Wednesday 2 August 2017

Thornhill Lees

Today's Navigation - Calder And Hebble

The morning was grey, chilly and occasionally damp but by mid afternoon a sudden change brought blue sky and a much warmer temperature.

Mike started the day by walking to Morrisons for a few items - although more into the city centre it is about the same distance as Sainsbury yesterday. Along the way he took a look at the way in which the old waterside warehouses have been converted into flats with other new build blocks in behind.

Various estate agents windows he passed had a lot of studio flats on offer to rent - used to call them bedsits but these are probably even more compact! No doubt they represent the maximum that too many people can afford. Even so, the rents seemed to start from £100 a week.

We set off from our overnight mooring and straight out onto the River Calder through the flood lock. Looking back we could see the scale of the former waterfront commercial area. Just how many different goods have been transshipped through here in the past?

Almost opposite we spotted the Double Two factory - long time maker of affordable shirts.

Next came the long railway bridge with 95 arches or is it 98?  (records seem to differ but we could only see the first few)

Like so much Victorian engineering, non-functional decoration was seen as important such as these pinnacles to one of the bridge supports - much better than the wholly functional electric cables that run overhead.

Before long we arrived at Thorne Lock, at the start of another of the several cuts that bypass sections of the river.

The locks on this navigation have a number of particular characteristics - apart from only just being long enough to take a 60 ft narrow narrowboat. The first are these ground paddle mechanisms. When fully working they operate two paddles but just one culvert into the lock chamber. Most of them are especially  challenging to operate.

But more famous are the handspike operated paddles - here just the gate paddle has this device.

At the other end of most of thew cuts is a flood lock which is left open at both ends unless the river level is high. They protect the assets along the cut from flooding.

We filled with water at Broad Cut Bottom Lock but could not see any other facilities. However, it was not too far to Horbury Bridge where there is a full range - just as well as the full light had just come on the elsan!

This used to be a lock connection with the river - the lock was on the left side and some mills stood alongside.

We paused for lunch below the pair of locks at Figure of Three - we recalled that they need extra effort - and our memories were not wrong! A couple of CaRT workers were just making a start on preparing the mechanisms and balance beams of the top gates for a re-paint which they clearly needed. They have been given time to do the job properly by cleaning back to bare metal - too often a lick of paint is used to cover up many damaged layers until, as in this case, it all starts to flake off.

The first of the locks had a handspike mechanism - some people do make it look like hard work.

A little later at Millbank Lock, someone else showed how it should be tackled! In this case the mechanism is a ground paddle rather than a gate paddle.

We tried phoning the listed number at the end of the Dewsbury Arm, which at least at one time sold diesel, but as there was no reply we opted not to take that route - it is only  short and somewhat uninspiring, we recalled. Instead we continued up through Double Locks, making rather a hash of the first one as the wind and water took the boat first to one side and then to the other and back again. What made it more difficult is that there is no easy way across the bottom gates and the off side top gate drifts open of its own accord . . . Since there was a family watching these proceedings, we did at least give a demonstration of how it should be done when we went through the second one.

The next short section is in a cutting but the sun had now appeared which made everything look much better once we were on somewhat more open land. OK, so it sis just another bridge but the idea is to show just how clear they sky had become.

That's better - a little more fluffy cloud arrived after we moored but it was still a warm and pleasant evening.

 Miles - 7 Locks

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