Thursday 28 April 2011

Stoke on Trent

Overnight it had been rather cold and, although it was a bright sunny morning as we arose, there were still some traces of a ground frost.

We continued along the Trent and Mersey, first through Aston lock and then up to Stone. At the second lock there is a carved statue to commemorate a lady who was murdered as she took a boat ride - it being cheaper that going by stage coach!

Here we filled our fuel tank at Canal Cruising where we first hired a boat back in 1967!

Meaford locks followed - during the flight Mike booked train tickets for him and Andrew tomorrow to return to Mercia Marina to collect the cars.

The morning remained bright, almost cloudless and gradually warmed up to be quite pleasant although a cool breeze remained until later in the afternoon.

At Hem Heath there was once a very modern colliery which largely supplied Meaford Power Station a little south on the canal. Today both have long gone and on the site at Hem Heath stands an incinerator!

Pleasant cruising continued - most of the canal south of Stoke city centre is very well kept - as we passed then to the north we gradually saw more industrial remains, largely of the potteries. A number of old bottle kilns have been preserved - as far as we know, none remain active. this pair were restored as part of a housing development.

Just below Etruria Junction some of the early warehouse facilities have been preserved as a museum recording life as it was on the canals in their heydays. The lock at the junction itself once acted as a gauging stop where boats were checked and details recorded so that the weight of their cargo could be agreed.

A little further and we passed through the area that once saw the huge Stanton Iron and
steel Works - back in 1967 we navigated right through the middle of the works - very impressive - but today the large area is flattened, largely awaiting some new development.

At Middleport, Burleigh (originally Burgess and Leigh, one of the earliest potteries here) Earthenware pottery is still operational and beyond is a large Steelite Factory, with a 1998 bridge connecting sites on both sides of the canal with a new factory dated 2000.

We moored at Westport Lake Visitor moorings, a pleasant development since we were last here four years ago - the visitor centre opened in 2009.

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