Category Archives: Architecture

Whilst Kathleen Blows Away. 6th April

Lock 46

After breakfast and writing the blog, on what feels like the smallest keyboard ever, we headed into town to do a bit of shopping, find a newspaper and have a look round.

They are rather fine

Two fine front doors stood out, one house for sale. You get quite a bit of house for your money in these parts. We’ve been spotting a lot of places named Royd recently. Old Royd Lock, Royd Street. Looking the name up it turns out that Royd is local dialect for ‘cleared land’ especially in a wood.

The centre of Littleborough has a mix of shops, not many unoccupied. Some smart clothes shops, a couple of butchers, a discount hardware shop and a knickers shop! Just who had the money for the fancy grave?

Who was so important to have such a grand grave

We got a newspaper, some thick cut bacon, a disappoinitng pork pie and a few bits and bobs fom Sainsburys before heading to the Co-op to see if their cat food was cheaper. It was, especially with a members card which we applied for whilst stood in the pet food isle.

As we headed towards the canal we spotted signs in the station window for a museum. Well that needed looking at, so we made our way up onto the platform where a chap asked if we knew there were no trains today. Yes, but we were looking for the museum. ‘Round the corner, there’s three chaps in there’.

No trains today

The main waiting room/old ticket office is now a museum for Littleborough Historical and Archaeologocal Society. We were welcomed in by a chap who immediatley mentioned about their flint collection and Roman coins. Flint is not found in the area, so was imported from other parts of the country. He also appologised that their main computer was broken so he wouldn’t be able to show us much from their archieve. This however didn’t stop him from chatting away to his hearts content.

As it says on the door

The chap chatted on for ages, he could have carried on for hours. Don’t get me wrong he was interesting, possibly being shown images and maps would have been even more interesting, but when someone wanted to show him a recent find that was almost certainly Roman we were quick in heading for the door. More a place for serious research on the local area than just a browse around.

Back at Oleanna we had lunch and enjoyed the last Hot Paw Bun of the year. These were the best I’ve made by far and Mick doesn’t see why they should just be for Easter!

Tilly came and went, then as the winds increased into the afternoon she was grounded. Kathleen was showing her force. Thankfully our mooring means Oleanna’s bow faces into the wind and with a few extra fenders out we are held into the side, so no bumping about.

Plans for the next few days were discussed. How long it will take us to get down into Manchester, which moorings to stop at, will the wind have died down sufficiently to make this all possible?

Tilly slept the afternoon away. The yellow water tank was emptied, Tilly’s pooh box refreshed and quite a bit of knitting done. I should just about finish pair 14 by the end of Sunday, Hooray!

Our evening meal was accompanied by growing winds and torrential rain. Really! Surely there can’t be anymore rain!!

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 windy walk, 1 puzzled baker, 9 rashers bacon, 1 pie, 1 paper, 0 knickers bought, 1 very knowledgable man, 0 wedding ring, 1 very blustery afternoon, 2 salmon steaks with red pepper sauce, 13.5 pairs of socks knitted so far.

Breakfast At Brighouse. 27th March

Kirklees Top Lock to Sainsburys, Brighouse

Thankfully it wasn’t raining when we woke, over our cuppa in bed we decided to make our final move off the river before breakfast, after all we’d only an hour left to reach our goal and to end up missing it for a day or so because of a bowl of cereal, well. As we rolled the covers up ready for cruising a cruiser appeared up the lock behind us. No point in rushing to share a lock as that would be too risky in these short locks, we quite often have to go diagonally to fit, tucking in behind one of the bottom gates.

Underpant Bridge and Trees!!!!

It’s a shame we couldn’t have moored a little further on as the woods had Tilly’s name stamped all over them, but we would have been closer to the M62, the noise level considerably more than where we’d been last night.

Open, but no idea of level

Anchor Pit Flood Gate was open waiting for us, we looked around to see if we could see the level board, tucked away in the corner of a gate recess, I only had time to spot it’s location but not the level it showed, hopefully it was amber. Since we’ve been keeping an eye on levels the EA website has shown the level at Brighouse to be 0, a constant 0. This is no help what-so-ever! Thankfully Gaugemap does show heights, minus heights. The level seemed to have gone up by a couple of inches since yesterday, so thank goodness the flood gate was still open.

An unuseable landing

The cruisier had pulled up on the lock landing, here it is actually quite long, except the end of it is fenced off as there’s not much left that would take anyone’s weight. There was nowhere I could hop off to help him up the lock. He waved us on. Mick and I both tried shouting that we were over long and that he should go first, he stopped chatted to someone, waved again. We weren’t about to jump the queue so waited patiently for him to return to his boat and get out of the way!

Up at the lock were two chaps who were gauging whether to come down onto the river. The gauge here was touching red. They were moving an ex Shire Cruise hire boat to Castleford for some work to be done with the aim of purchasing it. This meant it was still insured by the hire company and they were waiting to see if they were happy for them to proceed onto a river in the red! This meant there were plenty of hands to help.

A very jolly lock beam

We worked the cruiser up. He’d bought the boat in Goole and was moving it to Northampton. Because Vazon Sliding Bridge is out of action at the moment he was having to cross the Pennines to head south. First he’d thought of doing the Huddersfield Narrow, but they don’t allow cruisers through the tunnel. Now he was faced with all the Rochdale Locks. He’d then planned on going up the Ashton and up the Peak Forest onto the Macc, he had no idea that the Marple flight was closed. We later told him he’d need to book Tuel Lane Lock if he wanted to be through before the weekend, then the summit pound, then the Bridgewater. What he’d thought would be a relatively easy trip was turning out to be far longer, he’d already asked work for an extra ten days off. This all sounds familiar. When we first crossed from Manchester on the Rochdale on Lillian ten years ago, we teamed up with a single hander, who’s Nicholsons guide was so old that he ‘d taken a wrong turning leaving Manchester. His guide didn’t show the Rochdale being open, after twenty odd locks with us he asked when he’d reach the Bridgewater Canal!

