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Tour 2002

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27 - Frodsham Cut to Dunham - Weaver Navigation, Manchester Ship Canal, Bridgewater Canal.

Wednesday 24th July 2002.

The two boats were booked through Weston Marsh Lock off the Weaver Navigation with the BW Weaver Office in Northwich, at 08:00. We set off from our edge of field moorings, just below Frodsham Cut at 07:05, arrival at Weston Marsh being at 08:50. During our exploration down the Weston Canal, we thought that it seemed OK to moor up just by Weston Marsh Lock security wise, but nowhere in between here and Frodsham. The trouble with Weston Marsh is you have to like the view and smell of the large ICI Chemical plant!
The BW van rumbled down the towpath just gone 08:00 and the two BW guys unlocked the facilities and began to prepare the lock. The gates of Weston Marsh looked like they had seen better days, being patched up with a good few sheets of plywood, after a fair wait a level was achieved and we motored in.
It was at this time that we became aware of the large "Mitrope" tanker being towed backwards down the Ship Canal. John Chapman was aware of it's impending passage, having talked with Eastham VTS and we were glad that it would be out of our way. We were held up for half an hour as the tanker, with the aid of it's two tugs managed a wind in the entrance of the River Weaver, right in front of us, a rather spectacular and finely executed task.
So at 08:45, much to Linda's relief we set off up and empty Ship Canal, the only craft we were told to expect was a smallish barge. We of course did not breast up, apart from in the locks, due to NB Frogmoore not having long enough lines! 
We followed the big ship channel out of the Weaver, within the rather battered markers. The BW staff had told us to be particularly wary of straying off course, as they had seen other pleasure craft come to grief. Once in the main channel the first thing of interest were the large Weaver sluices, needed as the River Weaver discharges into the Ship Canal. These were slightly upstream of the Weaver outfall into the Ship Canal, beside the large ICI Weston Point alkali works. While passing here we met a M.S.C.C. tug bombing along towards Eastham.
On the estuary side from the rather moribund Weston Point Docks was the now derelict Weston Mersey side lock down to the Mersey. This was still gated and looked usable. Beside this was a set of spare lock gates, stood up against the bank. Just before Runcorn Docks was an oil berth, this had the loaded Harker tanker barge Deepdale H waiting to cast off, as soon as we were past, it cast off in a downstream direction. 
Just after Runcorn Docks the bottom lock of the Runcorn Flight up to the Bridgewater Canal could be seen, Amongst the infill, the remains of the gates could be spotted. Looming on the horizon round the corner were the Runcorn Railway Viaduct and 1960's Runcorn - Widnes Road bridge. The main M.S.C.C. depot was beyond the bridges, moored to the wharf was the venerable 250 Ton floating crane, a bit of original kit from when the Ship Canal was first opened.
As we approached Northwich Road Swing bridge, it opened before us, just at the last minute to let the grain barge "Gina D" through. This continued past us at quite a rate of Knots, no problem apart from the boiling water left for a couple of minutes.
It was now rather a straight run all the way to Latchford Locks, here both sets of gates were in use, so we were directed into the small lock. The M.S.C.C. locky crew took our mooring ropes up by lowering a thin rope with a cork ball on it down. They did not want a loop, by the end tied on. John in Frogmoore phaffed about a bit, then decided it was best to let us in first (seeing as we DID have a set of long mooring ropes!), then moor up to us. This procedure was adopted in locks from then on. The MSCC staff did not seem bothered about the breasting up rule, Neil thought that it was laziness on their part, seeing as breasted up narrowboats only had to get one set of lines up..........something that we ended up doing!
The MSC locks are well designed and with boats on one side of the chamber, the style of paddle culverts force you to the side if they fill the lock from that side - a bit like a Grand Union "Hatton" lock...............only rather bigger.
The M6 viaducts were next, followed by a series of high level bridges, then the small oil basin at Partington. Here there is some excellent ancient graffiti, such as "God Bless Our Sovereign" and "Manchester Docks for Manchester goods".
Just before Irlam Locks the River Mersey enters the Ship Canal, (this exits above Latchford Locks at Rixton Junction). It is not far up stream to Barton Locks, between the two sets of locks is one of the characteristic Manchester Ship Canal Ferries, not much more than a Ferry Keepers cottage, small stage and a rowing boat.
Just below Barton locks is the moribund Davyhulme Harbour, it had been noted that the further you go up the Ship Canal, the more the air of disuse in an operational way. Above Barton Locks in the distance the Barton Bridges could be seen, Barton Road, followed closely by the famous Barton Swing Aqueduct, carrying the Bridgewater Leigh Branch above.
The new lift bridge at Trafford Park is just on the final turn into Salford, this comes into view as you pass through Barton Locks. Just before the Trafford Park Lift Bridge is Cerestar Wharf, the only real commercial traffic above Partington. This cereal traffic is still handled by the Arklow "Villa" and "Valour". Yet again at Mode Wheel Locks, the final set, the one in use is the large one. This seemed particularly slow to fill and there appeared to be a maintenance bloke in the pump room, trying to coax the pumps into enough action to keep the water hydraulic operating system working. This works by pumping water up into an accumulator tower, this has a mechanical float type level indicator, at one point it seemed to be nearly in the empty position!
Beyond here the modern Salford Quays opens up - lots of quays for pleasure boat to moor up to.............but none present or encouraged........a rather stupid and short sighted decision by the developers. Two Royal Navy patrol boats were anchored up, believed to be present due the imminent Commonwealth games. Another annoying feature of the Games were that we were not allowed to stay on the River Irwell and the Upper Reaches overnight, as the Queen was opening the games the next day, so as the locky teams did not want to hang about, it was straight up the new Pomona Lock and onto the Bridgewater Canal, we exited at 15:30.
Martin Clark wanted to go home for a day, so we dropped him off at the very handy new Pomona tram stop, we wanted to clear Stretford and Sale that night so ploughed on. At Waters Meeting Junction (16:05) we said good bye to John and Pat in Frogmoore, they were going up to Tarleton to have a shot at an un-booked explo trip up the Ribble Link, to the Lancaster Canal. Eventually we decided to stop at Dunham School Bridge (17:50) and try out the Axe and Cleaver in Dunham Town. This venue was excellent, a new bistro type pub, with a nice lounge with comfy sofas and chairs. 


