 1930's for Anglo American Company oil products. The basin buildings were demolished in 2012 and now is the site of a housing project that is supposed to be using all green technology including battery storage that will see all power produced on site being used on site and excess sold to the grid and profits split between the property owners.

We went up the Meadow Lane Lock that had been closed due to it being caved in and on to the remainder of the Nottingham Canal. Just up from the lock on the River Trent are some more warehouses that also belonged the Trent Navigation Company/Nottingham Corporation. For some reason no boats seem to moor in the city centre. It is a little gloomy being overshadowed by tall buildings but parts seem quiet enough. On the right is a warehouse that  backs on to a road called Ironstone Wharf was owned by the Nottingham Canal Co. and was for grain storage. It seems to still have some industrial application. On the right the new properties have been built on on goods yards for the railway.

This area was known as Island Wharf and until 1818 had a warehouse of the Nottingham Boat Company there. In September of that year a narrow boat was loading and had 21 barrels of gunpowder pound for the quarries at Cromford, via the canal. The explosion completely demolished the warehouse and killed 8 men and two boys who were fishing nearby. The Fellows, Morton and Clayton Warehouse was built in 1895 with covered moorings to work the boats. On the road side are some lovely offices that acted as the company's coal carrying offices. Both buildings are part of a pub/brewery complex and are Grade II Listed.

Just a little further on is the British Waterways warehouse that was built in 1919 but is now flats. The area of Island Wharf is now known as Castle Wharf.

Non oil products were usually transported via the river and canals towed by a tug of the various companies that normally towed three barges behind them. The first to be dropped off would be the last in the tow. The dumb barges were manned and they slipped their tow as they approached their berth and had to momentum, wind and current to get alongside, or drop the anchor and get ashore with a line in the coggy boat to heave themselves in. When bound for the canal they would get a tow up the canal with a horse and try to man haul of pole back to the river. Trade was immense at one time on the Trent. In 1931 there had been an 8 fold increase to 117,449 tons. By 1935 there were 200 vessels trading regularly from the Humber to Nottingham. WWII saw a drop in trade but by 1953 it had reached 727,600 tons, half of which was oil products. By 1964 it had topped a million tons and 1974 dropped to 455,500 tons, 1984 300,000 and even in 1994 it was still 170,000. I wonder if it will start to rise again in an attempt to same the CO2 production etc.

Tuesday 22 December 2020

Goings on in Farndon and Fiskerton.

 After spending the night outside Cromwell Lock we penned up at 0800 and had breakfast whilst filling with water. We then set off for Newark.

There was plenty of room for all of us in Cromwell Lock. The Lock Keeper looking forward to another busy day.

After passing under the A1 you come to the Newark Branch. The Trent proper runs off to the left. At one time the Newark Cut was administered separately to the rest of the River Trent which couldn't have made things too easy.

We weren't lucky to find a space on the pontoon but the wall opposite the castle remains was free and so we could line our stern up with a ladder which made it easy getting on and off the boat.

Helen and Amy admiring the lovely narrow boat moored opposite the castle curtain wall. It does look good, from a certain distance at least! We had a nice day in Newark with Amy, and our tea at the Prince Rupert before seeing Amy off to the train for her very cheap trip back to Hull. It had been great having her and her assistance with the locks was much appreciated.

When we left the Chesterfield Canal we had heard that the Meadow Lane Lock had been closed due to some idiot trying to use it as a dry dock. As it was to be closed for several weeks, and as Newark was getting close to lock down status we decided to see if we could book into Castle Marina here in Newark as we had to be home for a week anyway. They accommodated us thankfully, but as we had a couple of days before we would enter we shoy off up river the next day. This is the entrance to Farndon Marina with the cruiser that has the wheelhouse that pivots down behind the boat for low bridges.

I'm sure that there are supposed to be visitor moorings on one of the pontoons at Fiskerton, but I reckon the locals must hide the signs as I have never spotted them. We went on and moored on the wall below the lock at Hazelford and had a very pleasant walk into Fiskerton and round the mill and back.

