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Sunday 13 August 2023

Not too busy Braunston Junction.

 It was a nice morning but boded a mixed bag of a day. That maybe why several boats were on the move early

The first place of note Willoughby Wharf by Bridge 85. It turns out that this was a very busy wharf. It had been run by the Mill family for at least three generations. There were lime kilns there and it was traded along with coal. Timber was dealt with, along with hay and many other things. When the new railway, the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway extension tracks, was being laid it gained much traffic as a base was set up here, where the new track was at its closest. Materials were brought in from all over. By the track a store, office, carpenter's shop,blacksmiths and an engine shed were set up around 1894. It had a serious fire in 1897.

This is looking back at the wharf as I had to take evasive action for the boat just seen. Just up from the wharf was the Navigation pub that was also run by the Mills family 

As we approached Brauston boats were coming thick and fast and it was nice to see the old windmill and the church too. We would soon be there.

Near the junction is this house and outbuilding. It looks like it has been there almost as long as the canal. I think that the outbuilding looks like stables but I may well be wrong. It got quite mizzley passing through Braunston Junction, but soon brightened up again.

There are still some fields to harvest but a lot is in and in the sun the countryside looks lovely.

Just by bridge 101 somewhere was this new build house with wopping great wings on it. It is obviously not completed as there are no windows in. I can't find anything on line with a cursory look, but I can't imagine who would want a house like this, and white, in our weather. Maybe Americans, or a religious school or something. Anybody any ideas/news? I will dig a bit deeper when I get home as the internet is a bit slow tonight.

Lower Shuckburgh was another busy wharf which had a coal and lime wharves, granaries, stores, stables and a house with outbuildings, yard, garden and orchard. In the 1820 a layer of workable clay had been found on the site and a brick works had been set up with kilns, hovels, sheds and brick yards. I think the building in the picture is the old granary. Where the main road crosses the canal a little west of the village was another wharf close by the road that had lime kilns that were not longer in use by 1888.

Napton Junction was soon with us. The boat ahead of us had swung down there so we thought we would have a lock buddy for our first double lock in a few years.

I assume the lovely house at the junction was a lengthsmans house as well a toll office for the start of the Warwick and Napton Canal.
The boat we thought we would be able to share with stopped for water and as there was a boat coming up we went down alone. As we lowered down a boat left the mooring before the next lock so we shared with them. They had been having a lot of electrical work done. His engine alarm was going off all the time. By the time we had gone down lock 2 he was overheating so stopped, and we went down No. 3 on our own again.

We turned into the first entrance of Ventnor Marina and made for the service wharf in the first section of the two basins that are not connected. We called Steve and they came and gave us our fuel and a bottle of gas that had run out yesterday!

This was to be our new home. We will obviously have to up our gave as the basin is littered with Braidbar boats and all seem to be polished and no rust showing. It is lovely and quiet and seems quite spacious too. I reckon we will have to get the hang of getting in and out with the wind, but shouldn't be too bad.

Off back to get the car tomorrow.

Saturday 12 August 2023

Rolling through Rugby.

Not that it kept me awake at night, but every waking hour there was the sign of barking dogs in the distance. I looked and found a kennels and cattery not too far away. One or two of the dogs there seem to have a problem as they never stopped. There was sun when we got up to make the tea, but it was pretty windy.

All Oaks Wood was quiet and not at its best, plus there are definitely other trees than oaks to be seen. What is that all about!

The building by Bridge 35, just through All Oaks Wood is the Boat Inn Cottage. I wondered how long ago it was a pub. I can see that it went for auction in 1856 but didn't seel. It had a small farm attached then. In 1864, on the death of the owner William Johnson, it went for sale again. It was detailed as having stabling for 12 horses, a barn, a wagon hovel, piggeries and a large garden. There was also a coal wharf. The house had a shop on the ground floor with shop, storeroom, parlour and tap room along with a brew house and four bedrooms upstairs. Johnson was also a boat owner. When the owner in 1899, Joseph Burdett, went bankrupt it was sold again, and the last time I can see it that it was licenced was following the death of the owner Fred. Hales it was sold and the licence lapsed.

