Friday, June 03, 2011

A way of life, old and new

Boating is a way of life that we enjoy but it was so different back in the 1900's. Chas is reading a book about the working life 'on the cut'. The canal system was built like a cross linking major ports and rivers with factories. Birmingham grew bigger because it was surrounded by all the raw materials needed to make iron and steel. The waterways kick started the industrial revolution. There were many families and companies involved with the transport of raw materials and manufactured goods. Cargo like coal, wood, iron, steel, crockery and even chocolate were moved about on the waterways until the railways and roads did it quicker.
The old boating families had a hard life having to load and unload much of the cargo by hand. They almost had their own language. The propeller was known as 'the blades' while the rudder was 'the ellum'. The diesel engine was 'kicked over' to start and 'put out' to stop. The 'A' frames supporting the cargo covers was 'the cratch'. Just like the Navy they had a name for every part of the boat or ship. If the boat got stuck on mud the skipper was said to be 'hill climbing'.

Buckby is some way from the canal but has given its name to the drinking water jug used by the old boaters because it was made and painted there. We have just had ours repainted at a shop half way down the Buckby flight of locks. It was always the boater's tradition to paint parts of the boat and various items belonging to it with roses and castles.
We took our boat down those locks, sometimes called Wilton, joining a boat at the top but they went on down with a single boat at the next. While we waited for two boats to come up we were joined by another single boat coming down. "It is always safer and easier with two boats in these wide locks." We stopped at the bottom for diesel at Wilton Marina but were told that their tank was empty! So after getting an oil filter we moved on down to near bridge 19.

Be dazzled by the light near bridge 21. Richard Hall has designed a range of LED lighting to fit existing units. Now even a replacement for 'florescent' tubes. After some simple modification the LED tubes are twice as bright and consume half the power. One tube is all that is needed in each unit. All are now regulated to be powered by between 10 and 30 volts DC.
The canal is quite busy this week because it is half term with children on holiday. So you would not believe that the demand for boating holidays has fallen. 'A fall in lock usage last year has sparked concern' is reported in 'Towpath Talk'. Some hire boat companies have advertising panels stuck between their windows and apparently there are many more second hand boats for sale.


Travelling in No Direction said...

We filled up at Rugby Boats today after passing you, 82p per Litre at base rate and happy helpful staff.

Carol said...

Hi Ann, Charles - so glad to hear that you're on the move again and on the Grand Union too. Hope to catch up with you some time in the not too distant future. Take care of each other.

Chris said...


The advertising panels were sponsors for the Walk4Matt charity walk from Rugby to Twickenham and a Leicester Tigers logo all on magnetic panels, I don't think the hire fleets have reverted to random advertising yet - although you could have started something there!

We were really behind schedule in bringing our boat back up to Rugby but saw you filling up at Whilton Marina as we passed. I waved but as we have never met I guess you just though I was some lunatic hirer with advertising slogans on the side of his boat - maybe I should have explained that I read your blog!

You all looked well though.