Sunday, 22 January 2017

Boys Toys

I’m going to add some final comments about those 19th century relatives and then change the subject.
It would appear I managed to identify the wrong woman as my maternal great grandmother.  Elizabeth Crallan was my great grandmother’s sister!  I found a newspaper article which mentioned the Crallan’s.

Bush Advocate, 30 May 1904, Page 3 GOLDEN WEDDING.
A pleasant family gathering took place yesterday, at the residence of Mr and Mrs Crallan, senr., the occasion being the celebration of Mr and Mrs Crallan's golden wedding. Mr Crallan came to New Zealand in the year 1859, in the good ship "Regina," landing at Lyttelton on December 16th, that day being the 9th anniversary of the Canterbury Province.; Mrs Crallan joined her husband three years later, having come to the colony in the ship "Chariot of Fame." They spent about three years at the Church Bush, near Kaiapoi, Mr Crallan being at that time engaged in pit sawing. Some time afterwards be shifted to Oxford, in North Canterbury, where he remained for twenty years. Mr Crallan's next shift was to Dannevirke, where he and his son are well known in sawmilling circles. We regret to say that Mrs Crallan's health has not been good for some years, but fortunately Mr Crallan is still hale and hearty.

So Elizabeth Crallan (nee Richardson) couldn’t have come from a wealthy South Island sheep station family because she married James Crallan before he left England!  Having the name of the ship Elizabeth used to reach NZ enable more information to be found.

The Chariot of Fame was a three-masted, square-rigged 'medium clipper' ship, built at East Boston, Massachusetts, by Donald McKay, for Enoch Train & Co., Boston, for their White Diamond packet line between Boston and Liverpool, and launched in April 1853. Dimensions 220'×43'×27'6" and tonnage 1639. For the first year the Chariot of Fame sailed out of American ports as a packet vessel. After this the vessel was chartered by the White Star Line of Australian packets and made a number of good passages to Australia from England in 1854 and 1855. In 1862 the vessel was sold in London and the vessel came out to Australia and New Zealand on several more voyages. She London 29 October 1862 and arrived in Lyttelton 29 January 1863 with 430 Government immigrants and 30 passengers.

I was then able to find the 1862 passenger list and listed were

So my great-great grandmother arrived in New Zealand as a government assisted migrant with her five year old daughter Elisabeth.  They weren’t fare paying passengers, and her profession was Domestic Servant.
Well that resolves the “wealthy family connection fable”!
This means my great grandmother must have been born in New Zealand.
She was Jane Elizabeth Crallan.  More digging around on the internet and I found a photo of her headstone revealing she was born in 1867 and died in 1944.  It means my grandparents were born in the same year.
Next I rediscovered the two digital copies of the photos my mother had of her grandparents.
Julie Jones grandparents (Mills)
Jane & Thomas Mills (date unknown)
And the first bus in Dannevirke which was owned by Thomas Mills.  He is sitting in the front passenger seat.
First bus in Dannevirke - TM Mills in front passenger seat
OK…. enough of the boring family stuff.

Today was “Boys Toys” day and I was up early ready to make the dash walk to Lidl when it opened at 10am.  Readers imagine my horror when I arrived to find the car park full of males either entering or leaving the supermarket.  I was convinced they were all there buying the items I wanted. 
Fortunately with a little jostling and shoving I managed to seize everything I wanted.
IMG_1344 Clockwise from top left.  Soldering iron station, dremel with attachments, right-angle drill attachment, diamond core drill bits, case of assorted of dremel attachments.
Yes, I know they aren’t the best quality.  but it’s not as if I’m a tradesman and will rely in them for daily use!  Oh….. and I did leave some for the late arriving boys Smile

<is that better Bill?>

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Love Story

If you read yesterday’s blog post you might have noticed the christian names of Thomas Mander Mills’ sister Annie who died on the voyage.  Two of her names come from the ship. (Annie Laty Banfield Invererne Mills.

So Elijah and Sarah made their way to Dannevirke with their nine surviving children.  Actually they went on to have three more.  12 children in 19 years.  It must have been very difficult and expensive try to feed, cloth, accommodate and educate such a large family whilst simultaneously attempting to establish yourself in a new land.
From this point I’m relying on my mother’s memory.

