Tuesday, 11 August 2015

A solution and a mystery

After three days at Fenny Compton it was time to move on.  We quietly slipped down to the water point outside the Wharf Inn only for another boat to appear from the opposite direction and take the spot we were aiming for.  Not to worry; there are two taps!  The tank was just under half full so Jan put on a load of washing whilst we waited for the tank to fill.  It makes sense to do the washing whilst on the water point.

This section of the canal from Fenny Compton to Napton is approximately 11 miles long but less than half that as a direct line.  This is because the early canals were built to follow the contours of the land. The canals would have been dug by hand with the spoil thrown to the side.  Transporting the spoil any distance would have been very expensive.  It also reduced the need for locks to go up and down hills.  Later canals such as the Shropshire Union were constructed in much straighter lines using a ‘cut and fill’ method.  The canal alignment would cut through high ground and the resulting spoil used to create (fill) an embankment across low ground.

It wasn’t long after leaving Fenny Compton that we saw this tall steel lattice tower to our immediate front.  It’s a good local landmark.


However we hadn’t travelled far and there it was on our right.

tower 2

At the end of our two hour cruise it was on our left

tower 3

Looking at the map you can see why the tower keeps moving.  The red line is the canal and the green is the adjacent contour line.  You can see how the canal follows the contour of the land.  Of course the tower hasn’t moved.

tower positionSo here we are moored next to the tower.  Waiouru is in the far left of the photo.

tower4 There is another much larger tower on the skyline further east. 

another tower

for the last 3 days I was thinking it was the local TV tower and have been pointing our antenna at it (and have been getting a good signal).  Today some searching revealed it is Charwelton BT microwave tower.  The tower is only one of a few in England built in reinforced concrete and is 118 metres high.  The tower was part of a microwave network built in 1947 as part of a communications ‘backbone’  through England at the beginning of the Cold War.  The network was designed to maintain communications in the event of a nuclear attack.  This function has now been replaced by a new fibre optic system.  I have this nagging suspicion I’ve previously written about Charwelton Tower, but these days I find so much information has been crammed into my head some of it slips into a dark crevasse! Smile

Now for the mystery.  When we cruised this way in 2005 on a hire boat I remember a low wooden and badly sagging footbridge made from what appeared to be a single tree trunk.  A recent bang on the head must have knocked the memory to the frontal lob because I remembered the location today (but not when we passed this was in 2013) and asked Jan to take a couple of photos.

wedding bridge2 Hang on…… the bridge no longer sags?  As we got closer we could see the words “Wedding Bridge” carved into the timber.  I smelt a rat and asked Jan to take a photo of the bottom as we passed underneath.

wedding bridge1

  This isn’t the original bridge!  Two steel H beams have been joined in parallel to span the canal.  The sides and top have then been clad in timber planks.  Some searching indicates the original bridge was replaced by British Waterways in 2009.  The mystery is the name”Wedding Bridge”.  Why?  And was that the name of the bridge prior to it being replaced in 2009.  What purpose does it serve?  Google Earth doesn’t show any paths leading to or from the bridge.

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