Wednesday 30 April 2014

Spring Summer Cruise 2014 ❾

Keadby Lock to Torksey Lock

Overnight the weather was cold and overcast. The wind had dropped away. We were kept awake until 11pm by a generator running on board 'Spider T' which is moored at Keadby.


Morning: Early start out onto the River Trent by 6:30. Four boats in convoy. Just past the peak of a spring tide. It was nice to be flow assisted all the way.

Afternoon: On arrival the lock was waiting for us to go straight in. Made our way to the visitor moorings which were almost empty. Round the corner we met up with Cliff and Chris two boating friends.  

Evening: Poor television and internet connection. Lit the stove as the temperature quickly fell after sunset.

 
Wildlife: Sand Martins, Buzzard, Great crested grebe, Lapwing, Whitethroat.

Today's Total.
Miles: 28.1
Locks: 2
Swing / Lift Bridges: 1
Tunnels: 0
Pump Outs: 0
Engine Hours: 5.3
Solar Panels: 15 Ah

 
Accumulated Total.
Miles: 1748.1
Locks: 1126
Swing / Lift Bridges: 295
Tunnels: 26
Pump Outs: 19
Engine Hours: 2789.0
Solar Panels: 13279 Ah

Tuesday 29 April 2014

Spring Summer Cruise 2014 ❽

Thorne to Keadby Lock

Overnight the weather was cold and overcast but remained dry. The morning was quite misty.


Morning: Filled the water tank, some last moment shopping. Filled up diesel tank with 91 litres. Steady cruise towards Keadby and completed two loads of washing while under way. Few boats were on the move.

Afternoon: Swing bridges along this section seemed to have been overhauled. We reported at Godnor that we intended travelling to Keadby. Vazon sliding railway bridge was open ready on our arrival.

Evening: Three other boats arrived and we will all lock onto the River Trent at 6am. 

Wildlife: Shelduck, Buzzard, Sedge Warbler, Redwing, Tawny Owl, as well as the usual Swallows and House martins.

 
Today's Total.
Miles: 10.3
Locks: 0
Swing / Lift Bridges: 8
Tunnels: 0
Pump Outs: 0
Engine Hours: 4.9
Solar Panels: 92 Ah

 
Accumulated Total.
Miles: 1720.0
Locks: 1124
Swing / Lift Bridges: 294
Tunnels: 26
Pump Outs: 19
Engine Hours: 2783.7
Solar Panels: 13264 Ah

Swinton to Mexborough. (4)

This is the fourth in a series of postings which will include some old photographs taken along the South Yorkshire Navigation. Today the navigation is used for leisure, however for many years it was an essential service for fledgling businesses during the early days of the industrial revolution.  Eventually overtaken for speed and carrying capacity by the railways. The railways like the waterways has since shrunk over time. Starting with the privations brought about by the Beeching axe. Now the navigation only has a leisure and historical perspective. That harks back to a far different era.


There were a fair number of potteries operating in the Denaby, Swinton and Mexborough area. Including Rockingham pottery, Swinton Bridge Pottery, Mexborough Old Pottery, Emery's Pottery, Don Pottery, Rock Pottery and Denaby Pottery.



Don Pottery



The Don Pottery was established in 1801 and was situated on the banks of the South Yorkshire Navigation Canal at Rowms Lane Swinton, near Talbot Road Bridge. The pottery finally closed in 1893. Photograph circa 1935.





The Denaby Pottery was founded about 1864 and was located close to the southern bank of the river Don. Close to the site of Grey's Bridge at Denaby.  Below is a photograph of the old Mexborough Top Lock (1910) with a Sheffield sized barge in the chamber.

Mexborough Top Lock 
1862 Boat Builders in Mexborough
Thomas Scholey and Peter Waddington.

1862 Boat Owners in Mexborough
Henry Barker, Joseph Barron and Co, William and John Beavers, George Bisby Snr, George Bisby Jr, Jesse Bisby, Joseph Bisby, Colin Dyson, Joseph Ford, William Kershaw, Elizabeth Lee, Thomas Lewis, Richard Middleton, Henry Moore, John Shaw, John Ward and John Woffinden.



When road bridges were at a premium it was not uncommon to have a ferry service to cross the local river. In some of the small towns and villages it was the only option as crossing by bridge could be some distance away. 

Mexborough was one small town in South Yorkshire that had such a ferry service. 


Monday 28 April 2014

International Workers Memorial Day



Did you know that the 28th of April is International Workers Memorial Day. This stone is in the grounds Rotherham Parish church.


Workers Memorial Day is commemorated throughout the world and is officially recognised by the UK Government.

This year the theme is 'Protecting workers around the world through strong regulation, enforcement and union rights' The TUC believes that we should use the day to highlight the need for strong regulation at national, European and global level. We need to stop companies in the UK from benefiting from the lack of health and safety standards that lead to disasters such as the Bangladesh factory collapse that killed over 1,100 workers. 
We also need a strong strategy on health and safety from the European Commission which will raise standards throughout Europe, while in the UK we need an end to the cuts in enforcement and regulation and instead action to tackle the huge number of occupational diseases and injuries.

