Monday, 4 May 2015

Castlefield Basin & Manchester.

Hi all,,
This week we have been moored in Castlefield Basin at the end of both the Rochdale and Bridgewater Canals.We got there,before the Bank Holiday weekend,after leaving New Islington Marina,on what was a showery morning,the showers didn't effect us much though.There were eleven locks and one and a half miles ahead of us so we turned left out of the marina,onto the Rochdale Canal,and then made our way through the first two broad locks before working our way down the Rochdale Nine.Those nine locks lived up to their reputation for being a bit difficult,taking Lisa and I the best part of three and a half hours to get down.There was plenty of water in that one and a half mile stretch of canal,so much of it in fact,that it was pouring over the top gates and making it difficult to open the top and bottom gates with the pressure of water.When we got to Castlefield we managed to get into one of the few mooring spaces left so that we could go and explore a little more of  Manchester.

The view from our side hatch across New Islington Marina,not as tightly packed as we have experienced in other marinas,there seemed to be plenty of room for visiting boats at least.You can moor for two nights free and then it's £10 per night with a max of £50 per week.Not bad for somewhere so close to Manchester.
On one of our days we spent an interesting couple of hours at The Greater Manchester Police Museum on Newton Street,it's about ten minutes walk from the marina.These two gentlemen standing outside the museum,were just two of the very friendly,helpful and well informed people we met there.The one on the right is wearing a replica of the first Police uniform.Sir Robert Peel,the founder of the police,wanted them in a uniform that wasn't too official or military and the Top Hat was reenforced so they could stand on it to look over walls etc.,it also made them easily identifiable in a crowd.He also told us that most people don't really appreciate Manchester 'cos they never look up.Following that advice we did look up as we walked about and there's an awful lot of beautiful old buildings to be seen.
On another day we went by train to Mills Hill to visit family,our Son in Law's parents Pete and Pat, live just a couple of hundred yards off the Rochdale Canal so we just had to go for a walk,I have this thing about canals you see.This is a pic' of Walkmill Lock 63 on the Rochdale above Chadderton. 

We enjoyed our time in New Islington,the facilities there are as good as any we've found anywhere,there are Washing Machines that are inexpensive to use,all the usual facilities such as Elsan,Water and Showers,and it's also possible to moor where there is no public access after a certain time of night.From the marina it's only about fifteen minutes walk to Piccadilly Gardens and the Arndale Centre so it suited us.Last Monday was Lisa's Birthday so we spent the day mooching around the shops and then went for a meal,remembering,of course,to be back for seven thirty,or we would be marooned on the wrong side of the Swing Bridge.Depending on the time of year the Swing Bridge across the marina is locked open in the evening and no pedestrians can then get across and,as the days get longer,the bridge remains open to pedestrians for longer,it can still be opened for boats like other Swing Bridges,with a Waterways Key.There are other moorings outside the Swing Bridge and we saw no cause for concern but I would always treat it as part of an urban canal and act accordingly.Ben the Manager explains everything when you get there or the residents are more than helpful if you arrive outside office hours.
Heading down the Rochdale Nine,we go underneath Piccadilly and the buildings on it as we approach Piccadilly Lock 85.We had an April shower at this time and it was handy to get in here out of the rain.
Lisa valiantly trying to open the top gates on Lock 86,you can see the water is over the top of the gates.This stretch of the Rochdale is alongside Canal Street ( bet that came as a surprise ) and there is no Towpath.Yes,I did go to her aid after I took this pic' and believe me,it wasn't easy to get those gates open,top or bottom,after we got Chyandour in the lock.
The end of the Rochdale at Castlefield,see how much water is coming over the gate of Dukes Lock 92.We had help through this lock and it was still a struggle to get the gates open.
Our mooring on what was the Coal Wharf here in Castlefield basin,under the shadow of the Beetham Tower,the 47 story Skyscraper in the background,sorry I chopped the top off.Behind us is the partially reconstructed Grocers Warehouse which was built in about 1770 by James Brindley who was the Engineer for the Bridgewater Canal. 

The Bridgewater is arguably the first canal to be built in the UK,built for the Duke of Bridgewater so he could get the coal from his mines in Worsley,just over seven miles from here,to Manchester.Having done so,the price of coal in Manchester halved overnight.Grocers Warehouse was one of the first Canal Warehouses ever to be built and it was five stories high at one time.The two arches at the front allowed boats to be loaded and unloaded under cover.The left one was the start of an arm that extended for a couple of hundred yards and was used to unload coal which was hoisted up to street level by a Waterwheel powered by water from the River Medlock.This arm was closed when the Rochdale Canal was built over the top of it at the beginning of the Nineteenth century but the warehouse remained in use.Take a look across the Rochdale Canal from the the road above the arches and you can see where the tunnel used to be.Take a look through the warehouse windows and it's possible to see what I think is a reconstruction of a Waterwheel that was used to lift goods up through the warehouse to street level and other floors and not the coal that the arm was originally built for.There are loads of information boards around here giving the history of this interesting part of Manchester since as far back as Roman Times and for someone like me,that's like heaven.The building to the right with the tower is the former Congregational Chapel opened in 1858,at one time it was a recording studio owned by Pete Waterman.
The view in Castlefield in the evening and yes,it's almost as peaceful as it looks.
On one of our days at Castlefield we went to the the Museum of Science and Industry which is about five minutes walk from here and a great place to spend the day.Here's a replica of one of the first planes built by Alliot Verdon Roe who,together with his brother Humphrey,went on to start the world famous AVRO Company on Great Ancoats Street here in Manchester in 1910.The AVRO company built the WW2 Lancaster Bomber and later the Vulcan Bomber as well as a lot of other aircraft.
We spent a few hours at another of the many attractions,this time it was the Greater Manchester Museum of Transport.Some of my former work colleagues at Stagecoach in Perth will no doubt recognise this vehicle.It's a 1950's Alexander bodied single deck Leyland Tiger that worked out of Dundee.
Giants Basin,a seven metre deep,seven metre wide overflow from the Bridgewater to the River Medlock.It's on another former Coal Wharf near the Potato Wharf here in Castlefield.
Great Northern Viaduct over Castlefield.It's of wrought iron construction with the piers filled with concrete.built in 1890,it's over three hundred metres long and was closed in 1969 after the rail tracks were lifted.Still a fantastic piece of construction

Once or twice,while walking around Manchester we have had to seek refuge from the rain in an old building or two,it being April and all that.On one occasion it was the Briton's Protection,a Public House on Great Bridgewater Street that is now over 200 years old.They serve Real Ales,selling a number of beers including a really nice drink called,..............................................Wait for it................................................................ Briton's Protection.Bet that came as a surprise.It's one of two pubs that had that name in Manchester,the other one was on Oldham Road but that closed in 1942.This one had no music and no TV's,just a pleasant atmosphere in which you can sit and talk without having to shout at each other.Another old building we took shelter in,was The Peveril of the Peak and strangely,also a Public House,this one is named after an express stagecoach service from Manchester to London and has had the same family running it for over forty years.They also serve some nice Real Ales and there's an interesting Juke Box.Both these pubs have character and lovely interiors and are just a few minutes walk from the basin.               

The Peveril of the Peak on Great Bridgewater Street.
Well,that's all again for this week,we've now left Castlefield and are moored on the Leigh Branch of the Bridgewater.Since our last blog we have gone through 11 Locks and cruised 10 Miles.That gives us a Grand Total of 1,150 Locks and 1,822 Miles since we set off in October 2012.Take care everyone.

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