The struggle for the family must have become too difficult because after attending Woodville primary school Thomas was sent to live and work as a farm boy on the property of Mr & Mrs Thomas Hunter's station, at Porangahau.  They had no children and must have been impressed with young Thomas because instead of placing him in full-time employment on the farm they paid for him to get a secondary education as a boarder at Te Aute College, Pukehou.

Te Aute College was established by the Anglican Church in 1854 with the objective of educating Maori boys for attendance at university.  A number of its former pupils have gone on to have distinguished careers.  Not only did Thomas gain an excellent education but he also learned to speak Maori and understand Maori culture.  My mother could remember walking through Dannevirke with him and watching her grandfather hongi and speak Maori with local tribal elders.

Apparently Thomas proved to to have a natural ability of training and working with horses.  After his formal education had been completed Thomas found employment working with horses.  At this time most of New Zealand’s transport was by sea or river.  Main population centres were being connected by rail, although the rugged nature of the country made this slow.  Minor inland locations were connected by rough unsealed roads which were used by bullock carts.  Passengers and mail travelled by horse drawn stage coaches.  The largest company was Cobb & Co (of wild west fame) and Thomas obtained employment with them as a stage coach driver.

Meanwhile my great grandmother was living the lonely life of the sole daughter of a wealthy sheep station owner.  She had been educated to be a “young lady” with a personal maid and domestic servants to look after her every need.  Well not quite all her needs!  She wasn’t allowed to fraternise with the children of the station’s employees.

The weekly stage coach arrives being driven by a young handsome (so that’s where I get it from), personable, educated, and ambitious male of the right age.  It wasn’t long before raging hormones took over!  Elizabeth Crallan decided Thomas Mills was the most promising prospect she had seen to date and she wasn’t about to become a wallflower.  Despite her parents threat to “cut her off” she married Thomas. 

Thomas must have been intelligent, astute and ambitious because the same year they married he established his own business in Dannevirke

The Cyclopedia of New Zealand records
MILLS, THOMAS MANDER, Livery and Bait Stable Proprietor, Barraud Street, Dannevirke. This business was established by the present proprietor, in January, 1894. The premises consist of commodious stables, up-to-date in every respect, containing over fifty stalls and loose boxes, and accommodation for vehicles. Five coaches, two 'busses, a waggonette, a landau, two waggons, three double buggies, and a large number of single buggies and gigs are employed in the business; and Mr. Mills is assisted by a staff of twelve experienced persons. Mr. Mills also holds the Government Weber-Herbertville mail contract, and in conjunction with his business farms 140 acres of good grazing land.  Mr. Mills is a member of the Dannevirke Jockey Club, the Hawke's Bay Agricultural and Pastoral Society, and the local Lodge of Foresters.   

I have even found a photo of the premises

Having been raised a a lady, Elizabeth was determined to play her part as the wife of one of the towns most important businessmen.  She didn’t have a maid so her daughter, Edna was both trained as a lady and learned to assist her mother dress in the capacity of a maid.  Elizabeth was a leading figure in the local woman’s temperance movement, although my mother can remember she routinely drank a “Hot Toddy”.  Obviously purely for medicinal reasons! Smile 

Thomas was a progressive and by the turn of the century he had replaced the business horse drawn stage coaches with the new fangled automobiles.  I can remember my mother showing me a photo of one of his royal mail coaches.  It looked very similar to the one below, although with another row of seats.

By the 1920’s he was no longer involved with horses and instead selling American made Packard motor cars.  He had also established a garage and service station.  The Mills service station still exists in Dannevirke.

Thomas died in 1945 and Elizabeth a year earlier.
<sigh>  What a love story………

Now the genealogist in the family shoots holes in the story.

I can’t find any evidence of Elizabeth Crallan’s family owning a sheep station on the Wairarapa Coast.  Jan has found Thomas and Elizabeth’s wedding certificate and established her parents were James and Elizabeth (nee Richardson) Crallan. 

In 1859 James arrived in New Zealand from Westmoreland, UK on the Regina to join the NZ Gold Rush in the South Island.  He was a sawyer by trade and after unsuccessfully trying to get rich quick attempting to find that elusive gold he reverted to his trade moving to Oxford in North Canterbury.  Somewhere along the way he met and married Elizabeth.  James must have been quite a good sawyer because a local Oxford feature was named after him.  The Crallan Drain!