It is interesting to note the old legs of the contour canal come thick and fast, and looking in Pearson's Guide helps to pass the time trying to spot where it joined and left the current canal. The old line hugged the 300 ft. contour and was a distance of 36 miles between the Coventry Canal, and Braunston Junction. By the later 1820's civil engineering had come on leaps and bounds and the canal was 'straightened' by Cubitt who made his name through railway work. The end result was the mileage was cut by 14 miles! These Horseley Works bridges are dated 1828.

The new Newbold Tunnel is two boats wide and actually has two towpaths, only one in use now. It is 250 yds long. The old route came out roughly where the canal boat is in the picture but has made a large loop to the right, under the road and under the church. The old tunnel was only about 130 yds long. You can still see one of the portals if you can to find it.

As you approach Rugby you can see why the original canal builders followed the contours as it meant they could avoid this road bridge and a little further the crossing of the River Swift, and later the River Avon. There was not too much chaos at the Tesco  moorings nearby the water points, there was even places to stop.

This is the new (to us) bridge that takes a road to the new housing complex that has been built on the site of the old Aerial site of Rugby Radio. It used to be on all the radio dials of old. It was the largest transmitter site in the World for many years. It opened in 1926 and was at its peak in the 1950's. The site was sold off in 2007 and I'm sure the aerials were still standing the last time we came through here.

WE waited for a small cruiser to come down the first lock at Hillmorton with a young volunteer Lockie helping. We were soon at the top with another one to help. It has been a quiet season we were told with less hire boat traffic than usual!

This is just part of the new housing complex. It looks like it will eventually be a 'new town'of sorts as it has new schools etc and is not nearly completed as yet.

I noticed this ghost sign on the Waterside Inn at Hillmorton.  As far as I can see it says 'The Royal Oak, ales and stouts, Wines and spirits' but I can't make out the last line. It was the Roal Oak until after WWII when it became the Old Royal Oak until very recently, when it has become a Hungry Horse pub called the Waterside.

The building to the left certainly looks like an old warehouse, and coal was being sold from what is Hillmorton Wharf at 71/2d a cwt in 1791, Seven pence ha'penny a hundredweight to our younger readers. It has dealt in deals and timber, hay,  corn, sand and lime over the years. In the 1970's the area buy the boat became a boat building and repair yard and in 1977 the small basin was dug for moorings. It seems to be getting a makeover at the moment.

Just down from Hill Morton is this strange set of buildings now know as Wharf Farm. In Pearson's it sates that the buildings to the left was a former wharf and stables. On the 1886 map it shows the large building to the right was the Fox Inn. It doesn't mention a wharf at all, but may have been one. The buildings to the left do have the look of stables but may have been attached to the pub. By 1899 the pub has become Wharf Farm, which certainly implies there was one.

We moored up just before Bridge 81, which is next to the Dunchurch Pools Marina. As soon as we were moored up and the side hatch open this swan family were poking their heads in and trying to snatch food from our hands.

We had a couple of showers through the day, but only one short one that was a little heavy and drove Helen inside.

I set too to finish using all the off cuts of timber I had to make a shelf unit to go under our ladder at the rear door. It will make the stack of boots etc that get stuffed there that little bit tidier. I then refilled the stern galnd greaser and thought I had earned a sit down. Helen produced a cheeky little rose number, and out came the nuts, raisins and chocolates and a real Saturday afternoon was had!

Having passed through I thought I may as well mention the Rugby League Challenge Cup Final. I was a rugby Union man myself, but Hull Kingston Rovers is our local league team to Hedon where we live. They got pipped by Leigh 16-17 with a golden point.


Friday 11 August 2023

On to the Oxford.

