This morning we were awoken by the two Coot babies squeaking for food from their parents, they kept it up all day, talk about demanding children!
After breakfast we walked through Beale Park to the Racing & River Boat Museum at the end of their exit drive. It is housed in a magnificent 17th Century Tithe Barn and is now in its 2nd year. Unfortunately is has very few visitors so make the effort to visit if you are in the area, it is well worth the effort and only cost £1.50.
The worrying thing about the exhibits below is that I used to sail them when I was younger, the Merlin Rocket, National 12, and Enterprise and now they are in a museum; never thought I would be that old.
They have reorganised the exhibits into categories and the Thames section includes the Steam Boat “Cygnet” on loan from the Steam Boat Trust. Unusual nowadays is that it is steered from the front but the wheel is behind the steerer.
Amongst the unusual craft is this Racing Punt which is very narrow and long with the decking made from canvas. The rowing vessel on the trolley was used in the film “A Man from all Seasons” and was then shortened by taking a section out of the middle for use in another film. It is now at the museum awaiting restoration.
Next to the museum is St Bartholomew's Church the redundant Church of England parish church of Basildon. It is located in the hamlet of Lower Basildon and is now owned by the Churches Conservation Trust. The church has been designated by English Heritage as a Grade I listed building. It was built in the late 13th century and is constructed of flint with stone dressings with an old tiled roof. The west tower of 1734 is of grey brick with red dressings and is in three stages. Below the louvered bell stage, containing four bells, is a clock on the south side. The churchyard is notable as the resting place of Jethro Tull, the 18th-century agriculturalist, whose modern gravestone can be seen there. He died in 1741 but according to his gravestone he was buried on 9 March 1740. He is known for his Horse Drawn Seed Drill which started the Agricultural Revolution and formed the basis of todays mechanised farming.
Also in the church yard is this monument to two young boys,Harold & Earnest Deverell aged 13 and 15yrs, who drowned whilst swimming in the Thames in 1886.
In the afternoon we walked along the Thames into Pangbourne to see how progress was being made on the renewal of the Toll Bridge over to Whitchurch (one of only two surviving Toll Bridges across the Thames, Swinford Bridge being the other). Pangbourne's name is recorded from 844 as Old English Pegingaburnan, which means "the stream of the people of a man called Pǣga”. This name was shortened to make the name of the River Pang.
When we were here last year the Toll Keeper informed us that the bridge,(the third) built in 1902, had come to the end of its useful life and was to be reconstructed. The Company intends to retain the existing appearance of the Bridge. The reconstruction will involve the installation of new piers (ie the vertical columns secured in the river bed) supporting new, load-bearing longitudinal girders under the roadway. The existing piers will remain in place but become non-loadbearing, and the existing pier capitals and latticework side girders will be taken away for refurbishment and then put back as key visual elements. The width of the Bridge will not be increased, and the headroom and width of the four river channels will not be reduced.When the contract was awarded in May 2013 the total cost of the reconstruction Project was estimated at £4.4 million: this included design and other costs incurred before contract award, and design, project management and contract supervision costs during the contract. Costs have increased significantly since January 2014 because of the delay to the Project caused mainly by the exceptional adverse river conditions January - March 2014 and are now estimated at £5.6 million.
We spotted this caterpillar walking across the road in front of us and this Egyptian Goose (related to the Shelduck) on the river out side the boat.