Narrowboat Tacet

Silent Movement - Our gap year travelling the inland waterways

Saturday, 30 June 2012


We left the Weaver Navigation yesterday morning, it is a lovely river with some lovely countryside,  interesting industrial areas and pretty towns. The salt and chemical works are a reminder of why it was important to make this natural river navigable way back in the 1700's.
As usual there are many photos that haven't made it onto the blog, so here are a selection from our week on the Weaver.

working narrow boats
 Lock-keeper Keith operating the paddles at Hunt's lock - all the locks are manned.
quadrant gear on the gates
Ladder in the lock wall
under the swing bridges
Yarwoods boat yard, just a small marina is all that is left of this old boat building site.
some of the old river barges
Boats being loaded on the river section at Frodsham
Saltersford lock cottages
Northwich boat festival
Dutton viaduct
paddles at Dutton lock
railway type signals to show which lock is in operation for oncoming boats- not used now.
paddle gear
Acton Swing Bridge, iconic Weaver black and white swing bridges.

Sunday - Friday, 40 miles, 8 locks, and the boat lift. 

Thursday, 28 June 2012


Thursday is market day in Frodsham, we enjoyed a wander round and stocked up with fruit from the colourful stall, strawberries, grapes, cherries, bananas and tomatoes. All for £5.

We stopped for a coffee in the 'Iron Church',
which was built as a Chapel of Ease in the 1870's and was used as the parish church for a few years during the restoration of St Laurence's at Overton. The chapel was very popular, saving the elderly villagers an uphill climb on a Sunday morning. It is still in use today, as an Evangelical church. Somewhere packed away Ian has a book about these 'Tin Tabernacles' as they were sometimes known. These churches and chapels were quick and cheap to build at a time of revival when more meeting places were urgently needed.

We made a special visit along Church Street to see one of these,

Do you know what it is?  Look carefully, it says Post Office where you might expect to see Telephone.

And around this side,

there is a letterbox and two stamp machines.

And on the other side,
maybe you were not so wrong, there is a telephone too.

It is a Grade II listed, K4 style, telephone kiosk, aka 'The Vermillion Giant', from around 1927.  It was designed by Giles Gilbert Scott and only 50 were made, with just 4 still in use today.

On our way back to Tacet, we suddenly realised the cars were queueing for the Sutton Swing Bridge across the Weaver navigation.
So we ran up to see what was passing through.  "A submarine" says the man from BW, as there was nothing to see!  It was just a routine maintenance check after all.
Of all the bridges along the Weaver this is probably the most scruffy looking one, so it was good to see that it does actually swing!

And we got to look into the control room too. All done by electric controls now of course.

I think these two raised and lowered the wedges, holding the bridge in its closed position.

Moored here below the bridge was Hadar,
Keith and Jo's boat, known to us through the blogging world, and now in the real world or at least the boaty world, as we met them arriving back from the market too, while we were taking photos.

Tonight we are back at the the Anderton lift waiting for a slot tomorrow to return the the Trent and Mersey Canal.  

Some of those strawberries from the market have become 3 pots of jam, with a splash of elderflower cordial and flowers infused to give add a seasonal twist.
Think I'll make some scones tomorrow, but just now I think strawberrry jam on toast would be good.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Coming To An End and Elderflowers

Last night we were moored above Dutton Locks
just below this sad old wooden boat  'Chica' . In its prime it used to be a hotel boat.
Our journey today took us through  beautiful green landscapes looking up towards the Trent & Mersey Canal on one side and out over fields the other, not many buildings  to be seen, til you come to this farm.

The fields had been cut for hay or silage and cows were all around, and I think they had been muckspreading, you're lucky you can't smell it!

Once past Sutton Swing bridge it all begins to change and the Weaver Navigation becomes the Weston Canal following around the edge of the enormous chemical works down to Runcorn.

Weston Marsh lock takes you out onto the Manchester Ship Canal and apparently this morning 15 narrowboats went out, shame we missed that.
The landing stage on the MSC side look a bit worse for wear.

Then we come the end of the line
Beyond is the Weston Point Docks, the MSC and Runcorn Docks.  The church is Christ Church standing between Weston Point Docks and the Ship Canal.  It was built by the Naviagation Commissioners and was known as the island church.
There is a disused lock here too that went onto a short (now abandoned) Runcorn & Weston Canal.
As we were returning past Marsh lock a ship was passing on the ship canal.

Unfortunately we were not close enough for you to get an idea of its scale on the other side of the lock.
Tonight we are moored just above Sutton Bridge ready for a visit to Frodsham and its market tomorrow.
It has been very hot today with a warm breeze, so it was good to be able to hang the washing out when we stopped. Hopefully it will smell fresh and not farmy!
Now for the Elderflowers....
 I've been waiting for a dry  sunny day to collect some, as I wanted to make some cordial.
So last evening although not sunny, it was warm and dry so I gathered a bowlful,
Added some lemon zest,
then boiling water,
and left it to soak overnight.
Then this morning added sugar and heated it gently to dissolve.
Now it is bottled ready for use.
And this afternoon have tried out a recipe seen on another blog here.  Elderflower Drizzle Cake.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Northwich - a Salty Tale

Northwich and its surrounding areas have since Roman times been used for salt extraction from brine wells. Salt was very important in Roman society, with soldiers being paid in salt.  Their salarium became our word salary and also gave us the expression "being worth their salt".

Salt was brought up out of the ground from brine wells, where the brine was heated in large lead pans causing the water to evaporate leaving the salt crystals behind. These were then formed into blocks of salt and lumps could be cut off for use or ground into finer grains.

The salt beds at Northwich were re-discovered when a local family were digging for coal.  They found rock salt instead and started mining it. They dug out the salt leaving columns of the rock salt to support the ground above.

During the 19th century it became uneconomical to mine for the salt. Instead hot water was pumped through the mines, which dissolved the salt  then the brine could be pumped out and the salt extracted again by heating it. This however led to many parts of the town being affected by subsidence.

This is why so many of the buildings are timber framed in the 'tudor style' as it meant if the ground subsided they could be propped back up and made secure again.
More recently houses have been built on a steel frame for the same reason.

steel salt pan outside the salt museum

the former workhouse now the salt museum

Winsford Flash, lake resulting from subsidence
house built on steel girder
Salt works alongside the River Weaver
extracting rock salt
rock salt mountain - ready for icy roads

Northwich town's Coat of Arms has the Latin inscription Sal est Vita meaning Salt is Life.

Mark 9:50
“Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt among yourselves, and be at peace with each other.”

Colossians 4:6
Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.