Monday, 21 August 2017

Trafford Park

Today's Canals - Rochdale, Bridgewater

Although generally overcast, the day was pleasant enough, especially for the schedule that lay ahead of us for this morning. First, however, we took the boat across to the service point and set ourselves up in case we do not find any suitable points - the Bridgewater can sometime be a bit short. We also paid our dues for the extra, extra day that we stayed at the marina.

Then, around 9:30, we set off to complete the two locks to the Piccadilly Basin, the junction with the Ashton Canal, and then the (in)famous Rochdale Nine.

The first lock is at the road intersection where we have passed many times over the last five days on our way into and out of the city centre.

At the next lock we began to encounter the well-known problem with this section: water flowing over the top gates. Many of the locks do not have by-washes (or at least ones that work) and so the water from one lockful has to go through the next lock and so on. This means that even if the lock looks full it is still often necessary to open both top paddles to enable the gates to be opened.

We then arrived at Piccadilly Basin - whilst Mike waited for Christine to come down and into the first of the Rochdale Nine, he went to take a photo of the old entrance gate - which now leads to a demolition site currently used temporarily as a car park.

The next couple of pounds are underneath modern buildings and had become quite a disreputable area which disturbed many boaters. There were also several unfortunate accidents with people having had too much to drink and getting into difficulties. As a result, gates have been installed at either end which are locked between 10pm and 7am. Certainly, we found the whole flight trouble-free which was not the case before.

Another couple of locks have no towpath access and signs remind boats to make sure that all of their crew are on board before setting off from the previous lock! At this one a floating pontoon is in place - but arrival is not helped by a large work boat moored just above the lock.

Canal Street is a famous night-time area with pubs, bars and clubs from one end to another. Again, for the protection of those too fond of imbibing, class screens have been installed (which do fit in quite well)

The lock dives immediately under the adjacent building with no gap at all.

One pound opened up with more room alongside before the taller buildings started. The Beetham Tower made its first appearance although it will be even closer by the time we have reached Castlefield.

Oh, look - an MP must live here (old joke, we know, but it still lives one. . . )

The locks down this flight all have these rather unusual metal sections - replacing the usual raised bricks - to give greater purchase when opening or closing the gates. The idea is worth copying elsewhere.

We had several families help us this morning. Amazing how pleased the parents are to see their children helping hold a rope, push a gate or even winding a paddle. Well worth doing, just to see the pleasure that folk get from it. Even the grown ups join in - see the lady in the background  holding a rope: she took over from her small child who transferred allegiance to gate pushing and she took the role very seriously.

And finally the last of the 92 locks on this canal!

The lock keeper's house is impressive but there is also a rather unusual bollard on one side of the lock.

Immediately after completing the Rochdale we found a place to tie up for our lunch. Whilst we were there the new WAXI came by. We saw kit several times during the afternoon and only on one occasion was it carrying actual passengers. Hope that business improves.

No more locks for some distance! Well, Pomona Lock did pass us gto lone side but not for us. It gives access to and from the Ship Canal. Complex arrangements have to be made to go that way!

We passed underneath the elevated Metrolink tram line that we used to get to and from Salford Quays with Jess a few days ago.

Just to show we know what it is, we passed the Manchester United ground - a photo is obligatory. In any case, it says on the side what it is!

At Waters Meeting junction we turned right on the line towards Wigan. Shortly after we passed the Kelloggs factory where it makes its world famous medicinal product. At least that was how it was first marketed by a sanitarium doctor on a moral crusade. See here for just one of many places that recount the original story - strangely about the only web site that does not mention it is Kelloggs own.

At one time the factory had its own canal arm.

A little later we moored up at the entrance to the huge Trafford Park retail centre. Christine went to visit first and was unsuccessful in her search for replacement shower gel as Boots were out of stock. Mike went later and took some photos. He also called at a Samsung shop - it invited users to come in for technical support and he wanted to solve a small technical issue. It took a little while but the very pleasant young man took a lot of trouble, most helpfully, to resolve it.

The entrance looks like a temple and the decor inside continues that theme - at least a Greek or Roman temple complete with hundreds of statues - at least 90% of them of naked females, Sadly all were not real!

The Great Hall is constructed to resemble the deck of a liner - perhaps even the Titanic. In fact it is a large eating area.

Mike also spotted a shop that sold pre-owned as well as new watches. Just in case you cannot read it, even the pre-owned Rolex is £6500!

Through the windows of the bridge between the original and the new parts of the shopping centre we could see construction works. A new Metrolink line is being built from the existing Pomona station to Trafford Park. It is expected to take four years to complete.

5.9 Miles - 11 Locks

Sunday, 20 August 2017


We went to the cathedral this morning for the 10:30 communion service. It is about a mile from our mooring so we opted to take the Metrolink tram - as well as using the line we have travelled on to get to St Peter's Square.

We then changed to the Rochdale line for one more stop to Exchange Square which was just a couple of minutes away from the cathedral.

The service was held in the main nave which is dominated by the new Stoller organ. This instrument, costing £2.4 million, replaces one that was re-built after serious bomb damage about 75 years ago. Although it was installed last year and has been in use for several months, its official opening is scheduled for next month. As the above photo shows, the nave area is fairly compact and so the 80 strong congregation felt much more 'together' than it would in many of our English cathedrals. (At the moment, the Quire, like the Tower, is closed for renovation work)

The service was straightforward with a visiting choir providing the formal sung elements. The interesting and informative sermon was given by the Canon for Theology and Mission, David Holgate.

