Wonder #2

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.

The Anderton Boat Lift in all its glory

The Anderton Boat Lift in all its glory

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.

Little square patch covering up salt corrosion damage

Little square patch covering up salt corrosion damage

We set off this morning in a state of high excitement, having checked the lift out yesterday.

Felucca on the approach to the lift

Felucca on the approach to the lift

View of the two caissons from the top

View of the two caissons from the top

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.

Our caisson comrades, Ebony Number 1

Our caisson comrades, Ebony Number 1

Action shot as lift descends. Clearly, my camera skills lack a little je ne sais quoi

Action shot as lift descends. Clearly, my camera skills lack a little je ne sais quoi

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.

Dave the guide

Dave the guide

Leaving the lift behind

Leaving the lift behind

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!

Safely moored in Northwich

Safely moored in Northwich

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Posted in Cruising log, Wonders of the waterways
2 comments on “Wonder #2
  1. Cool beans! I remember that the folks and I visited Anderton in 1998, when it was rusting and was just a giant hulk. Must have been quite an experience!

  2. Martine says:

    Hope I can be with you for next wonders…
    Maman

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