 After a little more research I can see that after the Brick and Tile works closed the basin lay empty until 1936. Then it was taken over by the Warwickshire Canal Carrying Co. Ltd that converted it to a dry dock to service their newer motor canal boats. They move from nearby Black Bank. The seem to have started about 1918 and I found a winding up order for them in 1968. However in 1959 I see that the Gilbert family were working for/with the company and they seem to have taken it on as they were advertising new builds and repairs at Charity Dock in 1972. There was also planning for a new house on the site in 1990 so I conclude it is the Gilbert family who are responsible for the dressed dummies and the dock as it is today.

We set of with the sun shining warmly through high cloud, and it stayed like that all day. Just as I was letting go a boat appeared and rather than push off in front I waited for them. They weren't going slowly, and they weren't going fast so we ambled along behind them. There was little evidence of the of the three arms and basins we passed so I will leave those for another time.

There seemed to be a bit of activity at the stop lock so I timed my turn to keep out of every bodies way. The boat ahead was waiting for the lock with one coming out.

He was blocking the exit from the lock so I landed outside the Greyhound, far enough back so that he could move clear. The bloke on the bridge shouted I was an excellent helm! What can I say!

We were soon through the lock and on to the Oxford. It is a good few years since we have sailed these waters now. This is the first of the arms and loops that were cut off when the canal was straightened. This led to Wyken Colliery, but is now the turf of the Coventry Cruising club.

Just after Ansty were the motor 'Corolla' and the butty ' Carina'. The were both sporting very elegant art work on the cratch boards celebrating the coronation this year. Corolla was built by Harland and Wolff in 1935 and Carina by Yarwood's in the same year.

Ansty Hall replaced an earlier manor house in 1678 and the same family lived there until 1986. The costs of running it had got too much. The estate and all the buildings were on the market previously in 1956, but the house and adjacent land was withdrawn from the auction then. When putting it up for sale in 1986 it was thought that it would fetch around £250,000! That is around the average price of a house these days!! It was eventually bought by a hotel group who spent another £1 million on it and run it along with a golf course still.

We heard nothing from the railway as we got closer so I was speculating that it was another strike day, and then four or five passed in short order. I do like a train journey.

It seemed that the small swing bridge at Stretton Stop was open as the boat ahead pottered through. There was one waiting just beyond to come through.

Who would have thought you would see an old spoon dredger at Streeton Stop. Apparently the hull dates from 1873 abd remains of the dredging equipment were found aboard, and some more in stores, and the rotten bits were fabricated from these remains. The windlass towards the bow is to pull the boat along the canal and the gantry lowers the 'spoon' and manpower digs and lifts and turns it into the boat.

This is just another of the old loops but retains its cross over bridge. It is used as a winding hole only now.

Just as we were approaching the full moorings at Old Oak Wood the boat on the end was casting off. We let them go and then reversed into the slot. That will do nicely. I then set to making boxes to go under our back steeps to stow all the boats and shoes. I used the bits of buffalo board I had left and the old ones too. I have one more to make for the top step and the it will be finished.

We decided to head into Brinklow as I was well dehydrated and Helen didn't fancy cooking. Down the road and footpath over the fields to the Motte and Bailey. The ridge and furrow in the pasture was very evident. I'm not sure whether this is original or a much later construction just to maximise the amount of grass available. You can see the Motte in the distance. It was built by the Norman's to protect the Fosse Way, but was never very important and didn't last too long.

We had a pint in the Raven, where the footpath came out onto the main street, and then walked round to the Bulls Head where they did food. I ate too much so was grateful for the walk back.

We passed the Brinklow War Memorial and it stood out as being very different and the words 'Peace and Reconciliation' made me think it must be more modern as after conflict it was unlikely that that wording would be used. It would take time to think that. It seems that the local ex servicemen managed to raise £8,000 and it was dedicated in 2014 to the 25 men from the village lost in the two world wars. What a nice memorial and refreshing wording too.