Next it was our turn up the bottom lock and off the river, our last stretch of river for a while that could hold us up. I’d checked the blog from when we were here last, I knew that lifting the gate paddle anything but slowly would fill our well deck with water, so I took it cautiously, lifting the Hebble paddle second just to finish off.

Crossing the pound

The chaps on the hire boat had kindly emptied the top lock for us and helped close gates. Once up Mick reversed Oleanna onto the water point. Time for a celebratory shower as the tank filled up.

The hire boat headed for the lock, the company must have given them the go ahead. By the time they reach Castleford the chap at the helm will have got the hang of pointing the boat in the right direction, just as well as it’ll be his home!

We can all breath a sign of relief now

We moved onto the moorings, told Tilly this was Bumhouse and she’d not like it, even worse than Bumingham! She settled down as we settled down for breakfast, which was very nearly lunch.

A prescription was ready and waiting for Mick in Sewerby Bridge, so he caught the 9 minute train to pick it up. Sadly the Chemist was closed for lunch on his arrival so his return was delayed somewhat. A look in Screwfix for a new kitchen sink plug, nothing suitable without replacing the whole thing, we’ll cope for a while longer.

Could Boyes solve our problem?

Next was a restock at Sainsburys. the wine cellar needed topping up and we’d not stopped off in Mirfield for a duck. Sadly no ducks on the shelves here, but there was a Lidl not far away. Thankfully they had what we wanted and some bananas which seem to only be available in Lidl at the moment. A quick visit to Boyes to see if they could help with a plug, a rubber universal one was on sale for £1.10, so we’d not be wasting much money if it didn’t do the job.

Lots of fancy banks around town

By the time we’d stowed everything we decided we’d stay put for the night, an extra rope from the stern would stop us from swinging about on long ropes, it’s always been windy here. To celebrate being off the rivers we treated ourselves to fish and chips Blakeley’s do a gf batter and as we wanted haddock rather than cod even Mick’s fish was cooked to order, very nice it was too.

2 locks, 1.5 miles, 1 ex hire boat, 1 cruiser, 1 full water tank, 1 clean Pip, 1 bored cat, 4 boxes wine, 0 plug, 1 months drugs, 2 trains, 1 duck, 6 big bananas, 0 hot cross buns left, slow internet, fish and chips twice!

First Manual Of The Year. 24th March

Birkwood Lock to Midland Junction Bridge 40

No lazing about in bed today, time to get moving. With more rain in the forecast we wanted to cover as many of the river sections as possible before the levels rise again. Having said that we weren’t about to do an 8 hour day. The sun was out, waterproof padded trousers were donned just in case and to start with they were handy to keep warm.

First Stanley Ferry. Outside the C&RT workshops lay newly cut oak destined for Lock 69 on the Rochdale, it’ll be interesting to see what state the current gates are in as we pass. Then a full set, top and bottom gates were having the water treatment, swelling the oak before they get fitted on site. I couldn’t see any marks to tell me which lock these were destined for.

Stanley Ferry

Over the aqueduct, we’d called ahead yesterday to see if they had diesel. They normally do but their pump is being recalibrated on Friday and anyway they were closed today. This also meant we couldn’t stock up on coal. Through the swing bridge, holding up two ladies, a CRT fundraiser just setting up for the day.

Broadreach Flood Lock in operation

We managed to log on to the Geraghty Zoom on Mick’s phone as we went along the long straight towards Broadreach Flood Lock, although it took us quite some time to get the sound to work. Ahead the flood lock was closed so we waved our goodbyes to the sisters and got on with the task in hand, not that hard as the river was level with the cut, but both sets of gates needed to be operated and the sluices (even though I’d not opened them) closed before I could retrieve my key of power.

Back on the river I logged into zoom again, there was quarter of an hour before reaching Fall Ing Lock, so we listened in for a while before waving goodbye again. Subjects covered seemed to be about Scottish Islands and Ireland.

Fall Ing Lock, our first manual lock this year

Fall Ing Lock is big, deep and a stiff old lock, it would also be our first manual lock this year. Of course both top gates were open, Mick helped wind the hydraulic paddle gear to empty the lock and then I enlisted a Dad and son to help open and close the gate. Winding the top paddle gear I could tell it’s been months since I last did any of this!

I wonder if those jet washes would reach down to the boat?

A quick pause on the 72 hour moorings for Mick to pop to the garage for a couple of bags of coal. We have enough for a week, but wanted some more just in case. EcoCoal was bought, we’ve had it before, it created a LOT of ash, but at least we’ll stay warm.

A long sound of the horn brought us out onto the river again, heading upstream, behind us one of the old warehouse buildings looked like it was having a make over. Ahead Double Two looks to have let out space to an Escape Room. At one time I used to paint scenery for the John Godber Theatre Company in the workshop where shirts had once been sewn.

Thornes Lock, the first where you require a Hebble Spike. A few years ago we created an overlay on our Waterway Routes maps which showed which locks required a Hebble Spike. New phones etc meant we’d lost the useful information. Mick hunted through Canal World Forum to find the info he’d received back then, it’s now been added to our maps so we can be equipped at the correct locks.

