This morning it was time for us to bid our farewells to Autumn Years and head in opposite directions. They were heading for Alrewas and we Polesworth as we return to our respective marinas after a great time together exploring some of the midlands waterways.
The construction of new homes alongside the canal at Fazeley Junction has been abandoned with the buildings unfinished. Intended as a residential Care Home complex and 12 ‘assisted living’ apartments, the walls and roofs were largely complete but work then stopped, leaving the buildings as a shell without windows or internal fittings.
A planning application for developing the site, formerly an untidy collection of garages and disused buildings, was first lodged in 2005 and approved in 2006. However, these plans were not implemented and in 2010 a new application was made for the Care Home complex which was approved in December 2010. This again included re-use of The Boathouse with the design respecting its historic character and the new buildings of generally attractive appearance. Work started, with a substantial investment being made by the developers, Havercroft Construction Ltd., but was then abandoned before completion. Let us hope that it is not too long before the site is completed and restores this important junction to a living community again.
The timber company at the Junction has always fascinated me and it was in existence in 1910, and run by Mr Ben Aucott senior with a work force of about 12 men and 2 boys. One of the boys was his son Ben who was to also ran the business for many years. The business in those days was called Fazeley Rustics and they made wooden garden furniture. Ben Aucott had three children by his first wife, who is believed to have died in childbirth and ten children with his second wife. He lived at the Junction House. He had 5 boys and 5 girls in the second marriage and 4 of the boys followed him into the business. Ben, a well known singer, had been a farrier in World War 1 and he managed the business while Lawrence drove the coal lorry. Norman was a wheelwright , Edward a timber man in charge of the men who brought in the timber and was himself a good axeman. The firm had a huge crane and an even bigger stack of trees, the crane being used to take the trees to the huge saws. They had horses kept in the yard and also a blacksmiths shop, for Ben did the metalwork for agricultural items and shoes for the horses. There was a huge vehicle pulled by horses that carried the trees and each day the team would go out early to cut down and bring in the timber. The team was Eddie Aucott, Alec Bott, later killed in the army, Mr Fisher and sometimes his wife and they were loaded up with axes and saws to go out to work. The team operated at a radius of 10 miles or so. Today the company is know as H & G Gould Timber merchants and still takes delivery of large trees and uses the crane to unload and move the trunks around the site. Whilst I was there they were just unloading this lorry and some of the sawn trunks can be seen in the bottom picture.
Just passed the junction is a C&RT yard and these two flats were moored outside with new lock gates awaiting installation somewhere.
Just before Alvecote marina we spotted the motor and butty of the Little Chimney Company and stopped to have a chat and get our daily dog fix with Molly, Lilly, and Daisy. We had a nice chat with Tracey and Kim and then Kim showed me around his butty workshop. I must say he makes a lovely job of the stainless steel chimneys he makes and sends them all over the country.
At last I managed to spot the ruins of Alvecote Priory through the trees. I must be concentrating so much on negotiating the sharp turn that I usually miss it. I will have to stop next time and take time to explore them.
Under the M42 bridge can be seen these sketches on the supports. I am not sure who or why they were instigated but it dose give some interest to what would otherwise be a plain concrete bridge.
As The Monument, Polesworth come into view we know we are not far from one of our favourite mooring spots. It is an obelisk built by Sir George Chetwynd to mark the site of the Chapel of Hoo in the 1850s. The ancient village of Hoo has one recognisable feature that is still standing in North Warwickshire today. The Hoo obelisk is believed to be half a mile away from the original settlement as it was moved in about 1840 when the railway track needed to be widened.
An item on the local BBC Midlands News tonight covered the hoped for restoration of the Lapal Canal at Selly Oak which I mentioned earlier in this blog. There is now hope that the Supermarket will help fund the project as part of the site development.