We are held up as the tanker "Mitrope" is turned in the entrance to the River Weaver. Manchester Ship Canal.


Tanker "Mitrope" is turned in the entrance to the River Weaver. Notice the prop thrash from the tanker. Manchester Ship Canal.


At one point it looks like the "Mitrope" is trying to join us in Weston Marsh Lock! Manchester Ship Canal.


Eventually the "Mitrope" is turned and continues down the Ship Canal bow first. 


Leaving Weston Marsh Lock of the River Weaver Navigation onto the Manchester Ship Canal.


Leaving Weston Marsh Lock off the River Weaver Navigation onto the Manchester Ship Canal.


Looking back at Weston Marsh Lock off the River Weaver Navigation.


Looking back at Weston Marsh Lock. ICI Weston Point chemical works to the left. Manchester Ship Canal.


View down the Manchester Ship Canal from the junction of the River Weaver.


Looking up the Ship Canal. Weaver sluices to the left, ICI Weston Point to the right. Even in narrowboats, we keep to the main channel out of the River Weaver, as it is reported to be very shallow off channel. Manchester Ship Canal.


Looking back at Weston Marsh Lock. Behind the marker is the River Weaver exit. Manchester Ship Canal.


Weaver Sluices. Since the Ship Canal was built the Weaver flows directly in to it. Excess water from the Weaver flows out here. A M.S.C.C. tug approaches at some speed. Manchester Ship Canal.


ICI Weston Point. Manchester Ship Canal.


Spare lock gates stacked along the side of the disused Weston Mersey side lock down to the tidal River Mersey. Manchester Ship Canal.


The boarded up port church at Weston Point Docks. Manchester Ship Canal.


Entrance into the virtually disused Weston Point Docks. Manchester Ship Canal.


Oil berth just before Runcorn Docks. In the distance between NB Frogmoore and the M.S.C.C. craft is the Bridgewater Side Lock off the Ship Canal. Manchester Ship Canal.


Oil berth just before Runcorn Docks. Manchester Ship Canal.


The remains of the ten Bridgewater Locks up to the Bridgewater Canal. Manchester Ship Canal.


Bridgewater House. Runcorn. Manchester Ship Canal.


Runcorn Railway Viaduct and the Runcorn - Widnes High Level Bridge. Manchester Ship Canal.


Runcorn Railway Viaduct and the Runcorn - Widnes High Level Bridge. Manchester Ship Canal.


M.S.C.C. main workshops at Runcorn. Manchester Ship Canal.


The 250 ton stream crane. Manchester Ship Canal.


Looking back at the Runcorn Bridges and the disused Old Quay Side lock down to Mersey. Manchester Ship Canal.


Old Quay Swing Bridge. Manchester Ship Canal.


Old Quay Swing Bridge. Manchester Ship Canal.


Low cutting at Astmoor. Manchester Ship Canal.


Moore Lane Lay-by. Moore Lane Swing Bridge in the distance. Manchester Ship Canal.


Moore Lane Swing Bridge. Manchester Ship Canal.


Acton Grange Viaduct. Manchester Ship Canal.


Acton Grange Viaduct. Manchester Ship Canal.


Chester Road Swing Bridge swung for the grain barge "Gina D".  Northwich Road Swing Bridge in the distance. Manchester Ship Canal.


Grain barge "Gina D" passes us going downstream towards Acton Grange Viaduct. Manchester Ship Canal.


Chester Road Swing Bridge. Beyond to the left is the entrance to Walton Lock and the top of the River Mersey. Manchester Ship Canal.

