On my quick visit to Nottingham last week I stopped to photograph Station Street Bridge, a turnover/changeover bridge over the canal. (What do they call them in this region?)
As I readied myself to take the photo I hadn't noticed the cyclist just heading down the slope towards me. So I pressed the shutter and here's the result. And that's the difference (well, one of them!) between me and Andrew Denny. Andrew, I'm sure, would have waited a second until the cyclist was more prominent. There would have been a story to the picture - something happening - rather than another ordinary snapshot. Now, before you start telling me off again for being too modest, I'd like to point out that at least I have captured the cyclist, and the picture is more interesting as a result.
A couple of seconds later, as the cyclist whizzed past me, he apologised, presumably for getting in the way of my shot. Why do people do that? Like ducking if they think they're "in the way" of a TV camera. We might actually be wanting to film/photograph a scene with them in it, behaving naturally!
OK, there was a story to the picture, and I've just told it.
The opposite side of the bridge featured a smooth(ish) slope let into the steps for helping cyclists push their bikes up/down. I wonder how many try to ride down, and how many come to grief in the attempt?
To add a little more to my previous post about this, I reproduce below my e-mail to the broker and his helpful reply. Names have been withheld.
My letter to the broker:
Last week I tried to buy (name of boat), but it now seems to have been sold to someone else.
I'd be grateful for some feedback on why I was unsuccessful. I made an offer on the boat on Wednesday, and was in communication with the owner about the boat. So he knew I was interested, and you knew I was interested. Should I not have been made aware of the rival bid for the boat, so I had a chance to increase my offer? Was there any way in which I should have made it clearer that I wanted the boat?
I just want to learn from my mistakes so it doesn't happen again. What should I have done differently?
His reply to me:
I am very sorry you feel aggrieved, however, we do not, and would not want to operate an auction for boats, we do like to offer boats at what we believe to be a fair and reasonable price, however, we will also put offers to customers for their consideration which they may choose to accept or refuse, in this case you were willing to place an offer which was refused and no further offer was put forward, we cannot hold a boat while you make a decision whether or not to make an increased offer, when we have an interested party here on the day, wishing to place a deposit for a boat, at a price accepted by the owner, I do not feel we should jeopardize a sale by trying to contact people who have made rejected offers on a boat in the hope of raising the price, moreover, I feel going back and forth with higher bids can more often than not lead to dissatisfaction, in conclusion, until a deposit is placed on a boat we will not hold it for a particular person.
I hope you are successful in your search for a boat and we can help you in the future, and should you find yourself in a position where an offer is rejected, make clear your intention to make a fresh offer, but beforehand ensure you are happy you have gathered all the information you require prior to making any offer, as discussing a price does not constitute an offer. I do hope this is of help.
So. My mistakes:
Not deciding then and there on the boat and putting down a deposit
Not making it clear that if my offer was rejected that I would increase the offer
Delaying while I sought information from the owner
It was my fault, then, and I know for the future. Just one thing, though: I'm not sure what the broker means by "ensure you are happy you have gathered all the information you require prior to making any offer, as discussing a price does not constitute an offer".
Does he mean I should have tried to ask the owner about the boat before even making an offer? Would the broker have given me that information? Wouldn't this have delayed my making an offer allowing someone else to slip in before me?
Thank you to all who have expressed their sympathy. I'm getting over it! I had initially thought that the broker was at fault, but now I can see his point of view. My biggest mistake was not recognising the gift horse and acting swiftly enough. I was quite prepared to pay the asking price. Why didn't I offer that straight away? When will I stop kicking myself?
Oh. Nearly forgot. Actually some of the delay could be down to the broker: on the day he received my offer I got an e-mail back, which, as will be clear, he intended to send to the owner:
Hi (my first name, same as first name of owner),
Just had a long conversation with Mr (my surname), chap who made offer.
A bit of history on him - Came in to look at marina, not to purchase boat. Saw your boat and fell for it. Believe he has done some boating but not owned his own.
He seems quite genuine from the conversation and very keen to know as much about history and any problems there may be with boat.
I laughed when I read it, and, of course, replied pointing out his error.
I was in Nottingham last week with a couple of hours to explore the Nottingham Canal while changing trains. I've driven through or past, but I don't recall having ever set foot in the city before.
As the train drew in to the station from the west I glanced up to see "BRITISH WATERWAYS" in huge white letters on the top of a warehouse. Ah. So that's where the canal is. Three minutes after disembarking (no, you probably can't "disembark" from a train, but I can't bring myself to say "detraining") I was on the towpath.