He obviously wasn’t always responsible as Jan found a court record showing he was fined £5 for being drunk and disorderly.

After 20 years in the South Island he moved the family to Dannevirke and established a sawmill.  This would have been about the time the government started to clear the Seventy-Mile-Bush.  James and Elizabeth had two sons and a daughter (Elizabeth).  He died in 1914 aged 88 and is recorded as a respected citizen of Dannevirke.

It would appear I cannot claim to be related to a wealthy family that owned a large sheep station.  However I can claim to be related to a drunk who had a drain named after him.  Perhaps this is my genetic connection to canals?

It’s also possible my mother mixed up her generations and it was Elizabeth Richardson who came from a wealthy sheep station in the South Island?

Friday, 20 January 2017


Jan has been doing some further research on my ancestors and that information; combined with some information told to me earlier by my mother; has enabled me to piece together how her side of the family arrived in New Zealand.

The first colonists arrived in NZ during the 1840’s and were mostly wealthy English or Scottish settlers who established large sheep stations on tracts of land near the Coast.  Communications inland was very difficult and these settlers relied on coastal shipping.  Any movement inland invariably meant either using the few rivers or following the tracks created by the local Maori.  My great-grandmother came from a wealthy sheep farming family on the Wairarapa Coast.

There is a line of high hills (they would be known as mountains in England) known as the Tararua and Ruahine Ranges running up the centre of the southern half of the North Island.  The area to the east of this range was heavily forested and known as the Seventy-Mile-Bush being forty miles wide and seventy long.  This was notorious for being remote, inhospitable and mosquito-infested.

By the late 1860’s two major events were occurring in NZ.  The government of Premier Julius Vogel was attempting to redistribute land into small holdings by breaking up the large sheep stations and the country was in a financial recession.

Vogel’s economic plan was for the government to borrow it’s way out of the recession.  To achieve this he needed to provide more land and more settlers.  The government decided to clear the Seventy-Mile-Bush for farming.  They recognised hardy settlers with the necessary skills would be required to clear the forest and process the lumber.  The government sought settlers from the UK, Canada and Scandinavia. 

My great-grandfather’s family were from Oxfordshire and took passage to NZ on the Invererne which was chartered by the NZ Shipping Company.  The ship sailed from London on 21st November 1873 arriving in Napier on 8th March 1874 after a voyage of 107 days.  She carried 240 adults and children.  Sixteen children died of Scarlet Fever during the voyage.  The majority of the passengers were Danish.  Denmark had been defeated by Prussia in the war of 1864 and many Danes were anxious to escape life under Prussian occupation.

The Invererne had previously sailed under the name Atlanta Banfield and had been condemned.  The new owners conducted repairs and she made three trips to NZ before hitting a reef and sinking off the coast of Java (Indonesia).

After disembarking, the Danes made their way inland to the Norsewood -Dannevirke area where earlier Norwegian and Danish settlers had established themselves.


My great-great grandfather, Elijah Mills with his wife Sarah (maiden name Mander) and the first five of their ten children, accompanied the Danes to Dannevirke.  Their children were:

  • George James Mills 1859-1932
  • John Thomas Mills  1862-
  • Herbert Mills 1864-
  • Mary-Ann (Polly) Mills 1865-
  • Thomas Mander Mills 1867-1945 (my great grandfather)
  • Elizabeth Mills 1869-
  • Annie Laty Banfield Invererne Mills 1874-1874 (born on the ship and died during the voyage)
  • William Herbert Mills  1875-
  • Albert William Mills  1877-
  • Harry Charles Mills  1879-1957

Ten children…….. Obviously they didn’t own a TV Smile

So how did my great grandparents meet?  Well that’s actually a more interesting story.

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Turners Hill Transmitters

Today the cloud ceiling was high enough for the transmitter masts on turners Hill to be visible so the walk was definitely on.  However the first thing I noticed when getting of the boat was the folding gangplank had moved.  there was no wind last night but I do remember the boat rocking slightly after we had gone to bed.

