Tuesday, 14 October 2014

September and into Caen Hill Marina

I haven't moved since my last post - partly because it is a great location and partly because it looks like the fantastic late summer has come to an end and we are now getting winds and rain, so not inclined to move.
It means I have time to record my September meanderings.  I am booked into Caen Hill Marina for the winter and intend to get there by mid/late September to let me spend a few days back at the house and fulfill the insurance company's requirement for me to "live" in the property at least every 60 days.  First, I have more than a few locks and some lovely countryside to negotiate.
I spend a few days covering the section I have previously travelled down to Froud's Bridge Marina then spend a couple of nights in Newbury:

Victoria Park

This used to be the terminus of the Kennet Navigation from Reading, before the K&A canal construction to Bath.
The Canal & River Trust offices

The river is comparatively quite narrow going through the town.

West Mills swing bridge, looking back to the town

Great Bedwyn Lock and village.

Couldn't resist this photo of a boat moored near me - no prizes for guessing who they are looking at.

My mooring atGreat Bedwyn

I am lucky to find a good mooring at Crofton for a visit to the pumping station.

The first design of the Kennet & Avon canal by the distinguished Scottish civil engineer, John Rennie, called for a 4.5 km (2.5 mile) tunnel between the Wiltshire villages of Crofton and Burbage but, in those days, tunnelling was a very expensive and uncertain process and a cheaper alternative was sought. This involved raising the summit level of the canal and constructing a much shorter tunnel. However, this new summit was 12 m (40 ft) higher than any reliable local, natural water source and so a pumping station was needed at Crofton to keep it topped-up. It was estimated that this scheme saved £41,000 (equivalent these days to about to about £8,000,000) in the cost of canal construction, a very substantial saving.
Crofton Pumping Station was built in 1807 and started work soon after. The first engine installed in the building was a 0.9 m (36 inch) bore Boulton and Watt which had a wooden beam and began working in 1809. In 1812, a 1.06 m (42 inch) bore Boulton and Watt engine was installed beside it. In 1846, the 0.9 m bore Boulton and Watt was replaced by a Sims Combined Cylinders Engine constructed by Harvey of Hayle.  

The Lancashire boiler encased in fire-bricks
Thw two beams, weighing 6 tonnes and 4.5 tonnes, respectively

Lancashire Boilers are related to, and derived from, the Cornish boiler in that they have tubular metal furnaces passing through a horizontal cylindrical water space with external multiple pass flues. However they differ from Cornish boilers in that they have an additional furnace tube, a different gas path and they are much larger. Crofton uses a Lancashire boiler, and has a spare shell on site held for the future. Both of these boilers are some 2.3 m (7½ ft) in diameter and 8.5 m (28 ft) long and weigh about 22 tonnes. They have a working water capacity of some 18,000 litres (4,000 gallons/18 tons). These dimensions are typical for boilers of this type.

Both the 1812 Boulton and Watt, and the 1846 Harvey engine (in its final form) are in working condition, and are steamed publicly on several weekends through the summer months from a coal fired Lancashire boiler. When the Pumping Station is in steam, it actually carries out the job for which it was built as the electrically powered pumps, that now normally do the job, are switched off.  I would love to see it in action.

The start of the feeder channel.
The pumping station is located 1¼ km (¾ mile) to the east of the summit. It raises the water to a level slightly above that of the summit, delivering it via a specially constructed feeder channel, called, from Cornish tin mine practice, a leat.

Full information and much more detail HERE

Burbage Wharf, with original buildings converted to residential.

The Vale Of Pewsey, unfortunately a bit hazy, with the famous white horse - first cut in 1937 to commemorate the Coronation of George VI.

And so I arrive at Devizes, faced with 29 locks in 2.25 miles, including the famous 16 lock Caen Hill Flight.  By arrangement, I meet up with Jo and Tim on NB Albion, who have kindly offered to share the locks..  I walk down to the top of the Caen Hill flight with James and discover there is mooring for 2 boats immediately above the flight.  We take a chance and descend the 6 locks, meaning there will only be 23 on the morrow and are lucky to find both spaces unoccupied - not for long!
Our moorings for the night.

Off we go.
The flight is drained and locked at night and first passage is at 8am.  But that means all the locks would be set against us so we wait until about 10 in the hope that a few boats will be coming up.

And, fortunately there are boats coming up.

The whole flight is designated as a Scheduled Ancient Monument – the same level of heritage protection given to Stonehenge. 

We travel most of the flight breasted up (tied together) meaning only one engine is used and, more importantly, only one steerer, leaving two people free to work the locks and set the next lock.  My first experience of steering two boats - thanks to Tim and Jo for trusting me with their boat!



The end of the Caen Hill 16 - only 6 to go to the marina.  It was a fantastic experience negotiating the flight and thanks to Jo and Tim for their company and help.  I think we worked very well together.

I have booked a car for the 15 September on a one way hire and will spend about a week at home before bringing my own car back to the marina.  It seems daft to spend the night in the marina so I travel down a little way and moor at Sells Green - next to the marina managers, who are on a week's holiday!  Into the marina next morning, but that is not the end of my cruising for this year as I intend to have a final cruise down to Bath and maybe Bristol before winterising the boat.

To 15 September

TOTAL:  623 miles; 363 locks (124 broad; 37 large; 20 moveable bridges)

1 comment:

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