May 20

And now for something different…

I am in Northwich, having moved north on the Trent and Mersey, overnighting above the junction with the Weaver River navigation, and ringing in Northwich at the very prominent St. Helen’s church. The day was again a wonderful spring day, with only hints of the solid day of rain forecast. I rode through a beautiful country park, and was only a little apprehensive about the towering thunderhead clouds. Great ringing, my first time doing plain hunt on 8 with no cover bell, and the rain held off until the middle of the night.

Today, in the rain, I got to the Anderton boat lift. This contraption/edifice (?) was designed to rapidly lower boats to the Weaver River from the Trent and Mersey (or really to get the loaded boats back up so they could carry loads of salt and materials to the potteries). The lift is right opposite a major (huge!) chemical complex that is still using the salt resources that are underground.

Going into the lift is straightforward: you wait for the operator to signal go ahead, and you go into this large bathtub suspended in space, with another boat. They close the gates behind you, and then the large tub sinks gradually downward with both boats floating gently like ungainly rubber ducks. The lift has two of these tubs, and as our descended, the other (with only one boat) rose. The engineers would appreciate the balancing that is involved. The lift originally used water in the hydraulic rams that control the balancing, but this corroded, so they switched to huge iron weights and electric motors. In the recent (2002) restoration/renovation, they switched back to the original hydraulic system, but use oil rather than water to prevent the corrosion problem. The weights have been removed, and now form a maze for people to explore in the grounds. All a grand testament to the efforts used to move boats up and down and facilitate the use of boats as a major transportation network, which made the canal system I have the privilege of visiting. It is SO impressive.


exiting the lift at the Weaver River level

upper level of the lift

upper level of the lift


in the lift, waiting for the guillotine gates ahead to allow us out at river level

About Ed Mortimer

I'm a retired school teacher, now living on my Dutch cruiser in France. I'm touring as much of the canals and river systems as I can. This blog describes what I do and where I've been. I did spend 5 years on first a narrowboat, and then this boat, in Britain.
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