Canal Cuttings (11)

This is just one of a series of around fifty old newspaper articles that I have been reading. I have been researching from old newspapers and magazines the last 200 years or so of the inland waterways. With particular interest in the issues of the day that were effecting the canals. The most active periods for evaluation and change, has always been just prior, during and shortly after the two world wars. It should be remembered that between the wars the ownership of some of the canals changed hands as the railway companies bought up the waterways to get reduce competition. What is not clear is the effect this early form of asset stripping had on the viability of the inland waterways. Its good to take a look back at what people were saying and doing in the past. Most surprising of all are some of the problems that beset the canals back then - are still prevalent today. Reading old newspapers can throw up some rather interesting stories. Here is what we would call today a public interest story.

Caveat: Some of the articles are difficult to read and even using modern electronic  scanning and text conversion methods. The odd punctuation, word or character may have been transcribed in error. 


City and Suburban

The Spectator: 22nd September 1955

By John Betjeman. It must be an unenviable task to be the editor of Waterways. whose first number has just appeared under the aegis of the British Transport Commission. It is a shamefaced and sad little periodical designed to pep up the bewildered remaining employees on our canals. The cat is let out of the bag surreptitiously here and there. The Report of the Board of Survey. which has condemned 771 miles of canals to become stagnant ditches and nuisances, 'sets the pattern,' we are told, 'for our future development.' God forbid! Elsewhere, in a list of canals 'to be retained for the present,' we find Kennet and Avon (River Avon section). This is like closing Barking Creek but allowing the Thames to remain navigable between Barking and Southend. 

It is, of course, sheer casuistry. The editor. luckless man, says he 'will welcome photographs, etc. on any subject connected with British waterways.' I wonder whether he would publish a photograph of the rally at Bath last April, in which that splendid character, Ted Leather, MP. took part. when they actually cut the lock-chain which the British Transport Commission had illegally put on the first lock-gate to make the Kennet and Avon Canal unnavigable. I wonder whether he would publish views of the Macclesfield Canal, which has been illegally stripped of much of its gear by the Commission. I wonder whether he would publish anything I wrote.

Sunday 27 April 2014

Spring Summer Cruise ❼

Stainforth Junction to Thorne visitor moorings 

 Overnight: The weather was overcast with light showers of rain.


Morning: Overcast start to the day. A quick walk around the Sunday market and a few packs of plastic tiewraps were purchased. We had previously decided to have Sunday lunch in the New Inn at Stainforth. So there was no hurry to be under way.


Afternoon: Football was the main item for the afternoon after lunch. We watched Liverpool -v- Chelsea. Afterwards we embarked upon a late afternoon cruise to Thorne. Heading for the finger moorings.

Evening: Arrived at 5:30 to join two other boats already on the finger moorings. By 7 pm it was starting to get cold, so I lit the stove again.

Wildlife: Chiffchaf, Robin, Sedge warbler and our first Reed warbler of the season. Mallard with eleven chicks. Later a Tawny Owl sat in the trees overlooking the moorings giving the occasional calls.

Today's Total:
Miles: 2.9
Locks: 1
Swing / Lift Bridges: 1
Tunnels: 0
Pump Outs: 0
Engine Hours: 3.4
Solar Panels: 36 Ah

Accumulated Total:
Miles: 1709.7
Locks: 1124
Swing / Lift Bridges: 286
Tunnels: 26
Pump Outs: 19
Engine Hours: 2778.8
Solar Panels: 13172 Ah

National Archive Podcasts (17)


I love history at a local, national and world levels. The National Archives contain some interesting records of British Imperialism around the world. There are also important records relating to life in the united kingdom. These records can also be used by anyone who is interested in genealogy. The documents come in all forms. I like to listen to the research outcomes in the form of lectures as the archives come under greater and greater scrutiny. The files are captured in MP3 format. There is obviously a bias towards history and family history in my choices.

Paul Carter's talk explores the poor life in 19th-century England and Wales. Using records from The National Archives, he presents allegations of cruelty to paupers, accounts of political and Chartist activities and much more. Click Here to listen.
Sean Cunningham tells us how the Inquisitions Post-Mortem (IPMs) or inquests taken after the death of people who were tenants of The Crown reveal a great deal about land use, local customs, and how communal memory had an important social function for our English and Welsh ancestors. This talk looks at how these manuscripts help to paint a picture of local life and land use during the Medieval and Early Modern periods. Click Here to listen.
Sean Cunningham talks about how and why English sailors and the English Crown turned their attention to the New World of America in the 16th century. This talk explores how piracy, greed, religion and warfare became the foundations of Elizabethan attempts to settle America. Click Here to listen.
The second part of Sean Cunningham's talk about how and why English sailors and the English Crown turned their attention to the New World of America in the 16th century. This talk explores how piracy, greed, religion and warfare became the foundations of Elizabethan attempts to settle America. Click Here to listen.

Saturday 26 April 2014

Spring Summer Cruise 2014 ❻

Barnby Dun to Stainforth New Inn

Overnight the weather was very cold and consisted of frequent showers of rain sometime turning into quite heavy downpours. The morning was grey and overcast, with the freshening wind having a bite to it.

