Sunday, 29 December 2013

Four junctions, two aqueducts and a bloody murder.

Just one thing after another, after sitting out the gale on Friday we started moving yesterday. The canal is full of the debris from the storms, if it wasn't leaves and twigs round the prop it was great heaps of branches etc. round the front end.

That's one lot we shook off by reversing for a few yards, just before Whittington. That's where we passed the first junction.

Somewhere between these two bridges is where the bit of the Coventry that is really the Birmingham and Fazeley joins the other bit of the Coventry that is the Coventry with an end on junction. Note that Whittington Bridge has a nameplate and the next one is just bridge 78. It really is just easier to regard the whole lot as the Coventry Canal.
A bit further on we approached Huddlesford Junction where the Wyrley and Essington originally joined the northern B.C.N. to the Coventry, dropping down from the Black Country through thirty locks. It was abandoned in 1954. Restoration is currently underway but there is a long way to go.

This is the junction house, we also took some brilliant photo's up the remaining arm, unfortunately a little gremlin had snuck into the camera, and although it appeared to be working, the next ten pictures didn't make it onto the memory card. But that was the second junction.
The third was, of course, Fradley where we stopped for water and some more brilliant pictures were taken of The Mucky Duck and that little swing bridge across the end of the Coventry. They were part of the ten.

Luckily, as we made the turn onto the Trent and Mersey I took a shot looking back and the camera deigned to come back to life.
We stopped just past Kings Bromley Wharf and it was then, when I downloaded the camera card to the computer that I discovered, or rather I didn't, the missing ten piccies. I also found that there was no signal for the dongle so I couldn't even post what I did have. Oh gosh, altogether annoying.
This morning, after a splendid fried breakfast, we set off through Armitage. One has to take the obligatory picture of Armitage Shanks canalside works.

Toilet humour, I thought the sign announcing local facilities in front of the pallets of their well known products had a certain appropriateness. Please yourself.

At Rugeley local volunteers have been clearing the area around the Bloody Steps. On or about the 16th of June 1839 the Pickford's narrow boat Staffordshire Knot left Preston crewed by four men, James Owen, captain, William Ellis, George Thomas and a young lad, Isaac Mann. There was also a young female passenger. Christina Collins who had taken passage in order to join her husband in London. The three adult crew members were notorious for their drunkenness and general bad behaviour. When they arrived at Stoke Christina complained to the Pickford's agent about their behaviour but no help was offered. It seems that somewhere around Colwich Lock she was raped and murdered by the adult members of the crew. Once it was realised she was missing a search was instigated and the canal dragged, her body was discovered wrapped in a chain and was carried up these steps to The Talbot, a pub close to the canal. It is claimed by the more credulous that her blood still stains the steps and that her ghost is sometimes seen on them.
 The three men had by this time fled the scene but were eventually arrested and tried for the murder. All three were found guilty, Owen and Thomas were condemned to death and publicly hanged at Stafford Gaol, for some reason Ellis was reprieved and sentenced to transportation. The lad, Isaac Mann was not charged. For the full story click here.

The first aqueduct, Brindley's over the River Trent, adjacent to the Bloody Steps.
Further to tie in with the story,

The bottom gates of Colwich Lock and Jill leaning on the top gate.

The fourth junction, we turn onto the Staffordshire and Worcestershire at Great Haywood and just through the bridge and past the hire base we cross the second aqueduct,

recrossing the Trent.
Moored on Tixall Wide. Probably the loveliest mooring on the system at this time of year. Not so good in summer when you are lucky to find a spot.
Incidentally, the card in the camera just fell to pieces so I'm falling back on the Nikon Coolpix I bought in Teneriffe.

Watch this space.........

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