Tag: Severn River

Driving Goliath

Last year ’round about this time, Tewkesbury was holding what it calls “The Big Weekend” although last year it was probably more like “The Overcast Big Weekend”. What does happen is that quite a lot of activity centres around the bank of the Avon by the Tewkesbury Lock. It doesn’t really interest me though because it is really geared towards kids and families, and of course there are boats of all shapes and sizes. I am a ship enthusiast as opposed to a boat enthusiast, but I always have en eye open for something of interest. Last year my eye was drawn towards what looked like a telephone booth on a hull, but was actually a small tug that was berthed alongside and I did get pics but they really turned out poor because of the weather. This year it was a whole new ballgame because the weather was excellent.

The “vessel” in question was alongside again, her bow firmly shoved into the rear end of a barge/landing craft. 

I decided that when I got back from Evesham I would pop in and see whether I could get pics of her moving. 

Wind forward to 12H30 and I was back in town and headed down to the locks. By now things had woken up and the usual tables and rides had been set up. They did not interest me because I was after that tug. Unfortunately she was not where I had seen her that morning so I went and asked somebody at the Avon Navigation Trust (aka ANT) . She took me to a friendly fellow who said he would be happy to show me the tug and we could even go for a ride.

The tug was berthed on the opposite side of the bank and her barge from the morning was berthed nearby. And here she is:-

She is what is known as a  “Bantam Tug” and she is a pusher tug as opposed to one that tows. They were used extensively on inland waterways moving barges and small craft around. This particular vessel carries the name “City” on it and a bit of digging reveals that she was built in 1951 for the  Docks & Inland Waterways Executive in Watford and used on on the Thames at one point. Her builders were E C Jones & Son (Brentford) Ltd and she was number 17 out of 89 (number 13 and 15 did not exist). She was acquired by ANT in 1963. Her skipper proudly showed me her new engine which sits underneath the raised hatch area.

Apparently she was built with a 2 cylinder Lister engine and was not very manoeuvrable and took ages to go astern. She was rated at 30 BHP when built. The current engine is produced for IVECO and is a major improvement. 

Further looking would reveal her builders plate in the “wheelhouse”, and that ties into the information I did manage to pick up while researching her. 

Wheelhouse? its more like a telephone booth and was crowded with 2 of us in it, its actually crowded with 1 person in it. What I found interesting is that her helm drives the rudder through a chain system. No fancy hydraulics here I am afraid. If anything she is very minimalist and functional

And then we were letting go from alongside and the skipper took us out, handing her over to me. I will be honest, I did badly at making her go in a straight line because she steers very differently to a car and I was not too sure of how many spokes to give her to achieve a desired direction. And of course I wanted pics! I also learnt a bit more about this particular stretch of waterway that I did not understand before and really need to make a few changes in my pages to reflect what I now know. 

Here we are sailing up the River Severn toward the Mythe Bridge. The gin palace ahead of us crossed our bows as we were coming out of the Avon into the Severn and she threw up a large wake that made our little vessel rock ‘n roll. I think I prefer the tug to the gin palace. I really wanted to film this part of the trip but my camera steadfastly refused to work in video mode. The skipper also showed me what she was capable of speedwise when he opened the throttle and it was literally one of those thrown back into your seat moments.  ANT seems to be very satisfied with the performance of her new engine.

I am afraid that she does not have space for anything else down there except engine, no wardroom table, or heads or even a galley. She is literally a hull with an engine. 

And then we were coming alongside again, my short trip completed, and a smile on my dial.

There is a lot that can be done to “give her character” but these were not built for the tourist trade or leisure activities, they are purely working vessels, and function over form is the watchword. I asked what her name was and was told it was “Goliath” but I do not see a name board reflecting that name, maybe it is more of a description? At any rate her original name is still displayed on the wheelhouse.

I was chuffed and gave a donation and continued on my my rounds, satisfied that I could add her to my list of ships that I have experienced. 

