Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Up the Ganges

The meal at the Black Horse pub was very good, although it was apparent we are now paying London prices.  From the outside the pub looks old however once inside it has a more modern look.  There were plenty of vacant tables and the staff were friendly.

The heavy overnight wind and rain had pushed all the rubbish in the canal down to our mooring.  It was bank to bank and looked disgusting.  By the time we were ready to leave it had moved on.  unfortunately in the same direction as us which meant we had to cruise through it.  Actually I tried to glide through it with Waiouru in neutral.  Despite this we picked up more multi-coloured London jellyfish.  It seems rather pointless going down the weed hatch at this stage.  I’ll wait until we reach Little Venice.

After an hour of cruising we reached the 7 Day moorings outside the large Sainsbury’s at Alperton.  There are moorings for three boats and we comfortably managed to fit in between the two boats already there.

There is a large Chinese supermarket behind the Sainsbury’s which we will visit tomorrow.  Today it was a quick trip to Sainsbury’s for essentials.  Back again tomorrow to restock the cupboards.  The engine has also reached 2050 hours and is now due for a major service.  Apart from the oil, we already have all the consumables.  A quick check on Google Maps showed a nearby Halfords so I walked there after lunch and purchased 10 litres of oil.  At least tomorrow morning’s activities are now known! Smile

I took a photo of the moorings at Alperton on my way to Halfords using the old Samsung S1 with the custom ROM.

Apparently the towpath at Alperton has been used in a number of episodes of the TV series Eastenders.  Not that I’ve every watched the program!  Whilst walking to Halfords I noticed the Pleasure Boat Pub on the opposite side of the canal.  150 years ago the countryside at Alperton was a popular place for visitors who also frequented the pub.  The canal became a celebrated resort for anglers (obviously not fishing for urban jellyfish or London eels).   The area became less salubrious with the arrival of industry at the beginning of the 19th century.  As the most industrialised village in Wembley, it was infamous for the smells coming from shipments of gas lime and dung, a sewage farm, two recycling plants and three large piggeries. There were public order problems with fights among labourers and bare-knuckle boxing bouts and cockfights.

By the 1960’s Alperton was in decline.  The major redevelopment around Wembley and Sudbury didn’t reach the area.  However things started to change in the 1970’s with the arrival of many East African Asians (expelled from Uganda?) who opened shops along Ealing Road, selling saris, vegetables or sweets.  Many of the public notices in the local area are multi-lingual.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

That Tower

Well no sooner had I published yesterday’s post when I received an email from friend and blog reader Bill.  He informed me the photo was of the Aladdin Tower in Greenford.  I did some checking and he is correct (as usual).  Then blog reader Davidss left a comment suggesting it was probably a water tower.  So what information have I found.

The tower is part of the old Aladdin Factory built in 1931.  Aladdin manufactured paraffin heaters and associated components (eg, wicks) at the factory.  It was closed in 1980 and is now a Dunelm Mill.  Apparently there was also a B&Q store on the site at one time.

From: http://ukbeach.guide/photos/uk-photos.php?photo=1026706

This is another photo of the building in 1937

From  http://www.britainfromabove.org.uk/image/epw053619

An almost rural setting back in 1937 and then it changed to light industry.  Now the building is surrounded by residential housing.

Another interesting fact.  During WW2 Aladdin Industries developed a number of barometric fuses which were used by the RAF.  These fuses were manufactured at this factory. <link to the Imperial War Museum>.

The History

Aladdin Industries has a rather interesting history.  The mantle lamp was first invented in Germany.  Canada and America had large rural populations and as a consequence many German manufactured lamps were exported.  However during WW1 German products became both unpopular and unavailable.  The Americans then started making their own which over time became superior to the German models.  The UK government had introduced substantial taxes on products not made locally to protect UK industries.  So Plume & Atwood (American manufacturers) established the Aladdin factory at Greenford in 1931.  During WW2 brass became a restricted metal and Aladdin started making lamps from steel.  They also diversified manufacturing other products using their burner technology.  This included field kitchen stoves, refrigerators, coffee urns and dehumidifiers.  They also started manufacturing thermos flasks.

By 1963 America had ceased manufacturing lamps and was importing them from Aladdin UK.  How the worm had turned.  Aladdin Industries also had a manufacturing plant in Australia.  The Australian factory also suffered from a lack of brass during WW2 and manufactured lamps from steel and glass.  The steel was painted rather than galvanised.

Of course the increasing availability of electricity steadily reduced the demand for paraffin lamps but the decision by the UK government to raise tariffs on imports to protect local industry allowed Aladdin to manufacture and supply ‘The Empire’.