A Hebble Spike paddle and spike laid on the beam

Both ends require a spike at Thornes Lock, well I certainly couldn’t get any windlass wound ground paddles to work. A group of cyclists arrived to cross the lock, one chap suggested starting to fill the lock with the other paddle as the one I was about to start with was VERY stiff. Well they were all very stiff! When they had come through earlier in the day there had been a lady trying to work the lock who had never heard of a spike and she managed to break her windlass on one of the ground paddles. I believe they managed to help her through.

Pine to left, hardwood to the right

Our spike is made of hardwood, I found splinters of a soft wood version below one of the mechanisms. Soft wood tends to splinter, hard wood tends to sink if dropped in!

The next flood lock was sat open for us, taking us back out onto the river again. At Broad Cut Low Lock we could see activity, a man in an orange jumper. I walked up to see what was happening and chatted away to the chap and lady who were ascending. He seemed ever so familiar. Mick joined the conversation as their boat slowly rose in the lock. When the chap mentioned they had a house in Wheldrake near York the penny dropped. This was Richard and Heather on NB Isabella, we’d shared the journey between Naburn and Selby back at the end of August in 2020 after we’d been stuck at Naburn when the Ouse was in flood. NB Isabella is their first narrowboat and Naburn was their first ever lock on her. Back then she was grey, today she’s red oxide. I’d been wondering if we’d ever come across them again, today was the day.

Once we were up the lock we pulled over for some lunch, left overs of Szechuan pork and courgette fritters, very nice, the pork seems to improve over a day or two. Heather and Richard had decided to stop for the day, there was only chance for a little bit more chat before I was needed at the next lock.

Hooray a locking partner!

An old Rose Hire Boat pulled out behind Oleanna from the moorings, we waited for her to join us in the lock, the lady very grateful to be able to share with us. She was the lady who’d met the cyclists this morning. Maybe she was now planning on sharing each lock with a different boat. She pulled in a distance ahead and tied her centre line to a fence post across the towpath! Maybe she’d also had a tipple or two at the pub at lunchtime.

We wanted to get that bit further on today despite being warned by the cyclists that we’d not want to be stopping anywhere between Horbury and Mirfield. Up on the hill in Horbury we spied the tower of St Peter’s and St Leonards Church, this is where John Carr the founder of my Dad’s architectural practice is buried. We visited back in 2019

Mick closing up as I set the next lock

We carried on to the Figure of Three Locks. There are only two locks, but their name almost certainly comes from the meanders in the River Calder along side. One of these meanders broke loose after Storm Ciara in February 2020 causing millions of pounds worth of damage to the locks. They were closed for 14 months whilst masses of work was undertaken. Currently the top lock ground paddles are slightly stuck open. Instructions on the notice regarding this were helpful, lift the two gate paddles and let the lock almost empty before opening the ground paddle (this is almost impossible to lift any earlier, but is required to fully empty the lock). Whilst I lifted paddles on the top lock, Mick closed up behind.

The figure of three in the river

A short distance further we came across the mooring we’d got our eye on. Handy bollards to tie to, but also a few motorbikes across the way, riding up and down muddy tracks, obviously a favourite place for youths on a fair Sunday afternoon. Hopefully they would have their fun and then leave us in peace, which is exactly what happened.

Sorry Tilly, this is as close to this outside as you are going to get.

A celebratory leg of lamb went in the oven with all the sides forming a very nice roast. We’ll now have lamb for several days. Yarn was selected for my next pair of socks, a far simpler pattern for these as the last three pairs has taken it’s toll a little, but that’s my own fault. I may not be able to show them at there best until much later in the year as several people will have to get together with their socks for them to make sence.

That’s blown!

7 locks, 9.3 miles, 1 bridge, 2 ladies held up, 1st manual lock of the year, 1 flood lock operated, 20kg of coal, 2 boaters from 2020, 1 lock shared, 2 or 3 tipples, pair 13 cast on, 1 leg of lamb, 3 more lamby meals this week, 2 late for shore leave, 1 disgruntled cat, 1 blown bow thruster fuse!

Albion Picture Houses. 11th March

Castleford Cut Visitor Moorings

Tilly climbed trees whilst we enjoyed a cooked breakfast. Hash browns from the freezer rather than homemade, Mick’s are nice they just take a bit of doing.


The EA Gauge was starting to come back down today, slowly. Mick had a walk up to the lock this morning and the river was still in the red, a red flashing light to go with it another at the opposite end of the cut. We’d not be moving until the level returned to below 1.5m, so not likely to be today.

For the last month I’ve been looking at new cameras on line. I’m wanting to replace my old one as the lens shutter sticks, therefore the lens can be quite filthy affecting the photos I take, plus it’s been mended twice! A compact, fits in your pocket, reasonable zoom, good megapixels kind of camera. Well it’s proving difficult find under £400! It’s as if no-one wants them anymore because phone cameras are so good now. Well except if you spot a Kingfisher at 90 paces you want to zoom in and not end up with a pointillist image. Also I’ve got used to using the camera to zoom in on locks ahead to see what is happening, a phone isn’t capable of that. So I’ve started to look at second hand cameras, CEX had a few I wanted to look at in Castleford so we headed off for a walk into town.

Well the Sony Cybershot has a great zoom but the whole thing is far too big to have in your pocket or bumbag whilst working locks. Crossing some lock gates I’d end up getting trapped! So sadly no luck today. We also tried Cash Convertors another local shop, still no luck. The hunt continues.


