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John Brightley

Ashton Canal at Ashton, 1981

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You may find these photos interesting, as although the quality is poor, two of them show scenes which are very different today.

They were taken on 12th August 1981.

The first view is from Portland Basin looking eastwards to Cavendish Mill. The scene here hasn't changed much in the intervening years.

3.jpg.2984ca7cbf230d75677666c6f5f43d6a.jpg

 

The location of the next photo is very different, however. This is Wharf Mill, which was demolished not long after this photo was taken, to make way for the Asda store and its tunnel.

2.jpg.9bd5b070bc08c46bfb68b284c186fcec.jpg

 

We continue along the canal for another half mile and come to the end of the Ashton Canal and the start of the Huddersfield Narrow at bridge 111.

Obviously the canal has been restored since !

 

1.jpg.4b5e78ff07c04ad45597cbc35ffe2ec0.jpg

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Interesting stuff John, thanks for sharing. Haven't been up the Ashby since the late 80s, maybe early 90s, but it's on the plan I have in mind for when Boris says I'm allowed back to my boat.

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13 minutes ago, Sea Dog said:

Interesting stuff John, thanks for sharing. Haven't been up the Ashby since the late 80s, maybe early 90s, but it's on the plan I have in mind for when Boris says I'm allowed back to my boat.

 

Ashton, Steve, not Ashby.

 

You did it two years ago.  We followed you down the locks in torrential rain.

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Just now, TheBiscuits said:

 

Ashton, Steve, not Ashby.

 

You did it two years ago.  We followed you down the locks in torrential rain.

Doh! Thanks for pointing that out; I thought I had done a George Dubya misrememberation, but thankfully it's just a misreading!  Too long stuck at home - I'm beginning to lose my bearings as well as my marbles! :wacko:

 

Anyone got any nice photos of the Ashby...?! :D

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 Lived in the area and always remember the sunk line of boats near market street Droylsden. Canal used to be my playground love your pictures. Would love to see some of the sunk boats there

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38 minutes ago, chevron said:

 Lived in the area and always remember the sunk line of boats near market street Droylsden. Canal used to be my playground love your pictures. Would love to see some of the sunk boats there

Some of the boats at Droylsden featured on here a while ago. Mostly belonged to James Hall  and were extant until early '70s.

The boat in front of Wharf Mill (2nd picture) is the Runcorn Header "Agnes", destroyed when the Asda  tunnel was built.

To the left side of the last picture, sunk in the weeds is another Runcorn boat, "Elizabeth"

Edited by billh

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I remember cycling from Clayton and on approaching Market street (first time I had ventured that far) there was a line of sunken boats on the none towpath side of the canal. Well that’s what my memory was wish I had a picture of it.

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3.jpg.2984ca7cbf230d75677666c6f5f43d6a.jpgMe and my mum at Portland Basin during one of the early Ashton Canals Festivals (76 or77)looking towards Cavendish Mill similar to the direction as the OPs first pictureCCF_29052020_200641.jpg.defae6fb7684bed9b4816eaee50115ea.jpg

Edited by captain birdseye
Realised the photo was flipped so have remedied

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Fascinating.

 

I'm a bit puzzled about the "Agnes". It looks like it had been partly converted. Was this moved to the Canal after it reopened in 1974, or was it there before? Does anyone know any more about its history, and that of "Elizabeth"?

 

Stay safe, everyone

 

Joseph

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On 10/06/2020 at 19:16, John Brightley said:

You may find these photos interesting, as although the quality is poor, two of them show scenes which are very different today.

They were taken on 12th August 1981.

The first view is from Portland Basin looking eastwards to Cavendish Mill. The scene here hasn't changed much in the intervening years.

3.jpg.2984ca7cbf230d75677666c6f5f43d6a.jpg

 

The location of the next photo is very different, however. This is Wharf Mill, which was demolished not long after this photo was taken, to make way for the Asda store and its tunnel.

2.jpg.9bd5b070bc08c46bfb68b284c186fcec.jpg

 

 

To my mind one of the most remarkable things about these pictures is that they show the restored canal, not the derelict one, and that by 1981 the "Cheshire Ring" was a well established cruising route - that means people took their annual holiday on a hire boat along the canal as it was in these photographs....

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1 hour ago, magpie patrick said:

To my mind one of the most remarkable things about these pictures is that they show the restored canal, not the derelict one, and that by 1981 the "Cheshire Ring" was a well established cruising route - that means people took their annual holiday on a hire boat along the canal as it was in these photographs....

Actually, Patrick, these photos aren't of the Cheshire Ring section of the Ashton. They're of the bit east of Portland Basin, which was a dead end at the time, and wasn't really navigable - certainly hire boaters didn't go along this bit. Sorry to disappoint ! 

We were on a hire boat and doing the Ring. But we only walked this bit. The main part of the Ashton was rougher than it is now though. We were warned not to moor anywhere between Portland Basin and the centre of Manchester. The Rochdale Nine were in poor condition, though a booking (and an extra licence fee) for the locks guaranteed a person from the Rochdale Canal Co would help you through them. I next went along this section last summer (2019), and was pleasantly surprised how nice the trip along the Ashton was. However I was disappointed that the condition of the Rochdale locks weren't much different than they had been in 1981.

