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The 1977 Canal Holidays - The Autumn Holiday


A one week late September Cheshire Ring Cruise,  also including the Caldon Canal as far as Consall Forge. Saturday 24th September to Saturday 1st October. No log survives. Base was Peak Forest Cruisers, just outside Macclesfield. The boat was our first narrowboat hire, Warwick Castle was 48ft long, cruiser sterned. It was Harboroughesque with front crash bars, but in fact built by Fernie. Power was by an air cooled Lister SR3. Quite a nifty boat, once rev limiter removed! the Cheshire Ring was anti clock wise, as the boatyard owner insisted on this condition. This was due to another Peak Forest boat doing it clock wise and lifting a Rochdale top gate of its mountings! The Peak Forest guvnor was a young likeable chap and was smiling when he told us not to try to get through the Froghall Tunnel, at the end of the Caldon Canal! To Neil, his was like a red rag to a bull. 
There were stops at Marple, Manchester - top of Rochdale Nine on Paradise Wharf. There was no "Club" boat here then and we locked our selves in the wharf and went out into town! If you think that the Rochdale Nine was rickety now, you should have seen it then! There were helper's on the locks. We were horrified when one of these helpers dropped paddles down without using the brake. she said it was alright as it was an "Old bargee trick". When we now exhibit any bad lock wheeling practice it is always referred to as an "Old bargee trick!" At this time Castlefields was totally derelict - not the kind of place you would want to spend a night! We had never been on such a deep canal as the Bridgewater and sped out of Manchester. That night we were off the Bridgewater! The Broughton Arms at Rode Heath was another imbibing overnight stop. 
Of course the main stop point on the Caldon was the Black Lion at Consall Forge. What a magical place it was then,  there was no road down to the old lime kiln wharf then. Signs saying "If we are not open,  help yourself to a drink"! Roaring log fires, perfect beer straight from the barrel, quarry tile floor, a terrible attempt at a makeover,  mind you orange was trendy in the 1970's! There was no food, just snacks. We were the only patrons that night and stayed well past closing time. We left when the poor old dear started yawning! 
The next day from this we went down to Froghall having recently filled with water. Neil tried the boat in the tunnel mouth. The lowest point was at this, the west end of the tunnel. The only points that would scrape was the aerial mounting boss and the protection bars over the diesel range chimney. This boat was fortunate to have inboard roof grab rails. Off we went. We got stuck, but we were nearly past the low section and we had not used full power. Neil lashed the tiller straight ahead and put the boat in full gear. We all went to the front and jumped up and down. The boat began to move in short spurts with a nasty grinding sound. We soon cleared the low section and Neil had to leg it back through the boat to gain control. After a brief tour around the small basin and a look at the lime kilns and remains of the lock, where the canal used to continue to Uttoxeter, we headed back. This was easy. Neil stayed at the helm going quite fast as the rest of the crew pre-bounced the bow up and down, before we hit the section of low roof.  After a couple of grinding noises, we popped back out the other end! The aerial boss and the strong cage for the chimney were still intact,  but a bit scratched and covered with brick dust. We managed to get some reasonable match touch up paint, from a model shop in Stoke - one of those little Humbrol tins. The boat yard guvnor did notice the clean bits of paint. He smiled and  said "So you did not get stuck them!" Two years after he still let us hire another boat. 
The boat had a diesel range / heater that was uncontrollable. We nearly set fire to Dave Creasy's plastic Cagoule! - not much left, apart from a plastic blob! The pump out toilet was soon put on "emergency use only". This was our first hireboat with one of these new fangled bog stations. There was the inevitable Hoseason's sign by the toilet "Do not but anything down here, unless you have eaten it first!" Of course this boat was the first with a shower and Julian became a frequent user! 

Loading up Warwick Castle at Peak Forest Cruisers base , just outside Macclesfield. Early Peak Forest boats had Fernie Hulls and Lister's. Warwick Castle was 45ft and was rather whizzy, as it had an SR3. Note Julian E's groovy Capri CLH555H (dig the rostyle wheels!), John Fleming's crazy Bond Bug and the hire base Morris 1000 van done up in boatyard colours! Macclesfield Canal.

Macclesfield Canal.

Marple Locks. John Fleming cleaning roof, Julian E steering and Neil lock wheeling. Marple Flight. Lower Peak Forest Canal. 

Going over Marple Aqueduct, (easy to mix up with Chirk!) Julian has his jolly green giant coat on - this he had for years! Lower Peak Forest Canal. 

Neil and Dave Creasy jump aboard one of the underground locks. The Rochdale Nine Locks in Manchester.

Pissing rain!  Dave Creasy and Neil steering. We have yet to set fire to Dave's cagoule!

Yet another picture of the working Anderton Lift. We never went down it! Trent and Mersey Canal.

Approaching Harecastle Tunnel. Warwick Castle sports its Harborough style crash bars. Trent and Mersey Canal.

"You Ba*tard!" Neil temporarily blinded in Harecastle Tunnel. This section still had towpath. Note the fortunately solid diesel range chimney protector. Trent and Mersey Canal.

Engine Lock at the start of the Caldon Canal. John Rushbrook on the beam, Dave Creasy behind and Neil steering.

John Rushbrook in control, Dave Creasy looks on. Swinging away from Stoke. Caldon Canal.

John F - windlass at the ready, Neil walking round cants, Dave Creasy steering and Julian E. Please ignore the "enthusiastic approach" visible in bow wave! Caldon Canal.

Julian and that bloody green coat again! Caldon Canal.

The Black Lion, Consall Forge. We have pole position. We were the only moving boat there! Caldon Canal.

The inside of the Black Lion as WE remember it. Log fire and quarry tile floor. Julian E, Neil (obscured), John Fleming and Dave Creasy. Next time we are here we will take a picture from the same spot (if possible!) Neil was so impressed with the groovy 1970's orange wall, he painted his room this colour! Caldon Canal.

Slides from John Rushbrook's Instamatic! Scanned with John's Epson 1200 Photo scanner. 

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