Morning: Leisurely start to the day as we waited for the weather to improve. I paid a visit to the shower block to find that there was no shower head of flexible pipe. We had discovered the same scenario last year. We were on our way and through the lift bridge by 10:30. By lunch time we had made our way to Bramwith Lock and were soon at the sanitary station. Where we were able to enjoy a hot shower.

Afternoon: After a walk round Bramwith lock doing a 'recce' and being particularly unimpressed by the available moorings. At the same time resisting a visit to the coffee boat. It was hard to decide by looking - if they were open or closed. We were soon back at the boat and enjoying lunch. Then we timed our exit from the sanitary station to pass through the swing bridge with another boat. It was a short trip in a heavy downpour and we tied up at the New Inn.

Then the sun came out and the day become pleasantly warm. We sat outside the pub and several glasses of beer and wine were consumed. I had an occasional treat in the form of 'steak egg and chips' with the usual salad trimmings. The 'Memsahib' had burger with chips. So that's both of our 'treats' over for the month. The meal being made a little more enjoyable by Manchester United giving Norwich a 4-0 drubbing.

Evening: More enjoyment of the sun until just before sunset the temperature began to fall and the wind to pick up a bit. Time to light the fire and to settle down to watch 'Avatar' which we both became quite bored of.


Location: Click Here

Wildlife: Not much to report, other than a sedge warbler carrying a foetal sack and a Robin carrying grubs. So the breeding season is in full swing and hopefully the weather will improve to give the chicks a good chance. 



Today's Total.
Miles: 3.2
Locks: 1
Swing / Lift Bridges: 2
Tunnels: 0
Pump Outs: 0
Engine Hours: 1.5
Solar Panels: 55 Ah

 
Accumulated Total.
Miles: 1706.8
Locks: 1123
Swing / Lift Bridges: 285

Tunnels: 26
Pump Outs: 19

Engine Hours: 2775.4
Solar Panels:
13136 Ah

Lighting


There is an old campers trick when you create a lantern by shining a torch into a water filled bottle. Imagine how much brighter that bottle would have been if it were lit directly by the Sun. Bright enough, it turns out, that it could brilliantly light up the interior of a one-room house. That's the idea for indoor lighting to the homes of the poor in the Philippines, by installing water-filled plastic water bottles through holes in the roof.

The Solar Bottle Bulb, as it is called, was originally designed by students from the MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). Its construction and installation is simple. A clear one-liter pop bottle is filled with water, chlorine is added, then the bottle is squeezed part way through a hole in a piece of corrugated tin. A corresponding hole is cut in the tin roof of a house, the tin-and-bottle is secured over the hole so that the bottom of the bottle hangs down through the ceiling/roof, then caulking is applied to prevent rain from getting in.

When sunlight hits the roof and the top of the bottle, its rays are carried down through the water and dispersed into the interior of the home, giving off about as much light as a 55-watt bulb. Given that many of these homes lack windows, they might otherwise be nearly pitch black inside. Not only does the system produce light during daylight hours, but it is also providing a living for locals who build and install the Solar Bottle Bulbs, and it diverts bottles that might otherwise end up in a landfill. While the bottles don't provide light once the Sun sets, home owners do at least have the option of performing indoor activities that require illumination during the day, when the light is available. Additionally, some homes do have limited electrical lighting, but the Solar Bottle Bulbs allow their owners to save electricity by not using that lighting before dark. They could also turn to solar-powered lamps such as the Solar Pebble.

A major problem in parts of the world are paraffin lamps. Which can lead to fires and toxic
fumes. However, paraffin lanterns are often used for lighting and localised heating. That’s why Plus Minus has developed a solar-powered light called the Solar Pebble, that is targeted for humanitarian use in sub-Saharan Africa, or for patio use in suburban Britain.  The water proof LED Solar Pebble is powered by batteries that are charged by a small-but-efficient 6-volt solar panel. One 12-hour charge can light a room for an entire day. Not only is the Solar Pebble cleaner than paraffin but it’s also cheaper. Plus Minus hopes to launch the Solar Pebble, funded by sales of the product in the UK so it could also be just the thing for boaters and campers. 

Friday 25 April 2014

Bonus Bankers


In an amazing contrast to banking in the UK. The human face of banking has emerged in France. It has come to the rescue of some of the poorest members of the public. When thousands of lucky French people had their financial obligations forgiven after the country's oldest bank decided to simply wipe their slate clean. 
Around three and a half thousand people benefited from the 375 year old bank’s largesse when the Crédit Municipal de Paris, also known as the "Mont-de-piété," the bank of the poor, which has for centuries allowed the needy to get loans against their valuables a kind of ethical pawnshop. The small kindness was welcome for many. The unexpected gift is a way for the bank to celebrate its 375th anniversary. The Crédit Municipal de Paris was created in 1637 by Théophraste Renaudot, a doctor, journalist and philanthropist who wanted to combat poverty by giving the needy access to fair banking. The good doctor's idea was to give the poor people of Paris loans they could reasonably hope to repay, at decent rates for the time (about 10 percent annually) against whatever collateral they could produce: pots and pans, linens, silverware, artisans' tools. Halay found evidence of a 19th-century woman so destitute her only possession was her mattress. Every morning, she would carry it to the bank and pawn it. With that money, she'd buy potatoes, sell them for a profit during the day and buy back her mattress at night.