A top up shop at Morrisons, not the biggest store and lacked some of our usual basic items, but fresh fruit and veg were stocked up on.

The walk back took us along Albion Street. A busy road. Here stood two buildings that had to have been cinemas, their facades giving away their early 1900’s age. The first moving picture was shown in 1905 by a touring company in the Queens Hall, a couple of years later films were a regular event. By 1911 another two venues were showing films and in 1912 four new cinemas were opened in the town which the year before had a population of just over 23,000.

Albion Old Picture House

The Albion Picture House sits on the corner of Wilson and Albion Streets. Quite a simple building but the shape giving away it’s history. By 1913 the Crown Picture Palace had opened up in Glasshoughton, it’s owner was in dispute with the central Castleford cinema owners as they were threatening to boycott anyone supplying him with films. It was forced to close only to open again in 1916, but burnt down in 1923.

Albion New Picture House

The Albion was rebuilt further along the road in 1927. It was converted to triple screens in 1975 and in February 1987 it showed it’s last film leaving Castlefield with no cinemas. Both buildings look like they have seen other lives, but now they look dormant, pretty much like most of the rest of the town centre.


Castlefield was greatly affected by the closure of the coal mines in the area. In 1984 the Wakefield area of Yorkshire had 15 collieries, by the end of the 1980’s only 4 remained. Frickley/South Elmsall and Sharlston closed in1993, Prince of Wales 2002 and finally Kellingley in 2015. Today the town looks dead, did it ever recover from the closures or has it been on a downward trend since the 1980’s? A stretch of houses along the south bank of the River Aire were all boarded up, due for demolition, part of the refurbishment of the area into part of the ‘riverside destination’. It’ll be nice to have gardens and pathways along the river. Hope it breaths new life into the area.

Sad sight

Thankfully Queens Mill is still open, Yorkshire Craft Beers, a tea room and the flour mill, the worlds largest stoneground flour mill. Along side it is Millenium Bridge, curving over the weir across the River Aire, joining both banks. Today there was quite a lot of water flowing over it.

Queens Mill and Millenium Bridge

River levels are still on the way down, but more rain is forecast overnight. The mooring here isn’t bad, but the evening and night time running of gennies from the permanent moorers across the way is really quite annoying. If we can we’ll move on in the morning.

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 dry day, 0 suitable cameras, 5 bananas, 6 apples, 2kg potatoes, 2 cinemas on one street, 15 to 0, 21:30, midnight another! 2 boaters 1 cat hoping for levels to drop by morning.

Muller Or Ski? 2nd September

Beeston to Sainsburys, Nottingham

A walk into Beeston this morning to post the design for one of my cloths to Promptside. I’ve been in contact with Peter regarding the scan of my artwork and it may be that layering up leaves hasn’t helped, a scanner focuses on one level. He suggested I send him some artwork and they will do a test print. If it turns out rubbish then I will have to re-do the model of the cloths and portals. But if anyone can get the print to work it will be them, fingers crossed.

Canary Girls

I passed a mural on my way, depicting the Canary Girls of WW1 who worked at the National Shell Filling Factory in Chilwell. During the war it filled 19 million shells with high explosives. On the 1st of July 1918 eight tons of TNT exploded destroying a sustantial part of the factory and killing 134 people of whom only 32 could be identified, another 250 were injured. The following day the factory was up and running again.

On my way back I walked along Humber Road wondering why it was called thus as it’s quite a long way from the Humber Estuary. Then a rather nice looking building came into view. Now a dance and fitness studio it had the look of a posh garage.

The Humber Factory

Circular motifs were on the walls with men walking round in circles. Then I spotted a blue plaque. This is where Thomas Humber the engineer made bicycles, motorcycles and cars before moving to Coventry, his factory opening in 1880. In 1868 he had developed a safety bike where the pedals drove the rear wheel. He then produced his Spider Bicycle an early form of ordinary bicycle, Penny Farthing. By 1892 he was employing 1200 people at the Beeston works and when he branched out into motorcar production it rose to 1800.

Time to move on. We rolled up the covers and pushed off from our tight mooring.

A Muller of Yoghurt pots

Each time we come through Nottingham we feel that there are more and more moored boats. Today this was most certainly true. Little communities of cruisers have grown up along stretches of the canal. One chap was busy doing his washing, his twin tub powered from a genny. We wondered what a collection of cruisers would be called? Maybe a Muller or a Ski of Cruisers.

Castle Marina is still in the process of replacing it’s pontoons, but there seem to be more boats in residence than there were in January when we last came through. We pulled up just past the main entrance through to Sainsburys and managed to find suitable rings to tie to.

A restock shop was required and with the weather set to get warmer again we had another look for a barbeque. Only the disposable ones were available, but we did managed to pick up some kindling for when we next light the stove. The shopping trolley accompanied us back to Oleanna and everything was stowed away. By now it was quite late in the day so we decided to stay put for the night much to Tilly’s dismay as she is still grounded.

This chap had a drum and cymbals on his extended bike

0 locks, 3.2 miles, 1 cloth on it’s way, 4 miles walked, 0 shore leave, 2 boxes wine, 2 much christmas, 0 bbq, 1 fridge stocked up.

Stop Talking Of Thunder Storms! 26th August

John Merricks’s Lake to Sileby Lock

Oh dear!

A cruiser came past as we had breakfast, out for a weekend jaunt. They’d just passed us when their engine just stopped. Had they been abducted by aliens? Had they reached their destination for the day? No they’d picked up a sleeping bag on their prop and were still trying to free it when we pushed off. Not much we could do to help.

