Its water time

After overstaying at lovely Hanwell I was in danger of running out water and playing Russian roulette with my shower, will I run out of water mid shower or during washing  the dishes. Thankfully, neither but my boat’s water pump was making all the right noises to say I am starting to suck air.

So it was off to sunny Brentford and thought I would do a sort of photo journal or log of this rather short cruise of nothing particularly special but interesting stretch of canal.

sm1First check the engine and just as well as the oil was so low I should be ashamed to mention it as it was more of an oil change than top up.

sm2So untie the ropes pull out the mooring pins, fit tiller, a string of sausages cooking on a low heat in the oven and away we go.

sm4They must have been proud of this to erect the concrete plaque. The level of the canal is quite a way below the top of the pilings on this stretch of canal and that’s because it is prone to flooding although the level is managed as part of North London flood defenses it can raise a couple of feet and moor if extreme weather hits.

sm5The joggers overtake you as it’s not exactly a fast pace and canal time is a good pace at times.

sm6Ok the first lock Osterley Lock and named after the national trust property close by Osterley House.

sm7The gates were closed so its stop and secure the boat. Lift the paddles to fill the lock. The paddles open slues that allow the water through so we can fill the lock.

sm8The gates are replaced approx every thirty years but as they wear sometimes, the bottom gates can leak almost as fast as filling and this lock took a good 15 min’s to fill.

sm9Once filled it’s a case of open the gate close the paddle and move the boat into the lock. You have to wait until the lock completely full before trying to open them as even only one half of an inch difference will have so much pressure on the gates it will be virtually impossible to open and many a times you see people desperate to open the gates but only wasting effort as they don’t understand canal time.

sm10The Grand Union Canal as it is known today or its original name Grand Junction Canal Co when first built in 1820 obviously undergoes repairs and this lock had some major work carried out in 1881.

sm11Once inside you close the top gate secure your boat leaving enough rope to allow the boat to go down otherwise things can get a bit embarrassing. You then open the bottom paddles and down she goes much faster than filling.

sm12Once empty it’s a case of open the bottom gate and close the paddle climb down to your boat and off you go. I have to say you are supposed to close the gate but on the lower grand union most people don’t and if single handed it is difficult besides when you turn a corner and a lock is open in your favor its happy days.

sm13Nothing inspiring this as its the M4 motorway. This will not mean anything to most of you but if you have ever flown into Heathrow and travelled into central London you perhaps went over the canal on the motorway.

sm14Or travelled in on the underground or in this case over the canal. Three modes of transport crossing each other within a short distance.

sm15A fallen tree part blocking the canal from the recent storms thankfully I am able to squeeze past.

sm16A beautiful cast iron bridge inscribed Grand Junction Canal Co 1820 and built at the same time the canal was constructed and to me one of the best bridges I know over the canal its engineering and design is wonderful it’s just a pity the local graffiti artist thinks it’s just a place to put his stupid tag. The bridge is to allow the horses and people to cross the canal as the towpath changes sides and when you walk over the bridge you can see the grooves worn into the iron from years and years of wear from ropes when barges were pulled by horses.

sm17On to my second lock and this time the gates were open so straight in and the same procedure as last time.

sm20I mentioned that originally the barges were pulled by horses and at busy places along the canal you could get many boats and plenty of rope and some horses were knocked or pulled into the canal so they built into the sides of the canal these slopes so the horses could be walked out.

sm21 Just round the corner and things start to smarten up Glaxo Smith Kline building on the left and another office block to the right with the A4 Great West Road over the canal.

sm22Under the A4 you don’t get much head room.

sm23Just around one more corner and almost journeys end Brentford with all its redeveloped flats and expensive moorings. The overhanging sheds to the right are where boats would have been loaded with cargo for Birmingham and beyond or destined to enter the Thames.

sm24A beekeeping bit apparently there are bees on this bit of land and even in the old barrel but over the years I have tried to see any flying bees but told definatly someone keeps bees in the mishmash of boxes.

sm25Brentford is a good place as I have the water point and elson to empty my toilet shower facilities and washing machines available if I want to use them.

sm26Just so happen to spot one of the working boats supplying coal, gas and diesel to the boats on the marina so I call him over so I can stock up.

sm27That’s the diesel sorted 80L of red diesel and no vat on red diesel.

sm28The two 72’ workboats makes my boat look small. They are both very old boats approx 80 years old and similar to 1000’s of pairs of boats that would have worked the canals many years ago transporting cargo around the country long before the railways and petrol engine. That’s Peter putting two bags of coal onto my roof along with a 13kg bottle of gas.

sm29Best if I don’t go into too much detail on this bit but will leave you with one thought imaging only going to the toilet every 14 days.

sm30Wow what a result water, toilet, diesel, coal, gas and a plateful of cooked sausages I am all sorted now well into next year. All that is needed was to turn the boat round and moor up just outside of the marina opposite Glaxo Smith Kline and handy if I need an aspirin.

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3 Responses to Its water time

  1. Emily Heath says:

    Really interesting Tom. I have done quite a bit of walking along the Brentford canal but this is a completely different perspective on it. Hope you enjoyed those sausages.

    • thomas73640 says:

      Thanks Emily the sausages were wonderful also the smell of cooking sausages drifting through the boat on a damp gray morning really warms you up and something to look forward to at the journey’s end. You are very welcome to come aboard when I move in the future you will see a different sided to the canal.

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