Thursday, 21 August 2014

Busy Busy - 21st August

We left Buckby Top Lock at about 8am after Autumn Years had taken on a full tank of water and headed for Braunston Tunnel passing on the way Welton Wharf where Dog and Cat Grooming was being advertised. Might have stopped for Jimmy to have a bath if we’d had time. We entered the tunnel and could see 2 boats about 600 metres ahead of us so we knew we would have to wait going down the locks. Unlike Blisworth, Braunston tunnel (2042yds long) is very wiggly although you can still see the other end.

However, the locks were the busiest we have seen any over the last 9 weeks with pairs of boats coming up at each of the 6 locks as we went down.

1 Braunston Locks

The Crooked House beside the lock, but it does not look so crooked now.


At the bottom lock it looks as though a new bench is being installed alongside the towpath. On the one side of the lock is the Union Canal Carriers Dry Dock and on the other side is The Boat Shop which sell provisions and canalia and is where June bought our companion set to go with the morso stove.

2 braunston Locks

Below the last lock is Wharf House Boat Builders and Roger Farrington’s yard making it very crowded around the lock entrance particularly with boats waiting to go up.

3 Bottom Lock

Autumn Years moored up in Braunston, there were plenty of spaces, to go and do some shopping and to dispose of some waste oil whilst we carried on turning off on the North Oxford and mooring up a short way outside the village in a nice sunny spot. After coffee I took Jimmy a walk back along the canal and over the fields to Braunston village to buy a paper and provisions from the village store and butchers.

The village has some lovely old cottages and All Saints’ Church which has overlooked the village and the villagers for over 10 centuries and the canals and the boat people for over 300 years. Otherwise known as the "Cathedral of the Canals", it has existed since the early 13th century. However the land on which is stands has been sacred for longer still, as it was used as an ancient tumulus for the local farmsteads, as early as the 10th century, although little evidence to this time is available.

There is also the remains of the windmill, minus the sails, which is now self catering holiday accommodation.

4 Braunston Village

A couple more different boats we saw today including Sharpness (top picture). She was built as an icebreaking tug and spent all her working life on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal until she was sold into private ownership by the British Waterways Board in the 1960s. She retained her external appearance and was seen at many Inland Waterways Association rallies in the 1960s and 70s. During the 1970s she had her cabin lengthened and lifted to give more headroom. At the same time more patches were added to her hull. She was found for sale on the bank of the Kennet & Avon Canal in 1995, her hull and frames needing major repair. In recognition of their hard work the present owners received a Transport Trust Award in 1996. She originally had a single cylinder Petrol/Paraffin Kromhout 30 horsepower engine. This unfortunately suffered frost damage and was replaced by a lorry engine. Her current engine is a Gardner 4L2 engine built in 1932, 3 cy, bore 4 3/4 x stoke 7 1/4, producing 40 hp. The builder's plaque is not original.

9  Boats

Today we have seen the most moving boats since we left the marina in June. Mostly hire craft returning to Napton, Braunston, Rugby or further afield but also a lot of privateers presumably going out for the bank holiday.

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