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The Tuesday Night Club on Tour


The 1993 Cruises


The Summer Tour - Leeds and Liverpool Canal, Llangollen Canal Plus.

2 - Cromwell Lock to Keadby, Tidal River Trent. Keadby to Leeds, Stainforth and Keadby Canal, New Junction Canal, Aire and Calder Navigation. Leeds to Foulridge, Leeds and Liverpool Canal.


Wednesday 14th July – We were all up at the crack of dawn, for our early booked penning time of 6.00. The passage from Cromwell to Keadby in one go, requires you to punch the last of the incoming tide. That way at narrowboat speeds you can get to Keadby just before low water, which gives you a chance to tie up on the corner of the lock, so you don’t have to punch any of the flood, which can be rather violent, this far downstream! Starting at 6.00, (the earliest Cromwell lock can be booked) we would punch the last half hour of the tide. The whole passage had been planned around advice given by Garry, the resident Cromwell Lock keeper. Garry used to be a Humber, Ouse and Trent barge Captain. He knows these rivers like the back of his hand and is a mine of information.  He is not anti-narrowboat, like some tidal lock keepers and will help you plan any trip involving the Tidal Trent. The only information he requires is the sustainable maximum speed of your boat through still water and that you are confident that your engine will be reliable for up to 8 hours solid running. We phoned Garry a few days before, to say that we were on for our booked departure. He said that he would not be on duty that morning as he was actually having a holiday, but the duty lock keeper had been informed.

Back to the real thing!

Julian and Neil wandered up to the lock at 5.50, but there was no one around. Eventually after fruitless mobile calls to the area office, freephone canals and all the waterways offices in the area, the lock keeper screeched up in his van at 6.45! He was only half dressed and apologised profusely as he immediately opened the gates and let us in. At 6.55 we shot out of the huge lock, with the tide starting to turn!

We knew that low water at Keadby was at 12.35, so we would have to do the passage in under 6 hours, to not have to punch any of the incoming tide. Fortunately it was fairly off Springs. After about 15 minutes Beatty’s sturdy little BMC 1.5 was up to operating temperature. After this it was flat out! We judged that we would have to pass the two other exit points onto the tidal Trent, Torksey at 2 hours out and West Stockwith at 4 hours out. This we just about achieved. We clocked our selves on the kilometre posts, but at the end of BW’s jurisdiction (Gainsborough), they stop. At the M180 Bridge the ebb had definitely stopped and we could see the water in the bridge piers beginning to flow the WRONG way. At this point we phoned the expectant Keadby lock keeper again and he said that there were no coasters on the jetties (fortunately!) and could we try to get ourselves on the upstream corner to his lock. Neil kept on the inside of the bends to keep out of the flood. We still made reasonable progress and went slightly down stream of Keadby Lock. We then did a max speed crab across the river, into the full flood (Keadby is on the outside of a bend) and managed a fairly controlled slap right onto the corner of the lock entrance. Colin managed to et the centre rope on and eventually we managed to get the bow rope on as well. This was at 13.06. The Keadby lock keeper is one of he old school of commercial BWB employees and asked us to move back a bit. We said that due to the non-appearance of his Cromwell colleague we were lucky to be here at all and we were staying put! Within a few minutes a sand barge came down stream, punching the tide with a rather large bow wave. We were glad as we rocked up and down that we HAD stayed put! Next passed was an old pallet, complete with 4 duck riding along on it. This was rather moving upstream as the flood was now in full force. A couple of GRP cruisers shot out of the lock, bound for Torksey and then it was our turn to go in. Neil took up the strain with the engine power, the ropes cast off and we made a fairly sedate controlled entrance into the lock. The locky attempted to be friendly in his sarcastic way and informed us that Linda had just phoned to check that we had got here OK! We were soon up and through the keeper controlled swing bridge. Keadby Lock was (and still is) a completely manual affair, with capstans and chains to open the gates. Next followed a 20 minute wait for the Vazon Railway Slide Bridge. This unique bridge has bouts of stubbornness and was exhibiting this at the moment. It took 6 Railtrack bods to shift it! Finally at 13.55 we were on our way on the deep Stainforth and Keadby Canal. We just missed the keeper controlled (now boater operable) Thorne Lock and Swing Bridge. We mooed just below on the non-towpath side (16.50). This was the old barge building site,  that had just been flattened. We sent John F out on the ships tender (mountain bike) to find a pub for the evening. He came back saying that they all looked awful and the Canal Tavern looked the best bet. We ate on the boat and then went to this very un-patronised pub. It was OK, but we did not feel that welcomed. The 4 locals stopped talking when we entered then stared at us for a while!