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The site of 20 Steps Lock. This use to connect up to a stub of the Runcorn and Latchford Canal, which was not obliterated by the construction of the MSC, it exited onto the non-tidal Mersey above Howley Weir. Northwich Road Bridge. Manchester Ship Canal.


Latchford High Level Bridge, Knutsford Road Swing Bridge, Latchford Viaduct and Latchford Locks in the distance. Manchester Ship Canal.


Knutsford Road Swing Bridge, Latchford Viaduct and Latchford Locks. Manchester Ship Canal.


Looking back at Latchford High Level and Northwich Road Swing Bridge. Manchester Ship Canal.


Latchford Viaduct and Latchford Locks. Manchester Ship Canal.


Latchford Locks. Manchester Ship Canal.


Latchford Locks, we use the small one. Manchester Ship Canal.


Latchford small lock. Manchester Ship Canal.


M6 viaducts, Manchester Ship Canal.


M6 viaducts, Manchester Ship Canal.


Above Latchford Manchester Ship Canal.


Rixton Junction, here the River Mersey exits and was the course of the Butchersfield Canal. Manchester Ship Canal.


Warburton High Level Bridge. Manchester Ship Canal.


Warburton High Level Bridge. Manchester Ship Canal.


Cadishead Railway Viaduct - now disused. Manchester Ship Canal.


Looking back at Cadishead Railway Viaduct. Manchester Ship Canal.


The mooring dolphins at Partington Basin. Manchester Ship Canal.


The mooring dolphins at Partington Basin - the original Victorian graffiti. Manchester Ship Canal.


Partington Basin - a still used oil berth. Manchester Ship Canal.


Irlam Viaduct and Locks. River Mersey comes in on the right. Manchester Ship Canal.


Irlam Viaduct and Locks. Manchester Ship Canal.


Irlam Locks. Manchester Ship Canal.


Looking back at Irlam Viaduct. Manchester Ship Canal.


Irlam Locks - from now on we use the large locks. Manchester Ship Canal.


Irlam large Lock. Manchester Ship Canal.


Irlam large Lock. Manchester Ship Canal.


Irlam large Lock - and a rather large bollard! Manchester Ship Canal.


Leaving Irlam Locks. Manchester Ship Canal.


Leaving Irlam Locks - almost leafy. Manchester Ship Canal.


NB Frogmoore II. Manchester Ship Canal.


Hulmes Bridge Ferry. Manchester Ship Canal.


The disused Davyhulme Harbour. Manchester Ship Canal.


Barton Locks. Manchester Ship Canal.


Barton Locks. Manchester Ship Canal.


Barton Locks. Manchester Ship Canal.


Barton Locks. Manchester Ship Canal.


Barton High Level Bridge, Barton Road Swing Bridge and Aqueduct in the background. Manchester Ship Canal.


Barton Road Swing Bridge and Aqueduct. Manchester Ship Canal.

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Narrowboat ahoy! Barton Road Swing Bridge and Aqueduct. Manchester Ship Canal.


Barton Road Swing Bridge and Aqueduct. Manchester Ship Canal.


Looking back at Barton Road Swing Bridge and Aqueduct. Irwell Park Wharf. Manchester Ship Canal.


Cerestar Wharf. Manchester Ship Canal.


Trafford Park Lift Bridge. Manchester Ship Canal.


Cerestar Wharf. Manchester Ship Canal.


Looking back at Trafford Park Lift Bridge. Manchester Ship Canal.


The disused Southern Oil Wharf. Manchester Ship Canal.


Mode Wheel Locks. Manchester Ship Canal.


Mode Wheel Locks. Manchester Ship Canal.


Mode Wheel Locks. Manchester Ship Canal.


The dry docks just above Mode Wheel Locks. Manchester Ship Canal.


Salford Quays - once known as Manchester docks! Manchester Ship Canal.


Salford Quays. Manchester Ship Canal.


Salford Quays. Manchester Ship Canal.


Salford Quays. Manchester Ship Canal.


Two Royal Navy patrol boats. Manchester Ship Canal.


Salford Quays. Manchester Ship Canal.


Salford Quays. Manchester Ship Canal.


Salford Quays. South Bay Marina. Manchester Ship Canal.


Leaving Salford Quays. The now fixed Trafford Road Bridge ahead. Manchester Ship Canal.


Looking across to Trafford Ground football ground. Manchester Ship Canal.


Trafford Road Bridge. Manchester Ship Canal.


Leaving Salford Quays. Manchester Ship Canal.


The new fixed bridge above Trafford Road Bridge. Manchester Ship Canal.


The new Manchester tram bridge. Manchester Ship Canal.


Pomona Docks to the right. Manchester Ship Canal.


Pomona Lock, up to Bridgewater Canal from the old Pomona Dock No 3. Manchester Ship Canal.


Looking back down Pomona Lock No 3. Manchester Ship Canal.


Pomona Lock. Manchester Ship Canal.


Pomona Lock. The M.S.C.C. locky crew secure the lock. Manchester Ship Canal.

The Tour Continues...


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