Friday, 2 June 2017

Droitwich again - Norbury Players and Heritage Trail

Friday 12 May 2017
Droitwich Spa Marina to Netherwich Basin
1.5 miles, 5 locks, 3 swing bridges

So why did we need to go to Droitwich again so soon?  Well the plan had been to spend Friday to Monday on the boat in the marina doing jobs, however in a mad moment we decided that as we had tickets to see 'The Titfield Thunderbolt' at the Norbury Theatre (amateur company in Droitwich) on the Friday night we would go by boat!  It is just a few minutes walk from Netherwich Basin to the theatre.

This was taken at home - as soon as the first bag went into the car, Monty 'packed' himself!

So off we set on a rather wet and miserable Friday, but hey we were afloat and we both have waterproofs, so who cares about a drop or two of the wet stuff?

The journey was uneventful and we made it through the M5 culvert with the cratch up.  As we approached Netherwich Basin I spotted activity on the firemens' tower, however you will have to take my word for it as he was hiding behind the tree!

As always Monty and I arrived on foot and entered the basin via this gate in preparation to take a rope from Chris when he arrived.

There was plenty of space and we chose this spot as no one can moor on our starboard side. That is the way the dinette faces and the side we have side hatch on, so it meant we would have a clear view however full the basin got.

So was it worth the trip?  Most definitely yes.  We met our friend Thalia in the foyer and we all had a fantastic evening.  It was only the second night and the prompter was kept busy, but I have to say they did an excellent job and the theatre is lovely.  I wonder how many other amateur companies in the UK have their own theatre?  One of the actors was a fellow VLK (the main reason we went) and if that is a sample of what they produce, we will go again.  If anyone ever arrives in Droitwich when there is a production on, give it a go.

By Saturday morning we looked as though we were 'Billy No Mates', however one other boat in the basin hiding the other side of us.

We had a leisurely Saturday and wandered in to explore the town.  There were a couple of shops we wanted to find - I had decided it was time to get a few essential sewing supplies to make up a box for the boat.  To date we have always taken the box we have at home and it was time to remedy that situation. The haberdasher did not let me down - they had a good range.  The next stop was the butcher in the High Street - we had bought some of their Dexter beefburgers when we were at the Festival and they are fantastic. Sadly they did not have any, so we came away with some rather lovely sausages instead.  Droitwich does have a good selection of small 'non chain' shops.

Along the River Salwarpe we saw our first cygnets of the year - note the cat on the left eyeing them up!

Part of Monty's exercise for the day was a good game of ball on the huge playing fields not far away from Vines Park.  I spent quite a bit of time helping a lady look for bits of a bright orange frisbee. Why you may wonder?  She had bought it that morning from The Pound Shop - she chose that one as it was advertised as a dog frisbee, however she threw it just twice and on the second collect the thing started to break up leaving nasty sharp shards sticking out.  Her dog had cut her mouth - nothing serious, however there were bits missing and we set to trying to find them and then piece it all together in the hope that none had been swallowed.  We did manage to find all but one small piece, which I hope we either missed or it passed through without issue.  Sometimes cheap is just too cheap.

By Saturday afternoon the basin was pretty full again.

Sunday dawned fine and bright and we decided to head back to the marina.

Firstly through the swing bridges

Being closely supervised as ever.

I wonder who Annie was?

At the lock before the M5 culvert the bottom paddle on the non towpath side proved impossible to move.  As the water level dropped (I needed to empty it to allow us to enter) it became apparent what the problem was. We tried to shift the lump of wood to no avail - it was very firmly wedged).  We reported it to our local manager (it sometimes helps being a volunteer) and I am glad to say that they wrapped the paddle gear in black plastic in the first instance and that is has since been removed.

And so back to the M5 culvert.  After our experience of an oncoming boat last time we came this way, we sounded our horn long and loud.  However the sound does not carry as this boat did not hear us, nor we them.

Out the other side there was plenty of boat movements which always helps with the amount of work to be done at the locks.

We were back in the marina by mid morning and I set to to steam clean and polish the roof.  Job done and I started on the starboard side.  Chris turned her round so I could polish the other half of the roof and I was going to leave it there and complete the job on Monday, however, rain was forecast, so I buckled down and finished the job.  The forecast was not wrong, so I had made the right decision.

Chris was not idle whilst I was cleaning and polishing - we have new hooks and catches and other small modifications all designed to make life easier.  It was a great weekend - we had fun and got the jobs done.

Droitwich Heritage Trail

I actually did this with our friends Jane and Chris with their Black Lab, Kiera when they visited us on the Sunday of the St Richard's Festival.  All the information you need can be found at the Tourist Information Office.  We did not follow it in the proscribed order as we started in Vines Park, but it is worth doing - if you are interested more information can be found HERE.  That is where all the following information comes from.

These are just a few photos of the joys to be found in this small market town

Priory House -  an Elizabethan house with a Queen Anne Chimney which has been beautifully restored. The building is brown and buff rather than black and white; some experts believe that oak timbers are best preserved by natural weathering. Legend has it that Priory House is haunted by a revengeful ghost.

On the left is the Old Cock Inn, which has a curious frontage for a Public House because it incorporates windows from the first St Nicholas’ Church. The Old Cock is the reputed venue of one of Judge Jefferies’ infamous Assizes, at which the Monmouth rebels of 1685 were sentenced. 

One of the two carvings on the wall is said to represent the hated judge, in which he has a frog coming out of his mouth. The inn gained its first licence in 1712, in the reign of Queen Anne.

 St Andrews Church - The outside looks squat, this is because subsidence made the tower dangerous and it had to be dismantled in 1928. The bells are stored neatly inside the church. The main part of the church dates from 1290 but there are some earlier fragments including the various carvings on the capitals of the arches, which support the tower. The chapel in the north-east corner is dedicated to St Richard and it is thought that pilgrims formerly viewed relics connected with him through a hole in the chapel.

Opposite the church is the town hall built in 1825. The ground floor would have originally been open and used for a weekly market, which would have spilled out into the square. It is thought that the square was the medieval centre of the town

At the top of St Andrews Street stands the site of the Former Raven Hotel (the large black and white building on your left). The site of this building is reputed to be the birthplace of St Richard de Wyche. The old Manor House of Wyche, along with most of the town, was destroyed in the great fire of Droitwich in around 1290. It was rebuilt in the early 16th century and was known as St Andrews House. In 1879 it was bought by John Corbett and, after extensive remodelling, opened as a luxurious hotel in 1887. Sadly this wonderful building is now standing empty and unloved.  

Lido Park - This park was originally designed for the pleasure of visitors to the town and entrance cost one old penny. The park is home to The Lido Pool, which measures 40 metres long by 20 metres wide. Brine is added to the pool water to make it the same density as sea water. The lido is open during the summer season.

We must go for a swim one day!  As we are home for a couple of weeks this July we may give it a go if the weather plays ball.

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