Swans can be such scary things

Above the skies were moody, Mick made a comment about thunder storms. We’d once been along this stretch when the heavens opened, we then moored above Sileby Lock as the river level rose rapidly during the evening, then slowly fell the following day. I hoped he wasn’t jinxing our chosen mooring for the day.

Very moody

As we approached Junction Lock we could see that a Charity boat was just entering it. No-one looked behind them so they didn’t see us approaching. As they left the lock below we were already in position to refill the lock.

A lady with her young son stood and watched, twins in a pushchair were positioned so as to see us too, except Mum had forgotten that there was a blanket over the handle which blocked their view. They didn’t seem to mind.

Coming up to Cossington Lock the crew of the charity boat were closing the top gates, they’d almost certainly seen us, but carried on and walked to the bottom gate. The chap at the helm must have stopped them, got them to wind the paddles back down and return to the top gates to open them. Have to say they weren’t the sharpest pencils in the box. One ground paddle had been left up which only helped to refill the lock for us to be able to join them. I stepped back onboard leaving the crew to do their thing.

Through Cossington Road Bridge we could see a coal boat, the red of gas bottles giving it away. This would be our next port of call. We pulled in alongside NB Hampstead, positioning Oleanna’s stern close to the diesel pump. I popped a rope around a stern dolly whilst Mick attached our stern to their mid. My line was too long to tie off on us and too far back to get to safely along the gunnel with my dodgy grip. I elected to hold us steady as the charity boat passed, then winded a little further ahead to return.

Topping up in the rain

We called out, no-one came. Mick rang the number on the side of Hampstead, Tracy appeared from another boat and came to serve us. Originally they’d hoped to be able to sell HVO, but the price they’d have had to charge would have been £2 to £2.20 a litre, so they have opted to stick with Red Diesel. Earlier this year Hampstead was repainted in their livery and is based here at Cossington Lock. They do travel north to Nottingham and south to Leicester. Here is a link to their Facebook page. At £1.09 a litre it wasn’t a bad price and we like to use coal boats as they support many a boater through the winter months.

Just a shame it really started to rain as the tank filled. Mick put the brollie up and I unrolled part of the cratch cover so I could stay dry in the well deck. The transaction was complete just as there was a little lull in the rain. As an after thought Mick asked how much their coal was, £14.50 for 20kg, we should have got a couple of bags, oh well, it is August still isn’t it?!


The banks of the river seemed to be encroaching. Piles of dying plants covered the banks, soon followed by yards and yards of Pennywort. Blimey it’s taking over the world here!

Very moody

We pulled in above Sileby Lock, the mooring by the small weir. Tilly was given five hours. She wasn’t too keen. The friendly cover too covering and wet! We had lunch.

It’s rubbish this outside!

A Saturday paper was a possibility and we’ve never ventured into Sileby before so once Tilly had stopped popping in and out, just incase things had improved, we closed the doors leaving her incharge and went for a nosy.


Two cricket matches were taking place at the club. ‘Come on Conway!’ the bowler a young blond chap who was getting a lot of praise from his team members. On our walk back the score was 68 for 1, not bad at all.

We’d never thought of Sileby as being more than a village, yet it boasts itself to be a town. The corner shop which advertised newspapers and magazines was lying, so we carried on down to Tesco Express. Here they provided us with our newspaper of choice and a few easy peel oranges and some cream cheese, I seemed to have ordered a lot of carrots so I’ll bake a cake to help stop them going to waste.

What a fine looking building, click on photo for more details

Just down the hill was a rather ornate looking building, 3 Cossington Road. Nice fresh paint and four door bells. What had this been before being carved up into flats? It used to be called Ebenezer House and was owned by Edward Martin, it was used as a Bank, solicitors and a dentists.

The 1891 census shows framework knitters, brewers and shoe making to be occupations for the locals. Clay pits were dug and bricks made that were used to build St Pancras Station. In 1901 James Newbold, a Baker and his wife Annie lived at 3 Cossington Road with their children Thomas, Fred and Annie, along with Fred Parker who was also a baker. These are the snippets of information I’ve found.

After laying empty for a few years the house was bought in 2019 and divided up into 3 one bedroom flats and a bedsit with communal outdoor areas. Rather nice, you’d just hope that the brook in front doesn’t flood.

We could have explored the other side of the railway which carved the town in half in the 1840’s but we decided to walk back across the fields and settle down for the rest of the day.

During the day we heard a rumble of thunder, but thankfully we didn’t relive the river rising, we’ll not have to keep an eye on our ropes overnight.

2 locks, 3.3 miles, 76 litres diesel, 0 coal, 1 unimpressed cat, 68 for 1, 1 village actually a town, 1 newspaper, 5 oranges, 150 grams cream cheese, 1 headache returning.

A Day Adrift. 6th February

Torksey Pontoon to Keadby Visitor Mooring

Another morning with the alarm clock going off, at least this morning there wasn’t much of a view to miss out on. One side of the cutting looked to be above freezing, our side was all frosted over. Brrrr, an extra layer required today. As I got up and started to move around my back felt remarkably improved from yesterday, thank goodness. I still refrained from leaning down or lifting anything heavy so as not to aggravate the improving situation.


Four years ago yesterday we did exactly the same journey. Then it had also been an early start and a very cold one too. We’d had to wait for the Stainforth and Keadby Canal to thaw and for the entrance to the lock to be dredged. I was ready to pull the balaclavas out today but thankfully even though the day had started off with a good layer of frost on Oleanna we didn’t need to keep our cheeks cosy.