Ownership of Aladdin eventually reverted back to America and in 2015 it was sold to Lehmans.  The company assets were then transferred from Tennessee to Dayton, Ohio.

Apparently the tower and building now have protected status.

On a mission

A mild and cloudy day which made for ideal walking weather.  No sweating and no freezing!  The plan was to walk the towpath and get an idea of the availability of moorings further towards London.  I also wanted to check the CRT water point at Black Horse Bridge.  Paul Balmer (nb Waterway Routes) had sent me an email asking if I could check the map information on two of the bridges which were on today’s route.  The walk took me from Willowtree Park to the CRT 7 Day Moorings just short of Alperton.  The walk can be seen on the following map.

Paul,  I can confirm my gps shows all the bridges on your map as accurate.  You also asked about the plaque on Bridge 18, a railway bridge.

You were right….. It isn’t Bridge 18.

No, I don’t know why Bridge 16 is located between 16A and 16B!  Smile

I happened to notice there were two locations with mooring rings on the towpath side.  Their location is shown by the red arrows on the map above.  Photos of both locations below.

Both locations appear to be former wharfs.  There are probably better locations to moor in this area but pins would be required.  

I reached the water point at Black Horse Bridge to find three boats on the water point mooring.  None of them had anyone aboard.  This is the second water point we’ve seen in the London area where boaters appear to feel there’s nothing wrong with mooring on facilities.

Tap on the left with a narrowboat and wide beam occupying the western end of the mooring and a tupperware boat on the eastern end.  There were 14 day moorings here and they were full.  About half of the boats were displaying winter mooring permits. 

I walked further on the the 7 Day moorings at Alperton to find one lone moored boat.  Why only one boat here when the Black Horse moorings were overflowing.  Of course; Black Horse has the water point, pub and a railways station! 

Retracing my route I reached Black Horse moorings to find a very long water hose running from the adjacent pub to one of the moored boats.  There was a boater on the roof of the wide beam moored on the water point so I asked him if the CRT water tap was working   He told me he didn’t know.  <Deduction>  He wasn’t moored on the water point to get water.  I checked the tap and it wasn’t working.  Obviously this is why the moored boaters have combined their hoses to get water from a tap at the pub.

We will have to re-think our plans for refilling the water tank.

On the way back to Waiouru I noticed a tower off to the south.  It’s a very similar style to the carillion in Wellington, NZ. 

I can’t find it on Google Earth so perhaps it’s a recent structure?

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Rub a dub dub

A couple of weeks ago I noticed the cratch and pram covers were looking decidedly unclean. At the time I used canal water to remove the obvious fowl stuff with a scrubbing brush.  With rain forecast for the afternoon I decided cleaning both the covers before lunch might be a smart move.  That way the rain would rinse them off.

I’d only just started scrubbing when I realised the foam was turning green.  For a moment I though the green was from the canal water but immediately I remembered the bucket of water had been drawn from the tank.  Copious scrubbing resulted in a significant amount of green foaming sludge slowly running down the sides of the canvas.  Once the covers were rinsed off they started to quickly dry.  What a change in colour!  We are back to having burgundy coloured covers. 

Both covers will have to be cleaned again using the Fabsil we purchased last year.  Apparently it will also waterproof them.  Another pre-summer task completed.

Jan had a chat with a local who was walking past the boat.  The walker said “Do you know where Waiouru is?”   Jan confirmed she did and the lady then said “I was born there!” Waiouru is a small place but it has a very high birth rate.  No…. TV reception is good!  Almost the entire population consists of soldiers and their dependants.  There are no retirees and no cemetery. But they do have a very busy maternity hospital.  Having met someone in the UK who was born in Waiouru became even more of a coincidence when the lady mentioned she too lived on a boat.  Small world!

Well we have just had our excitement for the week.  There we were quietly sitting in the boat when there was a loud knocking on the cabin.  Thinking we had visitors I went to the back  only to discover no one outside.  Friday night and some of the local youths are having fun!  Small things amuse small minds!

Friday, 27 March 2015

The absolute last of it……

As forecast, we awoke to rain which continued all morning until finally stopping at 1pm. 
Yesterday I masked up the final part of the bilge and managed to spray a coat of primer onto it.  This is the first time I’ve painted the area around the stern gland since the engine was installed.  Actually the area is visibly inaccessible to me so all the cleaning was done by feel and photography.  My technique was to point the camera into the area and blindly take photos.  This enabled me to eventually clean the entire area.  The dripless stern gland was then wrapped in old rags before I applied the grey primer using the aerosol can.

