Thursday, 4 February 2016

Middlewich (holidays and stanking planks)

Wednesday dawned bright but still breezy and we cruised a couple of miles to the northern outskirts of Middlewich.  Here we are going through Croxton Flash – the rippling water shows that the wind was still up.

The rest of the day was spent on the boat as we had to pack for our trip to Edinburgh this weekend followed by a week in the Canaries.

I took some time out to sort through some of our stanking plank experiences.   I must point out that I haven't done any research into the use and storage of stanking planks so this is only a superficial look.   

Examples of stanking planks in operation

This is on the northern section of the Montgomery canal. Bank works were being carried out in the lowered section.

Montgomery canal

Stanking planks (to the right of the duck board) below the bottom gates of a lock at Fradley Junction on the Trent & Mersey canal.  This enabled the bottom lock gates to be removed.

Lock gate removal on Trent & Mersey

These planks (under the orange netting) were above the top gates of the lock at Fradley thus enabling the top gates to be removed.

Lock gate removal on Trent & Mersey

Not really stanking planks as this part of the canal, in the middle of Birmingham, is too wide so a temporary dam was built.  The men are stunning fish so they can be removed prior to the section being drained for repairs.

Fish removal on Birmingham Canal Navigations (BCN)
Planks are used at the entrance to this covered dry dock at Preston Brook on the Trent & Mersey.  Boats are driven in, the planks put in place and the water pumped out.  The hulls of the boats can then be worked on.

Covered dry dock on Trent & Mersey

This is an open air dry dock at Runcorn on the Bridgewater canal.  The planks here are so large and heavy that a crane is used to lift them in.  Three boats can be seen in the dock.

Open air dry dock on Bridgewater canal

The styles of stanking plank shelters

These next photographs show the different styles of stanking plank shelters on the different canals.  

First the Birmingham and Fazeley canal, where the stanking planks are stored in the bridge ramparts.  The doors at the northern end of the canal are rounded at the top whereas further south they are more angular.
Birmingham & Fazeley canal

The Shropshire Union tends to have two different types as shown below.  At some locks both types were still in use...
Shropshire Union canal
...although we did come across one on the Shroppie that was cave-like.

Shropshire Union canal
The Montgomery canal seemed to stick to one type of shelter which is similar to one of the Shroppie styles above.

Montgomery canal
The Llangollen canal is really unusual in that we found six different types of storage facilities and one site that was just a mess.

Llangollen canal
Llangollen canal
Llangollen canal
The stanking planks on the Caldon canal tended to be stored open to the elements but all were marked with the order to be dropped in and also which side was which.

Caldon canal
The Bridgewater canal is a wide canal and even the bridges are wide consequently the stanking planks are wider than usual and cannot be handled manually.  There are cranes by each stanking plank store specifically for the purpose of lifting them out or dropping them in the water.

Bridgewater canal
The Peak Forest canal planks are left open to the elements as on the Caldon but some were more organised than others.

Peak Forest canal
The Middlewich branch of the Shropshire Union canal is not very long but has several types of shelter; all of a low slung style though.

Middlewich branch of the Shropshire Union canal
We spent a lot of time on the Grand Union in our earlier boating years and only had a couple of visits to the northern parts since we moved aboard so can only show the two types we have seen in the last year or so.

Grand Union canal
We have only come across one style on the Staffs & Worcs canal.

Staffordshire & Worcester canal
The stores on the Trent & Mersey canal have very low pitched roofs.

Trent & Mersey canal
Wow!  If you have got this far then I bet you can't wait for Karen's piece on lock gear of the different canals.

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