Thursday 15th July – We made the earliest start we could (8.00) as this was the time Thorne Lock started working. We were going to try for Leeds that night but on the map, it looked un-obtainable! There was a keeper about at the manual Bramwith Lock, but he did not seem very interested in working it, so we just carried on. At the junction with the new Junction Canal we turned left to link up with the Aire and Calder. At this time all the locks and lift bridges on the New Junction were keeper controlled and we just shot straight through, with them just opening in time. The Aire and Calder was reached at 11.00. Again all the locks on the Aire and Calder were keeper controlled (not all had been modified for boater operation, at this time) We stopped at the water point below Whitley Lock, between 12.30 and 12.50, where we also had lunch. We passed Kellingley Colliery at 13.30 and saw our first coal pan train being loaded. At Skew Bridge we had our first and only tussle with an empty coal pan train at the worst spot possible! We soon shot into reverse and ran ourselves into the bank, to much amusement of the tug captain! After this we kept Colin on the bow as look out (this we now ALWAYS do through the narrow Knottingley section!) After this we met a few barges, but not at dodgy moments! At Ferrybridge there was much coal pan traffic. A pusher tug captain, seeing the video out did a 360 degree pirouette on the spot, with one quick blast of the throttle! A very quick passage ensued and we came out of Castleford Flood Lock at 15.00. This awkward shaped flood is normally straight though, but like Ferrybridge it is still traffic light controlled. The junction with the Aire and Calder sections was also traffic light controlled. We turned left up the Aire Branch to Leeds. We passed through the old Kippax and Lemonroyd Locks, now replaced by the new deep Lemonroyd Lock. This is due to the river course being altered due to the breach into St Aiden’s open cast coal mine. We eventually passed through the last Aire and Calder Lock – Leeds Lock his was still manual, but has since been electrified. We moored at Leeds Basin, just above the first Leeds and Liverpool Lock – River Lock. This was at 18.20. That night we went out into the town, going to a couple of pubs, then ending up in the very original Whitelock’s pub, a narrow affair, up a tiny alley. One of the barmen overheard us talking about a Chinese restaurant. He knew a good one and took us for a quick march across Leeds to his choice. The name of this escapes us, but it was good.


Friday 16th July - John F went to set Office Lock at 8.00 as soon as the lock keeper unlocked the gates. Another pair of narrowboats were also stirring, but we shot straight in the prepared lock. They said to John tat this was “A bit Naughty”, but having watched John in action, they did not stand a chance……..nobody nicked a lock from John F! They declined for one of them to share with us, as they were together. We set off with gusto, as we wanted to get through the Bingley 5 Rise that night, if possible. John shut up the locks and dropped the water for the two miserable boats behind – we soon lost them. At Oddy Locks we met our first “rise”. This was just a junior double jobby, you get gradually built up for the five rise experience! Further three rises followed at Forge, Newlay, Field and Bingley, interspaced with a couple of two rises, Dobson and Downley Gap. We had a good run up, with no traffic and a bit of help from the lock keepers. We started the Newlay Three rise at 11.00 and passed Rodley Swing bridge at 12.00. We arrived at the top of the Bingley Three rise at 16.40. This operation awakened Barry Whitlock from his hut an he soon appeared to supervise. He said that he would work us through the Five Rise that night. We had a fairly quick assent, Barry pinning Beatty in position with roaring gate paddles! We got on with Barry very well and when we were at the top we gave him a carrier of beer. This was fortunate, as there was no moorings available near the locks. Barry told us to moor on the sanitary station, as he assumed we would be leaving early. Barry locked up the flight and his hut, then came back to down a couple of his tinnies with us. He wondered how us Southern softies were getting on with his “serious” locks. We replied that we had left a couple of locals well behind, this morning! He told us about his ex- BW Josher, that he had down south at the moment, being looked after for him and his dad, in Enfield Yard. Eventually Barry Left and Ian Scott and Mike Berthoud arrived, being talked in by a few mobile calls. John Fleming set of back home, utilising Ian’s car. That night we walked into town and had fish and chips. We did not find any pubs of note.