The person who attempted to remove the ladder must have got the mat it rests on caught under the lip of the handrail.  I know from my own experience that the ladder is sufficiently heavy that to remove it you need to stand on the gunwale.  That would have seriously rocked the boat and the person must have decided not to do that.  All that has been taken is a length of our old centreline. 

I had previously planned the route to the masts on Turners Hill using the Open Street Map (OSM) and already noted the route would have to be via the other side of the hill.  The route took me up through Warrens Hill Nature Reserve.

This area has a number of pools.  Bumble Hole Pool is a former clay pit and I assume the other pools were also former clay pits.  My guess is the clay was used to make bricks?

Discovering the public footpath through Dudley Golf Course resulted in a shortcut back to the boat.

The Wheatsheaf pub is located on the corner of Oakham Rd and Turners Hill Lane.  I only mention this because there is another pub opposite which I missed.  It’s name is more relevant to the area.  More on that later.

The two Transmitter Masts are at the top of Turners Hill which at 271m is the highest ground in the West Midlands.  The Transmitters consist of a free standing steel lattice structure.  The No2 is 60m high and has a concrete base.

They both broadcast radio so there’s no point in aiming the TV aerial at them!

Thick vegetation prevented me from visiting the adjacent gaping hole of the former Edwin Richards Quarry.

You can see the size of the former quarry in the above Google Earth photo. 

Originally there were three quarries.  One has been used as landfill and is now a golf driving range.  The other two were combined to form the pit in the above photo.  Quarrying finished in 2008 and the current plan is to use the abandoned pit as landfill.

The quarries produced a local stone known as ‘Rowley Rag’ and was primarily used for road construction.  That pub I missed opposite The Wheatsheaf was named the Rowley Rag.

I detoured on the way back to Waiouru finding a high knoll in Warren Hall Nature Reserve which had clear views to the south.

I was about to walk down off the knoll when I noticed the erosion immediately in front of me.  It appears this large knoll is artificial being made from ash? 

 And Open Live Writer has stopped publishing posts, which is making blogging slightly more complex.Sad smile :-(

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Meal Time

The local flying wildlife must have an inbuilt clock.  The community run cafe beside the canal at Bumble Hole doesn’t open every day but without fail you can hear the sound of birds landing on the water outside the cafe just before opening time.  When the cafe opens one of the first tasks is to throw all the old bread onto the towpath where a feeding frenzy takes place.

Occasionally there is a delay in the opening time which can cause some confusion.

“Where’s breakfast…… we’re waiting!”

Another day of low cloud so I only went on a short walk to Lidl and Aldi for a few essentials (Wednesday magazines).  Later in the morning Sandra and Barry (nb Areandare) visited for a coffee and conversation. 

Hopefully the visibility will improve tomorrow and I can go for a walk to the transmitter towers.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

No blog posts

Yes there have been no posts for the last two days.  Well nothing happened!  We sat inside the warm boat staying out of the rain. 

The only interesting thing was the connection between the phone and Zoom router continued to work giving us internet coverage and we’re not using any of our ‘Hotspot’ data allowance.
Low cloud today meant there was little purpose in walking to the transmitter towers on Turners Hill as there would have been no visibility.  Tomorrow’s weather forecast is for continued low cloud which will further delay the walk. 

This afternoon I went for another local walk around Bumble Hole and then to Netherton.  The original plan was to visit the listed crane at Bumble Hole Wharf.  The anticlockwise walk took me along the alignment of the now abandoned canal to reach the wharf.  I noticed there were high round steel poles along the route.

At the top of each pole there was an extractor fan enclosed in a cage.  I wonder what purpose these serve.  Gases from landfill?

Bumble Hole Wharf was a surprise.  I hadn’t expected to find moored boats!
 Extract from Waterway Routes map

There was no sign of the unusual crane and I’ve since read it was removed in 2002 as it was urgently in need of refurbishment.  However I did notice the formed windmill at the wharf.

If you look at the map above, the now partially abandoned loop is actually the original route of the Dudley N02 Canal, which was subsequently shortened by a new cut.  The junction is known as Windmill EndI couldn’t find any information regarding the windmill.

From here the walk took me uphill to Netherton.  Wikipedia has some interesting information regarding Netherton during the industrial revolution.

