Thursday, 28 July 2011

Caldon Canal.

IMG_0003 Near Etruria    IMG_0006 large binoculars

As we approached Etruria we caught site of our first Bottle Kiln, and a very large pair of Binoculars!

IMG_0009 Caldon Canal    IMG_0009a The Flint Kiln

On coming out of the lock we turned sharp right to enter The Caldon Canal. After mooring up we walked back to the Etruria Industrial Museum and had coffee and cake before exploring the works. It is actually called Jesse Shirley’s Bone and Flint Mill. This is the Flint Kiln where the flint was calcined (roasted) to make it easier to grind. When it was ready it passed out through ‘draw-holes’ in the base and passed into The Crusher Room.

IMG_0018 Crusher Pans   IMG_0020 Boiler Preasure Guages

The Pan Room is on the left where the fine grinding of the bone and flint took place in water. The Cornish coal fired Boiler of c1903 provided the steam to power the engine, ‘Princess’, the 1820’s Beam Engine that powered all the machinery through various vertical and horizontal gears and shafts. It is thought to be the oldest one still in use, although today was not one of their in steam days. There were some large Whale and Elephant bones displayed on the wall. A newspaper cutting also told of Mona a 38 year old Indian Elephant of Bostock and Wombwells Circus who died in Hanley  in 1898 after eating poisonous leaves from an Irish Yew Tree. Also in the article it states that there was thought to be an elephant graveyard hereabouts. However the elephant meat was probably fed to the circus lions and the bones ground up and made into Bone China here. So, poor Mona was probably distributed throughout many bone china tea-sets at the turn of the century.

IMG_0015 Jesse Shrley's Etruscan Bone Mill

A couple of old working boats, Keppel and Lindsay, in BW blue and yellow livery were moored alongside the mill. Some BW workers ware fixing the leaky wharf wall to stop the ingress of canal water into the basement of the mill. The Trent and Mersey was busy with boat movements today so we had the opportunity to chat while waiting for the locks.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011


IMG_0135 Barlaston Manor   IMG_0136 Wedgewood Factory

After completing our chores aboard we set off on a circular walk up through Barlaston village turning left down a winding, tree lined lane leading to the Wedgewood Factory. We passed the magnificent Barlaston Manor which has a very ornate frontage with octagonal shaped windowpanes and well manicured lawns. It stands on a rise with sweeping views across the landscape beyond it. On arrival we saw a large statue of Josiah Wedgewood which dominated the central courtyard surrounded by the Museum, Shop, Restaurant/Tea Room and Demonstration Workshop. Refreshed with coffee and homemade cake we wandered around their exquisitely displayed products and watched some of the intricate work that was going on in the display area.

IMG_0137 level crossing 

There are many acres of beautifully kept grounds to walk through en-route with a variety of mature trees and a fishing lake. Anyway, we made our way back towards the canal and had to wait for a train to pass at the level crossing.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Stone to Barlaston.

IMG_0001 The Star Stone    IMG_0002

After a grey start the sun came shining through as we negotiated the lock next to The Star with it’s magnificent copper lantern light. The plaque says that it is in the Guinness Book of records for being the pub with the most different levels and mind your head.

IMG_0005 Stone BoatyardAs we passed Stone Boatyard we noticed that the entire fleet of  Canal Cruising Club hire boats had ventured out onto the canal network. After all it is the school holidays now, so getting quite busy.

IMG_0007 Joules Stone AlesNext we saw the old brewery buildings with the painted lettering of ‘Joules Stone Ales’ still visible from the canal.

IMG_0012 Emma Louise Too  Moored outside the Stone Boatbuilding Chandlery was the beautiful Dutch Barge style narrow- boat called ‘Emma Louise Too’, very nicely proportioned she was too!

IMG_0015 B95 with Horse Tunnel

Bridge 95 has an unusual narrow Horse Tunnel beside it leading under the roadway. We were moored here and almost full with water when another boat cruised passed us into the lock, never mind eh.

