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Thursday, 17 August 2017

Quite a wide beam and a good paint job.

Our trip to London on Hull Trains was uneventful and very speedy. Hull Trains have a top 97% customer satisfaction score that make them the top rail company. Something else that Hull can be proud of. We went to see our daughter and have a bite to eat and a drink, and to make plans for the rest of the weekend.

The first visit of the trip was to HMS Belfast. I had been before a good while ago, maybe 1985 as I was on a ship that tied up alongside her. We also made use of a two for one voucher from Hull Trains! Being on board her gives you a good view of the Tower of London too.

These three valves are those that select which set of turbines the steam goes through to drive the propeller. There is the full speed ahead, cruising speed and astern sets. I'm not sure how many of the 760 odd crew were working in the engineering department but there are many and various things to oil and grease and open and shut. She had four water tube boilers that made the steam for the four Parson's turbines. her maximum speed was 32.5 kts. The boilers and turbines were placed such that if one was knocked out they would be able to continue with the other set. The pipework and ancillary machinery made it very cramped and it must have been warm. Maybe the best spot when she was on Arctic Convoy and North Atlantic patrol duty.

HMS Belfast was launched on St. Patrick's Day 1938. By the time she finished her trials and was accepted into the Royal Navy at the beginning of August 1939 it was less than a month to the start of WWII. Her 6" guns could throw a shell over 14 miles so may well not be insight of what they were firing at. The vessel was protected from torpedoes by a 4.5" belt of steel armour at the waterline and the turrets by 4" of steel. But Belfast was just a battle cruiser. The heavy battleships had 15" and 16" guns

We had a good view of the Thames barge 'Ardwina' as she was stemming the tide waiting for the lifting of the Tower Bridge. She is on the historic ships register as she was built in Ipswich in 1907. She was engaged on general trade on the est Coast for many years. She was once abandoned  in the North Sea but was salvaged. She later changed to the stone trade from Portland to Greenwich until 1952 and was a house boat off Chelsea in the 1970's. She is not on a long voyage as she is berthed at St. Catherine's Dock just the other side of Tower Bridge.

The bridge finally lifted and she made her way through. You can see that she really couldn't pass with out the bridge lifting as her mast is massive. You can go on line and find the schedule for Tower Bridge being raised if you want a picture of it in that position. We were lucky enough to squeeze under when it was lifted on 'Holderness' the other year when it was the Tall Ships Race in London last and we were heading up to Brentford.

We made our way up to my normal working territory of the past and had a good view from the Admiral's Bridge and the ship's bridge/wheelhouse. A merchant ship of this size would normally only have one man on the bridge in daylight and two at night, but the Royal Navy would have endless numbers. I could never get bused to the crowds when I worked with the Navy. The next bridge up is London Bridge and it certainly doesn't have the appeal of the Tower Bridge. 

 Helen seemed at home on the bridge and it did seem very familiar to the old ships I started my career on. Another oddity I also thought was that the wheel was not where the ship was conned from and orders had to be transmitted to the helm. I wonder if anybody could work out how long a tiller would have to be to allow it to turn 'Belfast'? She thought she was in the Captain's Chair but it was only the Navigating Officers. Maybe my position is honorary Captain of 'Holderness' will survive a while.

Following our very interesting tour of the battle cruiser we decided to see some smaller ones. Helen had never been to St. Catherine's dock so we decided to shamble over and have a quick look before heading back to the hotel. We spotted the Royal barge 'Gloriana'. Hard to miss with all that gold leaf shinning in the sun. She is propelled by 18 oarsmen (and two electric motors) when on official service. The electric motors are not normally used when rowing but for more mundane passages. She can travel at 3 to 4 knots under oars.

She was built at Brentford and Lord Sterling put up most of the £1.5 million costs. She was officially launched in April 2012 and was designed as a tribute to Queen Elizabeth on her Diamond Jubilee. The cabin has space for 34 passengers, but 20 is a more comfortable number, as well as the oars men. Apparently if you are fit and able you can apply to be an oarsman on her.

Helen's favourite London building has to appear when ever we go to London, so here is today's image.