In 1852 an inquiry into the sewerage, drainage and supply of water was carried out, reporting to the General Board of Health. Its conclusions were very damning for Netherton. A typical comment was: 'Old Netherton Town, Mr. Thomas Woodall's buildings.- Drainage very horrible, with privies and piggeries as usual, and no pavement. Procure water from a horse-pit nearly half a mile, and it has to be carried up hill, mostly by girls, in little pails of about three gallons, on their heads. This was a bad place for cholera'.

Amongst other things Netherton was known for it’s chain and anchor manufacturing.  This was done at the Hingley & Sons foundry.  The anchors for the Titanic were cast here and a replica anchor can be found in the centre of the old market place.

Apparently the anchors weighed 15½ tons each and it took 20 shire horses to move each anchor to the railhead at Dudley Port.  The primary reason for walking to Netherton was to check the Old Swan pub as a potential Sunday lunch location.  The pub is quite famous locally. 

From Wikipedia

The current building dates from the 1860s but there has been a pub on the site since at least 1835. It has been known as Ma Pardoe's since the interwar years, as its long-term landlady was Doris Clare Pardoe (born 1899) who owned it until her death in 1984, when she was 85 years old. Such was its fame among the lovers of real ale, that when the pub came up for sale in 1985, a company was set up by CAMRA to purchase and run the pub.  Although this company was short-lived, the pub and brewery survived and it is now one of only a handful of pubs in the West Midlands that still brews beer on its own premises. As well as for its beer, the pub is also known for its decor including a ceiling decorated with vitreous enamelled iron plates. The pub has been designated a Grade II listed building.

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Dudley Walk and the Internet

This morning we awoke to a very light dusting of snow which had all but gone by the time we walked to Lidl for a few essentials at 11am.  In the afternoon I went for a local walk doing an anti-clockwise circuit which took me via Dudley Town Centre.

P1030669Our mooring at Bumble Hole.  Waiouru In the distance on the right.  I’m thinking of walking to the masts on the skyline.  There appears to be no access from this side of the hill so it will be another circular route.

Today’s walk took me through Warren’s Hill Nature Reserve and past Cobb’s Engine House to reach New Rowley Road.

P1030667Looking back.

More information on the history of the park here.  

The route took me into Dudley Town Centre and I was slightly bemused (but not surprised) to see at the other end of the Street the Toby Carvery where we had a Sunday lunch whilst moored at the Dudley Canal Trust.


Dudley Castle.

Over Christmas I replaced the operating system on our Samsung S4 phone and in doing so upgraded it to Android version 7.  I then exchanged the upgraded S4 with the Samsung S1 which we use as the boat phone.  The S4 provides a faster internet speed when configured as a “hotspot” in the boat.  I thought I’d been clever until I noticed five days ago that our monthly “hotspot” data allowance of 12,000MB had almost been used.  Our plan gives us unlimited internet data on the phone but only 12,000MB when configured as a “Hotspot” allowing other devices to wirelessly connect to the internet via the phone.  When I looked at the balance of our hotspot allowance we only had 512MB left to last the 18 days until the new month.  Drastic action was required!

I swapped the phones using the old Samsung S1 as the boat phone and reactivating it as the boat “hotspot”.  Unfortunately this didn’t arrest the problem and later that same day the allowance was down to 429MB.   After rummaging around in the back of the storage cupboard I retrieved the old Zoom portable wifi router.  We used the Zoom and an attached USB dongle for internet access when we first arrived in the UK and prior to me realising the phone could be configured as a “Hotspot”.  What I have done is connect the Samsung S1 to the Zoom with a USB cable.  I also downloaded a small program from the Zoom manufacturer which electronically connects the Zoom router to any Android phone with the now obsolete version 2.3 Android operating system.  The phone is connected to the aerial on the cabin roof (no change there) and the Zoom router is connected to the boat 12V system to keep its battery charged.  The Zoom also charges the phone through the USB cable.  By doing this the Samsung phone is no longer configured as the “Hotspot”.  Instead we connect to the Zoom wireless router.

P1030671The new setup is above.  The Zoom router on the left and the Samsung S1 phone on the right.  The two are connected by a USB cable.

Since I did this five days ago the new setup has achieved the desired result with the hotspot allowance remaining frozen at 429MB.

data allowance

I couldn’t connect the Zoom router to the Samsung S4 and get the higher 4G speed because the phone uses a more modern version of Android (v4.4).  The Zoom will only connect to Android v2.3.