IMG_0016    IMG_0023

This is what it looks like inside the Horse Tunnel, the large cobbles have all been rounded and smoothed by the horses hooves over the years. We had some different gongoozlers at the next lock, a pair of friendly white ducks.

IMG_0022 Stoneycombe Signal Box In this garden is the Stoneycombe Sidings Signal Box complete with a signal. It makes a wonderful garden shed don’t you think?

IMG_0026 B100 turnover

Bridge 100 is a turnover bridge, where the towpath crosses from one side to the other. Unfortunately the interesting bit of it is obliterated by the bushes. These cyclists have ridden under the bridge and curved up over the top without having to dismount. In the past horses towing boats would have done this, without having to detach their tow rope to do so. There are some useful little footbridges at the tails of some of the locks with a slit through the centre where tow ropes could pass through without them being disconnected. These bridges would have saved a great deal of time for the working boat people. Anyway, it’s been an interesting mornings cruise for us today, exchanging with other boats at most of the locks making it easier.

Stone Weekend.

IMG_0031 StoneStone seems to welcome canal folks as can be seen by the many boats that are moored up throughout the town. We pulled into the first space below the locks, only to find that half the boat could stay for 48hrs and the other half for 5 days. So, when the boat behind left we pulled Oakfield back so we could spend a few days here. There is a Co-op and a Morrison’s as well as a good variety of smaller shops to visit.

On Saturday our Daughter and Grandson came to see us and after a long chat over coffee aboard we went up to The Star for lunch. We were able to sit in the conservatory overlooking the lock to watch the boats go by. Afterwards we walked into the shopping centre which has been pedestrianised  and tarted up since our last visit on a hire boat many years. En-route we passed this lovely boat garden and on the other side of the road were some gigantic brown glazed pots full of flowers too.

IMG_0018 walking in the gutters   IMG_0003

This is just one of the lovely flower displays along the main street. Our grandson seems to have a fascination for bridges and tunnels so he was in his element here. He just had to explore all the covered alleyways leading off to the sides and pause under the canal bridges. He went for a swing in the playground and was then very content to play with his trains and cars in the cratch waving to the passing boaters. What an enjoyable day we had, although it was rather exhausting keeping up with a toddler being so near to the waters-edge.

IMG_0015This  quaint old thatched pub stands at the top of the street over in Station Road. Since we have been here we have had the greenery on one side of the boat nibbled off by the gang of big ducks hereabouts. We can also hear the church clock striking from here, and of course the bells rung out on Sunday morning.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Zig-zagging along to Stone.

IMG_0010 B82 nose to noseBridge 82 was displaying an unusual curved patterns of brickwork where we came nose to nose with another boat who had spotted us rather too late. We had blown the horn, but we had to wait for them to get back on their own side of the canal in order to pass them. They were very apologetic too.

IMG_0012 Sandon Lock   IMG_0013 Sandon Lock

The approach to Sandon Lock was pretty with grass and aromatic Pineapple Weed growing in the cracks between the rustic cobble-stones. I like the smell of this which rises up on sunny days as you walk over it. The red sandstone steps were well worn by the many feet that have passed up them to turn the lock.

IMG_0025   IMG_0029 Half way

There were clear blue skies with white fluffy clouds slowly drifting across in the sunshine. The bridges seemed to be rather low, or sagging in places. The canal was quite twisty too, with many oncoming boats, so Bottle did well to negotiate the boat through without making any contact or running aground. At Aston Lock the milepost showed that we were equidistant between Shardlow and Preston Brook. That means we have completed forty eight miles from Shardlow to Stone in just twelve days! There is yet another newish looking marina at Aston, which seemed to be almost full up with boats we noticed. It has a Farm Shop, Butchers and Bistro on site too.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Weston on Trent


This is the well kept Colwich Lock and Cottage complete with it’s outside loo  which was being used as a roost for their chickens.