On the Sunday I was down at the event again, to see if she was moving at all, and to my satisfaction she was. Apparently the reason the barge looks like a landing craft is because it was a landing craft and belonged to the Royal Marines who donated it. I believe that one of her sisters is at the Gloucester Inland Waterways Museum so I may go look her up if I get there again. I certainly do not recall seeing one when I visited originally 

And that concludes my short look at one the peculiarities that live in the water. I believe she lives at Wyre Piddle near to Pershore. I wonder what else they have there of interest? I have seen a dredger before. She goes by the name of Canopus.

And that was my day. What a score it was too. My special thanks to the gent who took me for a spin, and for ANT who look after the waterways. They are always looking for volunteers so if you are interested drop them a line via their webpage

Photographed in November 2019

Update: 16/11/2019

Another Bantam? I spotted another small craft berthed at this mooring in 2019, carrying the name “Eric” I could not find any confirmed info on her. 

The best source of information on the tugs was by Jim Shead

The list of Bantam tugs is available at the Canal Museum Website

DRW © 2018 – 2020. Created 21/05/2018, updated 16/11/2019

Updated: 12/01/2020 — 14:32

This has also been true for January 2016

 

 
Yes it is true, it has been a very quiet 2016 so far, although in South Africa the old racism issue has raised its ugly head once again, and frankly I am not interested in that. Tewkesbury however is the same as usual, the only difference is that the water level has risen with the recent storms that the UK has experienced, the Avon and Severn have become one, and the flood plain outside my window has become a lake. The Carrant Brook that barely burbles is running strongly, and the local squirrel has probably started to take swimming lessons. 
 
 
Now ordinarily that building in the middle is where the Severn/Avon locks are. I posted about it last year, but currently it is easier to just go over the locks as opposed to through them.

Tewkesbury is prone to flooding, it is one of those things and probably has been like that since forever. Unfortunately it sits on two rivers, it is expected.

 

 

So, unless the weather improves and the Avon and Severn start dropping in depth things where I am may be a bit wet. 
Meanwhile, in South Africa there is a drought.  I would post some water back home but the SA post office is liable to steal it.
It never rains, it pours.

Update: 16/01/2106
The river is slightly down and the lake outside my flat is subsiding, the locks are also starting to re-emerge.

 


It was however a sparkling morning, with frost on the ground, ice in the streets and a nip in the air, one of those beautiful mornings that I love so much with its stunning light and a chill that is not too uncomfortable.

 

I believe it may snow on Tuesday evening….

© DRW 2016-2018. Images recreated 17/03/2016
Updated: 21/11/2019 — 18:26

Up and down the Avon.

This fine morning, I climbed on board my trusty Rusticle and headed off down the road to town, my objective being to investigate the Mythe Bridge further, as well as the railway tunnel and railway viaduct in the area.  
I have consolidated the material relating to the railway in a separate post
 
My Mythe Bridge exploration did yield some improved images and it is better to take a look at the original blogpost about the bridge.
 
The railway tunnel is a literally “over the road” but unfortunately was not accessible as it was fenced off and closed off. Although I was able to zoom into it from the gate. 
  
I discovered the other end in December 2016 and it is bricked closed. The tunnel appears to be roughly 300 metres long. 
The next objective was the railway viaduct which is visible from the road. I eventually found a way to get close to it although I could not get onto it as it is fenced closed.
 
Did trains really travel over this viaduct? it is in line with the tunnel so it is entirely feasible, 
  
This image I took from the approach to the viaduct, and the tunnel is where the cars are parked, I do think there must have been some sort of embankment leading to the tunnel though, the distance is quite short and for a steam engine to climb from the tunnel to the viaduct in such a short space would have been difficult as the grade would have been quite steep.  
 
I also tried to access the trestle bridge that runs over the marina but could not get that right so shelved the idea for awhile, and decided to head back to town.
 

There is a short river cruise that runs along the Avon and I considered taking that if it was running on this day. I would then be able to kill a few birds with one stone.

Approaching the King John Bridge from town is the Old Black Bear Pub which was supposedly founded in 1308, and which is the oldest public house in Tewkesbury.

The Black Bear

The Black Bear

The Avon River played quite an important part in Tewkesbury in the days of yore, and of course flooded in 2007, putting Tewkesbury on the map. Today it is more of a leisure boating type river, with fisherpersons lining its banks and small boats puttering up and down the river.