Friday, 13 January 2017


It was 1.4°C in the cratch when we went to bed last night so it wasn’t much of a surprise to wake up this morning and find almost everything covered in white


Our first snowfall in 2017.  The wind arrived with the dawn almost blowing the hardy local dog walkers off their feet.  On one occasion a strong gust rattled something on the cabin roof.  Neither of us could see any purpose in venturing out of the toasty warm cabin and elected to spend the day finding inside jobs.  Jan used some left over wool to knit me a beanie and I burned all the 2016 photos to DVD’s.

No physical exercise today and now feeling guilty!

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Hawne Basin and On the Buses

With the predicted forecast of a cold front by the end of the week we decided to cruise up to Hawne Basin where we would empty and fill tanks.  Before going into any detail on the cruise we should mention the large Sainsburys at Merry Hill closed permanently on 30 Dec 16.  However the ASDA supermarket us still in the mall and the Aldi is just up the road.  It was a very early start; so early that we turned on the boat headlamp until we reached Blowers Green.  The water pressure here is quite poor and we therefore decided not to stop.  There is a sharp turn on exiting the lock.  Fortunately the wind had picked up and pushed the bow around.  It was probably the easiest turn we’ve done here.

The cruise to Bumble Hole was uneventful, except for the low sun in the east which was directly in our eyes for the bulk of the trip.  Fortunately no other boats were on the move.  Upon reaching Bumble Hole we discovered all the moorings with bollards occupied.  It was still reasonably early (9.30am) so that might have changed by the time we returned from Hawne Basin.  The cruise down to Hawne Basin was very slow.  The water level in the canal is still down and there is so much rubbish in the bottom of the canal that we did 85% of the canal on tick-over and still got urban jellyfish on the prop.  We were also heading east with the low sun directly into our eyes.  

At Hawne Basin we emptied out the toilet tank (£8) and topped up all three diesel tanks (£178).  Jan also took the opportunity to add to our collection of brass plaques.  It was then a case of retracing our route back to Bumble Hole.  This time we collected something major around the prop whilst inside Gosty Hill Tunnel.  We ‘limped’ through the tunnel barely moving and once out in the open I went down the weed hatch to cut and remove our most recent collection of recycled apparel.  I’m not that keen on using the knife during winter.  My submerged hands are usually so cold that I can’t feel them and I’m slightly concerned I might cut off a finger (or two). 

The mooring situation hadn’t changed at Bumble Hole so we moored on pins just short of the water point.  Actually it’s probably the best mooring should the canal freeze over for any length of time as we can access the water point from the boat.

After we moored I made yet another trip down the weed hatch to remove the latest spawn of urban jellyfish. The water is only going to get colder so better to have one miserable day rather than know I’ll have to do it later.

Towards the end of the afternoon an email arrived advising the replacement 12V DC to DC step up converter had been delivered to Argos in Birmingham.  I had a look at the map and decided the best option was to take the X10 bus into the city. 

This morning we filled the water tank in preparation for the forecast cold front due at 3pm.  I then walked a couple of kilometres to the X10 bus stop just missing the bus.  There is a bus every 20 minutes so it wasn’t much of a wait for the next one to come.  The trip on the bus took 50 minutes and I found it rather interesting looking at the urban environment.  Rows of terraced and semidetached dwellings.  It reminded me just how tightly packed some of England’s citizens live.  Frankly I couldn’t see myself willingly live in one of those tiny boxes.  But then we are currently living inside a 6ft diameter steel tube….! Smile  Ah… but we can move our tube regularly….

I was back at the boat by 2pm having stopped at Lidl on the way back to buy some bread.  Later in the afternoon I replaced the defective DC-DC converter and can again charge the laptop of the boat 12V system.  

The temperature has definitely fallen, but at the moment there isn’t any sign of snow and nor is there much wind.  Not that any of this worries us as we’re now fully prepared.  

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Back to Merry Hill

The weather looked cloudy but dry so we decided to cruise the reasonably short distance to Merry Hill where Jan wanted to visit a number of shops in the large InTu Retail Mall.  Of course it decided to rain quite hard during the cruise leaving me rather drenched by the time we reached Merry Hill.  I did try increasing the speed but the canal is rather shallow in places and I ended up catching urban jellyfish (plastic bags) on the prop.

