The day started out warm, sunny, and still. I wanted to take advantage of the weather, so I got the boat started while Paula was still in bed. We stopped in the pretty village of Worsley.
The canal comes in from the left, and that little channel off to the right is where the coal barges used to enter the canal from the underwater canals. We are now on the oldest part of the English canal system. The Mock Tudor building fetching reflected in the limpid waters of the Bridgewater Canal is the Worsley Old Court House, now available for weddings, bar mitzvahs, and raves. Of course, if you want to hold a rave you have to lie on the rental application. Just tell them it’s a Young Conservatives meeting.
However, apart from the tea room, the only thing to do there was to stare in the estate agent’s windows, and since at least one of the estate agents was a Nutter we decided to move on.
Be careful where you put that staff.
Of course, people called Nutter reminds me of Terry Pratchett so it was nice to see a boat named after one of his imaginary countries.
If you are not sure what this is funny try spelling it backwards. Yes, I do know that was originally a Dylan Thomas joke, whoever he was.
There are some engineering feats like the skycrane on the Curiosity Mars lander that are so outrageous that you can only respond, “Holy Shit! They did what?”
Brindley’s Barton Aqueduct served its purpose well for a century and more on the first great creation of the canal age, the Bridgewater Canal, but then in the 1880s along came the last great creation of the canal age, the Manchester Ship Canal. The Manchester Ship Canal allowed ocean going vessels to travel 36 miles inland and turned Manchester into one of the busiest ports in the UK. Its course followed the Mersey and the Iffley, and ran directly underneath the course of the Bridgewater canal. However the boats on the Ship Canal were far too big to get under Brindley’s aqueduct. The solution was to build an aqueduct that would swing the upper canal out of the way when big ships came through on the lower canal.
Holy Shit! They did what?
Four sets of gates keep the water in the section that is swinging, and in the canal at either end. The whole thing, and the Barton Swing Road Bridge, is controlled from a massive control tower on an artificial island in the middle of the canal.
It was originally steam powered, but the hydraulics are now driven by electric pumps. It still works fine, though it could do with a coat of paint. There is nothing else quite like it in the world.
After Worsley the canal passes through the mostly industrial south west suburbs of Manchester. We passed the mighty Kelloggs factory with the high barbed wire fence to stop the baby cornflakes from escaping. We crossed the Mersey, not by ferry but by another aqueduct. Just before Waters Meeting (where the canal branches) there is a crowd of ominous gongoozlers standing around by the canal looking threatening. Then I saw the video camera on the boom.
It was just a video production crew standing by the canal looking threatening. I gave them a wave and they looked less threatening.