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The 1972 Canal Holiday

The first lads Canal holiday. As impoverished students, all we could afford was the Ladyline plastic boat economy package. Being under 18 Neil's dad madly acted as guarantor! Today of course, hardly any hire boat companies would hire to even a very mature all male crew! For your bargain price you got a nearly new Dawncraft Dandy, Mercury outboard and a half charged 70A car battery. There was no electric start or charge from the outboard and the battery would not even power the cassette player for a week! Ladyline were called out to supply a replacement. The boat was called Lady Hazel 2, but we soon altered it to Tentacle 2! Water was fetched in a plastic jerry can and connected to the "Whale" pump tap on the tiny sink. To get water out, this became known as "wa**ing the Whale". A spade was supplied for dumping the Elsan at your convenience! Pubs were mainly used for ablutions! The two rear berths (yes, this under 20ft craft was officially a 4 berth!) were mainly under the rear deck. Neil being Captain let the other crew members (Ian Scott and Andy Lee) have the two front bunks. Andy Lee,  who was a tall bloke would not even fit in the rear bunks! One bunk was used to store the beer and other junk. Neil would only just fit in these berths. You could not put your knees up and turning over was JUST possible! These early canal holidays were not planned at all. We just went off carrying on all day (and some nights!) stopping at pubs when and where we fancied them. The basic route was thus :- Barbridge, Middlewich Arm, Trent and Mersey - Harecastle Tunnel, Great Hayward Junction. All Staffs and Worcs to Stourport. River Severn to Worcester - Diglis. Worcester and Birmingham to Gas Street. BCN New Main Line - Wolverhampton 21 Flight. Staffs and Worcs to Autherley Junction. Shropshire Union Canal to Hurleston Junction. Llangollen Canal to Llantysilio Valve house. Back to Hurleston Junction. Shropshire Union Canal to Ladyline Barbridge. 

No actual log exists or can really be put together for this early July two week trip. It was not brilliant weather all of the time. We lost one day while Andy Lee went back to London to an interview at the BBC. We actually moored up in the middle of the Wolverhampton 21. The maddest highlight included the reason for why Neil always refers to the Llangollen Canal as a day trip. It was! On the way back we started at Llangollen at 08.00 and came out at Hurleston at about 02.30 the next morning. Walter the German Lock keeper at the time, did look out of his window, but just went back to bed! There was hardly any traffic any where (The Shropshire Union was busiest) We were not particularly early risers, but we did so much, as it is easy to speed in a tiny plastic boat! There were a good few trips to petrol stations with the 5 gallon jerry can. Andy Lee is believed to have some more better quality photographs, due to Andy's death I will now not be able to borrow these. This set was from Neil's trusty Instamatic! No actual pubs spring to mind. One definite stop was the Broughton Arms at Rode Heath, this became a popular venue for us over the years. Food on the boat was a complete disaster!  Vesta packet meals were cobbled together on a few desperate occasions! Neil remembers drinking a large carton of Sainsbury's Strawberry Yoghurt, straight off! Most beer on the boat came as Sainsbury's tinned lager,  or Watney's Party Sevens! Fortunately we had just enough money to eat / drink out in pubs most of the time. Generally the lock furniture was in a much worse state than the moment. Quite often only one paddle would work and we came adept at using a mooring pin to hold rack against the cog. Ratchets were often missing or so worn it was REALLY dangerous to leave your windlass on a drawn one. People today have probably never seen a windlass fly of when left on a drawn paddle and it slips. Stones or bits of wood were often used to hold paddles up. Near the end of the Llangollen Canal we had a surprise meeting with the Arlidge's senior! They had taken a sister craft out and were coming back down. It was a short meeting! When we got the boat back, amazingly we got all our deposit back!

Thurlwood Locks at Rode Heath. The steel one is now long gone. Trent and Mersey Canal.

Thurlwood Locks at Rode Heath. We decided to "authorise" our selves to go through the steel lock! Trent and Mersey Canal.

Kidsgrove (North) portal of Harecastle Tunnel's. Note old butty across entrance to Brindley Tunnel and old wooden hut. Blue and Yellow signs abound. There was a lot of the towpath left in the tunnel at this time. Trent and Mersey Canal.

South portal of Harecastle tunnels. There was still access up to old Brindley Tunnel. Trent and Mersey Canal.

Meaford Flight. Trent and Mersey Canal.

Meaford Flight. Most T&M balance beams were still black and white "stripes". Trent and Mersey Canal.

Meaford Flight. Trent and Mersey Canal.

Meaford Flight. The now long gone power station was in full swing. Trent and Mersey Canal.

Newcastle Road Lock No 29, Stone. The lock "garden" is not so neat nowadays! Trent and Mersey Canal.

Penkridge Lock No 38.  Note we have renamed Lady Hazel 2 to Tentacle Too. This was a feature of many early canal holidays. Staffs and Worcs Canal.

Southern Staffs and Worcs Canal.

Southern Staffs and Worcs Canal.

Andy Lee grooving to the latest "underground" music! Rocky Lock. Southern Staffs and Worcs Canal.

River Severn.

River Severn.

Leaving Lincomb Lock. River Severn.

Leaving Holt Lock. River Severn.

Passing trough Worcester. River Severn.

Tardebigge Flight. I think the couple on the bank needed a bucket of water thrown over them! Worcester and Birmingham Canal.

Tardebigge Flight. Nice and unkempt! Worcester and Birmingham Canal.

Tardebigge Flight. Near the top. Worcester and Birmingham Canal.

Passing through Birmingham University / Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Edgbaston. Worcester and Birmingham Canal.

Going down the Wolverhampton 21 Flight. BCN.

We moored for a day between Locks No 11 and 12, while Andy Lee went for an interview at the BBC. Wolverhampton 21 Flight. Ian is reading Men Only while listening to Led Zeppelin! BCN.

Shropshire Union Canal.

The Philips EL3302 cassette player soldiers on. Shropshire Union Canal.

Norbury Junction. Shropshire Union Cruisers hire base. Shropshire Union Canal.

Tyrley Locks. These had only recently taken on the "modern" manicured feel. Andy Lee has passenger. Shropshire Union Canal.

Tyrley Locks. We share with one of the latest steel Shropshire Union Narrowboats. This is the heaviest traffic of the whole two weeks! Shropshire Union Canal.

Grindley Brook Locks. Llangollen Canal.

Grindley Brook staircase locks. Llangollen Canal.

Grindley Brook staircase locks. Llangollen Canal.

Surprise (and short!) meeting with Neil's old dears! New Marton Locks. Llangollen Canal.

Chirk Bank. Llangollen Canal.

Chirk Aqueduct, tunnel and railway viaduct. Llangollen Canal.

Trevor, across the other side of the River Dee. Taken from Froncysyllte. Llangollen Canal.

On the feeder above the Aqueduct. Vale of Llangollen. Llangollen Canal.

The pump House at Llantysilio. The REAL end of the Llangollen Canal! Llangollen Canal. Click here for a larger image - better scan.

Going back over the Ponty sky light Aqueduct. (Pontycysyllte) Llangollen Canal.

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