In the evening we went to see our daughter perform in her choir in an 'immersive experience' It really made you realise that singing as part of a choir is good for you physically and emotional as they thoroughly enjoyed themselves as well as the audience. On the way from the station to the venue we passed the Cable Street Mural. The mural was completed to commemorate the Battle of Cable Street that occurred in 1936. In October of that year Oswald Mosley's British Union of Facists were to carry out a march through the area. Anti Facist protesters, made up of local Jewish, Irish Communists and anti-Facists set up barricades to prevent the march passing.

David Binnington was commisioned to carry out the work and he started in 1979 and it was supposed to take under a year, but it took much longer. Before it was finished, in May 1982, right wing slogans were daubed over the lower part and Binnington resigned in disgust. The work was taken up by several other artists and it was finally completed in March 1983. It has sadly been vandalised several times since but has been coated with special lacquer that protects it and means it can easily be cleaned. You may notice that the protesters are shown full face bu the police and the Facists are not. 

Spring Tide to Selby.

The day started drizzly but the level of the river didn't seem to have risen after the rain of the last days. I think that it takes four days for water that falls in the hills to run through and lift water levels in York and below so we would be okay for a few days yet.

I walked round and had a word with the lockie who said to come round straightaway. There was one other boat to pen down with us. By the time we had rounded the corner from the pontoon the other boat, a cruiser 'Northern Lights' was in the lock. There has been a notice out about one of the upper gates at Naburn not been in use so I was surprised to see it open. However they had trouble closing it again. In the end they had to use belt and braces methods, almost literally, to get it closed before we were lowered down. I believe there are divers etc lined up for about now to rectify the problem.

It seem that 'Northern Lights' crew were ex yachtsmen and were really just getting into the cruising game. They were heading for Goole, then Grimsby and then out into the wide blue yonder and Wells next the Sea. A nice trip but I was glad that we didn't go further than Hull. Mind you I was toying with the idea of doing the full length of the Humber to Spurn Point and back. It would be just a matter of having good weather and using the tides. A step too far for Helen I'm sure.

Off we went and soon lost site of our lock companion. The Naburn Locks seem to be under a bit of a restoration at the moment. Not the actual locks but the buildings around them. I'm sure on a nice weekend the place would be/is very popular and a good place for a 'museum come shop etc so maybe that is what they are doing.

The weather cleared up and it was flat calm as we approached Naburn Ski Club. It was a Monday so nobody was about. I'm sure it makes it interesting when they are scooting up and down.

I had asked the lock keeper if there was any inbound traffic and it seems we were to expect five boats. I hadn't expected to see them quite so soon, but then on a spring tide they would be making a good speed. There were at least two wide beams among them. The spread of wide beams continues to the north also. I have nothing against them really, other than they do take up a bit of room, but for me I think that, just like a house, the more room you have the quicker you are tempted to fill it with 'stuff'. I quite like the discipline of keeping everything stowed and not just get more things.

We had headed up the Ouse on a neap tide but today was just off top springs so quite a bit of water running. You can see that the banks are covered much more with a bit of a tide. I think the difference between a neal and spring is more than 2 metres at Goole.

This is the River Wharfe that joins the Ouse. It is just a reminder of the many rivers that join the Ouse and Trent anbd hence the Humber and together they drain over 20% of England. The Wharfe actualy rises in Langstrothdale in the Yorkshire Dales and is 65 miles long which makes it the 21st longest river in Britain (obviously not the Amazon though). It is still publically registered for navigation as far as Tadcaster.


Just before Cawood we saw the Fire Brigades water rescue truck. Their rib with about five people in had passed us earlier going like a bat out of hell. It was like been on the Thames when we passed and actually had to head into the wake. All good fun and nothing fell off the table.

When we passed upwards towards York and Ripon Cawood Bridge was closed for road traffic and now, on the way down, we find it is open for boat traffic. It seems to be a delicate structure for this day and age and is getting a lot of love and attention that will keep it servicable for a good few years yet. The next bridge is York or Selby so the quicker they get the job done the happier the locals will be I'm sure.

Just after we passed Cawood Bridge the tide turned and out speed picked up a fair bit. I was very surprised to come round a corner and see a boat coming towards me as the tide had turned for it and it would now be struggling against the current and as it was it wasn't making a very good speed at all. The 'Sheaf'' is on the historic ships register as it was built in 1938 at Dunstons for Furley and Co for trading around the Northern system as a Sheffield size (61'6" long and 15'6" beam). She was bought by Waddington's of Swinton in 1966 and worked until 1981 when she was laid up. She was bought for restoration in 2004 and it looks like they are making a good job of her. Late the lock keeper told me that he was very late locking out. I hope they made it okay.

