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The 1997 Mega Cruise

Index

12. Lydiate to Liverpool, Leeds and Liverpool Canal. Including :- Mersey Ferry trip and walk down Stanley Dock Branch locks.

Saturday 19th July we were up eating breakfast, when right on time at 8.30 the B.W. gang of four arrived in a truck. Neil went out to investigate. The boss B.W. bod (the one in the non standard red T shirt, who sounded like an ex-Liverpool docker!) said that they always turn up come rain or shine in the season. All we had to do was to keep up a nice steady speed and they would do the rest! Within seconds Bell's Swing Bridge No16 was swung and off we sped. Neil carried on with his breakfast while steering and videoing. Most of the bridges were swung just at the last minute, the B.W. crew later said that waiting for canal bridges seemed to particularly irritate the locals. In the centre of Maghull we saw the site of the infamous breach which had only recently been repaired. Beyond the railway bridge the countryside opens out for the last time. 
Just before we reached Aintree another boat was spotted, at the towpath, with an elderly couple on! Some loonies had ventured into bandit country on their own. They soon shoved off and followed us. It soon turned into a really hot day, but the only signs of yobs were a couple of kids in a blow up boat. Very few kids were seen and most of them were friendly and waved. Around Netherton the surface weed became worse, but did not affect "Beatty" much. The other couple got behind on a couple of occasions, presumably stopping for de-weeding sessions. Neil only had to do his, down the weed hatch, while still moving routine a couple of times. The canal is basically still deep and we would have made much better time if we had not waited for the other boat all the time. The B.W. men paid particular attention to Litherland Railway bridge No2H, all being present on it and around it, amazingly it was still in use! More about this bridge later. 
We arrived at the new terminus basin in the new Eldonian village housing development at 12.15, after managing to just wind in the basin (about 55ft wide). The B.W. blokes were soon there to greet us. They told us the best way to walk into town, to get to the ferry terminal and Maritime Museum, which we wanted to cram into the afternoon. They said we would be quite safe here, we were locked in and the only way in and out was through the reception of the village hall, which had a 24hour security guard. When we left we should tell him the approximate time we were to come back. They would not accept our T.N.C. "welcome pack", saying they were glad to take some one down to Liverpool, as very few people have availed themselves of this excellent service. The other boat appearing certainly surprised them, they said they would not like to have spent a night on that boat any further into Liverpool suburbia! We said our good byes, feeling confident that we would see them sharp at 8.30 the next day. 
We had continued brunching on the way and so we were ready for a quick departure into the centre of Liverpool. Before the coming of  the Eldonian Village this part of town was a bit evil. This seem to be changing for the best now. An old corner store boarded up like something from the Bronx to stop burglary and attacks was still open,  next to it was a new super market. Most of this area had been cleared, with just a few old corner pubs and shops left. The new housing development was tidy and neat. We all legged it straight to the waterfront and just caught a Mersey Ferry that was doing the 3 stop Mersey Cruise trip, that stopped at Seacombe, then Birkenhead before coming back. It was still a lovely day with good visibility and Neil managed to make out the buoyed course upstream all the way to the Ship Canal at Eastham and the other way down stream to the Mersey Docks entrance locks. This may prove useful when they have repaired the Stanley Dock flight down into the Mersey Docks. Hopefully then we can attempt a crossing of the Mersey and the un-navigated section of the Ship Canal. After our Mersey trip we went down to Albert Dock and made a quick visit to the Merseyside Maritime Museum. Obviously we did not have enough time to do this excellent museum justice. 
We got back to the boat fairly early, gaining passage through the village hall. Normally this welcomes boater's to it's restaurant and bar, but to night it was closed as it was the scene of a local wedding breakfast. Neil and Linda went out again to a close by fish and chip shop. This was another old shop with huge steel security shutters, which with the changing times were now redundant. After our excellent fish supper, which had huge portions, Alan and Neil set off to investigate the Stanley Dock Branch locks. At the end of the basin there were two brand new community boats that were being fitted out. Neil got talking with the organiser. He asked about our passage down to Liverpool. He said that normally there was no trouble at all, but there had been some very serious anti boater attacks. The worst incident was concrete railway sleepers being thrown off the open railway bridge 2H in Litherland. Apparently one had hit a narrowboat and caused serious damage. Fortunately no one was hurt and the boat being of steel, did not sink. Neil said that we did notice the B.W. blokes paying particular attention to this bridge! We think it is about time Railtrack made this bridge more secure as we saw a man and a dog go up the un fenced embankment, to take his dog for a walk along the open line! The community boat bloke also said that another thing that annoys the locals is when boat clubs organise mass cruises to Liverpool and they are kept waiting at swing bridges while about 30 boats go under. He said that B.W. are now trying to let boats down in waves, so that the bridges are not kept open for too long. This makes more work for them, but appeases the locals. He said that we would not have any trouble here, but he had heard that the Wedding Party may get a little raucous! 
Alan and Neil were soon examining the flight of four locks down to Stanley Dock, which is connected via a series of basins to two remaining sets of locks out into the Estuary, which are right down by the Seaforth Container Terminal. They appeared in reasonable condition. Pipes had been sleeved over the paddle shafts to stop kids moving them by hand and the splines had long tubes welded round them. This would need a special windlass, not unlike the River Great Ouse type. A couple of the ground paddle handles were broken off, but the working gate paddle would have sufficed. In all we could not see why they were not operative.
That night the loud wedding party did indeed spill outside, but we were left alone down our end. At one point later on, a "Brookside" type fight broke out and someone ended up in the canal!


