Narrowboat Tacet

Silent Movement - Our gap year travelling the inland waterways

Friday, 31 August 2012

Macclesfield Mills

The Macclesfield Canal runs along the edge of hills close to the Pennines. It is mainly built along a fairly straight line with embankments and cuttings. The only locks are grouped together at Bosley, with 12 in the flight.
Along the northern end there were many textile mills and here are a few of them, no longer textile mills, but having found a new lease of life.

Goyt Mill, once one of several cotton mills in Marple, now houses various workshops and a children's soft play centre.

Clarence Mill, a cotton spinning mill which is now taken up with small manufacturing units and a popular cafe.

Adelphi Mill at Bollington was once a silk mill and is now coverted to offices.

The Hovis mill at Macclesfield, now apartment blocks. It originally produced the wholemeal loaf as a cheap nutritious food for the poor mill workers. It is said the famous loaf gets its name from the Latin "homo-vitalis" meaning strength for man.

Macclesfield Paradise Mill 1578.JPG 
Picture taken from Wikipedia
Paradise Mill down in the town of Macclesfield, where once raw silk was thrown (twisted), and woven.  It mainly houses small business, with the upper floor showing the processes involved in creating silk materials.
We had a wonderful tour of the top floor of the mill with opportunity to see many of the spooling, warp winders and weaving looms in action. The fascinating process of making the jacquard designs from original design, to punching the card pattern and threading the machine then the weaving itself was so interesting to see. Once again I could take photos inside but not publish them.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

New Mills Hydro

Yesterday we stopped at New Mills tempted by the lovely sweet smells coming from the Swizzles Matlow factory beside the canal. Don't think they do factory tours though.

The town of New Mills sits up high on the the Torrs, a dramatic gorge where the rivers Goyt and Sett flow.
 At the beginning of the 1800's there were 9 cotton mills, 3 weaving mills and three print mills.  The climate,(damp), good construction stone and the fast flowing rivers made it an ideal place for the cotton spinning industry.  The soft iron-free water was also good for bleaching, finishing and printing the materials.
With the use of steam and the canal network for transport, bigger mills were built and the smaller ones fell out of use. 

Torr Vale Mill expanded and continued to work until 2000, making over 200 years of service.

The Torrs Millennium Walkway, overlooking the mill, was built at a cost of £525,000 (almost half from the Millennium Commission) by Derbyshire County Council's in-house engineers.
The walkway spans the otherwise inaccessible cliff wall above the River Goyt. Part rises from the riverbed on stilts and part is cantilevered off the railway retaining wall. It provided the final link in the 225-mile Midshires Way and was opened in April 2000.

Bringing the area right up to date is the Torrs Hydro, a reverse Archimedian Screw hydroelectric scheme.  It has been sited where the river Sett meets the river Goyt, above the dam built to serve the mills. 
 It is supposed to be able to generate 70kw of electricity, it was running at 43kw when we were there.  It has been built and runs as a community co-operative supplying electricity to the Co-op supermarket on the hill above.
I did think to press the video button, but signal is not good enough tonight to upload it, sorry.
Bugsworth - Marple
6.5 miles, 0 locks, 4 bridges

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Bugsworth Basin

As you approach Bugsworth Basin along a narrow straight length of canal you pass some canal cottages,

then the grander Canal House, home and office of the wharfinger, the manager of the canal basin. He would have been responsible for overseeing the delivery and collection of the goods coming into and leaving the basin.  He would also collect tolls for the Peak Forest Canal Company from the cargoes leaving the basin. The guaging lock was right outside his house.
Alongside the wharves there were warehouses used for storing goods such as cloth, raw cotton, dyes and various other general goods and food brought to Bugsworth by boat then transported along the tramway running out to mills and villages further up the valley.

