An email from reader and good friend Bill from Newbury provided more information on the Stoneground Flour Mill at Castleford.
Bill mentioned the name Allison and confirmed the mill had a water wheel. He also mentioned there were plans to convert it into a working heritage museum. Using this information I have discovered the mill was built around 1822 and was subsequently purchased by Dr Thomas Allinson who was an early vegetarian and advocated the healthy benefits of eating stoneground wholemeal grains. There are photos of the mill interior here.
The mill closed in 2012, however a local trust is attempting to purchase the lease and redevelop the building “into a centre which will include a sculpture and art gallery, cafe and craft classes, heritage centre, community space, and it is hoped a training restaurant for young chefs and a school of sculpture, teaching skills like boatbuilding repair and stonemasonry.” <link>
There are two canal related facts.
- Much of the grain and finished product was moved by water.
- Apparently CRT owns the mill.
We turned left at Sykehouse Junction to discover a wide beam boat in front of us and then two narrowboats appeared behind us. We had a convoy! The map showed six swing or lift bridges on the straight between Sykehouse and Bramwith Junction.
Without any discussion the four boat crews started working together with the lead boat operating the bridge and then taking up the rear position. There was a slight delay at the first bridge when a CRT employee appeared to operate the bridge. The reason for this became apparent when the Exol Pride appeared from the opposite direction. This is a recent commercial operation moving petroleum products between Goole and Doncaster. Our crew had appreciated just how much water she was going to move and had tied bow and stern ropes. The wide beam crew had only used their centre line which had two adverse effects. First their boat was dragged around and second their centreline had so much tension it formed a knot they couldn’t untie.
The convoy continued to play leapfrog through both the bridges and Sykehouse Lock.
Part of the way down the straight our gps ran out of map and I couldn’t get the next map to load. We were truly cruising into the unknown. Towards the end of the straight we could see a large structure which we eventually identified as a guillotine gate. Then we realised there were two guillotine gates.
It wasn’t until we had passed under the first gate that I realised it’s purpose. The gates are at either end of an aqueduct over the River Don.
When the river is in spate (flood) the water will flow over the top of the sides of the aqueduct. The guillotine gates are lowered to prevent the river entering the navigation.
At Bramwith Junction the other boats in our convoy turned east heading towards Keadby and the River Trent whilst we continued south. The navigation will continue on to Sheffield, which is our next destination.
We stopped above Long Sandall Lock on a lovely private mooring where we have our own (temporary) garden complete with BBQ tables and rubbish bins.
It’s interesting to see the size of some of the objects pulled from the navigation around here.
Four cars amongst that lot
This one had been in the water so long it had accumulated barnacles.
Fountains were trialling their new towpath mower. Apparently it’s quiet, doesn’t spray clippings and fertilizes the vegetation.
In the evening we headed off for a walk. Along the way we were approached by one of the friendly locals who introduced himself as one of our blog readers. We’re always pleased to meet our readers and best of luck with your own boat project Mick!