Wednesday 28 June 2017

Bramwith Junction

Today's Canal - South Yorkshire Navigation

It rained all night and we awoke to a steady drizzle. Everywhere was wet and puddles covered any available path or road. Before we set off Mike walked up to the village of Sprotborough. He called first at the village stores where he was able to pickup a newspaper and also some 'thins' for lunch.

He then explored the rest of the village centre - another shop called The Pantry has developed its business in several directions, possibly when being a Post Office was not enough. It claims to be a butcher, baker and food hall. It did, however, seem a little bit of everything and not enough of anything. Nevertheless, Mike bought a pork pie, also for lunch.

The village is centred around the church which is currently having extensive repairs, hence, sadly, a notice on the door saying that it has to be kept shut.

Outside the church gate is what looks like a mounting block for horse riders. Perhaps this allowed the local gentry to make a quick getaway after the service and escape being cornered by the rector!

The Old Rectory is undergoing renovations - must be extensive judging by the huge pile, of rubble that the builders have heaped up in the garden. The house looks just like parsonages were supposed to look a couple of centuries or more ago! It probably has been in private ownership for some time - it will take a deep pocket to maintain no doubt.

We later discovered that The Old Rectory has more recently been a small country guest house and that at one time it was the childhood home of Sir Douglas Bader.

Walking back down the hill Mike had to keep a careful eye for the cars - they seemed unaware of the amount of water they splashed onto the pavement!

By now the rain was clearly going to be with us all day - and certainly that was what was being forecast. Eventually we set off with Sprotborough Lock just a couple of  hundred metres away

The rain meant that taking photos was not much of an option. You will see that rain drops made their best efforts to 'photo bomb' the scene whenever possible.

We continued along the long stretch to Doncaster - just before reaching the town lock we parted company with the Don for the last time after having kept it close company for the past week.

Then followed an equally long stretch to Long Sandall Lock. A boater from one of the long term moorings below the lock kindly offered to open the gates for us. He possibly began to regret this when the control panel refused to release his key. After opening and closing the gates again it eventually let him go back to his boat. We let ourselves down and out at the other end.

Our aim for lunch was to stop close to St Oswald's Church, Kirk Sandall as well as keeping a close eye on the land just before that. A large pipe bridge had intrigued us five years ago and also when we came up last week. Some research had revealed that it was part of a large Pilkington's Glass Factory and carried waste to settling tanks on the other side of the canal and river (which run closely parallel at this point)

The factory was built in the 1920's and the company already had a strong reputation for looking after its workers. The planned to build 2000 houses close to the works, although eventually only 600 were constructed. They also provided a full range of amenities.

The factory concentrated on making plate glass, something that the company had pioneered. Alas, demand fell away in the 21st century and eventually the works closed in 2009. The buildings still stand, becoming ever more derelict although there are photos inside on a website that specialises in making a record of abandoned buildings.

Just a little closer to Doncaster is another glass works which, as far as we can tell, still operates, It was previously Rockwell but is now part of the multinational Ardagh corporation.

We stopped here because we wanted to find out more about the closed church of St Oswald, Kirk Sandall, which is adjacent to the canal. It seems that this was the medieval parish church for this area but was somewhat left to one side when Long Sandall was developed by Pilkingtons. A new church building was established in the 1960's and St Oswald's was closed. It is still maintained by the Churches Conservation Trust as well as its own Friends and a key is available but the address was quite some walk away. In the rain we did not fancy it!

A couple of details - an unidentified post (probably the remains of a cross) in the churchyard and a carved stone face from one of the windows.

A planning notice disclosed that a developer would like to build 90 houses on two adjacent fields. Although these are close to several industrial sites, the space between them and the very nearvy station has also been built on in recent years.

We returned to the boat and set off once again. It was very wet indeed, At Barnby Dun we held up lines of traffic but made sure that we did so for as short a time as possible. Just the other side is a service station and we not only did the usual range but also returned the anchor and chain to its locker. For the past ten days we have had to have it ready in the front deck as we have been on substantial rivers - initially the tidal Trent. Now that we have parted company with the Don we can put it away until the next time.

A very short distance before Bramwith Junction we spotted a mooring opportunity that also looked as if it had a clear view to the tv satellite. Most of our overnight stops on this trip have had to be at specific visitor moorings and they are not located with a view to offering a tv signal! Just for once we could take advantage of the right to moor alongside the towpath where we chose!

8.9 Miles - 3 Locks


  1. the whole "missing telly" thing caught us out when we went to Skipton the other week... there we were, complete with amplifier and unable to get a signal for days... That was, until it occurred to me to re-tune the telly and hey presto!

  2. Last year we happened to be moored by St Oswalds when there was an open day. Our blog post has a couple of photos
    Pip NB Oleanna

  3. We took our TV home as we never watched it and every time we went to sea or on the estuary we had to wrap it up and put it to bed to stop it getting damaged. It turned into a bit of a pain.

    We have not missed it since!

  4. One of the reasons we switched to a sat dish several years ago now was that we found the re-tune every couple of days a bit much, especially with the zillions of channels from digital tv. Of course, the sat dish has to be pointed the right way but we bought a slightly better sat finder and it has (mostly) made it a whole lot better. But, no, we do not usually miss it if we end up mooring with no signal. The screen itself is wall mounted so is reasonably secure. It is actually a monitor rather than a tv.

  5. Thanks for that extra info re St Oswald's. We may try to make arrangements to pickup a key when we return for our next trip. Taken a note of the phone number anyway!

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