Edited by John Brightley
Additional info

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3 hours ago, Joseph said:

Fascinating.

 

I'm a bit puzzled about the "Agnes". It looks like it had been partly converted. Was this moved to the Canal after it reopened in 1974, or was it there before? Does anyone know any more about its history, and that of "Elizabeth"?

 

Stay safe, everyone

 

Joseph

Both Agnes and Elizabeth arrived on the Ashton after the canal was re-opened in 1974. Both had been motorized with Lister SR3 engines and full length cabins  built. There was a chap around in the 70's whose ambition was to own all the still existing  Runcorn boats. All the one's I saw at the time were in bad condition, last being in commercial service in early 1960s. Agnes was one of his collection but he never managed to do any  restoration work on it , didn't pay any mooring fees  and was eventually abandoned where it is in the picture. Elizabeth had some work done about 1976 but to no avail and was abandoned at Ashton Old Wharf, demolished and dredged out about 1987(?).  The stern gear from Elizabeth lives on  incorporated in a modern steel 

boat.I think  the WCBS boat Hazel is the only remaining Runcorn Header.

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Many thanks Bill

 

What an unfortunate story - but sadly, many people have found the cost of looking after wooden boats beyond their imagination. 

 

Joseph

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1 hour ago, John Brightley said:

Actually, Patrick, these photos aren't of the Cheshire Ring section of the Ashton. They're of the bit east of Portland Basin, which was a dead end at the time, and wasn't really navigable - certainly hire boaters didn't go along this bit. Sorry to disappoint ! 

 

The length of the Ashton from Portland Basin to Ashton Old Wharf was just about navigable in the 1980s, in fact we sometimes ran horse drawn boat trips up there. The Sea Cadets Unit had a couple of small boats on the canal and at one time had one of the Royal Navy's  canal fleet   destroyers that used to come down to Droylsden  for a bit of gunboat diplomacy. The canal was blocked for a couple of years from 1987 while the Asda tunnel was built and in 1993 we were contracted by British Waterways to dredge the canal between the tunnel and Old Wharf.

Of interest, the Manchester Ship Canal Co. had a wharf just along the canal from where Agnes lies , this must have dated from 1890s when the MSC opened. Also, while dredging in the area , we recovered several WW2 tank traps- these were cylindrical concrete blocks weighing about 2cwt  and were meant to be rolled into the road when we were invaded! There are similar devices on the Wharf at Marple C&RT yard near the sanitary station.

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I would like to know more about the derivation of the term "Runcorn Header" and their working lives.

 

As to the mill building, it is important that such images are posted to show what was there.

 

 

Edited by Heartland
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52 minutes ago, Heartland said:

I would like to know more about the derivation of the term "Runcorn Header" and their working lives.

I have never heard the term 'Runcorn Header' to describe these boats that were unique to the north western waterways - well not until this thread.

 

I have heard them called 'Runcorn Boat', 'Bridgewater Boat', 'Simpson Davies' (a company based at Runcorn) and 'Wooden Header', the last of which is the most miss-leading as I understand the header is a reference to the large wooden post built into the stern end and fore deck and is in common with some day boats on the B.C.N. and many of the narrow boats operating on the River Severn, although those on the River Severn are generally known as 'Severner'. 

 

These north western boats are very distinctive as they were huge, in so much that they had a very deep hold (six planks I believe) and a very shallow cabin, along with their headers at each end (as well as a T stud). The vast majority of these boats post 1877 appear on the Runcorn health register and Manchester health register, although much of the latter is incomplete. A handful of motors were later introduced to a similar overall design to the horse boats but with a sort of skirt built around to produce a counter whilst maintaining a horse boat type rudder - again quite unique to the north west. Clearly these boats played an important role as general cargo boats, being built locally and working locally throughout their commercial lives :captain:

Edited by pete harrison

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1 hour ago, pete harrison said:

I have never heard the term 'Runcorn Header' to describe these boats that were unique to the north western waterways - well not until this thread.

 

 

I don't think I invented the term, at least if I did it was 40+  years ago😀. It might be an idea to contact the Wooden Canal Boat Society, they will know all about Hazel and the various  nick names applied to that type of boat.

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8 minutes ago, billh said:

and the various  nick names applied to that type of boat.

And I think this is all these terms are - nick names, some applied historically and passed down and some made up by enthusiasts. I think there will also be regional variations, just as there are with other types of boat. The important thing to me is that when these terms are used we all know the type of boat being referred to, and although I had not previously heard the term 'Runcorn Header' I can instantly identify the type by the similarity to the other terms used :captain: 

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The derivation is probably  by corruption from the nautical term timberhead-  the top end of a ships timber protruding above the gunwale and used for belaying ropes.  A wooden ship will sometimes have a row of them abaft the mast (s), handy for all the sail control ropes

 

The wooden Runcorn boats have a single timberhead at bow and stern  each  sides among other characteristics as described by Pete H, above.