The evening on the Nabbs lock island was lovely and peaceful and is always like having the place to your self. The next day we returned to Newark and found our spot in the marina and then we were off home and didn't return for a month.

This blogs historical content has tenuous boating links but I thought that it was so interesting that it could have been about the present.

In Farndon there lived a man named Henry Lamb. He was a butcher at first but prospered and went on to become a farmer and grazier. As far as I can tell he had several children Thomas junior, John, Charles, William Susan and Charlotte. I'm not 100% sure of all theses relationships, but John was later working in the butchers shops, the girls seemed to marry well and all seemed well, except for Henry Jnr. I am thinking he was a bit of the black sheep of the family. In 1809 he was packed off to Manchester to be apprenticed to his uncle William Lamb as a chemist and druggist. The business was in Hanging Ditch which was a water course close to the Cathedral that is now culverted. In the basement of the Cathedral Centre ar the remains of the 1421 Hanging Ditch Bridge. After he had served his time he went into partnership with him until William died about 1815 and Henry took over. He later seemed to move away from the work as a druggist and into the manufacture of blacking paste that was sold as a waterproof boot and leather polish. He moved the business soon afterwards back to Farndon.

In December 1818 a case came to court, The King v Henry Cope, a grocer from Leeds. It was regarding the selling of counterfeit goods. The local customs and Excise man related to the court a visit to the wharf in Leeds where the 'Swift' was moored. Whether he they had been tipped off, or something else alerted them he was interested in a hogs head barrel that was marked as blacking. They broke it open and found many paper wrapped parcels and these turned out to be fake coffee, tea and tobacco. They then raided the shop and warehouse of the consignee, Henry Cope, and found many more parcels of the same items, along with invoices. The main witness was one John Proctor who told the court that he had worked for William and then Henry Lamb for several years including the move to Farndon. He moved to Fiskerton in 1817. He was able to describe to the court how these items were made, and may be of interest to foragers and home

To make fake black tea white thorn leaves are used. They are soaked in a solution of potash. when drained they are then soaked in a solution of cooperas which is iron sulphite that comes from iron pyrite. This gives the correct colour. It is then once more drained and dried in a kiln before being sold on. The leaves were collected locally by a couple of women and about four children. They were paid 31/2d per pound. John Proctor retold that there had been batches of about 2 hundredweight of white thorn leaves at a time.

To make green tea the leaves of the shumac tree are used and scorched in a cylinder before being coloured with 'Dutch Pink' and Prussian blue. The dye Dutch pink comes from the berries of the Buckthorn tree and gives a yellow dye. Prussian blue was the first man made pigment in the 1700's and gives a blue colour and was how blue prints got the name. It is today used as an antidote to heavy metal and radioactive poisoning. Mixing the two dyes gives the correct green colour and the right bloom on the leaves. Henry Lamb dealt in a round a ton of shumac leaves in the past 18 months we are told.

Fake coffee is made by roasting rye grains in a cylinder to prevent burning and mixed with a little real coffee. in the last 18 months we hear that 2 to 3 tons of this had been sold.

Tobacco was another lucrative fake commodity where safflowers or wild saffron. Safflower is a thistle like plant that was cultivated for its seeds to produce oil, and can also be used as a fake saffron. ( This goes on today). It is soaked in a potash solution to remove the colour and then pressed. It is then soaked again in a solution of cooperas, pressed and dried. Once sifted and cleaned it passes as tobacco. One to two tons had been made in the past 18 months.

The steeping was carried out at Farndon and the drying at Fiskerton. Proctor had no qualms about working in the trade as he said he didn't put the stuff in anybody's mouths. It seems that there was a middle man called Mr. Eyre's who acted as agent for Henry Lamb's Boot Blacking sales and the fake goods on the side. He was known to threaten people with telling the excise if they didn't pay on time. Henry Cope pleaded guilty and was already in prison as a debtor.During the raid they found receipts that were coded as L.E.H. for tobacco that was purchased by Cope at 2s/lb, and C.F.E. for coffee at 9d/lb.

