Friday, 9 April 2010

My childhood patch of canal and river

As a child the canal was my playground in the summer months when school was out. There were still some materials being carried along my section of the cut at that time. Steel and grain were the main cargoes.

My experience on the canal has in the main come from the exposure I had as a child to the working boats that passed the front door of my childhood home. I lived in Yorkshire near to where the River Rother joins the River Don at Bow Bridge.

In the picture the River Rother is in the bottom right, the river Don sweeps through the centre. The South Yorkshire Navigation canal sweeps through in parallel just above the River Don at this point. (Google maps 53.425428,-1.362165)

Bow Bridge was built on the site of a ford where the Ricknield Way crossed the River Don near its confluence with the Rother. This is the main route to Sheffield. In 1764 the architect John Platt was employed to rebuild Bow Bridge. The current bridge was built in 1924.

Robinson's flour mill where the grain was off loaded was at the bottom right of the picture on the banks of the River Rother. The large white roofed building at the centre top of the picture was a new 60's wharf and warehouse.



Here is a view of the River Don. The River Rother joins the Don at this point, entering from the right, just behind the foreground trees. However in my day there were far fewer trees and the river and canal was crossed by a very dilapidated dual span suspension bridge. Some years later when the bridge was being demolished, there was an accident when a complete section collapsed and one of the demolition workers drowned as a result.




Here is a view of the River Rother from Bow Bridge. As children we would dare each other to walk across the parapet of the bridge. I was always up for a dare! This is where I quickly learned to swim, by falling in from the bridge! The building behind the trees on the left was the old Robinson's flour mill where the corn was off loaded. There were regular visits to the wharf from heavily laden barges. It was not unusual to see one unloading and another waiting to unload.




I think the Rother will still be navigable up to this point and I hope to take the narrow boat under Bow Bridge at some point in the future. (After I have first plumbed the depth from the bridge) I think it will be the first boat for about 30 years to actually go under the bridge and onto the Rother! I can remember as a child that there are shallows just after the Robinsons Wharf. The Rother was never dredged beyond the wharf.



Here is a view of the Sheffield and South Yorkshire Navigation looking back towards Rotherham town centre. This is where the canal heads towards Sheffield, splitting from the River Don but running in parallel for a short distance. New canal side buildings (on the left) were still going up in the early 60's and even a new wharf was built. But it turned out to be something of a white elephant and soon afterwards closed for any water born operations. The building was in use until recently as a warehouse. Now it stands empty and the part of the roof which was previously overhanging the canal wharf has now been removed.


The only commercial activity that continues anywhere near this section that I know of,  is the Humber Princess which sometimes delivers oil in bulk to the Greenline Oil depot in Rotherham.



As the river and canal pollution level has fallen, (due to the closing down of many of Sheffield industrial plants) So in turn the water quality and bank side habitat has improved. Anglers can be seen fishing along this section now.

Later.....

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