There were also storage sheds for limestone, and kilns for making lime. The limestone was quarried at Dove Holes and brought along the tram way where it was either loaded straight onto boats, or crushed for ballast, or burnt before being transported by narrowboat.
 The remains of limekilns can be seen here behind the boats.
We walked along the tram way to Chapel-en-le Frith, some of the original stones that supported the rails can clearly be seen on the way. The loaded stone wagons on the tram way would run down by gravity, ponies would pull the wagons on the return journey.

Recognition for the historical importance of the site, brought back into use by the Inland Waterways Protection Society.
                                      Basking in the sunshine was this little beauty.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012


We do like the Marple flight, whilst many we meet complain of the locks being hard work, we don't find them too bad. 

The bottom paddles are a bit stiff, but it's good to have the top paddles on just the one side of the lock.

The locks are just the right distance apart for the 'lockie' to walk up to prepare the lock ahead and back to close the gate behind the boat. Or that's what we find anyway.

The gate paddles have baffles (is that the right word?) so the water is less likely to fill the front of your boat.

Samuel Oldknows Warehouse halfway up the flight, there was a loading arm into the building, the right hand arch, for the transhipment of goods.
A tramway brought goods from the Upper canal to the lower, before the locks were completed.

Stonemasons marks on the lock walls. I wonder how many different stonemasons there were and how many blocks of stone they could work in a day.
The waterway here is just so pretty winding up the hill through the wooded river valley, then alongside the park and behind the houses, ducking under a couple of road bridges before the final locks beside the road to the junction with the Macclesfield Canal.

So that was our journey yesterday then on along the Upper Peak Forest, enjoying the way the views opened out to the peaks of the Derbyshire countryside, still following the river Goyt, with the railway on the other side.
No locks along this stretch, but a few swing and lift bridges.  We stopped last night a little short of Bugsworth, enjoying the quiet and the views, except just as we stopped the rain started, and it felt so cold, we just snuggled down with blankets, books, and even had the heating on for a while.

Today is our wedding anniversary.
30 years ago, 28.8.82, August Bank Holiday Saturday, and a very young looking couple promised to love, honour and cherish each other. It's not always been easy, but we've done our best, and today have thought of all the good things we have shared and enjoyed together. At the top of a long list are our two lovely children who make us very proud to be their Dad and Mum. What a lot we have to thank our God for.

We made the short run into Bugsworth Basin this morning in the bright morning sun,
finding a lovely mooring in one of the short arms in this lovely historic basin.
We hadn't intended staying here, but have spent the day walking, exploring the villages and enjoying the dry, warm day. So we are still here tonight.
More about Bugsworth tomorrow.
6 miles, 16 locks, 4 bridges
1 mile

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Familiar waterways

When we find ourselves travelling over familiar routes travelled before and especially as recently as a month ago, I find it hard to see our journey with fresh eyes and capture so many pictures for the blog.
Don't misunderstand me, there's something good about knowing what's around the corner and how many locks or whether to walk or ride between locks instead of listening to Ian's "it's just around the corner" (sometimes it's a very long corner!) It's nice to feel we know a stretch of canal.

So yesterday as we left Castlefield, climbing up the Rochdale 9 then onto the Ashton and up the locks to Portland Basin, I thought to myself I'd set a challenge to photo some different things on the way. With camera in my pocket, I set off working the first locks, anyway I was so enjoying the sun (rain had been forecast), chatting to others on the way, I forgot to take any pictures at all! 

Then it was my turn to steer Tacet and again I was away with my thoughts and dreams, still no pictures.

At the top of Clayton locks the heaven's opened and from then on we had heavy showers every little while. So no photos there either.

I failed, not much good at challenges, even ones I set myself.

We'll be enjoying lots of these soon.

6 miles, 27 locks, 1 swingbridge.

7 miles, 0 locks, 1 bridge, 2 tunnels.

Friday, 24 August 2012

More of Manchester

On our way in to Manchester yesterday we first of all passed the Kelloggs factory with a delicious smell of cornflakes wafting over us.

Then around the corner and we were soon passing Old Trafford, the Manchester United football stadium.