We have just passed through Bell's Swing Bridge No16, by the "Running Horses" pub. Start of our escorted tour down to Liverpool. Spot the B.W. van and men. Lydiate, Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

Looking back at Methodist Swing Bridge No15 Lydiate.

Shaw's Swing Bridge No14. Maghull.

The electric Maghull Hall Swing Bridge No12.

Site of the infamous Maghull Breach. 

Super power for manual bridge!

Draper's Footbridge No11B, Maghull. 

M58 Bridge, Waddicar.

Hancock's Swing Bridge No9 and pipe bridge, Aintree. We have just picked up the boat behind.

Aintree racecourse to the left. Surface weed becomes more prevalent.

Netherton Swing Bridge No6.

Watching our progress, just below Netherton Swing Bridge.

Litherland, telephoto shot of Seaforth Container Docks.

The last of the straddle pylons once a feature of this section. Litherland, Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

The recent Litherland Bridge replacing the infamous Swing Bridge. Stonework base from the old bridge can be seen just in front of bridge. Small B.W. depot to left.

The notorious Railway Bridge 2H Litherland, Leeds and Liverpool Canal. B.W. team actually walked this section from Bridges 2J to 2E.

Litherland Road Bridge No2B.

Stanley Road Changeline Bridge No2A from under Bridge No2. Still in convoy.

Caroline Street Bridge No1, with railway bridge beyond.

Railway bridge NoH.

Remains of tow path over bridge, now just pipe bridge, entrance to Stanley Dock Branch.

Top of Stanley Dock Branch Locks.

New Bridge NoC, entrance to Eldonian Basin, Liverpool.

The intrepid pair that made it to Liverpool. Blue narrowboat is one of a pair of community boats, being fitted out. Eldonian Village Hall in background.

Looking back down at the basin from infilled Bridge NoB. Eldonian Village Basin, Liverpool.

Alan emerging for our evening walk down the Stanley Dock Branch.

"Beatty" at rest, beautiful hot evening, Eldonian Village Basin.

Looking up the Stanley Dock Branch from the bottom lock, which then connects straight into the dock basin.

Stanley Lock No3.

Looking up at Stanley Lock No2 from Lock No3.

Stanley Locks No1&2.

Stanley Lock No1 and junction. Stanley Dock Branch, Leeds and Liverpool Canal, Liverpool.

Mersey Ferries Terminal in Liverpool.

Ferry "Woodbridge" leaving Liverpool.

Looking back at the Liverbirds. The Liverbirds are large cast eagles on the top of the two tower's of the Royal Liver Building

Just leaving Seacombe Ferry Terminal. The towers are vent shafts for the Mersey Tunnel.

Arriving at Birkenhead Ferry terminal.

Casting off from Birkenhead.

Cammell Laird Shipbuilders.

"Oakleaf" Royal Fleet Auxiliary craft undergoing repairs at Cammell Laird's. 

Oil tanker at oil berths just up stream from Cammell Laird's.

HMS Bark Endeavour outside Merseyside Maritime Museum in Albert Dock. It was on a summer round Britain trip.

The tour continues...


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