The Perils of Boating
The festival is gaining popularity and will be covered by Lancashire Evening Post and Radio Lancashire therefore the general public are expected to attend in great numbers providing that the weather is kind to us. We will once again have the caravan near to the Pyramid offering a Tombola, a balloon race and face painting among other things. If anyone wishes to assist over the weekend their help would be appreciated. Please contact any member of the committee.
The Ribble Link Centre, which is located in the boat yard, will be open over the weekend when the detail designs of the link will be on display. Representatives of Babtie, the Consulting Engineers, will be on hand to answer any questions.
On that note I would like to thank the volunteers from the Trust, Preston Cruising Association, WRG and all the other volunteers who helped to finish off the Centre over the weekend of the 6th & 7th of June and to Frank & Irene Parker for all their efforts over the months. We are looking for some tables, cupboards, a multi-point boiler and showers / shower curtains etc. If any one has or knows were we could obtain these items please contact me. It is anticipated that the board of the new company, Ribble Link Construction and Operations Ltd., will meet later this month with a view to agreeing that it signs up with the Millennium Commission as soon as possible, hopefully by early July.
All the land issues appear to be in the final throes of completion but the Environment Agency and Babties are still negotiating over some issues regarding water quality, which will have to be resolved before work can commence.
Thanks to all of you who took up our membership secretary's idea of donating £100 to landfill, which releases a £1000 to the Trust, in return for free life membership. Any one who would like to take up this offer please contact Chris Gulley or any member of the committee.
Jane Lea, who was the lucky winner of last year's draw, flew out to Canada in mid May for a two-week holiday to see her brother. On her return Jane informed us that she had had a wonderful time and thanks must go to Airline Network and Air Canada who supplied the tickets. That's the end of this report. I hope you are able to attend the Cruise over the weekend of July 11th - 12th and I look forward to seeing you there.
It was a hard winter. At the moorings thick ice covered the canal but I had broken it from around my boat. I moved to a clinker built boat whose planks used to open up under compression. I jabbed a the ice with the boat hook but made no impression. I took my other hand off the grab rail to use greater force. then with my next jab, slipped off the icy gunwale. My fall certainly broke the ice. As I went under my first thought was, "The water's deep here". I felt the side of the boat and being nearer the bow pulled myself out of the deep silt and through the broken ice to the side where I lost no time in climbing out and dashing for the car to get home. Blood was pouring from an ear which had been ripped by the ice. There had been no one else there and I wondered what would have happened if I'd been knocked out by the blocks of ice.
The time near the south end of Harecastle tunnel when two swans decided to take off as I approached. They had plenty of room but they headed straight for the boat, skimming the fore cabin and crashing into the canopy. They then flew on along the canal. I think someone had upset them that morning.
One night I was boating towards Stoke. The off-side was lined with large trees, the purr of the engine was the only sound, the twin headlights piercing the darkness. Suddenly, I heard the sounds of birds, first a few and then more, squawking and screaming. The boat was the target as hundreds of diving and circling birds came down. They mainly went for the headlights and beams, their movements more rapid than I had seen before or since, they were definitely attacking. My thoughts immediately went to the Hitchcock film, "The Birds". I was glad to clear that place.
Wolverhampton airport, now a housing estate, was at the junction of the Staffs. and Worcester and the Shroppie. I had been there before and spoke with an air of knowledge when we were passing it again in 1964.
"Look, there's a 'plane over there, look there's another one there!" I dribbled on.
"There's one in the canal." said my daughter.
"Don't be silly. Look there's another one there."
"There's one in the canal." repeated Karen.
I looked to the front and was amazed to see an aircraft in the canal, embedded in the off-side bank, with one wing gently bobbing up and down in the water and surrounded by police. The police waved me down and told me to stop the engine whilst passing. A large gap in the wire fencing traced the 'plane's track across the canal.
I cursed the fact that I had used up my last film on the nearby rock cutting. We learned later that the engine had cut out on take-off and three people had been badly injured. We returned that way a few days later armed with a new film but there was no aircraft. Sadly the stop lock on the Shroppie was jammed solid with dead fish which had been killed by the leaking fuel.
