We climbed up the hill on the zig-zag footpath through the grazing sheep to Tardibigge Church. Although it had a tall carved stone spire it was quite plain inside and out. There were a couple of nice stained glass windows and the rest were clear glass. The pew seats however had lovely tapestry cushions on them, some were of the canal. There was also a booklet on sale, George Bate’s memories about the building of the Worcester + Birmingham Canal, so we bought one. He said that the official opening of the canal was in 1815 and alltogether it took 24 years to construct. The uphill boat traffic was mainly from Avonmouth, Sharpness and Gloucester Docks. Commodities carried were salt (from Stoke Works), sugar, wheat, corn, fats, pitch in bulk and barrels, tinned foods, boxed tea, spices, boxed foreign fruits, flour, chocolate crumb, matches, deal timber planks and round timber, mahogany for furniture making, box making timber, glass jars/bottles, copper ingots, sheet iron, pig iron, gunpowder in sealed containers, rubber, building bricks/drain pipes, board paper, road stone, ashes, manure, coal and coke. Tar from the gas works and fuel oil would be conveyed in special boats. The Severn and Canal Carrying Co had the largest fleet of 130 horse drawn boats. The next large fleets of boats, about 50 in each belonged to, Jacob Rice, James Waldron, Chadburn Son and Taylor, both of Gloucester District, and James Smart Stroud District. Cadbury’s had 6 motorboats in WW1 carrying foodstuffs day and night between their two factory's at Bournville and Frampton on Severn. There were over 100 No1’s in 1911-12. On one day in August 1911 George recorded seeing 75 mostly loaded boats passing by Stoke Prior. On leaving we passed through Tardebigge Tunnel which was cut through solid sandstone and has wonderful markings through the grain of the stone. As it was a grey, rainy day I made some boat cake while cruising, to jolly things up.
Today is much brighter, Bottle has made bread and I am drying the washing in the sunshine. We went for a long walkabout and returned down Withybed Lane. The ‘ER’ post-box looked freshly painted, and the one on the right is a pretend one mounted on a cottage wall as a birds nesting box.
All this walking was thirsty work, so we popped into the Crown Inn for a drink and a bite to eat. The pub was built about the same time as the canal and we noticed a fire-insurance plaque above the door outside. The right half used to be stables and a pig sty!
A building with one of these plaques would mean that the annual fire insurance had been paid, so if there was a fire it would be put out by the local brigade. The ancient hollow yew tree was still just about surviving in Tardibigge graveyard.