Sunday, 11 October 2015

To Tardebigge

Wednesday 7th October 2015
Alvechurch to Tardebigge
3.25 miles, 1 lock

As the run from Alvechurch to Tardebigge New Wharf is only about 3 miles with no locks and just a couple of tunnels it was decided that Chris would take the boat and I would move the car.  A sound plan, but the one time he had been left completely alone, he really could have done with some help. Shortly after he set off, he had to pull over for another boat and afterwards nasty noises emanated from the prop area!  My services as a mobile mooring pin would have been most useful, but as it turned out he went gently aground, so managed to do the necessary without having to tie the boat up. It was almost certainly the worst trip to the weed hatch this summer - a bag full of 'stuff' including a lot of wire that took a lot of cutting and unwinding to come free and allow Chris to continue with a clean prop.

We met at the water point at New Wharf and filled and emptied as appropriate before moving on towards lock 58 and the start of the longest flight of locks in the country.  There is more information about this and the other locks a bit further down.

The plan was to moor below the lock for a few days to allow Chris to recover from his chest infection.  In the meantime I have developed a cold, so we may not be that fit to complete the last 44 locks, but it cannot be put off for ever!  We have help for the remaining 29 at Tardebigge with the promise of Sunday lunch (well at 5pm is it lunch, tea or dinner??) to look forward to.  Will it be our first and last good Sunday roast since leaving home in June - we hope so!

Now as we are Tentatrice from Tardebigge I thought it was about time we had a really good look at the history of the place.  We have looked at all the relevant details over the years, but not all in one go, plus there have been some changes over the summer.  If you are passing this way, I would urge you to allow time to stop and explore - the history is fascinating.

Opposite the C&RT offices at New Wharf there is the shell of The Birmingham - one of the old tug boats that were used to haul boats through Tardebigge tunnel.  She and her sister ship The Worcester were delivered to Tardebigge in 1912 to replace two old steamships used for the same purpose.  The Birmingham had several other owners as well as other names (Tyburn, Perseverance and Percy to name but three) before being abandoned and then acquired by British Waterways in the 1990's.

Moving on - with the C&RT offices on your left walk around behind JL Pinder's dry dock and you will come across work in progress.  Some members of the Birmingham, Worcester and Droitwich Canal Society are restoring the lime kilns.  There is much to do - some work has to carried out with great care.  It is a job they are determined to finish and to do the job well.

From there move round to the canal, so you are on the non tow path side and you will come to this plinth

which marks the spot where Tom & Angela Rolt first met Robert Aickman and decided to found the Inland Waterways Association

Along with the second plaque unveiled by Sonia Rolt in August 2005 to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the meeting along with an addendum to the date of the meeting - it was 1945, not 1946!

Looking across the canal from the top lock and we spied something new since we were last here - a red wheel plaque.  This was only unveiled on Tuesday 6th October, so we were only one day late! When I first checked the website Tardebigge had not been included, but it has now!  Have a look here for more information about the locks and the experimental lift that, sadly was not deemed strong enough to be allowed to continue.  I am sure the lift would have been more interesting than a very deep lock!
We thought we had never come across one of these before, but on researching on the web site we found that we have been through many places with these plaques
and even have a photo of the one in Gas Street Basin.  There are many others we have missed and maybe we should try to find them as we travel the system in future.

We continued on our walk under bridge 56 - sometime last year this appeared overnight

I am glad to say that over the summer it has been cleaned up and is once again pristine.

The next point of interest is the Engine House - this information has appeared over the summer and is worth a read, but I cannot get it any larger than this, so I think it needs to be seen in the flesh, so to speak.

The engine house was used to pump water - more information can be found in the link for the Transport Heritage site above.  It is, however, no longer a restaurant, or was it a nightclub - it depends which site you read, but is a grade II listed building converted into luxury apartments one of which is available for rent as a holiday cottage with Cottages4You

A bit further along there is another lock cottage just before the reservoir
In the garden is a statue of a bull terrier (they own a real one too!). It used to face the gate, rather than the house.  When Monty was very small he was very wary just in case it came and got him!

And so on to the reservoir. If you are going up or down the flight, do stop long enough to climb up on the wall of the reservoir to admire the views.

I do love the autumn colours that are everywhere at present

But a certain sign that it is getting chillier - horses are all wrapped up in their coats.
Hats and gloves are on board should they be needed over the next couple of days!

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