There were only two moored boats when we arrived, one being NB AreandAre with Barry on board.  After a conversation and hot drink with Barry he headed off towards Bumble Hole retracing our route.  However, unlike our trip it looked like he wouldn’t be caught in the rain.

Jan had a rather fruitless trip to the mall discovering none of the shops had what she wanted. 

Jan here…… There was little chance to look in the shops because I was dragged around as if we were doing the Indi 500

I noticed the laptop wasn’t charging when plugged into the boat 12V system.  I’ve previously assembled a DC to DC step up converter which raises the boat 12V to the laptop 19.2V.  The converter appeared to be working as the small red LED was illuminated and I was getting a 12V reading with the multimeter.  My first assumption was there was a fault with the 12V boat socket.  That proved to be incorrect.  Then I realised the converter output was 12V instead of 19V.  Our cheap ( £2.52) Chinese circuit board had failed.  The laptop has been permanently connected to the boat 12V system for several weeks and I therefore shouldn’t be too surprised that a component on the board has failed.  We’ll need a replacement board.  After examining the board I realised the heat sinks might prove useful.


The heat sinks are the two black painted aluminium plates with fins.  They look about the right size to fit on top of a Raspberry Pi cpu.  The Raspberry Pi does get hot and you can buy an aluminium heat sink for the cpu.  But why buy something when you can salvage one.  I filed the solder joints off the base of the printed circuit board and unscrewed the connection to the board to recover two free heatsinks.

P1030662Finally I must acknowledge some recent blog comments from readers haven’t been published.  For some reason Blogger thought they were spam.  I hadn’t realised this had occurred because I don’t directly use Blogger.  All the blog posts are written using Open Live Writer and we are supposed to be notified by email if a Reader leaves a comment.   I don’t know why Blogger decided some Reader comments were spam and it now appears I’ll have to regularly check Blogger rather than relying on the email advice system.  

Monday, 9 January 2017

Leaving Birmingham and a Cold Transit

It was time to leave Birmingham but not before two blogger meetings.  We’ve spoken to or seen five bloggers since arriving in Birmingham.  Our mooring was behind Beryl and Dave on NB Sokai.  Maffi and Molly on NB Milly M moored in front of us.  Then Andrew Denny moored NB Granny Buttons opposite.  Finally, there was a knock on the side hatch one evening.  We opened them to discover Paul Balmer of NB Waterway Routes

We decided to backtrack and head north on the New Main Line.  We’ve cruised this way a number of times but there is always something interesting to see.  This time we were paying attention to all the entrances to former canal arms or wharfs.  This canal reeks of history.


The Engine Arm crosses above the New Main Line on a particularly ornate aqueduct.  A lattice of five cast-iron arches supports a cast-iron trough.


Designed by Thomas Telford, the aqueduct was built in 1825 as a water feeder from Edgbaston Reservoir.  You might recalI I mentioned in an earlier post that there was a feeder from Titford Pools to Edgbaston Reservoir.

Telford’s work can also be seen at Galton Bridge.  The design is very similar to the Engine Arm Aqueduct.  Except this bridge is much higher and longer.  It was constructed in 1829 and at the time was the highest bridge in the world.  It carried road traffic but is now restricted to pedestrians.

Steward Aqueduct takes the Old Main Line over the New Main Line.  Immediately behind it the more modern M5 Motorway also crosses the canal.

P1030660 Steward Aqueduct in the distance with the M5 Motorway towering above. 

We turned left onto the Netherton Branch at Dudley Port Junction and entered the 2776m long Netherton Tunnel.  No cloud inside this time, but it was very cold.  Three lights could be seen in the distance coming towards us.  Jan sensibly went inside (why should two of us get cold).  My eyes started to weep with the cold blurring my vision.  The lights at the opposite end of the tunnel slowly got closer.  I couldn’t decide whether they were boats or bicycles.  Eventually I slowed and moved over to the right to allow the oncoming boat passage.  That’s when the first of the bikes passed. Smile

Having realised the lights were from cyclists I was able to speed up.  Eventually we exited the tunnel at the Bumble Hole end to find a damp and overcast day.