Thursday, August 08, 2013

Canal Walk: Appley Bridge to Burscough 6 miles

Today I was dog sitting. But Troy doesn't like being sat on so we went for a walk instead. We took the train from Burscough to Appley Bridge, it cost £3.10 to go 3 stops down the line but Troy travelled for free and only left a few dog hairs on the seat.  Off the train in Appley Bridge and we walked down the hill to the canal. Troy claimed most of the gate posts and a recycling box (sorry!) as his property. 
Troy 29.5 miles from Liverpool
On the towpath and it was getting warm as we set off towards Burscough.
The towpath was quite busy with walkers, dogs and cyclists but hardly crowded. It was nice to be somewhere so quiet, no traffic and no seagulls. The only interruption to the quiet was the occasional passing train. The two shallow locks at Appley Locks are looking worse every time I see them, which is a shame. 
Troy heads towards Gillibrand Bridge
In Parbold Troy noticed a World War Two post hole. The WW2 concrete is quite lumpy, with more stones than cement. Set vertically in the concrete is a pipe, probably a sewage pipe or similar. A post would have been dropped into this to block off the towpath at night. The posts would have had barbed wire attached. Next to the post holes is a concrete cube.
WW2 HomeGuard Roadblock Post Hole
We passed a lot of purple plants, Rosebay Willowherb, Marsh Woundwort, Common Vetch, Himalayan balsam and Troy weed on many of them. We were soon through Parbold and we stopped for a drink of water by the concrete pill box that guards the bend. 
Pill Box by the Canal
Approaching Spencers Swing Bridge we heard the sound of Happy Birthday being played on a brass instrument wafting down the canal. We walked past the chap sat next to a boat playing his whateveritwas.  There should be more brass music on the towpath. 
There were some blue damsel flies and a large dragonfly flying about the water. A mystery animal jumped into the canal as we passed it. 
At the 25 miles milepost we overtook a scouser trying to buy drugs from his friend on the phone. 
In Burscough there was a strange floating shed/piano/cupboard. Not something I have ever seen before. 



Monday, June 17, 2013

Martha Alice

I was given this photograph recently, it shows a horse boat called Martha Alice passing under a bridge.

The Boat
The boat appears to belong to Jackson & Co of Liverpool from what I can make out on the cover sheets over the cargo. The boat looks to be wooden, and is horse drawn but sadly the horse is hidden by the bridge. The last horse boat was Parbold in 1960, so this photo must be before then. 1940s or 50s I would guess. The boat is carrying a cargo, low in the water and has its covers on. The covers may mean the cargo has to be kept dry so may be animal feed or corn rather than coal.

The Bridge
The bridge is a typical Leeds & Liverpool Canal bridge. One of the original stones ones. These are found between Liverpool and Wigan. It has the white painted arch and the mark showing the centre of the water channel. The bridge doesn't have the course of stone work at road level that most bridges of this type have. The stonework suggests the bridge has been rebuilt and repaired a few times. It has metal braces.
 By the towpath is the wooden roller which would have protected the stonework from being worn by the tow ropes. Through the bridge the canal bends around to the right.

Bridge #24 at Halsall Cutting, Lancashire

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Fathers Day

My interest in canals comes from my father, Frank Robinson. He got his love for canals from his father George Robinson. My Grandad had a few boats while my father was young. They kept them at Scarisbrick in Lancashire, one of my favourite places on the canal network. My dad was a member of the IWA for over 40 years.  Without my dad and grandad I wouldn't have

George Robinson on Albatross 
Mistral and the Robinson Family

Messing about in boats: My Grandad and My Dad (and friend)
On the Mistral in Lancashire in 1961
Robinson Family at Halsall Cutting in the 1980s

Frank Robinson on Albatross with Honey in the 1990s

At Liverpool with Troy

On Albatross with Troy

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


This year is the first year since the 1950's that my family has not owned a canal boat. Our last boat was the Norman 25 cabin cruiser Albatross. 
Albatross was built in 1969, described as a "comfortable and roomy craft with lines and styling to match its performance." 
Albatross 2 in original condition

We bought Albatross in the late 1970s to replace the original Albatross. The first Albatross was made of wood and was showing its age. Also it had low sides and I was fond of trying to crawl over the edge into the water. Albatross II had nice high toddler-defying sides. The new Albatross had two cabins, so me and my sister could be locked in the back with the VW engine that was in there. 
Albatrosses do Fly
We had holidays in Wigan, Stoke, Manchester, Birmingham, Llangollen, Chester, we did the 4 Counties, the Cheshire Ring. We took dogs, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils on holiday with us. 
Me and Jenny by the canal in snow in the 1980s
I spent my childhood on the Albatross until I got to tall and banged my head too often. After that my parents continued to holiday on the canal with me and my sister visiting them around the country.

Albatross entering Albert Dock
In the last few years my parents took Albatross on the River Weaver, down the new dock link to the South Docks in Liverpool and up the Manchester Ship Canal. 
Albatross looking very small on the Manchester Ship Canal

Following the death of my father this year, I had to decide whether to keep the boat or sell it. It was a hard choice but in the end we had to sell.