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Thursday 19 October 2023

Climbing to Cropredy.

 I had rained quite heavily in the night but other than that a peaceful night was had. Helen decided that she should head back into town to sort out her bank card that wasn't being accepted to 'tap and go'. As our bank branches are difficult to find we thought going here to order a new card would be a good idea. of course she needed to test it on the way back. It hammered it don whilst she was away but she was in the shopping centre so missed it. I stayed on the boat and investigated our batteries. I can't remember when we bought them, but a good few years ago now, and we have had erratic reading from them this last few days. They all see fine having checked so we will just monitor until we get back to the marina. I did a few other chores before she got back and then headed off.

The facilities were free so we stopped to fill with water and get rid of the rubbish, more than normal with the carpet off cuts etc. Just as we were prepping to go up the lock, which was out way, another boat arrived to go yup, but they wanted the facilities so we got the lock anyway.

Tooley's Dry Dock is preserved, not quite in amber, but not like the scruffy old place it used to be, judging from old photos, but it is still there.

The arm that was left when the canal was diverted for the modern road layout is now moorings, but is announced with a tall flag pole with a Union Flag, a cactus statue and model of a crane!

As we approached Hardwick Lock I was intrigued by the mention in Pearson's Guide that a railway was built by German Prisoners of War in WWI. It turns out that this was true as the Ministry of Munitions was keen to exploit home produced iron ore rather than bring it in on ships. The line was built by Prisoners of War from the main GWR line north of Banbury, that bridge still crosses the canal. The Oxfordshire Ironstone Line ran on the west bank of the canal, now massive warehouse, to the the Wroxton Quarry to the west of Banbury. The North Oxfordshire Ironstone Company was set up in 1917 and the line was built by the POW between 1917 and 1919. Blascote Quarry was opened after Wroxton ran out and others followed.  The Line was never part of British Rail and was run by the company with their own rolling stock, and they had their own rolling stock. The line closed in 1967 when the ore ran  out.

These swans were camera shy. A little later we saw a couple of cygnets that may have been booted out so you can understand it!

The was the odd little drizzle or shower, but there was a fair bit of sunny periods too. The contrast of patches of light and the autumn colours made for a good picture.

It is always interesting to see how far the bank sticks out on the off side. The cattle wandered quite far out so it is quite shallow there.

This looks like it was a warehouse that belonged to Cropredy Mill that was on the towpath side of the canal. Some remains of the mill remain around the road bridge, The mill was built in 1819 and in 1905 the signalman at Cropredy station spotted a fire at the mill. He couldn't leave the signal box, but got passing trains to sound their whistles to try to raise the alarm. Eventually a man was sent on horseback to Banbury to rouse the fire brigade. They arrived 15 mins after hearing of the fire with a steam pump and a manual fire engine. There was no hope of saving the main building as the roof was already going. They managed to save the engine shed and boiler and the out buildings and nearby cottages. The hoist over the canal collapsed into the canal, with molten lead and many sacks of grain and rubble fell into the canal that had to be removed before navigation could continue. In the end the boiler and engine house were all that were saved, along with the outer walls of the main building. It was said the the costs would be £7 or £8,000, two thirds of which was covered by insurance.

We stopped just aove the lock, and just before a heavy shower come down too. After a bite to eat I did a couple of jobs replacing some of our homemade double glazing in which the perspex had cracked. We then went for a walk around the village. This is Red Lion Street, right next to the church and shows off the ironstone coloured cottages of the area. You can see the pub sign of the Red Lion pub that dates from mid 1700's.

The Brasenose Arms has been revamped during COVID when three friends took on the lease. It has been altered to a nice relaxed eatery and they have rooms too. I must say the beer was well kept too. They had Tim Taylors Landlord and Wadsworth 6X. After a couple we headed back to the boat for tea.

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