On another night I was on the Staffs and Worcester when approaching a small canal bridge in the blackness I saw that there was an eerie glow from the other side. The whole bridge was picked out in the fearful yellow glow. Thoughts of aliens and flying saucers. I couldn't go round, but had to go through that bridge, to face the unknown. I opened the throttle and charges to my fate. As I roared out of the far side of the bridge half a dozen campers, around their fire, leapt to their feet in terror.
We went to Gloucester Docks for the tenth anniversary of the boat museum at which there was a handy quayside mooring. We saw the museum and the town.
My elder son and his family were with us and he had brought a small inflatable dinghy. He and each of his daughters took turns paddling around. Finally I was urged to try it myself. Never having liked inflatables, I clambered into it and paddled around the dock. Tiring of this I went back to the boat and tried to get out. There was no floor and as I stood up a burst occurred, the dinghy started folding up and sinking. The sides of the boat got higher as I got lower and, as there were no hand holds on our boat, my son and daughter-in-law each grasped an arm and hauled me aboard with feet scrabbling for a grip on the side of the hull.
Later on, having used the £1-in-the-slot pump out, we moored near the lock. One of the girls, seven years old at that time, kept stepping from the quay to the boat. The ropes had pulled slightly with the constant filling and emptying of the nearby lock and one time she missed her footing slipping down, in a second, into the narrow gap between the boat and the wall. Luckily, my son and I were both on deck as she went. As we looked down only her plastic money holder, on a cord around her neck, was floating on the water. I feverishly untied the ropes to push the boat out as my son threw himself down on the gunwale and grasped the plastic holder which was still around her neck. As the space opened up he grabbed her hair, drew her up and out. There wasn't a scratch on her, despite slipping down a six inch gap, and although quiet for several days she recovered and wouldn't forget her trip to Gloucester for a long time.
N.B. Eye Bee
Now that the holiday season is upon up this list of museums, heritage and visitor centres, in the United Kingdom, whose collections are wholly or partly based on the inland waterways of this country could be useful.
South East England
The Canal Museum, Grand Union, Stoke Bruerne
Aldermaston Visitor Centre
Basingstoke Canal Museum, Basingstoke Canal
Rickmansworth Waterway Trust, Grand Union Canal
River & Rowing Museum, River Thames, Henley
Dolphin Sailing Barge Trust, Sittingbourne
London Canal Museum, Regent's Canal
Science Museum, London (small collection of waterway related material)
South West England
The National Waterways Museum, Gloucester & Sharpness Canal, Gloucester
Kennet & Avon Canal Exhibition, Kennet & Avon Canal, Devizes
Bude Stratton Museum, Bude Canal, Bude
Birchills Canal Museum, BCN, Walsall
The Black Country Museum, BCN, Dudley
Birmingham Museum of Science & Industry, BCN, Birmingham
Nottingham Industrial Museum, Nottingham Canal, Nottingham
Foxton Canal Museum, Grand Union, Foxton
Powysland Museum and Montgomery Canal Centre, Montgomery Canal, Welshpool
Waterfolk Canal Museum, Brecon & Abergavenny Canal, Llanfrynach
The Boat Museum, Shropshire Union Canal, Ellesmere Port
Eanam Wharf Visitor Centre, Leeds & Liverpool Canal, Blackburn
Cheddleton Flint Mill, Caldon Canal, Nr. Leek
Lancaster Maritime Museum, Lancaster Canal, Lancaster
Waterways Adventure Centre & Museum, Aire & Calder Navigation, Goole
Merseyside Maritime Museum, Albert Dock, Liverpool
Union Canal Society, Union Canal, Linlithgow
Summerlee Industrial Museum, Monkland Canal, Coatbridge
National Museums of Scotland, Edinburgh
Boat jumbles are now quite a common event, listed below are the main organised jumbles in this area
Sunday 13th September
Sunday 8th November
Last Revised: Tue 6th October 1998
Copyright © 1997, 1998 by John Clegg, Cliff Fazackerley and the Ribble Link Trust Ltd.