Canals and Potteries

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Grandad
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Canals and Potteries

Post by Grandad » Wed Apr 10, 2019 8:37 pm

I did mention that we planned to spend a few days in Staffordshire. Our daughter and her husband would be doing the transportation and we would all stay at The Boars Head Hotel in Draycott in the Clay. The dual objective was to visit relatives in that area and also to explore a little of the canal system that is abundant in the area around Stoke on Trent, The Potteries.
Well, we did all that and had a great 3 days in the area. Before our departure, I talked via email to Horus who knows the area very well, seeking his suggestions for places of interest for us to visit. His response has given us enough for at least one more trip but we are all indebted to him for his suggestion that we should visit Etruria Industrial Museum in Stoke. Centre piece of the museum is an ancient beam engine that is only put in steam a few times a year and we were very fortunate that it, called Princess, was in steam last Sunday so something not to be missed.
I will add some pictures of our trip in due course but I quickly pasted together my five video clips of the engine and posted on Youtube for you to see. These are 'as taken' and unedited. It is rather noisy and best if ear buds or headphones are used.
A big thank you to Horus for pointing us to this event that even my wife and daughter really enjoyed. :up


More later.............


:gg:

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Re: Canals and Potteries

Post by LovelyLadyLux » Thu Apr 11, 2019 3:45 am

Quite intriguingly impressive!

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Re: Canals and Potteries

Post by Ruby Slippers » Thu Apr 11, 2019 6:18 am

I wondered when you were going, Grandad! Good to hear that you enjoyed yourselves enough to think about doing the trip again!

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Kiya
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Re: Canals and Potteries

Post by Kiya » Thu Apr 11, 2019 10:15 am

Interesting & kept in emmaculate condition :)

Look forward to seeing your other photos :)

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Horus
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Re: Canals and Potteries

Post by Horus » Thu Apr 11, 2019 3:14 pm

Really glad that you had a good time Grandad, I hope the local friendliness was rolled out in good measure. It was shame that you were unable to follow my suggested itinerary timetable as I had a couple of treats lined up for you all. First off I had planned to call into the China Gardens and treat your party to lunch had you decided to call in there. Secondly as I mentioned to you previously I knew the last MD of the Shirley Bone Mill, sadly that working part has now gone. The MD Mike Shirley also owned a Pot Bank called Hudson & Middleton, but that has since closed down. So I had tentatively arranged a special tour with a bit of hand painting thrown in for the ladies via a personal favour at another nearby venue, unfortunately that opportunity has now passed as the factory has just closed and gone into receivership, you may have read about it a couple of weeks ago. There was a loss of over 400 jobs, sadly a regular occurrence nowadays. They had retained a few people (about 80) to finish off some contracts, hence it was an ideal opportunity.

At least you had a lovely day for your visit and trust you found your way around the area OK.
I did post about this place myself a few years ago, but for some reason my post and photographs no longer exists, probably lost in one of the previous forum clear outs. Look forward to reading your account and photo's :up
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Re: Canals and Potteries

Post by Grandad » Sat Apr 13, 2019 4:07 pm

About 60 years ago my brother was in the army and stationed at Marchington in Staffordshire. He met and married a local girl which is how we now have relatives, in the form of a neice and nephew, and former sister in law, in that part of the country. When I was still driving we would visit fairly regularly but for the last two years our daughter and son in law have taken on the transportation which has given her the opportunity to visit her cousins and to explore Staffordshire and Derbyshire.
They have both become really interested in the canals and although they normally holiday in Spain, they are now considering a holiday next year on a narrow boat. SO, on this trip we did spend a lot of time around the canals with my daughter even having a brief lesson on operating a lock. All great fun among the very friendly local people.



We made good time on our way north on Saturday so, instead of checking in to our hotel, we went straight to our favourite pub, The Swan at Fradley Junction, for a sandwich and a pint. The view through the window is of the Coventry canal joining the Trent and Mersey canal.