Torksey Viaduct

We needed to push off a while after the tide had started to come in. Yes we were heading down stream, so we’d need to punch the tide for some time, but this was needed for us to reach Keadby when there would still be enough water to get into the lock. At 9am Mick reversed us out onto the main river, an EA rib had just come past us from Torksey Lock but it headed upstream.

The hazy Norf

We winded to face down stream and the tide. Engine revs increased and we were on our way.


Another wonderful day to be out on the river. Blue blue skies. Trails high above us in the sky, plenty of people jetting of on their holidays. Looking behind us the sun low glinted on the water and our wake. Gorgeous.

Taking off

I checked the charts, our course kept in the channel. This next stretch had been reported as being shallow last year.

Hawks just finishing their loop

A glimpse over Mick’s shoulder, a loop of vapour trail. The Red Arrows must have been out training. The V formation of planes scooped round and out of view. They were at such a distance to us to be silent, you had to scour the sky to hunt them out. One wave of vapour, then another loop the loop. Around this area and along the Fossdyke and Witham you quite often see them practicing. Your own private airshow. Time to concentrate on the charts again.

Busy with something

A man sat in a bright red rib coming towards us. His boat looked to be filled with equipment, maybe he was charting the river bed?

The Chateau at Gate Burton came into view. You can stay here with the Landmark Trust. It makes for a pretty view, I bet the view back towards the river today was a much warmer one. We waved in case anyone was watching as we passed.

Power ahead

West Burton Power Station came in and out of view. The large cooling towers dormant but the gas fired end churning steam out by the bucketful.

The tide had turned by the time we reached Gainsborough. The same revs were now giving us 2 to 3 more miles an hour heading down stream. The sharp bends speed the flow up through Gainsborough, not the fastest we’ve been under the bridge there though.

Earlier this year when we’d planned on doing this journey, we had to cancel our lock bookings due to being stuck in Shardlow as the river was in flood. When Mick called Keadby Lock to cancel our booking, the lock keeper said that we weren’t in the book! Yesterday afternoon Mick had tried calling the lock to check they knew we would be arriving today, he’d got no answer. He then tried calling a couple of times this morning. Thankfully he got through and Tracey was expecting us. Mick checked that the river level would be enough for us to get into the lock. It would be and she was expecting us from around 12:30.

The charts now dispense with the red line for stretches. My back wanted a sit down in the warm so I retired inside for a while, making sure I was watching as we passed West Stockwith Lock. Mick slowed us down and waved to a chap then picked up our pace again.

With a map suggesting we still had 2 hours to go before reaching Keadby we decided to up the revs a touch, it was now getting on towards midday and Tracey was expecting us pretty soon. We really didn’t want to run out of water. As we were now off C&RT waters there are few markers. Instead you rely on landmarks. Will the new build with big windows (still to be fitted) appear on new charts. Owston Ferry with it’s two pubs. Mooring Dolphins where owls are positioned to deter pigeons! Another mill.

The river now wide, sprawling out in front and to our sides. The M180 bridge. Time to call Tracey with our location, she’d expect us in twenty minutes, we were still good to get into the lock.

The span on the right used to open up

Keadby Bridge, under the bascule span. Up ahead Keadby Lock tower with it’s look out. The light was red. Would it be ready for us?

Keadby surrounded by wind turbines

Mick brought us over to the west side of the river as our red line suggested. Then as we were just about level with the lock he started to turn. Not into the lock, that would be foolish with the tide still heading out towards the Humber. He turned Oleanna round to face upstream, this enables you to have more control to enter the lock.

In we go!

On the downstream side of the lock we could see the start of the silt build up above the water. Mick faced Oleanna’s bow towards the upstream side of the lock forcing her against the tide. As we got closer, we both wondered if we’d have enough power to turn the stern away from the silt and enter the lock. An extra bit of umph at the right moment and into the lock Oleanna slid. Phew!! She’d made it. Always a relief.

Leaving the lock

I walked up to the bow to pass a rope around a chain as Tracey closed the lock gates behind us, then the outer lock gates got closed too. The amount of water coming over the top gates started to slowly rise us. Then a touch of a paddle was added, gently does it. Then a bit more which caught the bow a touch before I managed to pull her back in.

Stainforth and Keadby Canal ahead

Once at canal level the top gates opened and we waited for Tracey to open the swing bridge. We pulled in just past a couple of boats on the visitor moorings at the far end. Ahead of us is Vazon Sliding Bridge. This is operated by Network Rail and following the high temperatures last summer it is now only opened to boat traffic twice a day, we’d already missed the second opening. Time for lunch and a well deserved warm up.

1 lock, 27.8 miles, 2 winds, 1 reverse, 2 why nots, 1 cheeky pigeon, 2 ribs, 1 beautiful day on the river, 1 air show, 1 day adrift from 4 years ago, does this mean we’ll have another February heatwave?

Newark Memories. 28th January

King’s Marina

Saturday breakfast

After breakfast it was Mick’s turn to catch trains and head for Yorkshire, leaving Tilly and myself onboard. Since we heard the news a week or so ago that Maud’s Bridge could be closed for a couple of months we’d made plans. Take a mooring here at King’s Marina, move back to the house for it’s winter maintenance when we’re less likely to have lodgers. The move having to happen around my work.

