Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Canal Trust Team explore historic Aldcliffe Waterways Buildings

The British Waterways Board has been replaced by the Canal & River Trust

The Lancaster Canal Trust recently obtained access from the Canal & River Trust, to record the ex British Waterways site at Aldcliffe Road, Lancaster. It was a 200 year lesson in history.

They did it well and they did it big in those days. Raising a 70ft coal boat from the canal to ground level for repairs may seem easy, but to raise one onto the next floor somewhat more difficult. The answer was to sail the canal boat into the wet dock, seal with stop planks and flood to the required level. Once there, let the water out and commence work.

The site is about to be redeveloped to create modern housing, and the team from the local Trust was lucky to be afforded the chance to photograph and record these historic events.

The fact that a Swan Mortuary existed was a revelation, showing how much interest they took in wildlife in those days. Drawings, notebooks, diaries, all found in the Swan Mortuary, were carefully removed and will be carefully dried and inspected. All artifacts on the site will be removed before any work starts.

The team found super large joiners' shops, where lock gates were made; massive benches, stabling for horses, boskins and tack rooms. And a blacksmith's forge.

Time stood still in a maze of cellar rooms, explored by torchlight, revealing an ancient murky world redolent with a history of artisanry.

The store room housed a large platform scale, bearing the legend H Pooley & Son, Liverpool and London (fore-runners of Avery Scales Ltd),  leaving no doubt as to the makers. They can now be made available to any canal museum or organisation.

The work of the Lancaster Canal Trust covers a very wide range of activities. You can find out more about these at www.lancastercanaltrust.org.uk

• The Trust organises work parties every second Sunday of the month, which volunteers are welcome to join.  Work Party Organiser Keith Tassart can be emailed at workparty@lancastercanaltrust.org.uk for more information on joining a work party.


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