Here we can see the Pomona lock which takes you down onto the Manchester ship canal if you have all the necessary paperwork and requirements of the Canal board.

This is the now disused Hulme lock, the original junction with the ship canal.

Tower blocks are alongside the canal too, container towers of 5 or 6 high, and about 12 storeys to these flats.

The canal and basins are criss-crossed with bridges carrying trains, trams, cars, and people from one side to the other, even the bridges cross over each other in places.

Once we were settled in Castlefields, we headed off the the Jewish Museum.  We had been unable to visit last time we were here as not surprisingly it is closed on Fridays and Saturdays.  It is housed in a former synagogue built by the Sephardi Jews of Manchester but with influences of the Moorish Ashkenazi Jewish architect.
Set out in a not dissimilar way to many  christian chapels, with balcony on three sides, and coloured glass windows and decorative paintwork on columns, it was a very attractive place for worship.

The pulpit called the Tebah was not at the front, more central, where the Rabbi would read from the parchment Torah scrolls, with choir stalls behind.  So that the parchment was never touched by hands it is unrolled using the wooden rods and read using a yad a slender stick with a hand carved at the end to point to the handwritten text as it is read.

 On the eastern wall ahead of the Rabbi and the congregation is The Ark, a cupboard lined with satin brocade to house the sacred Torah scrolls.

The stained glass window above the ark shows the 7 branched Menorah candelabra. One branch for every day of creation.

Originally the balcony was where the women would sit for worship, the men would sit downstairs.  Now this area is an exhibition of Jewish history in Manchester. I did take photos inside, but had to sign a form for permission and agree not to publish them. Sorry.

Here we are at Salford Quays. Manchester's docks which have been redeveloped with an array of very modern buildings. Home to Mediacity, Lowry Centre, shops, offices and flats.

The Imperial War Musem across the Quay is very bright and shiny.  We didn't visit there today though.

We chose instead to go to the Lowry Centre, where we enjoyed seeing some of the many drawings and paintings by the artist L.S. Lowry (1887-1976)
Of course he is famous for his industrial arhitectural pictures with crowds of matchstick people moving about. But he also painted portraits, seascapes, and many pencil sketches often on old envelopes, hotel paper, serviettes or whatever he had to hand. There are 4,500 of his works catalogued but probably more like 8-10,000 pieces altogether around the country if not the world. It might be worth checking your attic!  His paintings now reaching millions of pounds at  auction. 

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Swinging into Action

As we approached the Barton Swing Aqueduct this morning, we were remembering the first time we came this way and saw it in action.  It was so exciting to arrive today finding a queue of boats, waiting for it to come back into position for them to be on their way again. 
At the risk of looking as though we were pushing in, we moved into a spot where we knew we could access the aqueduct and steps down to the level of the Ship Canal and see the action for ourselves.
Down the bottom we met up with the crew of nb Mary H, who I met in blogland a few weeks ago, you can read their blog here - And Mille makes three.
We were surprised that there were only two other boat crews interested in getting a closer look, there were at least 5 other boats waiting at the top. After all, this is one of the 7 wonders of the waterways!
A Mersey Ferry, actually it was Snowdrop, the one we crossed the Mersey on last week, had just passed through on her way from Manchester to Liverpool.
She is just disappearing from view in my picture, the road bridge was swung back in place first, those of us on the canal have more time.
Almost there...
Joined back up and looking down onto the MSC.

Not ready yet.....

Looking across...

And the control tower on the island.
The sad thing was a team of Manchester Ship Canal workmen were busy repairing the sheds and the mechanisms that move the gates to close off the canal, as last week vandals had forced their way inside and cut out all the copper piping leaving it out of action.  Apparently the Ferry trip along the Ship Canal had to turn around as they couldn't open the aqueduct for them. 
Here is the photo I took last year, the pipes and brass above the round blue pump thingy has all gone and the pipe work cut away too.
They'd done well to have it back in action this week.

9.5 miles, 0 locks, 1 swing aqueduct