Town Hall designed by John Carr

I walked up towards the station with Mick then headed to Boyes to pick up a knitting needle gauge. My collection of needles is normally well ordered, but having so many circular needles which have very very small writing on them and some being left out of their packs I didn’t know which was which.

The Corn Exchange, when will it have a new life?

I then had a walk around town. We wintered here on Lillyanne seven years ago and grew quite fond of the place. An enforced marina stay for medical reasons had us moored in King’s for a few months, we spent Bonfore night, Christmas and New Year here. Both of us having operations.

Band stand and castle

Since then we have passed through Newark using the fast route from north to south on the River Trent. Being here in the summer hasn’t felt right, coats hats and scarves should be worn in Newark. Then on our last visit we were preoccupied helping our friend David get the help he needed to get well. So on todays walk I had the intention of returning Newark to a place in my memory of Maltings, Brewers, Nicholsons, John Carr, the market, auction houses, Emily Blagg, Polish War graves, the castle, the civil war, all the things we discovered and enjoyed about the town.

The facade of a Nicholsons building

I think I succeeded.

Returning to the boat I stopped off at Waitrose (closer to the marina by a few paces than Aldi) to see what might have been yellow stickered. I came away with a gluten free Calzone and some green veg which I stir fried with lemon juice and garlic. A very nice meal.

Calzone and green

With my knitting needle gauge I worked out which needles I would need to use my birthday present of Riverknits yarn. A showtime cowl, all the yarn with names associated with pantomimes. I settled down in front of the tv and then realised I still had more to do before I could start. Yarn always looks so lovely wound round in skeins, just a shame before you start to use it it needs winding into a ball! With a calm cat on my knee that I really didn’t want to disturb I managed to make a ball of the first yarn I would require. The rest will be wound in turn as needed.

Yarn porn

It’s nice having knitting on the go again. Maybe I should do another sockathon this year. Still plenty of sock yarn to use up, maybe I could get some donated too. I’ve been putting some thought into which charity I would raise money for, there are a couple that are possible. Some more thought needed and which month to do it in?

0 locks, 0 miles, 2 trains for Mick, 0 sprinkles for Tilly, 3 yellow stickers, 1 calzone, 6 yarns, 1 ball wound, 144 stitches cast on, 4 rounds.

The Lady In Grey. 12th January


2.24m up 24cm from yesterday

Hunting round for some envelopes I bought before Christmas I ventured into one of the front cupboards this morning. Here we store Christmas, the white sheets from the summer, spare covid tests and extra wine glasses. I noticed that a corner of the wine glass box was wet. This was on the bottom shelf.

Had the damp trap in the cupboard filled up and over flowed? I’d refilled it with crystals not very long ago and today it was still empty. As I removed things from the cupboard I found a small puddle that had been sucked under a plastic bag on the middle shelf. At the rear of the cupboard it looked like moisture had been getting in at the corner, the holes for the shelf brackets showed signs of damp too.

Getting a good airing

Everything was removed, including the shelves. Dampness mopped up and then we set the heat wave fan blowing at it to help dry it out. Just where was it coming from, or was it condensation collecting in a far corner from the stove? With the recent downpours it could be rain water that had been driven in by the wind. Mick ventured outside to have a look.

Yes I know the roof needs a good wash!

First possible was the starboard nav light, although this was a touch low on the cabin side. It was however half full of water. Mick emptied it, dried it off then reattached it adding a new layer of black tack to the outer edge to help seal it. After he’d tightened the screws he popped a drop or two of Captain Tully’s Creeping Crack on them. The port side nav light was also emptied of water.

Could it be coming from the poppers from the cratch? Some of these are on the overhang, so unlikely to be them. Another couple are quite high up on the cabin side. They also got a drop of the creeping crack. The cupboard was left airing with the fan on or the rest of the day until we needed the space to go back to bed. The contents were edited and then returned to the cupboard, hopefully there will be more air in there this time.

The Lady in Grey

This afternoon I headed out for a walk down to Derwent Mouth Lock to see what the levels looked like today. I took the route by road to start with and walked past The Lady in Grey.

Back in it’s day

The house was built in the 1770’s for the Soresby family who moved to Shardlow when the canal was proposed. Their land spanned the cut giving them two areas for wharfs and warehouses for their canal carrying business (More info on the Soresby family can be found here on the Shardlow Heritage site, which is filled with information on the area).

When it was the hotel and restaurant

The Lodge was transformed into a Hotel The Lady in Grey with it’s restaurant it was highly regarded. The name came from the ghost of a headless young lady said to be hunting for her mothers lost jewels that her wicked sisters had hidden. Then it was a Thai restaurant which closed in 2008, this sadly was when the decline of the building is thought to have started. In 1967 it was awarded Grade 2 listing. In 2012 it is said that planning was sought for the buildings demolition and the site to be used to build three houses, this was refused. 2015 it received listed buildings consent for change of use back to a single dwelling with 5 bedrooms, things were looking up. However permission was refused to build eight dwellings in the grounds alongside the canal. Most probably the proceeds from these new dwellings would have afforded the restoration of The Lady in Grey.

The building is now in a poor state, the council seeking action from the owners, a s215 notice has been served on them requiring them to deal with the poor quality of the building. Such a shame. Most of the windows are smashed, wooden boards cover many of them. Photos from the local facebook page show the interior in such a dilapidated state. Here’s hoping that this once handsome house can be saved before it falls down.

Photos on the left are from yesterday, right today.

The towpath to Derwent Lock is now very muddy, slippy slidy muddy. The lock remains empty, well empty to the level of the river. I guessed about 14 inches lower than the canal today. The lock landing is now under water the edge of the river only noticeable by the tops of the ladders. The red level markers, one now is no longer visible, the other only a few inches away from being submerged.