Heading west, back towards the BW warehouse, the towpath led over a junction bridge where an arm, now almost completely obliterated, turned off the main line. A few yards remain as a water feature beside the Magistrates' Court. I like the regular gently sloping setts of the bridge.
view from what remains of the arm towards the main line
the top photo is looking towards Wilford Street Footbridge
I recently had a good look round a narrowboat for sale at a boat brokerage. I liked it a lot, and made an offer on it on Wednesday. The offer wasn't immediately accepted, but I was given the contact details of the owner so he could answer my questions. I spoke to the brokerage on Thursday; everything seemed to be proceeding smoothly. On Friday the broker gave me the owner's contact details; I sent him a list of questions on Friday evening. On Saturday morning I was out when the owner left a message on my home answerphone at 0930 to say that he had received my e-mail and that he was responding to it. The next message on the answerphone was left at 1230 from the brokerage to say that someone had put a deposit on the boat, meaning it was no longer available.
Now, the broker had my mobile phone number, and the owner knew that I was very interested in the boat. How did it end up being sold to someone else? What did I do wrong? When I saw the boat should I immediately have offered the asking price? Was my mistake in waiting for answers to my questions, allowing someone else to slip in with a higher offer? The boat didn't, in the end, sell for the asking price, which I would have been willing to pay.
Should the broker not have come back to me telling me of the improved offer, giving me the chance to improve my offer? I do not understand what went wrong.
Of course, I now feel that the boat would have been the ideal boat, and nothing like that will ever come up again. Not necessarily the case, but that's how I'm feeling.
As you will know from yesterday's post I was at Mercia Marina on the Trent and Mersey earlier this week. I was impressed. If you have to keep your boat in a "car park" there must be worse ones. Everyone on the staff I spoke to was friendly and helpful, the tearoom was excellent value, and the whole place just had a good "feeling". Of course, the fact that it was sunny and not raining helped.
view from tearoom
In the top photo you can see a couple of people in hi-vis jackets on top of the sedum roof of the new chandlery. By the time I'd walked nearer they'd got down. Although you can't actually see any water, the bridge is over the entrance cut to the marina from the T&M (on the left).
I was in need of some lunch, and the tearoom did me a fry-up (two eggs, two bacon, sausage, baked beans, two toast) for £4.00. Marvellous.
If I'd remembered that Nev was having Waterlily repainted at the marina I'd have wandered over to have a look.
This week I came within a whisker of buying a boat, but have reluctantly decided, in the cold light of day, not to. The boat in question was Friday, as showcased by Andrew Denny. I went to see it on Monday.
Although time is on my side - I'm not due for retirement for another eight years - and I have a certain amount of money set aside for The Boat, Jan and I decided that it wasn't really what we wanted. One of the things which attracted me was the history of the boat: it was built of wood in 1970 by a boatyard which up to that time had made only working boats. This, apparently, was one of just three pleasure boats by Peter Keay & son of Walsall. As Andrew has said, this was at the start of the revival of the waterways, the beginning of the boom in pleasure boating.
Even now, rereading Andrew's post, I wonder if I've done the right thing. How good it would be to restore the boat, to see it once again proudly linking the wooden working boat past with the modern steel pleasure narrowboats of today. I do hope the person who buys Friday will have the money and the inclination to do the work, and not, as Andrew, Robert (Mercia Marina manager) and John (the owner) fear, let it slip further into decay and lower into the water.
John, the boat's owner, told me that he did the interior fitout himself after removing the original. A mechanical engineer, he drew up plans, constructed the fittings "on the towpath", and installed them on the boat. Everything fitted perfectly, he said, and thirty years later it still fits perfectly and is in excellent condition (if you ignore the dirt).
And this presents a problem for any future restorer: whether to retain the quality 1980 fitout, or to try to recreate the original interior. John told me that he thought he might still have somewhere the original 1970 drawings, which would be invaluable in such a restoration.
fore cabin built by the present owner to house a generator: cooling fans vent directly to the mushrooms
Useful though such a well-installed genset is, that forecabin would have to go. It hides the beautiful split front doors, with their tiny portholes; and obscures a view forward from inside.
I could have been Friday's saviour, but I have now passed up that opportunity. Have I done the right thing?
On Saturday Jan and I went to a concert in Wymondham Abbey. It had been organised by Samantha Jessop as part of her UEA studies. The abbey was packed to hear performances from choir, barbershop quartet, wind duo, dulcimer etc.
Lauren Cawston and Charlotte Odell
Broadside Revival (How long did she say we had to sing for?)