All this time Henry Lamb had been advertising his blacking paste in the newspapers and stating that each jar should be checked to make sure it was signed by Henry Lamb to ensure it was genuine!! He also advertised the Mr. Eyre was officially acting as his agent and listed outlets in Yorkshire, Lancashire, Cumbria, Lincolnshire and Eastern England and Midlands where it could be bought for 6s or 1s sizes. Obviously doing good business.
 I can find no record of Henry Lamb or Mr. Eyres being taken to court, and indeed the boot blacking was still being advertised as late as February 1821, but for a short time in November 1820 it was under the name of William Wright, although still called Henry Lamb's blacking.

Henry Cope was fined £1120 for fake tea, £100 for fake coffee and £200 for the counterfeit tobacco, £1420 which would be around £122,500 today, and the bloke was already in prison! To me this could be a story of today, maybe drugs and county lines and lorry consignments etc. Please forgive my indulgence by adding this tenuous boating story to my blog.

May I wish all my readers the best Christmas they can possibly have,
and we will all lock forward in the New Year to being able to choose how we want the new world to look. Cheers!!

Monday 14 December 2020

The trip took its Toll.

 We were due to leave on the afternoon tide and had got to West Stockwith as we had booked our lunch at the White Hart where we had a lovely meal and a pint of their own beer.

On our way back to the boat we had a walk to the lock and saw the river was still falling. We were booked out at 14:30. In the photo you can see the winch that was used to assist the sailing keeps etc into the lock against the tide.

We were on our way on schedule and seemed to be soon at Morton Bight. There is a large bend in the river and it was quite fearsome to arrive here on a seagoing vessel with a good tide boiling up. As you turn the bend the tide is pushing you on to the bank. Very decent of them to concrete the wall to ensure maximum damage if you got it wrong! Not that it happened often, and not to us this day.

We were soon passing through Gainsborough and under the bridge. The pilotage district finishes on the far side of the bridge for some reason. The bridge was completed in 1791 and was then the only bridge down stream of Newark. It was a toll Bridge, but in 1927 it was purchased for £130,000 by the local councils and made free in 1932.

As we passed Torksey Cut and the lock we could see there were a few boats waiting for the tide to go on the Witham or up to Keadby.

We were soon at Dunham Bridge.The building of a bridge here was first mooted in 1792 but nothing happened. Once more in 1812 but it wasn't until 1829 that things really got started and by the middle of 1830 a bill had passed through Parliament and had got Royal Assent and the work went out to tender. It was won by T. Booth of Sheffield Park. It was 110' span  with 4 cast iron arches. The Civil Engineer was George Leather Jnr. was the Consulting Civil Engineer. The foundation stone was to be laid at the start of March 1831 but high water and strong currents flooded the casement and it had to be delayed until the end of the month. The Dunham Bridge Company was set up with £14,250 already raised to obtain further funds shares were sold at £50 each. 129 were sold in the end. The bridge opened for pedestrians in early April 1832 and a little ahead of schedule for other users on 21st April. Foot passengers were charged 1d for there and back in 12 hours.

Dunham Old Bridge

Part of the deal to set up the Bridge Company and to obtain Parliamentary approval was that the ferry had to bought out. The ferry man was David Laing and he worked a large ferry, called a Wain, or wagon boat and a large horse boat as well as a smaller horse boat. In 1820 they were still feeling secure so they had new Wain and small horse craft built, and their large horse boat refurbished. The old wain and small horse boat were for sale. The tolls were let at auction after a couple of years. In 1833 the tolls amounted to £362. They were auctioned for three years at a time It appeared that the venture did not bring riches as no dividends were paid on the shares, but it did revive the Dunham Market and it is interesting to see that in September 1848 there was 6 to 8 tons of Trent side cheese for sale fetching 50s to 59s per cwt (hundredweight).

