All Just For A Load Of S**t. 24th August

Friars Mill

Mid morning Mick got a phone call from the archway garage saying that our alternator was ready to be collected. Blimey that was quick, we’ve heard tales of people sending them off to be mended and not hearing back for months, this had taken a couple of days. On collection the chap said it was the regulator that had gone. The chap also said he used to make the steelwork for narrowboats somewhere outside Leicester.

Our nearest neighbours had moved off upstream this morning leaving a gap at the end of the pontoon. Mick pulled us along so as to be further away from the resident cruisers who enjoy listening to their music loud. Not long afterwards a downstream narrowboat tucked into where we’d been, the pigeons made themselves at home on their roof pretty quickly, sorting out the teams for their next five aside match.

A cosy neighbour

As we tucked into an early lunch the next boat arrived, the chap at the helm was obviously deciding on where to go. We called out, would he like to come alongside. Of course he would, Castle Gardens pontoon was now full. We chatted away and helped with his ropes agreeing on a time when we’d be wanting to head towards North Lock in the morning.


My head was still not good, but a walk would help, I hoped. So we headed off to find the cut at North Lock and walked northwards, crossing over Wolsey Island. The Space Centre building was worth a look at. The tower is clad in pillows made from ETFE, the same material used at the Eden Project. Dots cover the surface, but from a distance you can just see through it, rockets lurk inside.

The Abbey Pumping Station

We walked that little bit further to the Abbey Pumphouse, we fancied some Victoria engineering instead of space today.

There was lots to read again. The first part of the exhibition all to do with water, bathing through the ages especially around Leicester. As the population grew so did the amount of sewage, Leicester had to do something about the quality of it’s water. So sewers were directed towards Abbey Pumping Station which was built in 1890. From here the cities waste was pumped up to a treatment works at Beaumont Leys, now a shopping centre.

Mixed in amongst the water and sewage, not literally, there are also collections of industrial, technological and scientific items relating to Leicester. A phone box filled with toys, mechano, Kermit. Cinema cameras, Happy and Sad trams. Knitting machines for both stockings and jumpers. Soap. All quite interesting, but the layout a little dated as you tend to find in free museums.

Grand steps

Then up some stairs you enter the room where all the action used to take place. Just walking into the hall you can tell this is where the Victorians meant business. The staircase says this alone!


Four steam engines fill the space. Built in Leicester by Gimson and Company these are rare examples of Woolfe compound rotative beam engines. We think they are still in working order, but sadly not today.

engrained oil

Cream, brown and gold paint decorates the huge wheels, brass polished more than a Braidbar narrowboat’s mushroom vents. Huge pillars decorated with flowers and capitals hold up the structure. Decorative tile work. 130 years worth of ingrained oil, now caught in trays filled with cat litter.

Such detail

Wow! All just for a load of Shit. The Victorians really couldn’t help themselves could they! Well worth a visit if you are in the area.

The route back to Oleanna took a slightly different route, walking alongside Leicester Abbey and the River Soar, looking up at Cardinal Wolsey who died here.


Back on board Mick carried on working his way through the laundry drawer, topped us up with water, hung things out to dry. Then went to sit and wait for our Sainsburys delivery. He was looking forward to a sit down. He can now confirm that the gates into Friars Mill are locked on an evening as he had to come back for our C&RT key to be able to bring our shopping to the boat.


Tomorrow we’ll wait in line for our turn through North Lock.

0 locks, 0 miles, 4 miles walked, 4 compound rotative beam engines, 1 floating spaceman, 1 cream tardis, 0 chilled medication, 4 pills, 1 bad head, 4 boxes wine, 1 whining cat, 1 full pontoon.

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