Earlier in the mont their had been a notice that a boat was going out to collect the large quantities of debris that was floating above Selby, backwards and forwards with the tides, and representing a bit of a navigational hazard to vessels. When we sailed up to York there was very little to be seen so they had doen their job. It seems in the time we had been up river a couple of days of rain and a good spring tide had meant that tree trunks had been washed off the bank and were once again sailing on the river, but really just in nthis one place for now. It looks as though they will ground again when the tides fall to neaps. I wonder where though!

As the ebb got away out speed increased and it seemed like we were hurtling along as we came to the turn at the mill to enter Selby Reach under the ex toll road bridge and the rail bridge. There was somebody up to no good I thought under the road bridge but it turns out they were welding something back on! We manged to miss all the piers and ended up clear iof everything and trying to spot the entrance to the canal.

It was then a matter of trying to judge the strength on the tide and when to swing so as to be lined up for the lock. I did swing a little early, but better than too late and having to power up to try to get back into the tide. It always feels like the boat is never going to come round, but we did. This is me looking relieved at having got round head to tide and just angling across the reach to head down to be opposite the lock and over towards it.

Helen went to the bow to pass a line round the  risers when we got in. The turning round head to the tide turned out to be the worst bit as once you have got your speed judge and just edging in to the lock mouth you soon get into the lee of the mud banks that have built up at either wing of the lock that the tide is lost or much reduced and then it is just a matter of hard a port and half ahead to get the bow swung into the lock and then tick over to move up to secure in the lock.

Once we were back up to canal level we thanked the keeper and carried on to the swing bridge and then on to the Selby Boat Centre where we were leaving 'Holderness' once again. Once tied up we got everything sorted and with in an hour we were on our way home for more Culture, courtesy of our sun pickg us up. 

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Non stop to Naburn.

It started raining about 0600 this morning and hasn't stopped yet, and I am writing this at 1800. We are on a bit of a deadline as we are heading to London this week so we have to go regardless.

I went to the lock to set it. We weren't the first as another boat had gone down. Where it had come from I know not. The boat on the out side of the wide beam is Rune who are also bloggers. I didn't notice until we passed on the way to the lock and as it was raining there was nobody out and about.

The lock house is now a licenced cafe with a campsite nearby. It wasn't opened when we passed through the lock. The top gates are normal but the bottom gates have an horizontal hand wheel to operate the paddles just like on the Beverley Beck Lock gates.

The fish ladder was really running today, and the Archimedes screw would have been churning out the power with the flow. You have to admire the power and determination of a salmon or a trout that will get up there to its spawning rounds. Not quite the same as having to go to a disco to find girls to chat up!!

It was cold last night but I wasn't prepared for seeing bergy bits floating past in the river! Of course it is a long lasting blob of foam from the weir at Litton.

This is the east buttress of the toll bridge at Aldwark. On the other side is the free wharf and it was here in 1812 I think it was that a bunch of lads where on the old wooden bridge watching ice floes grounding on the landing from the bridge. It seems that they were running backwards and forwards to see them and somehow the railings broke and twelve lads fell into the water. Only one body was recovered!

This is the fourth church at Newton on Ouse since founding in Anglo Saxon Times. The tower is the oldest surviving bit that is dated as late 11th Century or early 12th Century. In 1838 William Dawnay of Beningbrough Hall decided to remodel All Saints and then ten years later his sister, Lydia, did the same in the Gothic Revival style.

This is where the River Nidd enters the Ouse at Nun Monkton. It is quite a nice spot and the Alice Hawthorn Inn has just installed a small pontoon mooring.

We were soon entering York. The Museum Gardens moorings were almost full and the level was lower too. We soon passed The Yorkshire Herald building. They started in a building next door when they took over then Ebor Hall for the Yorkshire Evening Press before moving here. In fact I think the last commercial cargoes brought from Goole to York was newsprint imported from Sweden for the publication. The building now house a cinema and a number of bars, plus the riverside walkway.

We passed Queens Staith on the way up, when the weather was better. There was more room on the way down, and the water level was lower, but the weather was wetter , hence why I used an earlier photo. The gantry crane, the smaller of the two on the left, was the subject of a demolition request by the Sea Cadets whose HQ is just by it. It was built over 100 years ago. Obviously the bid was turned down. It would be a shame to lose a piece of industrial architecture.

