One Bridge After Another. 7th February

Keadby Visitor Moorings to Bramwith Junction

Vazon Sliding Bridge ahead

Another early start or us today. We pushed off at 8:50, Vazon Sliding Bridge has two slots a day when it can be opened, one being 9am. As we approached Mick knocked the throttle back into tick over thinking we’d have to wait a while for a train coming from Scunthorpe to pass. But then the bridge started to slide open, time to push up the revs, we’d need to be out of the way before the train arrived. We were through safe and sound. Time to start operating bridges ourselves.

In between the Vazon Bridges

Each of the bridges on the Stainforth and Keadby Canal are different to each other. The first one Vazon Bridge is quite simple. Turn your key of power in the box, you hear a clunk, lift the handle and push the bridge to open it. It moved like a dream, no twinges from my back either, marvellous.

Looking back to Keadby

A hazy morning, lots of dog walkers chatting to each other. Wind turbines every way you looked. We’re back in the flat lands with masses of bright blue sky. It felt so still, it’s a wonder the turbines were turning at all.

Godnow Swing Bridge next. Here there used to be a big panel with 1970’s calculator instructions on a screen that was really hard to read. This was interlinked with the railway crossing which is manned. The chap came out of his little hut and swung the level crossing gates closed to road traffic which would allow me to operate the swing bridge. A modern panel with Open and Close buttons has replaced the old huge box. Push and hold is all you have to do to close barriers and swing the bridge. Not one vehicle held up today, not even one visible on the long straight stretch of road.

Medge Hall Swing Bridge is not that much further on. I think this is my favourite with the signal box, level crossing gates (which always seem to be closed to road traffic) and then the red post box. Here one manual barrier needs closing before lifting the handle and pushing the bridge open.

The border between Yorkshire and Lincolnshire isn’t a big affair. A group of trees and a dyke heading off on both sides of the canal. We think it should have a sign to mark it. Ahead of us was blue sky, behind vapour trails heading off to the east.

Next Maud’s Bridge. As expected it was left open to boat traffic, bollards and signs on either side stopping road traffic. The dints in the handrails suggest it has been hit with quite a bit of force, the main upright at the end is at quite an unusual angle. There was also no sign of the box you use to unlock the mechanism.

Chuntering cyclists

As we pulled through the opening a group of road cyclists arrived. They seemed to be puzzled that we were continuing on our way without closing the bridge behind us. We said the bridge was broken, by a car not us! They conferred and then cycled back the way they’d come, soon to be seen heading down the road to the next bridge, Moores Bridge.

Pulling in to make a cuppa

Here we had to wait, a planned stoppage at this bridge is ongoing. Eight people in high vis could be counted, four having a cuppa by the welfare van. A chap walked towards us, if we could give them twenty minutes they’d open the bridge for us. Time to pop the kettle on.

Lots of activity

Moore’s Bridge used to have a big control panel, manual barriers, but the bridge moved with the press of a button. Now there are wigwag lights, automatic barriers that drop down and a new modern two button pedestal was spotted. Chaps were busy bending hydraulic piping, trays for it to lay in were in position below where the bridge deck swivels. Here the road was also closed, barriers part way down the lane, hopefully the cyclists managed to get through.

A delivery of new cabinets arrived, it was driven over the bridge and they were about to start unloading it when they changed their minds. Five chaps put their shoulders to the bridge and gave it a big heave, thank goodness it was relatively easy to move. We thanked them as we passed through but they were far too busy looking at the new cabinets.

Not far to the Wykewell Bridge, a lift bridge. Key of power operated this one. Well except we didn’t need to open it as it was already lifted with a couple of chaps inspecting the underside from a cherry picker! We were asked to wait a couple of minutes which was fine. The inspectors retracted themselves and asked for the bridge to be lowered. Someone suggested we should be let through first, we were waved on. So that was the third bridge in a row on the east side of Thorne closed to road traffic.

Blue Water Marina, Oleanna’s winter mooring last year

Past Blue Water Marina, we tried to work out where Oleanna had been moored last winter and who was in her space.