IMG_0010We also passed this cottage which was displaying all kinds of canal and railway plaques on it’s front wall. One of them was for ‘Sharpness New Docks and Gloucester and Birmingham Navigation Company Ltd. ‘


One of the old red brick canal buildings was a thriving little Tea Room busy with customers with a view overlooking the activities around the lock.

IMG_0013 Footbridge to Shugborough     IMG_0015 Gt Heyford

There was just enough room for us to squeeze past this old working boat which was moored near the fancy iron footbridge leading over to Shugborough. This little building was opposite the boatyard at Great Heywood Junction where we turned in under the bridge to stop to fill with diesel.

IMG_0016 Gt Heyford

Having successfully manoeuvred back to the the pump to fill up we then turned  under the little bridge and left in the direction of The Potteries.

IMG_0017 Weston on Trent

Another dry day of cruising along to Weston on Trent where we moored for the night. We discovered just what a lovely well kept village it is too when we went wandering around. There is a large lake and chickens scratching about on the grass by the footpath from the canal. We came to the long well manicured village green area which is overlooked by a quaint pub called The Woolpack, so we popped in for our evening meal. When we arrived back at Oakfield all the moorings were taken. We give the thumbs up to this beautiful area and it was nice and quiet overnight too, that is until the cockerel started crowing about 4.30am!

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Rugeley via Fradley.

IMG_0001 Alrewas Lock   IMG_0009 BW workboat

We left Alrewas early at 8pm, although three boats had already passed up through the lock ahead of us. As we approached Fradley we were looking out for our friends boat Huff n Puff which we spotted but with no-one aboard. however when we got to the lock landing there was Jan taking Bernie for his walk. So, we stopped for half and hour exchanging stories. We moored up further on to take a well earned a break in the cafe there. As we were waking along we spotted this plaque on a BW workboat moored there. I wonder whereabouts in Gloucester it was built in 1986?


IMG_0017 Van interior

This lovely old van was on show in the BW yard near the cafe.

IMG_0013 Charles and Foxy   IMG_0015 Cafe

While waiting for our toasted tea cakes to arrive outside the cafe, we bumped into our old friend Charles and little Foxy. They were making a few bob for their engine refurbishment by collecting old batteries from the canal banks to sell, well done them! Of course Foxy was full of beans and was in need of lots of stroking.

IMG_0023   IMG_0035 Rugeley 1863 Mill

There is a small shop next to the Swan at Fradley where we purchased our most expensive bottle of milk to date for £1.30p. After recharging our batteries, onwards we went to moor opposite this derelict old mill at Rugeley. A very good and enjoyable cruise.

Along to Alrewas.


Another day of sunshine and showers as we cruised to Alrewas calling into Barton Turns Marina to be pumped out. Of course the wind was gusting when we turned in so we scraped some green paint off the gunnel on a bit of metal that was sticking out. We arrived at Alrewas at lunchtime so after a snack aboard I set off to explore the village. There are a handful of shops, pubs and thatched cottages. This one was the prettiest and had garden produce and preserves for sale so we has fresh tasty runner beans with our evening meal.

IMG_0084 Alrewas   IMG_0090

I spotted this fire-mark on the wall of a cottage and this is a detail of a gorgeous mosaic in pebbles and glass blobs on the pub car park wall which was made in 2006.

IMG_0003   IMG_0009 Anthony Coates Butchers

We liked the wrought iron signage at the entrance to the village. Anthony Coates the butchers shop has a wonderful selection of meat, pies and fresh fruit and veg.

IMG_0013 shakespeare Cottage   IMG_0007

Shakespeare Cottage has some nice wood patterns set against the white plasterwork, the back of the other thatched cottage overlooks the canal and they are both up for sale at present.

IMG_0006 Manor FarmhouseHow about Manor Farmhouse for your next abode then Lynne?


I rather liked this long cottage which seems to be tired as it is leaning backwards, what a character home! We give Alrewas 10/10 as it is an interesting place with just enough shops, pubs interesting cottages and footpaths all around.