Second coat

All done by guesswork intelligent logic.
It was impossible for me to see how effective the application had been so I again reverted to the camera trick.
I can’t bend much further than that.  Well the truth is the relaxed abdomen muscles are creating an obstacle along with the extremely tight hamstrings.
The dripless stern gland means the only water in the bilge is from condensation.  Despite that, this part of the bilge does get dirty.  Hopefully it is now good for another two years.  I’d forgotten how powerful the fumes from using an aerosol in a confined space can be.  I suspect I’ve destroyed more than a few lung and brain cells.  Good job I have Jan to do the thinking!
In the afternoon we wandered through the adjacent Willowtree Park before arriving at a nearby Tesco where we bought some essential supplies.  I then invited Jan for a coffee in the supermarket cafe.  Fortunately Jan had bought her purse.  On the way back to Waiouru I realised why we have a good internet signal.
Most of the passing canal traffic is coming out of London.  Probably those boaters with CRT winter moorings who are required to vacate them by the end of the month.  The terms and conditions for our mooring at Little Venice state we must immediately advise them if we break down and can’t move.  It goes on to state they will arrange a tow (at our expense).  Today these boats passed.
Perhaps the owner of the red boat was moored in Little Venice?

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Good News

Before we commenced cruising this morning we were very pleased to receive confirmation our booking request for Little Venice had been approved .  Sarah (rembrandtgardens@gmail.com) sent us an email confirming we had a mooring for 6 nights commencing Thursday 2 April.  Rembrandt Gardens are managing the moorings in Little Venice on behalf of CRT.  The prerequisites for the booking included:

  • Boat Name
  • Index Number
  • BSS & Insurance details
  • Postal Address
  • Telephone Number

The above is required for a CRT license check. 

Now we have conformed dates it will be possible to finalise our cruising plans prior to taking the mooring.  The first task was to reverse back to the water point and top up the tank.  Further reversing allowed us to turn Into the Paddington Arm of the Grand Union Canal and start heading east.  Just beyond the junction are a line of boats on CRT offside long term moorings. An interesting Tjalk was among them.

A clog type bow, flat bottom, with mast that folds down and side keel boards.  Designed to operate in shallow coastal waters.

Paul B.  The 7 Day moorings immediately before Uxbridge Road Bridge (20) still have a CRT sign but there are no mooring rings or bollards against the concrete edge.  Nor is there room to drive in a pin.  That makes it almost impossible to moor there! 

Around the bend we came upon a kind gentleman feeding his stale bread to the swans.  Well perhaps not so kind as he threw the plastic bread bag into the canal as he departed.  Actually the canal here was full of plastic bread bags.

We cruised on up to Willowtree Marina for a pump out. The facilities are outside the marina on the cut which makes access easy.  It was an exceptionally good pump out.  Probably the best we have had to date.  I mentioned the amount of rubbish in the canal and the staff member told me that on occasions there is so much rubbish in the water it almost looks like you could walk across the canal.  He was a local boater and a mine of information which we readily tapped into. 

There are eight days to fill before reaching Little Venice and that’s only 3.5 hours away.  Consequentially we decided to moor against the park just east of the marina.

Jan took a few photos of the local area whilst I disappeared into the engine compartment to get a first coat of primer around the stern tube.  Thank heaven for aerosol paint!

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Bulls Bridge Junction

Jan awoke this morning to the smell of hot bitumen.  Probably not surprising as there is a large bitumen factory opposite and a tarmac plant beyond the canal junction.  Yesterday I would have said the only endearing things about Bulls Bridge Junction are the water point and secure 24 hour mooring beside the large Tesco.  However last night we had a knock on the boat from a fellow boater who had something around his propeller which he couldn’t remove.  He wanted to breast up against us. We readily agreed to assist a boater in difficulty.  Then we were advised a boat further along the moorings had been broken into the previous night.  Small change and alcohol taken so I assume it was children.

One thing is readily apparent; the locals are not proud of their suburb.  Its been some time since we last passed through an area with so much litter.  The area around Tesco is clean but the adjacent land looks like a rubbish tip.  One example follows.

This is by no means the worst of what can be seen.  I’m reminded of the container recycling laws in South Australia where all plastic and metal drink containers carry a 5c (I think it’s now 10c) refund.  The result of this is that almost all drink containers are returned to recycling centres. 

Another observation is the ethnic background of the local residents.  We appear to be moored near Bollywood! Smile

The skyline also gives an indication.

There is both a dry and wet dock at Bulls Bridge Junction with adjacent moorings.  A number of these mooring are occupied by houseboats. 

With bridges either side of the moorings I can’t see the double storey houseboats ever moving.  But I do wonder how the hulls are blacked?

The last boat maintenance task task for the day was to clean and paint the port side of the engine bay.  After that I walked several miles to the nearest Halfords and purchased aerosol cans of primer and white paint to finish off the inaccessible (to an old man like me) area around the stern tube.

