Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Whitchurch

It Is a short cruise from Grindley Brook to Whitchurch Branch Junction.  Along the way we passed under the busy A41 where I happened to notice a teapot had been placed on the flange of one of the steel girders that make up the bridge support beams.  It’s in the middle of the arch so must have been placed there from a boat.

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The 48 hour moorings at the junction were empty.  Actually most of the moorings on the canal have been empty.  It’s one of the advantages of cruising in autumn.

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Looking back at the empty moorings

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The lift bridge at the junction

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A left turn at the junction takes you into the Whitchurch Branch which is owned by a local restoration group made up of volunteers.  In summer the arm would be full of boats but today there were only two visiting boats.  Permanently moored boats are on the far side.   The arm ends at the brick bridge but the restoration group have plans to extend it.  The alignment of the old canal can be seen and followed.

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You can get a better understanding of the original route from Paul Balmer’s canal maps.  The open grassed area in the above photo is where the Whitchurch Waterway Trust would like to build a new town basin <drawing here>

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Whitchurch is the oldest inhabited town in Shropshire.  The name is a variation on ‘White Church’.  Apparently the original church was built from locally sourced white stone during the Norman period.  Wikipedia states it was founded by the Romans in 52AD and was on one of the main roads to Chester.

Some interesting facts about Whitchurch

  • Sir Henry Percy (Sir Harry Hotspur) was killed in 1403 at the Battle of Shrewsbury and buried in Whitchurch.  His body was subsequently exhumed and quartered.  I doubt he felt it!
  • Whitchurch was the home of the JB Joyce tower clocks company, established in 1690, the oldest tower clock-making company in the world.  The company helped manufacture Big Ben.
  • The composer Sir Edward German (1862–1936) was born in the town
  • The church cemetery contains the graves of a number of WW2 Polish soldiers who died of their wounds whilst patients at the nearby military hospital.

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