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We then made our way to The Boars Head Hotel, our regular accommodation on our visits and situated just a few minutes drive from each relatives homes. The Boars Head is a small hotel with just 23 rooms, extensive lounge and restaurant areas, and excellent food. I believe that in its time it was originally a coaching inn.

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On Sunday, as already mentioned, we took Horus's suggestion to visit Etruria Industrial Museum to see the beam engine, Princess, in operation. The engine is in Jesse Shirleys Bone and Flint mill. This is where raw material for bone china was made and then shipped by canal to the potteries in the area. The bone and flint would be 'calcined' (roasted) at high temperature to change their colour and state, suitable for crushing and grinding into a fine powder that was added to clay to make the china wares.
I can't remember all that the engineer told us about the engine but he certainly said that it is unique of its type still working and has a preservation order on it of the same standard as that on Stonehenge. He was very proud of his engine which he said dates from 1820 ;)
This is usually boys stuff but I must say that my wife and daughter also enjoyed seeing this lovely engine working.
Here are pictures of the boiler being stoked, the flywheel and business end of the engine, and some original engineers tools.

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The engine generates considerable power to drive the shafts and gears that in turn drive the mixing pans on the floor above.

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Wandering around the site we came across a working forge. The blacksmith was a rather large lady completely capable of the heavy physical work involved in blacksmithing. ;)

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As we arrived at Etruria I had noticed one canal at a low level and another very high above. There is a very deep lock that lifts the boats from one canal to the other.

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Horus had given me several suggestions of places to visit but we decided to do things leisurely and save other things for next time, including a working commercial pottery and a craft potter making unique wares in his studio.

On Monday I had searched for possible canal based places and decided on Great Haywood marina as a possible place of interest. This is a large narrow boat marina from where narrow boats can be hired for holidays and also private boat mooring.

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We didn't explore very much, just went into the village for some refreshment in the pub and then decided to go back to Fradley Junction which has now become our very favourite local place.

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We met a lovely old gent who is now a volunteer who gives up two days a week of his time to assist in operating the locks. He has been doing this for seven years and has his silver badge to prove it. He even let my daughter practice operating a lock in preparation for when they do a canal holiday.

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And one for the family album.

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The weather was very kind to us and we look forward to next time 'oop north' ;)
:gg:

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Re: Canals and Potteries

Post by Horus » Sat Apr 13, 2019 4:36 pm

Glad you enjoyed your visit to my neck of the woods Grandad. :up Now maybe you can see why myself and Annie love walking our canal systems, so much heritage to see and engage with. :)
Those lock gates take some initial pushing against the water pressure, :o but once they are moving its not so bad. There are some sections where we walk that have lock after lock, 'Heartbreak Hill' springs to mind and I can easily out walk the barges over several miles, they pass me by, then I pass them by at the next lock :D
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Re: Canals and Potteries

Post by Grandad » Sat Apr 13, 2019 5:54 pm

Horus, what I love about so much of our industrial heritage is its simplicity. The lock system which can lift boats to high levels by cascades, is basically such a simple process. And even Princess, which I think is beautiful, is at the same time so simple. The engineer told us that they have to manually adjust her over TDC or BDC before they can start her. But then all the energy is stored in that large flywheel and look at all the take offs from the layshafts in the gear room. Shee generates a lot of power from a single double acting cylinder. There really is something special about steam powered engines.
When I was a kid I remember steam powered lorries and you could see the fiere box under the cab. Cab heating is nothing new :lol: :lol:
:gg:

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Re: Canals and Potteries

Post by LovelyLadyLux » Sat Apr 13, 2019 6:13 pm

@Grandad - lovely photos and definitely lots of interesting subject matter. Those narrow boats really are something to see and the canal system something to marvel at. Looks like you definitely had a great time. Those pottery mills would have been fantastic to have seen way back when when they were in full operation. Thanks for sharing your holidays. I enjoy it too!

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Re: Canals and Potteries

Post by Kiya » Sat Apr 13, 2019 6:53 pm

Sounds really interesting Grandad and I enjoyed seeing your photos and of your daughter's practice, Thanks for sharing

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