Today, the bank stores more than a million objects, from the puny piece of jewelry to the grand masterpiece, in headquarters covering a city block in the historical center of Paris. With a capitalization of 60 million euros, the bank had 93 million euros in pawn-broking loans outstanding in 2010. Its 2010 profit of 1.3 million euros was partly assigned to improving shelters for the homeless. "It was the country's first secular, welfare institution. It was a safety net." Similar city-owned, not-for-profit banks opened all over the country on the same principle: Pawn an object and you get a yearlong loan. Pay off the interest (4 to 8.9 percent annually) and you can extend the loan; pay off the principal and you get your property back. If your valuable is sold for more than you owe, the profit is yours. These banks were eventually granted a state monopoly on pawn-broking loans, which continues to this day; France is thus a country without pawnshops.

Celebrities of the day secretly used the bank: Victor Hugo, Claude Monet and Napoleon’s first wife, Joséphine de Beauharnais, among others. Prince François d'Orléans, third son of King Louis-Philippe, once pawned his watch to settle a gambling debt. Ashamed when asked what happened to his precious timepiece, he answered, "I left it at my aunt's (ma tante)." To this day, getting help from "ma tante" is a discrete way of saying one's been going to the poor people's bank. People were never very proud to go to the Mont-de-piété," Halay says. It may be why people turned away from it: With the prosperity of the 20th century, people wanted to forget this symbol of poverty.

But it is no longer forgotten. As the economic crisis rippled through Europe, the Crédit Municipal de Paris saw a 29-percent jump in attendance. Unemployment is at 9.8 percent, reaching 10-year highs and still climbing. "We get more and more young people, students and retirees, too," says Florence Marambat, a spokeswoman for the bank. "People used to get their property back after 11 to 13 months; now it's closer to 24 months. But nine out of 10 still get it back. Our director likes to say our waiting room is like that of a hospital emergency room," she adds "Everyone comes to it at some point." Nearly 700 people come through here every day, on awkward hallways and too-small waiting rooms. Some are clutching a jewelry pouch, others have a letter, which the bank started sending out last week, notifying them to come claim their valuables for free.

Thursday 24 April 2014

Spring Summer Cruise 2014 ❺

Doncaster to Barnby Dun

Overnight the weather consisted of an over cast sky with no moon. Temperature dropped quite a bit. However, there was no frost.

Morning: Up early, a few jobs to do, fill with water prior to leaving later.

Afternoon: Cold wind biting wind with persistent light rain, with occasional heavy showers. Not much boat movement in either direction. A boat that departed just before us was moored at Long Sandal visitor moorings. The weather having deteriorated.

Evening: Sat watching the rain!

Wildlife: Oyster catcher, Chifchaf, Swallows and House Martin.
 
Today's Total.
Miles: 5.3
Locks: 1
Swing / Lift Bridges: 0
Tunnels: 0
Pump Outs: 1
Engine Hours: 6.6
Solar Panels: 176 Ah
 
Accumulated Total.
Miles: 1703.6
Locks: 1122
Swing / Lift Bridges: 283
Tunnels: 26

Pump Outs: 19
Engine Hours: 2773.9

Solar Panels:
13081 Ah

Canal Cuttings (10)


This is just one of a series of around fifty old newspaper articles that I have been reading. I have been doing some research from old newspapers and magazines. Covering the last 200 years or so of life on the inland waterways. With particular interest in the major issues of the day that were effecting the canals. The most active periods for evaluation and change, has always been just prior, during and shortly after the two world wars. It should be remembered that between the wars the ownership of some of the canals changed hands as the railway companies bought up the waterways to get reduce competition. What is not clear is the effect this early form of asset stripping had on the viability of the inland waterways. Its good to take a look back at what people were saying and doing in the past. Most surprising of all are some of the problems that beset the canals back then - are still prevalent today. Reading old newspapers can throw up some rather interesting stories. Here is what we would call today a public interest story.

Caveat: Some of the articles are difficult to read and even using modern electronic  scanning and text conversion methods. The odd punctuation, word or character may have been transcribed in error. 


Fire at Rotherhithe

The Spectator: 7th January 1832
About two o'clock on Friday morning, the inhabitants of Rotherhithe were thrown into a state of great alarm, by a fire breaking out on board the large ship Amelia and Ann, an East Indiaman, lying in the East Country Dock; which illuminated the atmosphere to a considerable distance; and presented a grand and awful sight. Assistance was promptly rendered by the dock master and his men; and the other ships, with the aid of their crews, were fortunately, but with great difficulty, got out of harm's way, and safely moored beyond the reach of the flames. The fire continued to rage with fury for upwards of an hour; when, by the aid of the dock-engine, it was got under' but not before the ship was burnt nearly to the water's edge, her keel and figure-head alone remaining entire. 

It appears that the Amelia and Aim has recently undergone a thorough repair, at a ship-builder's yard, and was brought into the East Country Dock, to be fitted out, on Thursday afternoon. Two boys were in charge of the vessel ; one of whom, during the night, left her ; and it is supposed that in his absence, a lighted Candle which he left below had set fire to a sail. The ship was the property of Mr. Soames, the wealthy shipowner and chandler, of Ratcliffe.