 

N

 

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7 minutes ago, BEngo said:

The derivation is probably  by corruption from the nautical term timberhead-  the top end of a ships timber protruding above the gunwale and used for belaying ropes.  A wooden ship will sometimes have a row of them abaft the mast (s), handy for all the sail control ropes

 

The wooden Runcorn boats have a single timberhead at bow and stern  each  sides among other characteristics as described by Pete H, above.

 

N

 

Yes, agree. I recall the term “Runcorn Header,” and “header” does refer to the situation where certain timber hull frames have been left long, extending above gunwhale level to form mooring posts or belaying points.
There was what I believe was a “Runcorn Header” moored as a houseboat at Cowroast in the seventies, then name “Widdicombe Fair” as I recall. Also as I recall it was referred to as a “seven planker,” presumably therefore seven planks, but I will stand corrected.

 

 

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49 minutes ago, Balliol said:

There was what I believe was a “Runcorn Header” moored as a houseboat at Cowroast in the seventies, then name “Widdicombe Fair” as I recall. Also as I recall it was referred to as a “seven planker,” presumably therefore seven planks, but I will stand corrected.

WIDDECOMBE FAIR was indeed at Cowroast during the 1970's but was a Willow Wren 1962 conversion of the large Ricky COUGHTON, complete with a Seffle 7-8hp. There was another house boat at Cowroast throughout the late 1960's and 1970's that was a 'Runcorn Header' and named BETTY :captain:

 

By 1984 WIDDECOMBE FAIR / COUGHTON ended up in Bristol (goodness knows how it got there as this pre-dates the opening of the K&A), and a friend of mine bought it with a stripped out cabin but retaining the Seffle. The last I heard is that the hulk of this boat is amongst several awaiting attention on the Troy Cut near Rickmansworth :captain:

 

edit = Balliol - did you get my PM regarding health registration certificates, sent several weeks ago.

Edited by pete harrison

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21 hours ago, billh said:

The length of the Ashton from Portland Basin to Ashton Old Wharf was just about navigable in the 1980s, in fact we sometimes ran horse drawn boat trips up there. The Sea Cadets Unit had a couple of small boats on the canal and at one time had one of the Royal Navy's  canal fleet   destroyers that used to come down to Droylsden  for a bit of gunboat diplomacy. The canal was blocked for a couple of years from 1987 while the Asda tunnel was built and in 1993 we were contracted by British Waterways to dredge the canal between the tunnel and Old Wharf.

Of interest, the Manchester Ship Canal Co. had a wharf just along the canal from where Agnes lies , this must have dated from 1890s when the MSC opened. Also, while dredging in the area , we recovered several WW2 tank traps- these were cylindrical concrete blocks weighing about 2cwt  and were meant to be rolled into the road when we were invaded! There are similar devices on the Wharf at Marple C&RT yard near the sanitary station.

Lock 1W on the huddersfield and the end of navigation at that time, the photographs were probably taken at the time of one of the tameside festivals, the second boat in the pictures is Pensax and is the same one as in post 8 by captain birdseye

704980582_OldPicks20728.jpg.e4d76e37d182811bc6da8c68c93175ba.jpg356041565_OldPicks20729.jpg.9848aca99cc149206199a41c885e0fe7.jpg902153313_OldPicks20732.jpg.c247946e1332bb910950a11d1d507a7f.jpg

Edited by Split Pin
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Hi Pete,

 

Thanks for the correction. You are right of course: “Betty” was the header.

 

Yes, got your pm and replied. Email me directly, just google my name for email address.

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21 hours ago, billh said:

The length of the Ashton from Portland Basin to Ashton Old Wharf was just about navigable in the 1980s, in fact we sometimes ran horse drawn boat trips up there. The Sea Cadets Unit had a couple of small boats on the canal and at one time had one of the Royal Navy's  canal fleet   destroyers that used to come down to Droylsden  for a bit of gunboat diplomacy. The canal was blocked for a couple of years from 1987 while the Asda tunnel was built and in 1993 we were contracted by British Waterways to dredge the canal between the tunnel and Old Wharf.

 

Here are a couple of pictures of the dredging as mentioned by Billh. The handsome man in the red checked shirt being myself

 

The dredging team just east of ASDA

 

1820095284_dredging2.png.f1eca21e3d5bf28c872113cc61540236.png

 

ASDA tunnel in the background

 

1360026905_dredging1.png.d8efbd92efbda0429ac7725fb28171bd.png

 

Just before the railway bridge and the sea cadets

362890352_dredging4.png.62811a6e83a3c1c05483e00f18b8df58.png

 

 

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31 minutes ago, Balliol said:

Hi Pete,

 

Thanks for the correction. You are right of course: “Betty” was the header.

 

Yes, got your pm and replied. Email me directly, just google my name for email address.

Email sent to your business address :captain:

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