Tuesday 20 June 2017

Thorne and Car Shuffle

Today's Canal - Stainforth and Keadby

Just before 8 o'clock the bridge keeper came and made it clear that he really wanted us to move on! He opened up the bridge and both ourselves and nb Rumboogie moved about 100m onto the Visitor Moorings the other side. Angie was waiting for a visitor and Mike wanted to pop to the shop for a newspaper.

It will be apparent from today's photos that the weather had changed dramatically from yesterday - very grey and quite chilly at times.

Although we had been told that the shop was only five minutes away, it was more like ten. There are two small shops, one also a Post Office and at least Mike returned with a paper but other items were out of their scope.

Alongside Keadby Lock is a large pumping station which marks the end of several drainage systems - called on the map Three Rivers. A picture of all three was not possible so here are just two.

The main development of the village of Keadby appears to have been brought about by the freight river and canal traffic, very much an old industrial ribbon development along the main road which has now expanded away from the river with more recent housing. The 15C parish church of Althorpe is over a mile south of Keadby but as a sign of how, in the past, the social needs of the workers were met, on one side of the road was built a church hall, opposite to a Working Men's Club (and chip shop!)

A little before 9, both boats were ready to move on - Angie was keen to keep us company as she was a bit unsure of doing the swing bridges. A couple of moored converted barges were a reminder of the traffic that once led to Keadby developing as one of the inland ports on the lower tidal Trent.

 A short distance along we came to the first - actually a sliding rather than swing bridge. Vazon Rail Bridge carries the busy track just above the level of the canal. Although it actually moves straight at a right angle to the canal, because the rail line is at an acute angle it looks much more complicated.

Although the crossing keeper told us that we would have to wait five minutes for a suitable gap in the trains (we had already waited more that anyway) but his five minutes was obviously out of the same system as the lock keeper's walk to the shops! eventually the train arrived and the bridge started to move out of our way.

We were wondering why the box is labelled Keadby Canal Junction as there is no junction in the railway at that point. However, a look at old OS maps shows that at one time a short branch from here ran down alongside the canal, on the site now occupied by the power station.

Ahead lay a number of swing bridges and finally a lift bridge. Each one is different, some mechanised and others purely manual, largely depending on the amount of road traffic. In general, a Watermate key is needed to unlock the gates which then have to be closed to road users - in the case of one, the rail crossing keeper  - the track follows the canal quite closely into Thorne - also has to come out and close his gates as well (if not already closed for trains) Then a latch has to be lifted up so that the bridge deck can rotate, either by mechanism or by human power. once the boats have passed thorough the process is reversed and only then can the key be removed from the lock.

This area is making a substantial contribution to the National Grid - in addition to the power station at Keadby there are several large wind farms - almost in every direction one looks.

According to the crossing keeper at Medge Hall, the long freight trains like this one that carry biomass material, imported from the US into Immingham! (Naughty thought: if President Trump succeeds in re-starting coal mining will this mean that the biomass will be cheaper for us?)

The bridge with a difference is Wykewell Lift Bridge which carries quite a bit of traffic. This is necessarily electric powered and Christine took the usual delight in seeing how many cars we could catch - only six this time. (Retaliation would come later)

A little beyond the lift bridge we arrived at Thorne where both boats moored. Mike had by now decided to do the car shuffle as Thorne South station is only a few minutes walk away. There was enough time for a quick lunch before setting out. It took only an hour by two trains, changing at Doncaster, to get to Retford. There was then almost an hour to kill before the bus to Clayworth so Ike took Christine's recommendation from a couple of days ago, and wandered through the shopping town centre and thence to the bus station.

There was still nearly 40 minutes to while away and by chance Mike happened upon a small museum in a former grand home called Amcott House, seemingly owned by several well off families, some closely related to the owners of the various Dukeries for which the region is well known.

Opposite is a rather splendid Wesleyan Chapel.

Meanwhile, Christine assisted Rumboogie through Thorne Lifting Pedestrian Bridge, notoriously temperamental to operate. Afterwards she visited the local shops - pork pie and a block of local haslet from a pie shop (they also had some unusual looking 'scotch eggs' but Christine declined these on the basis of their looks!) - finally returning to the boat for a bout of cleaning before Mike returned just after five having left the car at Blue Water Marina.

9.8 Miles - 0 Locks

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