On the other side of the river is the King's Staith that is seen by many people, especially when the river floods and the pubs get inundated. There are moorings for narrow boats here and if you get close to a ladder access is easy. the only problem is all the passes by.

The rain was pretty heavy by now and the camera didn't come out of the pocket again. We were doing about 5.3 knots and were soon at Naburn Lock. With all the rain I decided to moor up on the floating pontoon so I didn't have to worry about checking the lines for rising water levels. We are due out on the tidal river about 1000 tomorrow.

Sorry for the delayed post as we have been down to London for a few days.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

South Bound.

We were off promptly at 0900 and headed down to the services a little further down the canal. It had been chucking it down before we set off, but had eased to a thin rain by the time we were out and about.

We topped up with water by sitting on the corner as there was another boat on the mooring on the berth ahead of us. We mainly wanted to get rid of all our accumulated rubbish. We weren't very long and by the time we had got going again the rain had stopped.

By the first lock, Rhodesfield, there is a campsite that in the sun looked quite appealing again. We used to have camping holidays every year and it made me somewhat nostalgic. I think I prefer narrow boating though.

I love the old carvings on locks. These Roman numerals on the bottom wall of Oxclose Lock, where the cut enters the river give an idea of how high the river can rise. It was well into the green today where as when we arrived it was just in the amber so the river appears to have fallen about 8".

The pylons carrying the electricity grid over the River Ure is a style I can't remember having seen before.

Having passed Westwick Lock we came to Newby Hall where in 1869 a foot feery that was manned by the Hall gardeners were taking some horsemen from the Ainsty Hunt across the river. It capsized due to being over loaded and four of the huntsmen were drowned. We zoomed past the village of Roecliffe where the church of St Mary's is the villages claim to fame as although built in 1847 is thought to be the only church in the country with an entirely vaulted roof known as a wagon head. The churches marble floor and steps to the chancel were part of the floor before the high altar of York Minster.

We were soon approaching Boroughbridge once again and passing the Marina you can see the weir and the cut leading off to the Milby Lock.

On the north side of the canal cut is the village of Langthorpe. My Mum's family name was Langthorp (no e), but not connection. It was the site of Warwick's Anchor Brewery that was built in 1856 as a tower brewery, one of the first of the type. This is when all the processes were started at the top and gravity was used to move the product from process to process down the tower. Next door was Sanders and Smith's Maltings. The brewery closed in 1926 and Anchor Marine Stores took it over. The maltings became a laundry. All these have left and they have all been converted to housing. The original brewery tap The Anchor still exists though.

The trip from Milby Lock Down to Swale Nabb, where the River Swale joins the Ure seems to me to have the highest concentration of kingfishers I have ever seen. They were dashing about all over, but no stopped long enough for me to get a photo. This foot bridge crosses the Ure to join the two sides of the Aldwark Manor Golf Course. It has a single span and I would love to see how they fixed it in position. Did they use a crane barge? There are no footpaths marked on the map but local walking routes say you can use it.

Aldwark Church, St. Stephen's, was built in 1854 and is quite small and is quite round in shape. It was paid for by Lady Frankland-Russell of Aldwark Manor.

I was looking to see the entrance of Ouse Gill Beck to the river to indicate where the River Ure becomes the Ouse. I am pretty sure that this is it.

When I turned round and looked over at the east bank of the river I saw this sign. Pretty conclusive I think. I didn't see it at all when heading north.

After Swale Nab you start to see all the RAF training aircraft from Linton on Ouse airfield. Earlier I had seen them practicing formation flying but as we approached I think a group of three planes were doing bumps, taking of, flying round touching down and immediately taking off again. The aircraft used here by 72 Squardron is the Shorts Tucano that is built under licence from the Brazillian Company Embraer. It was selected in 1989 to replace the Jet Provost as the plane for basic jet training. The pilots complete about 130 hours in this plane at RAF Linton before heading to RAF Valley and the Hawk trainer.

As you approach the weir, the orange floats are just appearing in the distance you may miss the the cutting to Linton Lock. You would certainly pass it and have to double back if the sign wasn't there.

We called it a day here and tied up on the pontoon before the lock at the very end. By the evening the pontoon was full.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Ripon Ramble and Crime and Punishment.

