Last night we were moored just north of an obstruction in the centre of the canal, most people now know that this is the pivot point for an old railway swing bridge that took the train from the Leek Branch of the NSR across the canal to the factory. There was just room to moor a narrow boat between the closed swing bridge and the accommodation bridge that the above photograph is taken under. Once the railway had crossed the canal on the swing bridge there was a short siding running back along the canal to the accommodation bridge, it was so short that there is no straight rail at all and you can still see the rails in the photo above. Beside the rails there were two cranes for loading and unloading rail wagons to/from the waiting Narrowboat. There bases are still visible. On the sight is an interpretation board giving more information about the site, unfortunately like lots of things today it has been vandalised slightly. Clicking on the photo will open it at its maximum resolution.
The layout of the railway can be clearly seen on this old Ordinance Survey map from The National Library of Scotland The factory, Victoria Mill at Stanley Moss, was owned by Harrison Mayor and produced glazes for the potteries.
This morning and today was even better than yesterday with wall to wall sunshine and warm enough for a tee shirt all day. We set off at 9-30 am and headed to the locks, we had seen two boats go down yesterday afternoon after we had moored up so expected them to be empty, however we found them all full so another boat must have come up while we were out for a walk. One thing I have noticed about these locks is that they seem to fill differently, some seem to fill near the tail gates and some all the way along the side.
Just passed the Foxley Pub we not only met a boat whilst passing two moored boats, but the local drunk was on the towpath directing the traffic. What he didn’t see while he was holding a hand up to stop the other boat and waving us on was a Mink swim across the canal. We met another 4 boats before we reached Etruria junction where we turned very sharp left to head down the Stoke locks, There was a short delay while we waited for a boat to lock up but this put all the rest in our favour.
The working boats moored at the Etruria Flint Museum arm are looking very smart, freshly blacked. At Ridgeway’s Lock we were to see another ex-working boat Stanton, also looking splendid as she nosed out or the lock towards me.
After this we met two more boats at Locks both single handing, the first knew me but didn’t tell me who he was and then at Stoke Bottom Lock a woman came up the lock and started drawing the bottom paddles without looking, it took three good blasts on the horn before I caught her attention and I was less than 50 yards from the lock.
There are a pair of Bottle Kilns part way down this flight, these also have preservation orders on them and were restored when the flats were built, but now they require maintenance as they have Buddleia growing out of them in lots of places, if left the roots will damage the brickwork. A few years back this could easily have been sorted from a ladder but I expect today it will require a full scaffolding job.
By now the wind had freshened a bit but it was still very pleasant and the forecast rain had not shown up. We continued down the Trent and Mersey to moor for the night at Wedgwood, there are some nice rings just before the bridge but its a bit shallow, we pulled back to the first ring and it seems OK.