  
The large building on the right in this image is an old mill building and it has a very pretty iron bridge spanning the Avon. 
Bridge over the Avon

Bridge over the Avon

 
This bridge was erected in 1822, and is really two bridges alongside each other. The slight arch of this bridge would have made rail traffic difficult, so a flat bridge spans the river next to this one and this flat bridge would have carried the rail traffic into the mill area.  
  
The river cruise happens a bit further down from here, and on this particular trip there were only 4 people on board. 
  
Then we were off, puttering along a waterway that has been in use for who knows how long. We were heading towards the marina and that was where I could satisfy my curiosity.
 
Just look at that steelwork. They don’t build bridges like that anymore.
 
The next bridge we were approaching is the King John’s Bridge which was commissioned by King John in the late 12th century as part of improvements to the main road from Gloucester to Worcester. This bridge was widened in the mid-to-late 1950s to meet traffic requirements although original stonework still exists on the bridge.


And then finally our boat reached the trestle bridge over the marina.

 

And my first thoughts were: Ok, where is the original structure? because there is no way that this was it, especially when you look at the stonework on either side. I kept on thinking that this was almost like a Bailey Bridge or a slightly used former bridge that needed a new home.

We continued puttering along, passing cabin cruisers and narrow boats, although some were not all that narrow. eventually reaching a turning basin where the boat turned around, 10 minutes after we had left.
And back we headed towards our berth in town.

Past the Avon Locks that I had posted about before 

With the old mill on the right. What will happen to this building? I suspect yuppie pads. It is technically prime real estate with riverside views. It is probably the tallest building in the town apart from the abbey.  I spoke to somebody about it and it is a listed building and as such they are unable to do much for it so it will probably remain derelict until it falls down on its own. 


And into the crocodile infested mooring berth… No, I do not have an explanation.

with the Abbey in the distance.

It was nearly time to head off home and I strolled along the slightly deserted streets of the town to where my velocipede was chained. I had a whole wodge of new stuff to consider, and of course a few pics to add to the collection. Next time around I want to see how far I can follow the Severn River, and of course try to find the other side of that tunnel and find some more info about the railway. The current cycle path is laid on the former trackbed of the railway, and there is a tantalising piece of railwayana in the centre of town.
 
From the station the line ran into Quay Street and onto the mill.
 
Quay Street

Quay Street

The Upton Line is one with the tunnel,  It is an interesting mystery though, and maybe it is time I contacted the society mentioned on the plaque. There may be a lot more just waiting for discovery. But that will have to wait for another day.
 
Update:
I never did get a reply about the mysterious bridge, however, very close to where I live is an embankment and buttress for a bridge that would have joined up to the trestle bridge.
 
 
 
The image above I took from the embankment and you can see the trestle bridge in the distance. My neighbour says that originally there was no bridge up to the trestle, the embankment stretched all the way across to it and the road only came afterwards. However, I spotted an image in town that may scupper that theory. The road was always there and was spanned with a bridge. The embankment then continued onwards to where the trestle bridge is today, it then crossed the current marina, went over the viaduct to the tunnel then onwards. 
That is the bridge that spans the road, and the buildings on the left still exist. 
It does however seem that I can now put this to bed because a lot of the dirty work has been done for me at Malverns Lost Railway
Out of curiosity, the Ashchurch Junction was quite a complex layout and I found an old map (no date though) which shows the extent of the junction.
The cycle path is part of the old trackbed and there is one small bridge that goes over the road that still has remnants of the steelwork from the railway

The cycle path with the small bridge heading towards Tewkesbury

The little footbridge on the cycle path from the road beneath. The steel girders are still in place as is the brickwork although the bridge is a jerry built effort.
The cyclepath looking towards the town. The former grain store would have been on the right, and at some point the railway would have branched off onto the embankment heading towards Upton.   
It amazes me how all the railway related equipment is all gone and there is almost nothing left. It is a shame that Tewkesbury has become divorced from the railway, with proper rail links the town may have become greater than it is now, but sadly it is now just another glorified bus stop. 
 
© DRW 2015-2018. Created 27/09/2015, Images migrated 02/05/2016, Additional pics added 26/12/2016 
Updated: 01/01/2018 — 15:38
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