Today's blog continues with our further walks around Ripon and also the next day too.

The Victoria Clock Tower is in the middle of a round about, so would have been a good spot for people coming into the town. It was erected to celebrate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee. It was built in 1897 and officially opened in 1898. It was paid for by two sisters called cross. It is in the perpendicular style and you can see a small statue of Queen Victoria on the left side.

Helen caught the evening sun on the sandstone eastern front. We are hoping to get to see the inside tomorrow.

The Wakeman has been blowing a horn to indicate the setting of the watch since 886. Actually since 1690 he has been called the Hornblower. Alfred the Great gave the first horn (still in existence) as the sign of a charter given the town as they were very alert to the invasion of Vikings. The Wakeman was elected and had to alert the town that the watch was set by blowing his horn at the four corners of the market cross every night, and this indicated that he would maintain the watch until morning. Not a day has been missed since. In 1690 James I (VI) granted another charter. The Wakeman had become too powerful so an elected Mayor was brought in and a Hornblower also selected. The Mayor did not fully trust the Hornblower and insisted that after setting the watch the Hornblower had to come to the Mayor, where ever he was in the town and blow his horn three times and doff his cap and state the watch is set.

The lovely street of Kirkgate leads from the Market Place to the Cathedral and is full of restaurants and little shops. You can just see the full moon rising.

The next day we walked back to the Cathedral and opposite is the Courthouse Museum. It was built in 1830 to replace its medieval one. It was used for the Quarter Sessions of the Liberty of Ripon which was an area, like the area around Ripon was a county and in the Middle Ages was 'owned' by the Archbishop of York. It lost its Quarter Sessions status in 1953 but the Magistrates court continued until 1998 and a year later it became a museum. This is the Court Room and the bloke to the right is sentencing the cameraman to a fine for abusing privileged! 

We also went to the Prison and Police Station Museum and this building has a long history. Part of this present building formed pasrt of the House of Correction for Vagrants from 1686 to 1816. 

 From 1816 it became the Liberty of Ripon Prison until 1878. This is the upper story where the cells were.

I have lived in worse cabins than this on some ships I have sailed on. No, not really, but about the same size! In 1881 the building was taken over by the Ripon Police who also maintained some cells. The displays are very informative and there are large displays of insignia, truncheons etc and is again well worth a visit.

The third museum of Ripon is the Workhouse Museum and gardens. There has been a workhouse on this site since 1776. As you can see the current building was built in 1854 and this was actually just the gatehouse where those requesting to enter the workhouse would be checked to be 'worthy' and then entered by washing, delousing etc and dressing in workhouse clothes. By 1877 it also became the reception for vagrants that were washed and cleaned, and fed with a bed for the night before moving on the next day. All a very early days notion of the National Health Service.

This is the main block that had the dining room, master's study, pantry and dining room too. This part has only recently been bought and will slowly be converted to a full museum with all the rooms opened. Behind the main block is the garden that was started to make the house self sufficient as possible and provide better work for the 'inmates' than rock breaking or the like. They even kept pigs. Wit the coming of the National Health scheme after WWII it became an old peoples home with a very different culture.

After a full day of visits to the Museums of Ripon we headed for the Cathedral and as the Choral Evensong service was about to start we joined in. It was a lovely service as the all the psalms and responses were sung by a very good choir and the organist was very good too. Whilst not being one of the more ornate churches we have been to it certainly has a dignity to it and a great atmosphere. We didn't have very long to have a look around and missed the Anglo Saxon crypt. There is something about these old churches that are so massive that must have been an immense undertaking and provide a visible symbol of the church for the towns folk.

On Low St. Agnesgate there is a large building with a double gate through to a yard, that looks  a bit like a small factory of warehouse. This terracotta plaque with a beehive and the motto 'Labor Omnia Vincit' or 'Work Conquers All'. I can only find that this was a Victorian affectation rather than anything else. The motto was popular with labour movements in America and is the motto of the Royal Pioneer Corp. I thought that the motto and beehive might have had something to do with the Co-operative movement, but apparently not. The 'Work Conquerors All' also made me worry it had something to do with Auschwitz but that motto above the gate was 'Work Sets you Free'. 

This is the River Skell where the path from the back of the Cathedral crosses the bridge. At the other side is the Water Rat pub that is just across the road from the Canal Basin and seems a popular spot on a nice day.