After the service we stayed for coffee and a chance to chat to one or two of the regular congregation, before looking around the building. The stained glass windows all seem to be very bright and colourful,. All of the Victorian windows were destroyed in the Manchester Blitz of 1940 so all of these are relatively modern. The Chapter developed a plan for a set of windows which are gradually being installed - the latest was completed last year. The one above is entitled Revelation.

and this one is called Healing.

Other features that caught our attention.

The cathedral plays an important role in the life of the city, none more so than in times of crisis. A poignant poem, written by Andrew Rudd, Poet in Residence, was a response to the bombing in May this year. In case you cannot read it from the above small picture, this is the text. We had to transcribe it from the full photo as we could not find it online.

Afterwards, the place is cordoned off
a steel fence across the road: in our heads

everything secured and locked down.
So here we come, walking into the square

as if we are quiet guests, on our way
to visit the house of friends, bringing flowers.

The morning warm and sill, the huge garland
laid out around a statue, then a ring

of journalists, presenters, witnesses
telling their fragments of story to the world.

Round them, the bristling ring of cameras,
the ring of armed police. The circle of city.

How many ripples, after the impact,
the stone dropped into the heart?

We decided to walk back to the boat. Almost immediately we came to one of the main entrances to the Arndale shopping complex so walked through it but did not find ourselves tempted even if we did look in a few windows.

Out the other side we were struck by this building, One Angel Square, the headquarters of the Co-operative Group.

Almost back and we took to the side streets behind Royal Mill. Quite a few other buildings are under construction or renovations of older ones. Sadly, the former Coates School became too dilapidated to save and is a modern look-alike and the plaque is perhaps the only feature of the original to be retained. So far we have not managed to discover anything about the original school.

Saturday, 19 August 2017

John Rylands Library

We had already decided to book an extra night at the mooring - it is free for the first two nights and £10 a night thereafter. She paid up so the space is now 'ours' just in case anyone decides to try and slip in whilst we are across at the water point! Part of the reason for the extra stay was so that we could find a church service on Sunday having failed to be in the right place for the last two Sundays.

We think that we may well go to the cathedral. Oddly there is no parish church any closer - we had expected that the industrial centre might have had a larger population at one time and New Islington became a large council estate in the mid 20th century. As the old mill buildings are gradually renovated then the number of people living close to the centre is rising once more. Royal Mill close to our mooring is a prime example. In the 1980's it ceased production of textiles and was for some time on a buildings-at-risk register. Eventually a developer took it on and it is now a splendid set of apartments.

The day began with some intermittent but heavy showers so we waited until well after 11 before venturing out - even though still slightly wet at times, but when it was dry it was pleasantly warm. In fact we did not go very far as we found a reasonably good corner shop close by that supplied some of what we were after. However, there was still a further list so after Mike took the first load back to the boat we continued into town for a Tesco Express. Even then, we diverted to Aldi on the way back as Christine thought that there offer on smoked salmon for our salad tonight was better!

After lunch we returned to the city centre and walked through Piccadilly Gardens, with its decorative fountain display.

We were - as the blog title indicates - heading for the John Rylands Library. We had spotted that their current exhibition is called The Life of Objects, a small curation of objects, mostly quite mundane, that had once been treasured by famous people, such as Lord Byron,  Elizabeth Gaskell, and John Wesley. (Mike is currently reading one of Colin Dexter's Morse novels and it features a recurring obsession of Morse with the Oxford comma. You may have noticed that there is one in the previous sentence but as it is not our 'house style' we cannot guarantee to continue the practice. In any event, experts hold strongly opposing views on whether it should be used or avoided!)

Alas, taking photos of the exhibits or the books was not permitted, only of the building itself.

We also looked around other parts of the library, including one display that contained a small scrap of what is believed to be one of the earliest surviving New Testament texts, but it includes only a few, fragmentary, words.

The main Reading Room, still in part used for that purpose and open to anyone, is impressive. It explained the history of how the library came about. John Rylands was the most successful textile entrepreneur in Manchester and became very wealthy. When he died, his third wife, decided to found a library in one of the poorer parts of the city, as a memorial. She not only paid for the construction of the building but also bought several important collections of old books and set up an endowment for the future of the library. Even in the money of the end of the 19 century, she donated around £750,000 overall.

Later the library was supported in its on-going costs by the local textile industry but as that declined so it became harder to keep the work going and eventually it merged with the University of Manchester Library which continues to manage it today.

After viewing all the accessible areas we adjourned to the cafe for a welcome cup of tea before setting off to walk back to the boat.

Just outside the library was a small specialist market and Christine noticed that one was selling delicious looking slices of cake at equally attractive prices (£2 a large slice!) We bought two but decided to stop over at Piccadilly Gardens to eat them. By the time we got there it was quite pleasant to sit with a wide variety of all sorts of people - well-to-do mixing with others less so.

Eventually we had no option but to stir ourselves and complete the walk back. We walked across Albert Square, outside the huge Town Hall, but the sun was in the wrong direction to be able to photograph the huge statue to the eponymous Albert.

In a side street, Christine was quite visually disturbed by this building - as the end wall is not flat, walking towards it creates a strange sensation as the lines clash against each other.

Before we became too solidified we took the boat over to the opposite side to fill the water tank which was hovering perilously below a quarter!