Flooded fields

The parallel path that runs a little bit lower than the towpath is now submerged for lengths. I walked along it for a while relieved to be off the muddy towpath, only to find another length submerged and having to back track to the towpath. Two new boats sit above the lock awaiting levels to drop and there is one space available in front of the pubs.

Overnight the levels are forecast to rise more. Will the car park by our mooring get flooded? Will the EA flood gates be closed on the canal, if this happens we’ve been told that Shardlow Lock will be padlocked and it’s bywash blocked off too to protect the properties in between.

One day it will stop raining.

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 more leak or is it condensation? 2 drowning nav lights, 1 house with great potential, 1 more lodger booked, 1 hour of numbers for next year, 11 Dreamies, 9 inches, 14 to go, 1 vat of bolognaise.

Final Statistics. 1st January 2023

Willowbrook Moorings, Shardlow

Not a good trend!

Levels on the rise. I don’t see us moving for some time. The flood gates at Cranfleet have been closed since the 23rd December and levels are higher now. The lowest recorded height in that time that we can find was 1.13m and the flood gates were closed then. So this mornings height of 1.76m is going to take a while to head on down stream.

Water Explorer

Yesterday I made note of all our journeys that have been recorded through the years on Water Explorer. The chap who has been running it said the site would be taken down at the end of 2022. It’s still there, Oleanna recorded as the last moving boat. When the site vanishes so will all our vital statistics for both Oleanna and NB Lillyanne.

Our last journeys

At the end of each year I sit down and put our years cruise through Canal plan with the aim of getting a slightly more accurate distance than Water Explorer gives. Water Explorer will cut corners if there have been no way points, it also sometimes counts locks twice or not at all. Beeston Lock on the Trent usually gets counted twice for some reason. This year I will do the same, working out our back and forths on canalplan, which also isn’t totally accurate.

But for now here are our vital statistics (according to Water Explorer) dating back to 1st January 2015.

NB Lillyanne, starting heading up stream on the River Lee from Enfield 1st Jan 2015 to when we moved her for the final time on 2nd May 2017 to brokerage at ABNB in Crick.

Total Journeys505
Total hours recorded1550
Total Miles2565.76
Total Locks1714
These figures are from trips recorded, some journeys in the early days were missed.

NB Oleanna, starting on 28th March 2017 from Finesse Boats in Sheffield to 31st December 2022 to Willowbrook Moorings.

Total Journeys1279
Total Hours recorded4164
Total Miles6242.72
Total Locks3694

So our Total statistics from Water Explorer

Total Journeys1784
Total Hours5714
Total Miles8808.48
Total Locks5408

At some point I will work out Oleanna’s statistics for the year as I normally do, but that will have to wait for tax returns and giant props to be made, along with zooming along the River Trent back to Yorkshire.

Final positions

Mick spent some time in the engine hole today. Trying to see what he might be able to find. Did we have a problem, or was it that something wasn’t pushed home properly? A new battery for his multimeter was needed, the power on board totally turned off for a half hour. The alternator was working. But can we trust it?

Boarded up

He got a phone call from the chap at JD Narrowboats who was wanting to check that we’d got plugged in somewhere and were we sorted. He also sent us a link to a new alternator he’d found on ebay. How very kind of him. Mick is thinking on what to do. We intended on buying a new alternator and when the current one failed we could swap them over and send the original one off to be mended if possible, then we’d have a spare. But should we do it now or wait until we’re back in Yorkshire? Should we go for the ebay one at half the price of a Beta one? Well you get what you pay for!

A lovely building

This afternoon we went for a walk to have a look at the river. We followed the muddy towpath through the old port of Shardlow. Since our very first visit nothing much has changed. Several of the old warehouses still stand boarded up, calling out to be refurbished into offices, housing or some other use. One of my favourite buildings has already been converted into a home, Soresby Warehouse built around 1820.

Derwent Mouth Lock 1 on the Trent and Mersey Canal

Derwent Mouth Lock, the last lock on the Trent and Mersey sat half empty today. In normal times this would have been only about a quarter empty, but with the river in flood! Below, the level at the lock landing today would mean stepping down off Oleanna, normal times it would be one very big step up to the bank.

The river level boards are well in the red as expected.


We walked back on the other side of the canal, past the pubs, lovely houses and the not so lovely more modern buildings. What a busy place this must have once been.

Their TV is a projector onto the end wall of the house, huge!

A pause to look over the garden wall by the lock. The river, here unnavigable, rushed by faster than the River Ouse passes Selby Lock. The house here has spent quite a bit of money on their Christmas lights, multi coloured fairy lights in all the bushes and trees in the garden and then multicoloured bulbs along the eaves the excess gathered together inside their phone box.

In need of a lick of paint

Pork and apple stew tonight with dumplings. I chose to cook it mostly on top of the multifuel stove meaning the dumplings didn’t go crispy.

Pork and apple stew, click the photo for the recipe.

Our viewing of the new series of Happy Valley was interrupted by a call from my bestestest friend over in Sydney. Emma was out for a morning walk with her dog Moose. It was lovely to have a good catch up.

0 locks, 0 miles, WE this year, 234 journeys, 743 hours, 1248.12 miles, 565 locks, 3 mile walk, 0 twinging calf, 1 not so sure cat, 1.84m river level at 11pm, 1 stew, 6 dumplings, 30 minute catch up, 1st Happy Valley season 3.