Sam did fantastically well in getting sponsors for the concert. One of them, local pub The Green Dragon, provided a free buffet in the interval. Now that's the kind of interval I like! The concert was very enjoyable, the highlight for me being the wind duo of Lauren Cawston and Charlotte Odell playing numbers on clarinet, saxophone and flute.
The money raised was all going to local charity Musical Keys, which supports young people with special needs through music and movement.
The figures in parentheses denote the number of places moved since the previous chart; (-) denotes new entry or re-entry into the top thirty; (=) denotes no change. Halfie is at number 34. There are 101 entries altogether.
I took Jan to the station this morning to catch a train to Chelmsford. I was hoping to be able to capture a deep blue sky, untainted by aeroplane condensation trails, but the sky didn't really oblige.
I have seen Wymondham Station looking better; there were no hanging baskets today. Perhaps they're away being refilled.
What you won't see in most of the UK is a scene like the photo below (Trent and Mersey Canal near Wheelock, April 2009).
The cloud of ash from the volcano in the Eyjafjallajoekull (and you thought Pontcysyllte was a mouthful!) area of Iceland is grounding all flights except in parts of Northern Ireland and Scotland for a second day.
Alan of Lazy Days has already posted a sunset photo; I expect all photographers to be out this evening hoping for amazing colours.
On reading through Waterscape's Waterway Wanderers scheme, which I posted about yesterday, I discovered this nugget buried away in the fishing rules:
"Where visitor moorings are not signed as to whether fishing is permitted, its is assumed that during the boating season those wishing to moor have priority, at other times access will be on a first come first served basis."
Well, I don't know about you, but for me there is no such thing as a "boating season". I like to boat at any time of year. For me the "boating season", if there is one, is any time the water is liquid.
These "rules" suggest that boaters can be prevented from tying up at visitor moorings because an angler has got there first, and "bagged" the spot.
But hang on a minute, who built the canals, and for what purpose? Did fishermen come along in the eighteenth century and decide they wanted some new long thin fishing grounds? And did people such as Josiah Wedgwood then turn up and say, "Hmm. These fishing waters seem to connect potteries, limekilns and coalfields. I wonder if I could float some boats along them to transport some goods."?
What absolute rot! The canals were built for boats, and anglers came along afterwards. Boats should always have priority at moorings. Now I'm all in favour of living in harmony with others, and anglers have as much right to enjoy their fishing hobby as we do our boating one. But come on, BW! Don't lose touch with your raison d'être: to maintain the waterways for boating.
Isn't there enough towpath, away from designated visitor moorings, for fishing from?
Oh, and if this rule is to be enforced, we need a definition of the "boating season". May I suggest: "All times when the waterway in question is not iced over, nor closed owing to insufficient depth of water, blockage or maintenance work."
In a comment on yesterday's post Brian of NB Harnser wondered if the new Waterway Wanderers scheme meant that fishing was no longer allowed from one's boat. I don't know the rules about this; perhaps someone could advise.
catching an eel at Lathom Junction on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, July 2008
British Waterways will tomorrow launch a scheme which will encourage more anglers along the banks of our canals. In a press release BW says it's "opening up 300 miles of canal to anglers".
These are excerpts from the press release:
The new Waterway Wanderers scheme launches on Thursday 15 April and will provide access to 122 previously unlicensed locations throughout England and Wales.
John Harding, who will administer the scheme, says: "Waterways Wanderers plugs the gaps between those stretches of waterway which aren’t currently being let to clubs. This scheme will make fishing canals much easier and I’m looking forward to welcoming many more anglers to the waterways."
Mark Lloyd, Chief Executive of the Angling Trust said: “Britain’s canals offer a fantastic resource for anglers of all abilities, in the countryside and inner city alike. Angling Trust adult members will be able to enjoy all that fishing for just £10 a year. We hope that this will encourage thousands of anglers to get out on the towpath and join the Angling Trust.”
(The bold is my emphasis.)
An annual permit will cost £20 (£10 concessions; £5 under 17s), with £10 off for members of the Angling Trust. The Angling Trust website (www.anglingtrust.net) seems to be down at the moment; the closest match appears to be the Angling Foundation.
Now this is all fine if it swells the maintenance coffers of BW, but with annual permits costing a mere £20 at most it will need a lot of anglers to pay for a new lock gate or repair an overflow weir.
That's an awful lot of poles in the water and extending back over the towpath.
