Thursday, 12 June 2008

Flower festival on the Trent and Mersey canal


Yesterday I attended part of a series of community events here on our local Inland waterway
Lindsey, a British Waterways narrow-boat, was being used as floating flower garden that forms part of the 2008 Cheshire Years of Gardens event.
This event took place on the Trent and Mersey canal at Rode Heath. Shad arrived at half past two in the afternoon having made an unscheduled stop at Church Lawton first.
Shad was decked out with flower displays sponsored by local groups such as the local Scouts, playgroups, WI's etc.
She was greeted by children and staff from the Infants of Rode Heath community school who had spent this term learning about inland waterways and narrow boats that formed a large part of the industrial and social heritage of this area when they were used to transport Brine (salt) and Pottery from North Staffordshire to Runcorn and Liverpool.
At Three-thirty, we were treated to a half hour brass band concert from the Juniors who performed in a tent.
Many locals attended coupled with visitors who had arrived by narrowboat enroute to Middlewich for the Boat and Folk festival at the weekend.
In the evening people were treated to a Dancing Troupe, the Rheema church choir and a two hour concert by Rode Hall silver band, one of the finest in the North West of England.
At the left is an image of her sister boat, Shad.

History of Shad, the narrowboat.

Shad, a motor narrow boat, was built in 1936 for Fellows, Morton and Clayton Ltd (FMC). For nearly 30 years, she worked on the canals between Wolverhampton, Ellesmere Port, Manchester and Nottingham, transporting up to 25 ton loads of general cargo. Her cargoes ranged from tea, sugar and flour to industrial raw materials and products such as coal, sand and metal ingots.

During this time, she was also home to a family of boat people. Despite the very small living area, the family would have been permanently resident on the boat and in fact, William and Emmie Grimes gave birth to their daughter aboard the boat on 15th January 1941.

Over the years, Shad had a succession of owners. In August 1950, when Shad was inspected as an accommodation unit, the Master was named as Mrs Shaw and the boat was registered for 3 adults in the aft cabin. By 1952 the Atkins family were living on her and by 1954, she had changed hands once more and her Master was listed as G Brookes.

Since 1949, when FMC went into liquidation, Shad had been part of the British Waterways North West Division's Carrying Fleet. British Waterways stopped carrying by boat in the 1960s and Shad was then leased to a number of different companies, undertaking a variety of carrying contacts. Eventually the speed of the lorry literally overtook the use of boats for carrying cargo and Shad was written off by British Waterways on 9th August 1976.

Retired to Hayhurst yard in Northwich, Shad proceeded to fill with rainwater and sink. In 1981 she transferred to the Boat Museum at Ellesmere Port where she was completely restored and for a number of years she fulfilled the role of museum trip boat.

Today Shad still plays an important part in the national waterways collection and can usually be found on display at the National Waterways Museum Ellesmere Port (formerly the Boat Museum).

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