Princess Royal Swing Bridge was next, how would it be today?! I hopped off crossed the bridge and opened the panel. A clunk could be heard as the gates either side were released ready to be closed to pedestrians. I headed across closed one gate, click. Closed the other one, waggled it as suggested in the instructions, did so again! Nothing. Walked back across, closed the near side gates both clicking. Pressed the open button, nothing.

Bloomin Bridge!

Mick came up to try to assist. He waggled the problematic gate until it wouldn’t move. Button pressed, nothing! By now we both had locals offering advice which actually wasn’t helping any. ‘It won’t have been closed properly’ ‘The gates aren’t closed’ ‘Try pressing open and close at the same time’ etc. Nothing was working and now I couldn’t even reverse the process and open the gates to try again, or at least let those waiting across. Time to make a phone call.

The lady at the council apologised, she’d send someone down. I expected to be doing crowd management for a good half hour maybe longer before anyone arrived, but thankfully a chap turned up within five minutes. He waggled gates, leaped over them, checked the panel and wondered if it had done what it did yesterday!

We will do

With his Key of all Council Power he opened a big cabinet across the way brought out a remote and proceeded to open the bridge a bit, then close it again. Then he swung the bridge open for us to get through. As we headed off he could be seen closing the bridge, opening one set of gates but the normally cooperative side were stuck! Oh well that was an SEP.

A very new charity boat

Thorne Lock, a volunteer was on duty and a boat was about to come down. This was Pearl a new boat for the Ethel Trust a hybrid that the crew were being trained on. Walkie talkies were everywhere guiding them into the lock. They’ve only had the boat a couple of months and it will soon head up to Sheffield where it will be officially launched by Princess Anne.

The volunteer helped us up the lock with great care. He let me step back on board and he’d work the barriers and the swing bridge just above the lock. Thank you!

Cruising with the back doors open, a novelty

Now we had quite a distance to travel before the next bridge. Time to have lunch on the move. As we came through Stainforth I sent a message ahead, we’d be about half an hour. Approaching Bramwith Swing Bridge we could see a car crossing and then the barriers were lowered and the bridge started to swing. We sailed straight through, perfectly timed and pulled up on the bridge landing to pick up our friend David.

Teaming up with NB Bob we shared the lock, David and I assisted with the gates and paddles whilst having a bit of a catch up. The owners of Bob were heading up towards Sheffield and asked about mooring there. Four years ago you could moor outside the basin for 2 days, any longer you paid in the basin.

Bramwith Lock with Bob

We headed for our favourite mooring at the junction. Stepping off the bow with a rope jarred my back again, even though today I’d been doing really well, all the ropes and mooring was left to Mick to sort.

This afternoon we’ve had a really good catch up with David. Last time we saw him was in Newark last April. The last year has had it’s ups and downs for him but he has turned a corner and things are far far better. He is content with life, wakes up looking forward to what the day has in store for him. We even got to see a broad smile across his face. It was so good to see him well again.

2 locks, 14.9 miles, 9 swing bridges, 1 slid open, 1 open, 1 obstinate, 3 swung for us, 1 lift bridge, 2 cars held up, 0.25 tank of diesel since filling up in Newark, 1 lunch on the go, 1 more sunny sunny day, 1 happy smiling David.

4 thoughts on “One Bridge After Another. 7th February

  1. Anonymous

    Yes. THAT bridge! The one that CaRT knows nothing about as its owned by Thorne Town Council.
    At least someone there answered the phone for you. You might gather that we too have history with THAT bridge.
    I was told later that if you undo the panel under the control panel, needs one of those triangular security sockets, there is a big red ‘reset’ button.

    NB ‘Red Wharf’

    1. Pip Post author

      THAT bridge has only worked for us once first time, all the other times it has taken some jiggery pockery. Mick is going to write to Princess Anne about it and see if she can get it sorted when she comes to Yorkshire to launch Pearl.

  2. Debby (NB Bonjour)

    Lovely to see Pearl out and about! We were moored alongside her in Calcutt marina while she was being commissioned. We had a guided tour by one of the Coles, can’t remember his first name now! She is very well appointed for people in wheelchairs.

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