The latest (May 2010) issue of Canal Boat magazine has an article by Hugh McKnight about old posters which depicted waterway scenes. With one exception they're all from the first half of the twentieth century, and they're all works of art.
Inconveniently they are not on the magazine's website, and I'm not sure about the legality of photographing and reproducing some examples here, so this will be that very rare post from me: one with no pictures. (Oh, all right, just the one of the magazine cover.)
To the title of this post. The first poster the magazine shows is of narrow boat Sarah in an 1875 scene painted by Cuthbert Hamilton Ellis in 1951. The boat is being towed by an out-of-frame horse on the north Oxford Canal; a steam train passes on the adjacent railway line at Brinklow. The poster is an example of "carriage art", displayed originally in railway coaches.
On the next page is a reproduction of a 1929 poster advertising the charms of Chertsey; and facing it is an UndergrounD one publicising the 1913 Boat Race (book to Shepherd's Bush and thence by Tram to Hammersmith, Putney or Turnham Green). Mr. McKnight writes, "Limited use of colour and a concentration on the essential subject matter to the exclusion of all else has produced an image that feels modern even today."
When we walked past the Leawood Pumphouse on the Cromford Canal just before Easter the gate from the towpath was unlocked. I went down the steps to photograph the chimney from underneath, and then walked round to the main doors. These were open, and the engine was being worked on, presumably in readiness for steaming over the Easter bank holiday weekend.
The pumping engine was installed because water to the summit level could not be guaranteed after the Cromford Canal Company was denied access to its original supply, from Sir Richard Arkwright's mill just to the north. It was built in 1850, and pumped water from the River Derwent up to the canal.
"The short spikes of flowers are produced just before the leaves in spring, emerging with only a few elongated basal bracts and are usually green, flesh coloured or dull white depending on species. Butterburs ... prefer moist environments such as riverbanks, marshes and ditches."
The figures in parentheses denote the number of places moved since the previous chart; (-) denotes new entry or re-entry into the top thirty; (=) denotes no change. Halfie is at number 33. There are 101 entries altogether.
Our former curate (now a fully-fledged vicar), Howard, popped round for coffee the other day. He came in his new car, a 1993 Volvo 940SE, which he'd been given. It was an MOT failure and needed a fair wodge of money spending on it (I think he said £750), but it looks superb.
left to right: Howard, Jan, sometime crew member Adrian, Halfie
Even though I took this photo, and know the layout, it still looks to me as though the rails are sloping down; and the short tunnel is at the bottom.
Whereas in fact I'm looking UP to the tunnel, which is sloping, and the rails are level!
This is the bottom of Sheep Pasture Incline at the High Peak Junction end of the Cromford and High Peak Railway. Trains of open goods wagons complete with their steam locomotives were hauled up and lowered down the incline, initially by hemp rope and later by steel cable.
Compare the top photo with the one below. This is looking the other way to the tunnel, now more clearly on the incline. (That's the A6 going over the top.)
In the middle is the catch pit, which I talk about here.
This was built to link the Cromford Canal at Cromford, Derbyshire, with the Peak Forest Canal at Whaley Bridge, which at the time was in Cheshire. The original plan, in the 1820s, was to build a canal, but the railway worked out at about a fifth of the cost.
The railway was built along very similar lines to a contour canal, and included the tightest curves of any railway in the country. Where flights of locks would have been, the trains were hauled up and lowered down inclined planes. The above photo is of the engine house at the top of Sheep Pasture incline.
The incline is at about 1 in 8, one of the steepest and longest on the railway. This is it, but it's difficult to see how steep the slope is when there are no references.
I was surprised to see an old crane about half way down; would they really have stopped on the incline for loading etc.?
At the bottom is a catch pit to trap runaway wagons. A pointsman would have judged the speed of descending wagons, and, if all was in order, he would pull over points to let the train bypass the catch pit. It seems that the default setting was straight into the pit!
And here's one which crashed earlier.
The railway was built to standard 4' 8½" gauge and had the highest summit level in the country. When it opened, in another parallel with canals, wagons were pulled by horses along the level sections; the 33 mile journey taking two days. One day I'd like to cycle along the entire route. I'd like to think I'd be able to do it in considerably less time!
I have taken much of the information for this post from Peter Whitehead's excellent article on the Inland Waterways Protection Society pages of David Kitching's website.
Peter Whitehead has also written in great detail about the Peak Forest Tramway, which ran to Bugsworth Basin, just round the corner from Whaley Bridge on the Peak Forest Canal. He gives very useful information about how early tramways were constructed, and explains why remnants you might stumble across today look as they do.