It wasn't until the the coming of the motor car that the Dunham Bridge really started making money for the investors. £50 shares were changing hands for 10s in 1858 but by 1926 they were valued at £1000! The bridge has been inaccessible many times over the years but only because the roads leading to it have been covered in water to several feet deep in 1852 meant that a herd of cattle were kept on the bridge and feed there as the ony dry land they could reach. In 1936 the Lincolnshire buses instituted a boat on each side during floods. Passengers transferred to a boat from the road to take them to the bridge that they crossed on foot to another boat that took them to the the bus on the other side. That's what you call service.

In the above picture is the modern bridge that was completed in 1979. It was built on the old piers though, much reducing the costs I suppose. Whilst this bridge was being built a temporary Bailey bridge was erected between the two bridges present. Over the years, since the popular use of the motor car there have been calls for the authorities to buy out the bridge and make it toll free. In 1928 this happened to Gunthorpe Bridge and in 1932 Gainsborough Bridge (Town Bridge) became toll free after being purchased by the local authorities in 1927. In 1950 the Ministry of Transport confirmed that they had no money to assist the local authorities and local town councils to purchase the bridge, that would have been making a lot of money at that time. In 1994 the Dunham Bridge Company were confident enough to build new toll booths doubling the number of lanes to four, reducing queues. The last toll rise was in 2013 when the cost of a car crossing was 40p (8s). In 1922 the price was reduced from 2s to 1s as the bridge was making embarrassing amounts of money. In 1899 a one horse carriage was 1s3d, two horse 2s and the newly arrived motor car was 4s. The current bridge is penciled in to be replaced in 2078 and at current costs should be around £70 million!

The water main bridge with the old arches of the first Dunham bridge behind.

The more impressive bridge behind the modern road bridge was completed in 1910 and carries 4 x 21" water pipelines from the boreholes near Elkersely, south of Retford, the 23 miles to Lincoln.

By the time we reached Cromwell Lock the keeper and had long gone and it was just getting dark. I had called him to say we wouldn't make it before he logged off, we just spent the night on the jetty below the lock and penned up with two other cruisers who were waiting below too.

Sunday 6 December 2020

That Sunken Feeling.

 The Chesterfield Canal is a really beautiful especially after Shireoaks. The visitor mooring used to be inside the basin but now they are outside. You still have to enter to obtain water etc, but there is a gate for use of the showers/rubbish etc. Quite a nice spot for permanent moorings I would think.

Last time we were this way they were still building Dawn. It is a cuckoo boat that was built here in the basin by enthusiasts using the old techniques. A cuckoo was the type used on the Chesterfield canal only, but were suitable for plying their trade on the Trent and to Lincoln using a sail. There are no original boats left although I think there is a much shortened one around and I also think they have found the remains of one buried on the other side of Norwood Tunnel.

There are 23 locks from Shireoaks to the summit pound, 8 before the picturesque Turnerwood Basin. The ice cream shop/cafe wasn't open due to COVID but we stopped for a cup of tea anyway. All the locks may explain why right from the beginning there was a shortage of water at the summit. The canal was built with just Pebley Reservoir serving the Norwood summit, but by 1786 they realised they needed to increase the water supply and put out to tender the work to construct a new reservoir in April 1786. After setting off again from Turnerwood Basin you get a nice warm up with the two Turnerwood locks that go round a shall bend and the come to Brown's Lock where you get a view up the hill where there are another 16 locks in less than a mile.

There are double locks at Turnerwood Doubles and Brickyard locks. Here we are about half to the summit at the start of the first set of trebles, Thorpe Low treble. The tow path is well used so there is always somebody to have a chat with, at a distance obviously, and the scenery is just lovely. The locks are nicely spaced so it is easy to walk backwards and forwards, but as there was three of us it was even easier

The water of the summit is shallow and the weeds are encroaching into the channel, but when there is such little traffic it is hardly surprising. The occasional glimpses of hills and fields through the trees just spice up the summit pound.

Before arriving at Kiveton Park and Dog Kennel Bridge is the wharf where the stone that was used on the Houses of Parliament were loaded into narrow boats to start their journey to London. I think the crenelations on the wall are where the beams were secured to slide the stone across the tow path to the boats. 