We took the path past the church of St. John the Baptist that is almost built into the old tump or motte. We didn't try to enter as I was pretty sure it would be closed at the late hour. The walk back was just right to settle my tea down ready for digestion, and time to bash the blog out.

Thursday 10 August 2023

Wandering past the Wharves.

 We were late getting off this morning as we went up the road for a lovely cooked breakfast up the road at the Old Bakery Cafe in Atherstone. We then had a look around the Charity shops and I bought a few things in a hardware store. 

Boats were coming regularly and we slipped in to go up the next lock. However we just stopped beyond it to top up with water and then let them past. The services at the top of the locks can be very busy and thing top is nice and handy. It was pretty slow mind, but we were just topping up.

By Bridge 36 there are wharves either side of the bridge. The one nearest the camera was first and is on the 1886 OS map being served by a plateway from the Raspberry Knob Quarry in the hills above. Just this side of the road bridge is a narrow metal bridge that later, by 1901, carried the plateway onward to a siding on the London and Northwestern Railway near Mancetter. The wharf through the bridge is much more modern and seems to have been taken over by Rothen.

There were four wharves that were connected to the quarries above Hartshill by plateways, and provided much work for road stone for canal boats. This is the one just through Bridge 30.

This the one just past Bridge 29 and opposite the Anchor pub moorings.

At the other end of the wharf above is the rail bridge that carried the narrow gauge railway over the canal to a siding on the main line railway before WWI. Although the little railway did not seem to pass under the bridge the wharf did extend and hence the arch for access.

The 'telewag' pole (as we used to call them, and perhaps others too) is still hanging on in there. I always wonder why this one was left?

The Tuttle Hill Moorings were at one time another quarry Wharf.

I think the closest bridge is a modern one but the furthest one was to carry a narrow gauge over the canal to the mainline and then loop back across again. I think they are making a real effort to tidy up the canal through Nuneaton, and it was good to see more boats moored up to take advantage of the proximity of the town.

Boot Wharf has been cleaned up and lots of new housing in place of the jumble of boats and brambles of before. However it is still a chicane to get through. The wharf appears to have been built to service a set of lime kilns that were redundant by 1886.

This is where the Griff Arm Left the main canal but I was more taken by the MASSIVE warehouse that has been built alongside the old route. Rhenus Logistics have built 2 massive places on the site. The first was the baby at 21,000 sq. ft. This one has dwarfed it at 771,000 sq.ft. The 64 acre site is full of solar panels, air source heat pumps, green walls and electric car charging points. The office section is a massive glass box. Great views of the canal whilst you work. Rhenus are warehousing, transport and supply chain solutions for many varied industries. I think this must be the largest building I've seen. However on the site by the canal there was a lovely old lonely tree in a field that I always photographed, but it has gone. This larger shed has been almost finished in 12 months!

Marston Junction came and went with nobody popping in or out and the fendering on opposite bank to the entrance still seems intact.

Charity Dock was the next point of interest. The tableaux are not what the once were but the dry dock made me look to see what may have been there before.

Believe it or not the Dock is named after the Bedworth Charity Colliery. This in turn was named after the landowner of where the shaft was sunk, the Rev. Nicholas Charity. The shaft was dug in 1830 and a plateway laid to the wharf . (The colliery is on the extreme left and the dock on the extreme right. Later on the Brick and Tile works were opened and a tramway added to get products to the mainline railway and the canal wharf. The mine closed in 1924 but the Brick works continued and the tramway remained in place up to WWII but succumbed after that. It looks like the basin was built over soon after, possibly to form a dry dock.

I reversed to wait for a couple of boats just past Boot Wharf and collected this. We pulled over and it was soon free. It looks almost brand new. I think this is the fourth one of these we have collected round our prop over the years. Once tied up, a little past Charity Dock, the sun was still out so we sat on the wide towpath and I spliced a new rope into it. Never look a gift horse in the mouth.