Warwick - Saltisford

We picked up Albert on Good Friday from Tony Redshaw's works at Braunston. The injector pumps were fixed and after a bit of "fiddling about" Albert's engine was running well again. It was good to get off again.

The only negative was the duck crap all over the roof! In the unseasonal sunshine it had become baked on hard. It appears that when Albert was moored up along the towpath she was under the favourite roosting site for the duck population of Braunston. It took some elbow grease and hot water to remove.

We took on water at the water point by the turn. Being a Bank Holiday weekend it was busy and the boating skills displayed varied. At one point it appeared that a gridlock might ensue but it was sorted out in the end.

We headed for Wigrams Turn and in the early afternoon went down Calcutt Locks with a boat from Ventor Farm Marina. We went down Stockton Flight singly and moored up for the night at Blue Lias just behind narrow boat Ol' Smokey - a Gardner engined Steve Hudson Boat. The engine doesn't smoke - the owner used to have a steam traction engine before taking up narrow boating. We were joined for the evening by the Matllock side of our family for beer and food. The Blue Lias has a great selection of real ales including Hook Norton, Wadworths, and Broadside - good place to stop overnight.

The next day we continued along the Grand Union towards Warwick. The weather was glorious. Bascote Staircase Locks were in a mess. We met a hire boat coming up the flight who couldn't get over the cill because there was no water in the top lock. We let some water down to get them out of trouble and then sorted out the water levels. I don't know how they were in such state since a pair of boats had just gone down. Maybe they had left a paddle up.

Bascote Locks

We were joined by NB Inapickle and went down the locks to Warwick together. The stretch through Leamington hasn't improved and was quite sluggish - presumably in need of dredging. It got better near Warwick and we reached Saltisford about 5.30.

River Avon Aqueduct

We got a good welcome from Ian the Canal Centre manager and were allocated a very good visitor mooring close to the winding hole. We think Saltisford is a little gem. A friendly community, good facilities, secure moorings and Warwick on the doorstep.

Saltisford Canal Centre

Albert's new stern fenders

A short time ago I realised that over time the stern fenders had become compressed and they were no longer covering Albert's ample rudder. Since this is their prime job I thought I would sort it out whilst at Braunston. It's no good a rudder not quite being protected.

We consulted Pete Flockhart of Tradline Fenders and now Albert, unusually, sports four stern fenders - three tip cats (two standard and one deep belly) and button.

Four stern fenders - the new one is the inner tip cat

Terry Darlington's New Book?

Some time ago I visited the Darlington's web site (that's Terry, Monica and of course the dogs Jim & Jess) and discovered that Terry was writting a new book about their travels in the North  of England in Phyllis May 2 the boat that replaced the original Phyllis May that took them to Carcassone but caught fire in 2009.

It appears it may be close to publication with their web site promising a Spring 2011 date.

En Route to Ellesmere Port

No not Albert (of course)!

We met working narrow boat Archimedes in Braunston on Sunday Evening. By Monday lunchtime we were at the excellent Cafe at Hatton Locks (travelling there by car) where we met them going up the top lock.

NB Archimedes at Hatton Top Lock

They are "on a mission" getting to the Easter Ellesmere Port Boat Gathering. They were really getting a move on. Chatting to them it appears that they stopped boating on Sunday at 11.00 PM and woke at 5.00 AM - shades of fly-boating. They also plan to be back in London for the Little Venice Canal Cavalcade.

Braunston (and a problem)

In common with most of our posts whilst on the move I have titled this post as our final location. Our circumstances have been changing daily but last Thursday (14th) it was clear that at long last we could get away boating. Our plan was to move the boat up towards Birmingham and spend some time residing on the boat whilst visiting family.

We left for Yardley Gobion for Stoke Bruerne in the afternoon and had a routine trip up the Stoke flight. We managed a dinner at the excellent Spice of Bruerne. Friday saw us going through Blisworth tunnel around 8:30 to get far north as possible.

Entering Blisworth tunnel from the south

Burn-out boat at Weedon - amazing amount of distortion to the cabin steelwork It appears that it happened on April 7th and was a stove accident.

The trip went well and we reached Wilton by lunch. We went up the Buckby flight as a single and moored up at Norton Junction late afternoon.

Attractive marsh marigolds in side-ponds at Long Buckby

In the evening we went to The New Inn and enjoyed their food and ale.

To get through Braunston tunnel without a hitch we again left relatively early and got through the tunnel without meeting a boat coming the other direction. At Braunston Top Lock things took a turn for the worst when, very unexpectedly, Albert's engine stopped on tick-over as we approached to lock moorings. Not a good scenario! We managed to re-start the engine but all the way down the flight the engine ran erratically.

Descending Braunston Flight with cruiser

It was clear there was a problem with one of the injector pumps that was sticking. We stopped in Braunston to sort out the problem and consulted Tony Redshaw but the problem got worse with time. To cut this story somewhat short, we failed to solve the injector problem and so we booked Albert into Tony's workshop for Monday. Albert is now at Braunston but without injectors which were sent by Tony to be refurbished by a specialist company near Leicester. We look forward to having them back and the engine working properly again.

Braunston Marina

Sunset at Braunston Turn

Many thanks to our friends Bob and Lyn Doyle on NB Moriarty who on Sunday helped us out a lot by towing Albert from Braunston Marina to Redshaw's which is close to the turn. It was not without a bit of excitment. There were no boats around when we decided to move Albert using poles, but as soon as we started to move two boats entered the marina, one wanting to moor alongside us. As we got close to the road bridge, under tow, a day boat crew going under the bridge were quite suprised to find the pair of us approaching!

English Rivers and Canals by Frank Eyre & Charles Hadfield

A truly stylish cover with a distinctive font

Part of the Britain in Pictures series and first published in 1947, this slim volume similar to the Rolt book The Thames from Mouth to Source in that it relies heavily on images from art. Its authors were Charles Hadfield, the famous canal historian and publisher who was then Vice-Chairman of the IWA, and Frank Eyre its treasurer.

It is a charming slim volume covering rivers, not only the main navigable rivers, and canals - mostly from a historical perspective. For its era it is a very well produced book and many good condition copies are still available through ebay, and other sources, at modest cost.
The book has a useful map indicating the chief rivers and canals of England, which also happens to include Wales, but ignores Scotland. This is interesting for a book claiming to cover Britain - maybe they were not as sensitive to national identies.  There are 8 colour plates and 19 black and white illustrations.

Illustration from JB Dashwood's The Thames to the Solent by Canal and Sea, 1868

The above illustration, from the frontispiece sets the tone of the volume.

Three Locks at Stoke Hammond (Soulbury), Bucks
from J Hassell's Tour of the Grand Junction Canal, 1819

Old Battersea Bridge, from oil painting by Walter Greaves 1846-1931

Etruria: The Potteries from an oil painting by Hesketh Hubbard

It would be great to see the original of this. I presume the colours of the working boat make a marked contrast with the bleak industrial background. Unfortunately, the book does not recorded where the painting was kept. Eric Hesketh Hubbard produced a lot of art that adorned railway carriages.

Perpendicular lift on the Grand Western Canal,
engraved by S Bellin from drawing by J Green, Transaction of the Institution of Civil Engineers, 1836

If you see a copy on ebay I would make a bid - if you win you won't be disappointed.