On Thursday afternoon, a number of young men and boys ventured upon the ice on the Canal in St. James's Park, notwithstanding it was declared to be unsafe by the men belonging to the Royal Humane Society. About two. o'clock, a part of the ice gave way, and four boys were precipitated into the water. Some lines belonging to the Society men were thrown out to them, and a boat was put off to the spot two of the lads seized the rope, and the other two clung to their legs, and they were happily preserved. A young man was drowned on the same day in the Regent's Canal, near Kentish Town; and two lads lost their lives on the Surrey Canal, near the Kent Road, by the ice giving way. 

On Sunday morning, a little boy in Hyde Place, Westminster, having gone to the fire, to cry "sweep" up the chimney, to frighten his sister, his night-clothes caught the flames. The mother of the child extinguished the fire, but not before he was so dreadfully burned, that he only survived a few hours. On Sunday morning, the body of a young man named Thomas Andrew Stroher, was found, at the foot of the steps leading down to the water at Westminster Bridge, with the throat cut in the most effectual manner. The deceased had been a clerk of Mr. Barron, the builder, Of St. Martin's Lane. He had fallen into the company of gamblers; and on the previous Wednesday, he told an acquaintance that he had been nearly ruined at a gambling-house in the Quadrant, Regent Street, not a great many doors from the County Fire Office. 

The following letter was sent to a fellow clerk, on Wednesday evening. Stroher had absconded on the Saturday before from his employer. I have at length decided at which bridge it should be done London; for then the stream will carry me down, and I hope I shall never be found. Shall I relent? Never. I will pay the great debt of Nature. A coroner's inquest, how dreadful, and then a stake. My head turns dizzy. The York Road rent is quite correct. I am not any thing deficient to Mr. Barron. I have paid Gulston. I am square with them. I do not fear death; and yet how human nature clings to life. I would solicit assistance from my family, but no, it must not be. I have disgraced them, and on me let the odium rest. Should you ever see my father, tell him not of my good qualities, but only of my bad ones; let him rather be pleased that I am dead than that I have so disgraced him.

Wednesday 23 April 2014

Rotherham to Swinton. (3)


This is the third in a series of postings which will include some old photographs taken along the South Yorkshire Navigation. Today the navigation is used for leisure, however for many years it was an essential service for fledgling businesses during the early days of the industrial revolution.  Eventually overtaken for speed and carrying capacity by the railways. The railways like the waterways has since shrunk over time. Starting with the privations brought about by the Beeching axe. Now the navigation only has a limited commercial use being mostly leisure with a historical perspective. That harks back to a far different era.



Rotherham town lock can be seen in this ariel photograph taken in the 1920's.  The lock is located at the bottom centre The Great Central railway shadows the line of the canal on the left. With the river passing over the weir and under chantry bridge to the right.





Rotherham Town Lock for many years had a fleet of small tipper trucks that brought coal to offload into the coal chute and slowly fill the barge hold. The barge crew would move the barge backwards and forwards to spread the load in the hold. Sometimes someone would go into the hold to spread the load with huge shovels that were used almost like paddles to spread the load and balance the boat. The coal barges and the timber barges were the only craft that never seemed to be sheeted. At the tail of the lock was a swing bridge carrying a railway line from the old Central Station into Rotherham Forge and Rolling Mills.

Eastwood Lock is located in an area that was in the main coal mining and where small and large engineering businesses predominated. Joseph Foljambe's was perhaps the first factory where a plough was produced on a large scale. It was not until the 1760s that the plough came into general use outside of Rotherham.

Rotherham PloughThe plough measured from the end of either handle to the point of the share, 7 feet, 4 inches. Length of the beam, 6 feet. Length of the landside and share, as they run on the ground, 2 feet, 101 inches. Height from the ground to the top of the beam where the coulter goes through, 1 foot, 8 inches. Weight of wood and iron work, 140 lbs. There was a spirit of improvement between plough makers and it seems that in the 1770s all ploughs were made by local craftsmen. For over 30 years this design proved very popular and was used extensively up and down the country, as well as abroad.


Aldwark Lock. The etymology of the name Aldwark is Saxon in origin and is derived from ald or 'old' and wark 'work or wharf'. There has been activity in the Aldwark area from Roman times. It is thought that the river Don was navigable for small boats as far as Aldwark.  In the 1860s the first shaft for the Aldwarke Main Colliery was sunk. The mine was sunk in three stages, the first shaft reached the productive Barnsley seam (bed) in 1867. It took a further 10 years, by deepening the same shaft to reach the Parkgate bed but it was not until 1884, with the sinking of a second shaft, that the Silkstone seam was reached. The colliery continued taking production from these seams until the Second World War when, between 1944 and 1946, the shafts were deepened to reach the Swallow Wood seam and give better access to the Parkgate seam. However, the colliery closed in 1961 after almost a hundred years in operation. Now the whole area is almost totally covered by the massive Aldwarke Steel Works.

