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The 1999 "Earnest" Maiden Voyage Cruise

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3. Sheffield and South Yorkshire Navigation, Thorne to Sheffield Basin.

4.00am Saturday 10th July saw us leave our moorings below Moor's Swing Bridge in a thick fog! The all electric Moor's Swing Bridge found in the murky depths and soon dispatched. Next came Wykewell Lift Bridge, this is a totally electric affair, Ian and Kerry got off to work it, but the open cycle did not get past the barrier closure. It then cut out and would not give our key back. Neil moored the boat up went to investigate, it was found that if the emergency close button was held at the same time as the close button the barriers would open and let the traffic pass, which amazingly for 5.00am did exist. After much fiddling we gave up and went back to have breakfast. Neil eventually phoned the answer phone at Doncaster B.W. office to get the mobile phone Freephone Canals emergency number, this being the first time we have ever resorted to it. Neil thought he would cheat a bit, stating to the lady who immediately we were put onto that the bridge would not operate and the barriers were stuck down causing a traffic jam. This was a good move, because in ten minutes a local B.W. bloke who was on call, phoned us back to verify where we were and that he would be there in 15 minutes. He came screaming up to the  bridge in is van and met us. He was a bit perturbed that we had managed to get the barriers back up and there was no huge traffic jam. But within 15mins he was into the vandalised hut door and traced the fault to the barrier closure warning hooter. He over rode this and opened the bridge for us, the whole B.W. experience not taking an hour! 
We started off again at 6.40 still determined to get to Sheffield that night. Thorne was passed at 7.00am and Bramwith Junction at 8.20am after firstly navigating Bramwith Lock, the first we have done in fog.  The first structure on the Sheffield and South Yorkshire Navigation proper was Barnby Dun Swing Bridge an all electric affair on a busy main road. Amazingly for this early hour there was a lady B.W. keeper on duty and she quickly saw us through. The rest of the locks were all set to boater operation until we were worked through Sprotborough Lock at 10.40am.  We phoned up the friendly Tinsley Lock keepers who we had already booked. They said the cut off time would be 3.00pm at Waddington Lock and to give them another ring when we got there. Conisborough Railway Viaduct was passed without incident, nothing was chucked off it at us and we passed Waddington Lock at 1.45 pm. We phoned the Tinsley Lock keeper and he said the locks should all be set for us as he was just letting some one down. He said that there was some swimming going on at Jordans Lock which was un padlocked. The swimming seemed harmless and as we were filling the lock up for them we should not have any trouble. We passed here without incident and started the flight proper at 3.30pm. The first few locks we had to empty but then waited for the descending boat, after that the locks were all set and we were left to our own devices, coming out of the top lock at 5.10pm. Un uneventful journey followed to Sheffield Basin, where we winded and moored right next to the managers / night watchman's office at 6. 40pm. This was Ian and Kerry's last night and we went for a Chinese in the centre of town. When we got back the was a young lady watching the proceedings from the front cockpit of her R&D hulled Heron boat "Linda", moored right outside the manager's Office. Neil realised that the Basin Manager was a lady and this was almost certainly her. Kerry thought that she was just trying to chat him up and when he left he was embarrassed to learn the truth. That lovely hot evening we sat in the cockpit trying to empty the beer lockers, Neil observed the Basin Manager on a radio to the security guard. At one point a loud hailer boomed out telling some kids off for paddling in the dry dock "feature". Later some kids ran along in front of the new Hotel showering the boats below with handfuls of gravel shouting "Ahoy shipmates!", they were promptly chased by the security guard, the outcome they were wanting! 


The next day was to be the main lads crew change day and the boat was not going to move. Jackie, Julian's wife dropped Julian and Colin off at about 1.00pm and took Ian and Kerry back to Ian's car at Braunston for a well deserved rest! Julian arrived with his normal culinary clobber and proceeded to get the beer locker to half full! Julian had got an idea to go to a rather special Indian restaurant that night, which involved a tram ride up to the University district. We got off at the right stop but walked right past it. When we eventually retraced our steps we found it as the establishment painted a hideous turquoise colour with a down and out propped up in the door way. We stepped over him and entered into more salubrious but simple surroundings We were made very welcome and a waiter went outside and shooed away the wino. This establishment goes against the grain of Indian restaurants being run by a Hindu and a lady at that. The meal was excellent though not cheap for this grotty part of town (Neil said maybe all of Sheffield is like this!) Everything freshly prepared. This was obvious as the menu was fairly small. This restaurant was "Nirmal's", 187-193 Glossop Road, Sheffield. It was yet another lovely evening, so we went back on the tram to have a drink on the boat. We opened all the windows / hatches / doors to let the boat cool down and then reclined in the front cockpit.


Moor's Swing Bridge, 4.30 am!

Barnby Dun Lift bridge, B.W. in control.

Doncaster, visitor moorings and B.W. Waterway Office.

Looking back from within Doncaster Lock, above is main East Coast Main Line railway bridge at throat of Doncaster Station.

Doncaster Lock.

River Don above Doncaster, it could be the River Thames.

M1 Don Valley Viaduct in distance.

Leaving Sprotborough Lock cut.

Mexborough Top Lock, note extra security fences to left, since our last visit in 1995.

First two locks of Dearne and Dove Canal used as dry docks for Waddington's, just above Waddington Lock.

Laid up Waddington's barges above the lock.

Kilnhurst Flood Lock to left, old abandoned lock to right. Notice confusing B.W. sign!, Should be placed at head of lock.

Sir Frank Price (Eastwood) Lock, the last of futile 1980's modernisation.

Tinsley Bottom Lock, River Don comes in from under bridge.

Tinsley Flight.

Under M1 Viaduct in Tinsley Flight, Meadowhall Shopping Centre in distance, River Don between.

Tinsley Pumping Station , where all water is pumped up to Sheffield Summit from River Don.

Tinsley Top Lock, Ian pulling gates shut.

"Earnest" at rest in Sheffield basin. Managers Office and boat in distance, notice her observation chair in front cockpit!

Straddle Warehouse, Sheffield Basin.

Road bridge and hotel conversion, new since 1995. Sheffield Basin.

"Earnest" in Sheffield basin. Tram bridge and famous flats in distance. Sheffield Basin.

Old warehouse behind Straddle, Sheffield Basin.

 The tour continues...


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