Tuesday, 8 December 2009

ABC Wednesday - Un

Unexpected to see these lying by the side of a narrow fell road, and unexplainable, but no-one with a camera can resist taking a shot through an opening to frame the signpost and track on the other side. Passing by a few weeks later, untraceable.
Uncooperative, a pair of swans facing each other, but, as one came up into the air the other dipped under the water in amongst the interesting water weeds and intent on food. Giving off an air of unconcern with their surroundings but just an allusion. I stood for ten minutes trying to get a shot of both with their heads out of the water, never happened, unbelievable.

This view is of the Lancaster Canal and I am stood where it ends in the north, at Stainton Crossing. Unfortunately this is the result of motorways and roads built over its path, originally there was another 14 miles from Tewitfield to Kendal.

And here surrounded by undergrowth is the dried up canal bed. The traffic from the road can be heard thundering past nearby. This is Hincaster tunnel, 380 yards long, the only tunnel on the canal, built to take barges close to Sedgwick Gunpowder Works.

The canal was built by one of the great engineers of the period, John Rennie, and hundreds of nameless navvies, the unsung heroes. Undoubtedly it is a great piece of surveying and engineering because it is mostly a contour canal, that is it follows the lie of the land at certain contour levels. The original surveys were done by James Brindley in 1771 (he died in 1772) so Robert Whitworth continued in 1772 but the scheme was dropped; however Rennie was asked to re-survey in the 1790s, but he had greater ideas of transporting coal and limestone as well as agricultural products (which happened) but of also linking it into the the other canal systems. Unfortunately this was unaccomplished.

An Act of Parliament was obtained and construction began in 1792 but progress was slow due to financial problems and so twenty two years past before the canal reached its full length. Rennie designed and built 22 aqueducts to carry the Lancaster canal over the many rivers that mainly flow from east to west, some are magnificent structures. Rennie had a flair for bridges and would go on in later years to build three of the capital's famous bridges, Waterloo, London and Southwark.

There is a scheme for restoring the northern reaches of the canal but the cost may be prohibitive although a suggestion has been made to do it in three parts, starting with the re-watering of the canal head for a mile and a half. In the meantime it is still possible to walk or cycle, unrestricted, the full length, and appreciate both the engineering and the ecology of this lovely stretch of water.

Rennie's dream of linking the canal to the rest of the network was not an Utopian one it just took a couple of centuries, and came to pass in 2002, with the opening of the Millennium Ribble Link. Its level is controlled by a rising sector gate near the tidal Ribble estuary and five locks along a 2 mile length, with a three rise staircase lock connecting into the main line of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal. John Rennie's bones, which lie in St Paul's Cathedral along with the great and the good, no doubt said, about time too.

To see more participants of the ABC Wednesday meme go here

13 comments:

Sylvia K said...

Terrific collection of U words for the day, Joy! And you photos are terrific!

Enjoy the rest of your week!

Sylvia

Manang Kim said...

Super terrific post and I like your picture too. Thanks for sharing!

My ABC Wednesday Here

Life with Kaishon said...

I like the swans. Even though they were a tad bit uncooperative for your picture : ) Very nice compilation of u's : )

Sistertex said...

Wonderful Use of the 'U'....very good. thank you for sharing.

Tumblewords: said...

Unforgettable photos! And stunning information!

twobarkingdogs said...

WoW! Your post was UNbelievable! Great photos too!

Paula Scott said...

As always, a stellar and impressive post! All are so very lovely.

Gerald (Ackworth born) said...

Interesting rings, obviously meant to be linked via those ... (whatever they are). I seem to be getting to know more and more about canals these days.

jabblog said...

Really interesting series of photographs - a lovely set of Us.

Spiderdama said...

Wow! Many U here and great photos:-)

Roger Owen Green said...

You nailed the topic. Unusual set for U. especially love the 1st pic.

Jay said...

Well, that was all interesting! Very sad about the dried up canal. How sad.

dolcebellezza said...

I love the poem you left on my blog today, and these pictures, with accompanying words, are a treat. You have such a refreshing perspective!