Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Listing, Pasties and Cornish Engines

It was a bit overcast when we woke but by the time we had breakfast and prepared to walk into Great Bedwyn the sun was shining. However there was a keen east wind blowing in at the stern. We were thoroughly aground and listing well to starboard so it was interesting in the shower as the pump could not pump out the last of the water due to the list! It is good job the cross bed makes up with our heads to port otherwise we would have had too much blood in the brains, or too little in feet by the time we woke up! Hopefully our healthy hearts would have coped. No funny comments please.

We crossed Bedwyn Wharf Bridge and turned left towards the small PO and bakery. The bakery has excellent pasties though not Cornish, they are to recommended, as is their lardy cake apparently. We bought two pasties but resisted the lardy cake! The PO sells milk, bacon and Ecover! It also has a large selection of cat and dog food but little else. Strange, maybe there are lots of cats and dogs in Bedwyn!

We had a look at the Stone Masons – remembered well from our last visit. It has some very funny headstones, with legends that I think are not genuine! A price list outside is “priceless”, in the amusing sense. There are a couple of pubs, one of which we ate in last time, but anno domini means we cannot remember which!

After a call at the sanitary station just past the bridge for elsan, water and rubbish we were on our way again. Plan for today was locks 64 to the bottom of the Crofton flight, lock 60 and then a visit to Crofton Pumping Station.

We were eventually caught up by an Alvechurch boat and waited for them in lock 61. I think they thought they would have a companion for the flight, but no. They were making for Honey Street and “The Barge” this evening. Anyway they had a huge crew “celebrating Mother’s 50th”.

The antics above were on Wilton Water, adjacent to our mooring at Crofton Bottom Lock. The Pumping Station is very interesting and the new Manager has recently remodelled the café and shop. It is very light and airy and she is very friendly. We did the tour of the Beam Engines, particularly taken with the fact that they were based on Cornish Engines and one was made by Harveys of Hayle, Cornwall.

The other is a Boulton and Watt of Birmingham. They have slight differences, the Harvey being a force pump and the Boulton and Watt is a lift pump (discharging water on the power stoke as opposed to the Harvey on the return stroke of the engine). That is about as technical as I get!

It was also interesting to see the Honey Street Clock, removed from the boat yard there when it was demolished. We watched it chime 4 pm on the bell at the side. It is an amazing piece of clock making and John was fascinated.

The bright red boiler is from Lancashire. It takes 1.25 tons of coal per day to produce 20 pounds per square inch of pressure. The insides can be seen from Engineman’s Rest café and shop, using a second Lancashire boiler.

The engines will be in steam in July and there is a Bicentenary Celebration on 7th and 8th July. Phil Harding of Time team is opening it and one attraction for John will be the beer tent. I shall enjoy the food and music! We have yet to decide if we bring Epiphany down or come by car. Moorings will be at a premium I expect.

So tomorrow we ascend the Crofton Flight and then we are back on really familiar territory.

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