Saturday 17th July – We shoved off at 7.00. Ian cycled between some of the numerous swing bridges on this section. We stopped at Silsden Narrowboats for a pump-out between9.05 and 9.35 – not very effective and slow. Bradley Swing Bridge was found to be particularly stiff and needed two people to shift it. We passed Skipton without stopping and ploughed onwards towards Gargrave. Higherland Lock was passed at 13.52. Not much traffic, we were not held up at all and did not share. After the Bank Newton Flight came the remote wiggly bit before East Marton. This and the Greenberfield Locks is the section that seem the most “up in the Dales.” We stopped at 18.37, just before Foulridge Tunnel. That night we ate on board and went out to New Inn in Foulridge.


Julian waiting expectantly for the non-showing lock keeper! Cromwell Lock. River Trent.

Cromwell Lock. River Trent.

Cromwell Lock. River Trent.

An hour late we are OFF! Cromwell Lock. River Trent.

Leaving Cromwell Lock. Soon it would be maximum revolutions! Tidal River Trent.

Torksey Castle. Tidal River Trent.

Disused Torksey Rail Bridge. Tidal River Trent.

Tidal River Trent.

Keadby Road / Rail Bridge. Tidal River Trent.

Keadby Lock. We were over this side as the Trent was now in flood. Tidal River Trent.

We had only just got the ropes on when this barge came hacking down! Tidal River Trent.

Finally out of Keadby Lock. The building to the right is the now defunct Friendly Fox pub. Stainforth and Keadby Canal.

Waiting for Vazon Slide Bridge. It was poorly at the time and needed these guys to coax it into action. Stainforth and Keadby Canal.

We finally get through Vazon Slide Bridge. Stainforth and Keadby Canal.

Coming up to Kellingley Colliery. Aire and Calder Navigation.

Coal pans being filled at Kellingley Colliery. Aire and Calder Navigation.

We meet our first barge. Knottingley. Aire and Calder Navigation.

Nice telephoto shot of Ferrybridge Flood Lock and cooling towers of Ferrybridge Power Station. Aire and Calder Navigation.

Colin keeping barge watch. Aire and Calder Navigation.

Castleford Flood Lock - rather an awkward shape! Aire and Calder Navigation.

Lemonroyd Lock. (This has now completely disappeared, as the course of the River Aire has been altered, Old Lemonroyd and Kippax Locks combined in new Lemonroyd Lock.) Aire and Calder Navigation.

River Lock, looking up, basin to right. Leeds. Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

Beatty's mooring in Leeds Basin. Office Lock above. Leeds. Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

Beatty's mooring in Leeds Basin. Looking back at River Lock. Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

Beatty's mooring in Leeds Basin. Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

Beatty's mooring in Leeds Basin. (The stone ware house to the right is now a trendy restaurant.) Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

Office Lock. Leeds. Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

Office Lock. Leeds. Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

Forge Three Rise. Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

Forge Three Rise. Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

Forge Three Rise. Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

Forge Three Rise. Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

Newlay Three Rise. Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

Dobson Two Rise Locks. Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

First telephoto view of the Bingley Five Rise. Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

Bingley Five Rise, or "Barry" Five Rise as we know it! Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

Bingley Five Rise. Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

The top of the Bingley Five Rise. Beatty's overnight mooring on the sanitary station - it is amazing what a carrier of beer does! Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

Bingley Five Rise Top Lock. Barry's hut beyond the Swing Bridge No 200. Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

In the Gargrave Flight. Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

The very wiggly remote section, just before East Marton. Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

Double Arched Bridge No161 at East Marton. Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

Going up Greenberfield Locks to the summit. Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

Nice view of box paddle. Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

Greenberfield Locks. Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

We have just come out onto the summit at Greenberfield. Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

The Wharf At Foulridge. (The disused railbridge has gone.) Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

Foulridge Tunnel. Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

Foulridge Tunnel. We have a green! Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

The Tour Continues...

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