Tuesday 22 April 2014

EA River Level Check

The Environment Agency has set up an on-line service providing more accurate up-to-date information on river and sea levels. It will be useful to people who using river systems and river navigation links between canals for boating.  The new service allows the public to monitor the situation at over 1,700 river and coastal locations across England and Wales. Click Here For those using mobile broadband there is a text only version. Click Here



Disclaimer: River level data is gathered by the Environment Agency to help it fulfil its statutory duties. We publish it on-line because we recognise that this information may also be useful for others, but we have always made it clear that we cannot guarantee its availability. There may be occasions when data will not have been collected from a gauging station, therefore results will not appear until the next data collection.Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information provided, neither Environment Agency, nor its employees or agents can be held responsible for any inaccuracies or omissions, whether caused by negligence or otherwise. River levels displayed are only an indication of local conditions. `Flooding is possible` is an indication of when river levels are high but does not replace our flood warning service. Please visit the Flood Warning pages to check for warnings in force.`Typical range` gives an indication of the usual range of water levels throughout the year. Drought or other water management measures may be in place or issued when water levels are within the typical zone. Please check our website for the latest information on water resources in your area and whether any restrictions are in place.

Politics and Religion


The Conservatives' slogan The "Big Society" and "We're all in this together." Formed part of his first speech after the election. It was Wednesday 06 October 2010 when Mr Cameron said "This is not a cry for help, but a call to arms. Come on, let's pull together, Let's come together, Let's work together in the national interest. It's about government helping to build a nation of doers and go-getters. It is right that those with broader shoulders bore a larger share of the burden of reducing the deficit, and the Government would always aim to ensure measures to cut spending were fair."

So I thought I would observe things around me.  Just to see if we are 'all in this together.' To see if the load has been shouldered by everyone. To see if we have all actually played a part in sharing the burden. Helping to recover the country and improving everyone's living standards. After all as millionaire David Cameron says, we're all in this together, well we are - aren't we?


You all know me, I'm a devout atheist, though I do believe that we should respect peoples beliefs, irrespective of their chosen affiliation. I was brought up in a 'Christian' (CoE) household with an enlightened mother who allowed us to make our own choices. Quite early on I decided that religion was not for me.

I have often said that politics and religion should never be combined. Politicians should not hold political office and vice versa. Whether we like it or not a political view will never trump a religious persuasion. Politicians however, have this wonderful gift of finding religion to salve a conscience. As in the case of war monger Tony Blair.

A YouGov poll found 65% of people questioned described themselves as "not religious", while 29% said they were. However, these people would have come from a range of faiths and not just Christianity.

Now it seems that the prime minister has 'seen the light' and started to meddle in religion. He says that we are a Christian nation - we that we have many other flavours of religion amongst the people of this land seems to have slipped by him. I know many people who I would describe as being of a charitable persuasion, who would say loud and proud that they are not Christians. Cameron's comments could be politically "useful", for the coming election as the UK Independence Party (UKIP) has been "emphasising traditional values" for quite some time.

I believe that there are more atheists and lapsed (insert a religion of your choice) in our population than believers. However saying that, I am pleased that Cameron has found christianity is his choice of religion. I hope he will now put into practice some of his new found Christian values. Starting with Jesus and his rallying call for casting out of the money lenders... Bankers and ex bankers in government would be a good place to start. Those pay-day loans companies such as Wonga must also be quite high on the list for the bums rush. 

Proving once and for all, we're all in this together!


Later....

Monday 21 April 2014

The Boating Year

I'm feeling a bit lyrical today so I put my fingers to keys and had a go at summing up the boating year. When you think about it, its often March before we set off and September sees the cruising season draw to a close. So in reality its only half a boating year.

The Boating Year

Christmas has been and gone, it's the start of another year;
canals now starved of cash, will our lifestyle disappear;
January is cold and wet, and the towpath strewn with mud;
potholes puddles and dog shit, to walk there now not good.

The clock tick-ticks on and on, and the day drags by so slow;
canal boat life is now halted, our spirits also are so low;
February freezes the water, ice covers where you walk;
dirty snow lies on the ground, its too cold to stop and talk.

Daylight starts to lengthen, the water begins to flow;
snow has turned to rain, and the wind begins to blow;
March brings that madness, to get everything repaired;
end of the stoppage season, faults have all been squared.

Easter is the cruising season, and all our plans now laid;
routes and paths are chosen, the count of locks is made;
April is a time for showers, a weak sun is there as well;
the early leaf are opening, spring flowers a heady smell.

The hedgerow is full of blossom, the birds are sing now;
summer is not so far away, the fields put to the plough;
May is the boaters month, a time when gentle breezes play;
the kingfisher and the heron, each seek out their prey.

The sunshine has dispelled, the winters gloom and doom;
glorious is the season, bright yellow flowers of broom;
June is when the sun climbs, ever upwards in the sky;
soon we will reach the solstice, the sun is at its high.

Warm are summer evenings, the twilight a starry glow;
the soporific sound of insect, and raucous calls of crow;
July brings the best of summer, the sunset lingers on;
shadows of the afterglow, gliding silhouette of a swan.

Flowers are everywhere, bees work from day till night;
bats and owls out hunting, swoop on silent wings of flight;
August fruit begins to swell, a promised plenty to come;
heavily fruiting branches, of apple cherry and plum.

Now the year is more fulsome, as the season is mature;
chicks and kits are growing, a return to our place to moor;
September days grow shorter, life begins to wind down;
bright greens are now turning, a rustic yellow and brown.

