Sunday, March 25, 2007

Anderton Boat Lift

It was a beautiful day despite the cold wind, it felt like spring in the sunshine. Not that we’re throwing off the shackles of winter any more – the seasons almost merge together now.

I went to look at the Anderton Boat Lift near Northwich, ‘The Cathedral of the Canals’, built in 1875 it lifts boats from the Weaver Navigation up to the Trent and Mersey Canal. Closed in 1983 it was restored and reopened in 2002.

Walking down the towpath I passed some massive marinas chock full of narrow boats. I wonder what it’s like in the summer? You buy a boat to get some peace and quiet and then there’s ‘lock rage’ as boats try to beat the queues.

I went through Marbury Country Park, which has beautiful views across Budworth Mere (part of Northwich Community Woodlands). The Barry family built a mock French Chateau in the 1840s, but they decided to live in one of their other mansions – as you do. It was auctioned off in the 1930s, requisitioned during the war and demolished in 1968.

In the open fields a skylark shot upwards and hovered with its insistent call. Even a townie like me could recognise it.

By the time I got back the Anderton Boat Lift was open, there’s an excellent exhibition which is only £2 for adults. I was just waiting to see it in operation but no deal.

Northwich was founded on the salt industry they pumped brine out of the ground and then allowed the water to evaporate. Later this caused subsidence and buildings began to sink, nothing daunted they shored the foundations up or just moved the houses.

Driving away the chemical works are still smoking away in the background, once part of ICI they’ve renamed them Brunner-Mond (now owned by Tata of India). Brunner and Mond were Victorian philanthropists, who introduced holidays with pay, a pension fund and encouraged trade unionism, wonder what it’s like today?


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