Another annual task completed!

Tuesday, 24 March 2015


It wasn’t a long cruise, just down to Bulls Bridge Junction at Hayes.  The canal provides a linear green belt through what would once have been a heavy industrial area but is now a mixture of industry and residential.

Colham Bridge is rather interesting.  It has been strengthened by bolting a tubular arch on either side.

The arch is taking some of the load and transferring it to the bridge abutments.  The abutments have also been strengthened by fitting square steel plates.

Set back from the canal is The Brickmakers Pub.  A reminder of the areas industrial past!

What a shame we don’t have a solid fuel stove.  The trees beyond Stockley Road Bridge have received a severe haircut and there’s now plenty of available firewood.

There’s a large batching and concrete plant on the south side of the canal.  The name on the building was Hanson which reminded us that during our travels we have seen a number of trains hauling hopper wagons with Hanson on the side.

I had assumed the mooring in the photo was obsolete but Jan suggested CRT might us it to collect aggregate for towpath maintenance.

The south bank then became residential with a series of large and modern apartment buildings.

And then it reverts back to industrial with a large Nestle factory.  Unfortunately, unlike the Marlows Factory on the Peak Forest Canal, there were no mouth watering smells in the air.  It can’t be their chocolate factory!

We arrived at Bulls Bridge Junction after a slow two hour cruise.  There is a water point and 24 hour moorings here.

The blue boat in the middle of the photo is moored on the water point and it appears to be vacant.  The boat moored to its left is a CRT working boat.  It has been on the 24 hour moorings for at least 3 days.

The boat’s name is The Lee Mean Clean Machine.

In the afternoon I managed to wash, dry and polish the starboard side.  Only the roof left to do!

But we have run out of polish…… Bloody good timing!

Monday, 23 March 2015

Clean and Bake

It was another fine spring day which enabled us to commence some of the exterior 2015 maintenance tasks.  The greatest task was washing and then polishing the towpath side of Waiouru.  Tomorrow; weather permitting; the starboard side will receive the same treatment after cruising to Bulls Bridge Junction.  After all that exercise I forgot to take a photo!  Jan has been busy baking in the galley.  The last of the apples picked from the tree beside Stockton Top Lock have been used in an apple shortcake.  The cherries in the cherry cake came from Aldi along with the eggs in the bacon and egg pie <yum>!

Later I had the urge to carry on cleaning and painting the remainder of the bilge.  Fortunately I was able to sit down and consume a cold beer until the urge passed.

There was a night photo opportunity In Yiewsley as the fair was in town.  Unfortunately it didn’t last as long as I wanted because the camera battery went flat!

More practice required!

Sunday, 22 March 2015

The Coal Tax Obelisk and Bridge Zero

Adam (nb Briar Rose) left a comment on one of the three posts published on Thursday (more on that later) mentioning the interesting features at the junction end of the Slough Arm.  Yes, we had taken photographs.

He mentioned the coal tax obelisk which we had seen on the towpath side of the arm not far from the junction.

I had to do some research on these markers.  They are also known as Coal Tax Posts and were made from either stone or cast iron.  Their purpose was to define the boundary around London where a duty was imposed on coal entering the city.  London had imposed a tax on coal since medieval times.  After the Great Fire of London in 1666 the government increased the tax to pay for major rebuilding works.  The tax was rather unpopular but remained in various forms until 1890 when it was ended.  The above marker is located beside the canal and also what appears to be an abandoned railway bridge over the canal so I’m not sure whether it marked the boundary for canal or rail traffic. 

The next interesting feature is the first bridge on the arm after the junction.  It’s a footbridge and has the unusual feature of being marked Bridge number 0.

I assume this bridge is a later addition, hence the number 0.

Adam also mentioned the canal aqueducts at the Cowley Peachey end of the arm. These allow the Rivers Fray and Colne to pass under the canal.  One cannot but help notice the difference in the clarity of the river water when compared to the canal.

When I first started looking at the map around this area I noticed the expanses of water beside the Grand Union Canal.  I had assumed these were water reservoirs providing London with a guaranteed source of water.  I now realise they are the last visible signs of the gravel and clay pits dug to supply London with it’s building materials. 

Oh, the reason for three blog posts on Thursday.  We received advice from Australia that my mother had been hospitalized (AGAIN) and things didn’t look too good.  Consequentially I made a quick trip to Perth, Western Australia.  Before leaving I wrote 9 posts using Live Writer and configured them to be published whilst I was away.  Mum decided not to depart (tough old bird)….. I’m back on board…… we’re still poor!  Smile