Today we went past a wharf with a roof over it, and an interesting history. The roof was to prevent goods from getting rained on while being loaded and unloaded.
What precious commodities, you ask, could not stand a drop of rain? Sugar! Cocoa! Chocolate! This was the wharf for a Cadbury’s factory, where milk from local dairy farms was collected by canal boat, and processed with sugar and cocoa into raw chocolate which was then shipped by canal boat to the Bournville factory we went by earlier in the trip. Cadbury’s used this wharf for shipping from 1911 to 1961, which means I may very well have eaten chocolate shipped from here. The last boatman shipping chocolate from this wharf to Bournville was one Charlie Atkins, otherwise known as Chocolate Charlie.
Next, The Haunted Bridge.
A telegraph line used to run along this canal. The wires have long since been replaced by other means of communications, but this one truncated pole set in a double decker bridge in a cutting remains. Actually, canals still turn out to be useful for modern communications. Some towpaths have fiber optic cable buried along them, as they provide an easy and continuous right of way in and out of major cities, and it’s a lot easier to dig up a towpath than to dig up a road.
Andrew, you ask, why are you rabbiting on about fiber optics (or even fibre optics in this country) when you promised us a haunted bridge? Mostly because there’s no such thing as ghosts, and the fiber optic Internet backbone is far more interesting. For instance, this weekend we will be going past a secret nuclear bunker. This was one of the regional administration centers that were supposed to run what was left of the country after a nuclear war. A few years ago we visited a similar one near Cambridge, except this one was Maggie Thatcher’s bolt hole in case she started a nuclear war. It had a BBC studio where she could make broadcasts to the radioactive lava puddle that would be all that was left of the UK outside of a dozen or so bunkers. Since the electromagnet pulse a nuclear bomb would generate would fry all regular electronics, all the secret nuclear bunkers were connected with fiber optic cable. In an all too rare case of beating swords into plowshares, this went on to form the backbone of Britain’s Internet.
Fascinating, huh? OK, back to the haunted bridge. Apparently, some time in the 1800s a boatman was killed there, and ever since then it is said to have been haunted by a black, monkey-like creature. There, now you know. We’ve also been past a haunted pub, a haunted lock, and a haunted cutting. Who ya gonna call?
I saw a kingfisher today. Their feathers are so lovely that the Chinese used to make jewelry out of them, with the result that the kingfisher is now extinct in China. Sorry, I didn’t get a picture, they are tiny and move fast.
Bonfires on a pig farm smell really bad. Be glad that my camera doesn’t record smells.
We are now in Market Drayton, ready to meet up with Peter and Sherri tomorrow. It stayed dry all day today, but the rain had caught up with us this evening. That’s much better timing.