The summer cruising season, draws to an autumnal end;
preparing for the winter, moored once again with friends;
October has chill mornings, swirls of mist hang in the air;
boat stove is now smoking, heavy clothes we start to wear.

Autumn is chestnut and fireworks, now its bonfire time;
squalls of wind blown rain, mark a season of frosty rime;
November is depressing, sitting huddled round the fire;
longing for summer days, and cruise to my hearts desire.

Time to repair and mend, preoccupied by distant thoughts;
plans are laid for next year, that sometime come to naught;
December is cold and drab, Christmas brings a little cheer;
summers memories rekindled, looking forward to next year.

Sunday 20 April 2014

Spring Summer Cruise 2014 ❹

Long Sandal to Doncaster VM

Overnight the weather consisted of a clear sky which in turn made temperatures plummet. Because of the full moon it was not a good night for star gazing. Strong blustery winds continued until the early hours. Then the wind died over night leaving only a gentle breeze by morning. The grass was white with hoar frost until after sun up..

Morning: Up early, in time to watch the moon dip below the horizon. I took the dogs out intending to enjoy the dawn chorus of birds. The chorus did not disappoint and was in full song. There was also a very heavy dew on the grass. However the clear sky was full of long vapour trails from passing aircraft. Each trail reflecting the coming sun and holds promise of a warm day ahead.

Afternoon: I tackled the thorny problem of sweeping the chimney of our multi fuelled stove. It came as no surprise to find at the end of the process that we filled a large bucket with the sweepings.

Evening: As the temperature began to fall I lit the fire. It was noticeable that the chimney pipe was much hotter than it had been previously.

Wildlife: The number of Peacock butterflies so early in the season is a reflection on the mild winter and early spring. Good numbers of Orange Tip butterflies as well as a few Meadow Brown variety. The number of Swallows with a fair sprinkling of House Martin continue to build.  Oyster Catcher in numbers and our first singing Sedge Warbler of the season. The cold night seems to have subdued the dawn chorus.


 
Today's Total.
Miles: 3.1
Locks: 0
Swing / Lift Bridges: 0
Tunnels: 0
Pump Outs: 0
Engine Hours: 1.0
Solar Panels: 0 Ah
 
Accumulated Total.
Miles: 1697.3
Locks: 1121
Swing / Lift Bridges: 283
Tunnels: 26
Pump Outs: 18
Engine Hours: 2754.9
Solar Panels:
12466 Ah

National Archive Podcasts (16)


I love history at a local, national and world levels. The National Archives contain some interesting records of British Imperialism around the world. There are also important records relating to life in the united kingdom. These records can also be used by anyone who is interested in genealogy. The documents come in all forms. I like to listen to the research outcomes in the form of lectures as the archives come under greater and greater scrutiny. The files are captured in MP3 format. There is obviously a bias towards history and family history in my choices.

Professor Foot is a noted historian and academic. He is the official historian for the Second World War Special Operations Executive (SOE) and has an extensive knowledge of the background to the requirements for secrecy in government records. This is a rare opportunity to hear the views of a person who has lived with the secrecy of such records for many decades. Click Here to listen. 
How did Britons weigh up the decision to go to war in the 1930s and did things turn out as they expected? Professor David Stephenson from the London School of Economics and Political Science explains how the British Government and the British public responded differently to the rise of Fascism in Europe. Click Here to listen.
In the second part of this two part podcast a chief examiner from one of the major examination boards discuss the British policy of appeasement towards the fascist regimes of Hitler and Mussolini. Looks at how historians have grappled with it over 60 years. Click Here to listen.
Conservator Stephen Harwood looks at the invention and development of photography, describing all the major photographic processes and explaining how anyone can identify different photographic types from the earliest photogenic experiments to sophisticated gelatine-silver prints. Click Here to listen.

Saturday 19 April 2014

We're all in this together! (4)


The Conservatives' slogan The "Big Society" and "We're all in this together." Formed part of his first speech after the election. It was Wednesday 06 October 2010 when Mr Cameron said "This is not a cry for help, but a call to arms. Come on, let's pull together, Let's come together, Let's work together in the national interest. It's about government helping to build a nation of doers and go-getters. It is right that those with broader shoulders bore a larger share of the burden of reducing the deficit, and the Government would always aim to ensure measures to cut spending were fair."

So I thought I would observe things around me.  Just to see if we are 'all in this together.' To see if the load has been shouldered by everyone. To see if we have all actually played a part in sharing the burden. Helping to recover the country and improving everyone's living standards. After all as millionaire David Cameron says, we're all in this together, well we are - aren't we?

I like a cup of coffee, I even like the 'specialist' coffee. I don't quite get the corner coffee shop that is Starbucks. I have been a couple of times but I wince at the price. Yet,  Starbucks has only reported taxable profit once in 15 years in the UK. Starbucks reportedly paid just £8.6m in corporation tax in the UK over a period of 14 years and nothing at all in the last four years - despite sales of £400m last year. 