Unfortunately there is no winding hoe at the eastern portal of the Norwood Tunnel and to turn you have to utilise the area where the feeder from Harthill Reservoir drops down into the canal. Still more water was required and, the contract for constructing it was let out in April 1796. Even with further capacity by October 1844 there were severe shortages of water at the summit and consequently right down the canal, causing big delays to vessels.

These are the visitor moorings between Kiveton and the tunnel. In 1846 the railways had an idea to builder over much of the canal. Luckily a rival route came along and the two combined and the canal was saved. However it was bought and a new company formed snappily called the Manchester & Lincoln Union Railway & Chesterfield & Gainsborough Canal Co. For a time they invested money and repaired defects and also installed more reservoirs for the summit feeders. Still they were worried about the loss of water and canal officials were known to take boatmen to court if they were found to be drawing the paddles before the gates were closed behind them. In 1852 the canal had been blocked for a while and a Judge at Worksop warned that there was plenty of petty cases caused by construction worker on the railway nearby and by boatmen who have no work to do so were getting up to mischief!

We walked up to the eastern portal of the 13/4 mile Norwood Tunnel. You can just see the archof the entrance where the red bricks are. There is a brick missing to allow bats in and out. By 1886 there was such subsidence due to mining below the tunnel that the headroom was greatly reduced. A petition was sent to the Board of Trade after failing to get any action from the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway, owners of the canal. Part of the evidence was that a boat had been stuck in the tunnel 36 hours in considerable danger with his two boats of lime. Another said they were stuck for 12 hours and couldn't get to the cabin so were half starving when they finally cleared. Passages of 7 or 8 hours were common and one boatman resorted to filling the cabin with 7" of water to lower the cabin sufficiently to pass through. Morris Chemicals of Stockwith reported they had lost several contracts as the freight was too high due to only part loads been able to pass up the canal. The BOT told the company that it would be best to open up the tunnel, but they were worried that water would just cascade in and make it unstable. They did agree to make repairs and these were going on night and day. The boat men were skeptical. By `1890 there was only 4'10" headroom, and the boater referred to the tunnel as the Rat Hole.

On 18th October 1907 there was further subsidence and this time the canal did not reopen. Retford Council complained to the Canal owners that they were experiencing great expense at not being able to access the tunnel for freight from the other side of the tunnel for such things as slag for road mending. The railway company agreed to a trial of carrying their freight from Rennishaw to Kiverton Park, either end of the tunnel, for free so long as the boats paid canal toll. The picture above reveals the line of the collapsed tunnel where the brown seed heads can be seen. 

In 1921 there was a plan put forward by local councils to use the route of the canal from Chesterfield to the summit for a new road. This would open up the land either side of the canal and provide employment for people. A water main would also be laid to supply those that needed it, and the canal could be filled with the waste from the Staveley Steel Works and the the colliery waste heaps. The road was to be a private initiative. A company was set up called the Chesterfield Canal and Road Development Co and the project was to be financed by charging tolls for the use of the road. A preliminary Parliamentary Bill was written but after talks with various ministers it was never presented. In the end it seems that the Railway company Great Central Railway (Later LNER), the owners of the canal wouldmonoy seel the 11 miles of the canal if it included the collapsed Norwood Tunnel. I assume that this was to rid themselves of any future expense  that may come their way. Also the Staveley Coal and Iron Company had extraction rights of water to from the canal of several 1000 gallons a day and would require the canal to be maintained or an alternative provided. Lastly the era for charging tolls had passed and Parliament were therefore reluctant to pass such a bill. It was partially resurrected in 1935, but once again nothing came of it. I am looking forward to the time that we will be able to once again access at least part of the tunnel route to go up and over the summit Norwood and down to Chesterfield. 

To be honest the Chesterfield past Shireoaks is the most beautiful stretch of canal on the system so is well worth while heading that way, but to head down to Chesterfield would be a real added bonus. If they ever do build the link with through to Rotherham it will be such a busy route. I hope they do it in my lifetime, and by hook or by crook I'll give it a go.