Today, we went down the Anderton Boat Lift. Now, I know what you’re thinking, you spend ages waiting for us to make our way to one wonder of the waterways, and then two come along at once. But before you turn away in a fit of existential boredom, let me assure you that the boat lift is indeed wondrous. A magical, masterful, majestic triumph of ‘because we can’ Victorian engineering.
Built in 1875 using the (then) exciting new science of hydraulics, it was designed to help narrowboats transport salt etc from the Trent and Mersey canal fifty foot down to the river Weaver, then out to Ellesmere Port. It was rebuilt and fitted with electrics in 1905, then abandoned in the eighties before being restored to its full and current glory in 2002. And it’s awesome, as you can see from the glory shots below. And if you follow this link, there’s a video of the beast in operation.
We set off this morning in a state of high excitement, having checked the lift out yesterday.
My grasp of the technical workings is somewhat limited, but in essence, you drive your boat into the caisson (fancy word for a great big iron bath, see pic above). We shared our caisson with the charming Sally and Charles of NB Ebony Number 1. After an explanatory chat with the ‘lift keepers’, machinery starts to whizz. The caisson at the bottom comes up, and we fall, very slowly, fifty foot down to the Weaver.
You wait for a technical sign from the lift keepers Richard and Dave, known in the trade as a thumbs up, then drive out on your merry way.
So, two out of seven wonders completed. And, once we’re off the Weaver, we will head slowly in the direction of the Pennines, hopefully passing the Barton Swing Aqueduct, the Burnley Embankment, the Bingley Five Rise and possibly also the Standedge Tunnel. Wowsers!