As part of its tax affairs, the firm transferred some money to a Dutch sister company in royalty payments, then bought coffee beans from Switzerland and paid high interest rates to borrow from other parts of the business. I have never been able to get my head around borrowing money from yourself - then charging yourself a very high interest rate, just so you can offset the interest payments against you're tax bill. And its a perfectly acceptable thing to do!

Proving once and for all, we're all in this together!


The Public Accounts Committee said  "We found it difficult to believe that Starbucks was trading with apparent losses for nearly every year of its operation in the UK." After a public outcry and an investigation by MPs, suddenly Starbucks sees the light and has now announced that it would after all be paying more corporation tax.  Starbuck's said "We listened to our customers in and so decided to forgo certain deductions which would make us liable to pay £10m in corporation tax this year and a further £10m in 2014."

While the government is acting like a rabbit in the headlights. Among those hoping the tax fiasco is fixed are non-international companies based in the UK. Which have become increasingly vocal in their attacks on the unfair tax advantages afforded to multinationals.  However, it is the politicians themselves who are responsible for this state of affairs by creating a tax system which is hugely complicated and open to being exploited. The only solution to this is to create a simpler, fairer and more competitive tax system.

But it's your pound and it's in your pocket. The government are seemingly frightened of the wealthy multinationals, will do nothing. So can you find another supplier other than the tax avoiders to make your purchases.

Friday 18 April 2014

Shiny Boat Brigade



I was enchanted by the emailed comment 'shiny boat brigade' by Jennifer MacGillivray on Narrowboat World.  'I have noticed of late the increasing use of the phrase 'shiny boat brigade' as a term of abuse. I am the proud owner of a shiny boat and I work hard to keep it that way, but it seems to be implied that anyone who has a shiny boat is a rich snob.' 

I did not think that 'shiny boat' was all that popular as a term of derision. So I did a search on the instances of word 'brigade' instead. What an interesting outcome. It brought up about thirty instances of interesting NBW articles. The most popular instance of 'brigade' was understandably the 'Fire Brigade' However running in a close second place was  the derogatory description of CaRT management the 'Ivory Towers Brigade' The expected 'Health and Safety Brigade' put in an appearance. A more surprising one was the 'Pretty Flower Brigade'. Nothing happens on the cut today without mention of the 'Continuous Moorer Brigade'. The 'Nature Brigade' also got a mention in despatches. As did the 'Brigade of Guards' and a new one on me was the 'Freight Back on the Waterways Brigade'. The ever so nice 'Sod You Brigade' was accompanied by the 'Selfish Brigade'. A more rare example was the 'Licence Brigade' and my favourite of all - the 'ting ting - get out of my way brigade'. The closest I could find to shiny boats was the wonderful and evocative 'Floating Cottage Brigade'.

Thursday 17 April 2014

Tinsley to Rotherham (2)

This is the second in a series of postings which will include some old photographs taken along the South Yorkshire Navigation. Today the navigation is used for leisure, however for many years it was an essential service for fledgling businesses during the early days of the industrial revolution.  Eventually overtaken for speed and carrying capacity by the railways. The railways like the waterways has since shrunk over time. Starting with the privations brought about by the Beeching axe. Now the navigation only has a limited commercial use being mostly leisure with a historical perspective. That harks back to a far different era.

Tinsley to Rotherham.

The flight of locks at Tinsley once numbered 12 but after changes were made to allow for a new railway bridge to cross the canal.  Two locks were combined into a single deep lock.  

This is the last lock at the bottom of the old flight with the old halfpenny foot bridge in the foreground. Along with the midland railway bridge in the background.



Jordan's Weir (on some maps labelled as Jordan's Dam) then Jordan's Lock are the next point along the navigation. The lock usually has little more than a foot of height difference in normal river conditions.  The weir is very broad and has an outfall from the nearby water treatment plant nearby. The lock keepers houses have long been demolished but the foundations still remain.


 
Holmes Lock is the next point. The lock keepers house has long been gone. Even the foundations have been removed. Steel Street to the left of the lock becomes the wonderfully named Dead Man's Hole on the other side of the lock.



The last lock before Rotherham is Ickles. This is where the Canal meets the river Don just after the confluence of the river Rother. The area was once part of the steel industry but over the years as places have closed down they have been swept away. the remnants of the old businesses are still to be seen in many cases resembling a bomb site.

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Vulnerable Boaters

As the issue over eviction of vulnerable boaters from the canal rolls ever onward and gathering increasing momentum. I see that nothing has been issued of any note from our Chairman of Trustees.  Though from Lynne Berry's reported remarks in another forum at least she is aware of such issues and has stated her ambitions in that direction. Maybe Lynne could lean over and nudge the Chairman awake and point out what is happening on his 'watch'.

Has anyone heard a single sound about this important issue from our  elected members on council. Those charged with championing on boating issues. This is an issue on which even they might feel the first stirrings of motivation take up on our behalf. Now call me old and cynical, but I have the feeling that nothing will happen until their position is published by the IWA. Maybe as we run up to next years elections. We should encourage those with a broad range of suitable skills, the required motivation and ambition to come forward. After all we are the ultimate floating voter.

I am sure that the deafening silence from those who should have been most aware, will continue. So what worth do the electorate actually get from those we elected. Those who like the three monkeys of old. Say nothing, see nothing, hear nothing and in their case do nothing.