Thursday, 17 March 2016
With it being a lovely sunny day and with plenty of time to spare there was only one thing to do, a bit of Gongoozling which is the pastime of watching all that happens on our canals.
After a walk up the flight we decided to have a bacon bap for lunch and with a bit of luck maybe something to drink when we get back down to the bottom.
We then walked around the top of the flight and onto the site of a piece of great Victorian engineering.This is the view from the top of the world famous Foxton inclined plane.The completed plane was 75 feet high, 307 feet long and had a gradient of 1:4. The construction consisted of two caisson tanks which acted as two balancing weights positioned on the plane and suspended by a connecting rope passing over pulley wheels at the top. The effect of gravity would take one of the tanks down whilst at the same time the other tank would be travelling up. The only power that was needed for the plane was to overcome friction and the inertia of the moving parts, which was provided by a steam engine at the top. The journey time for boats on the plane was about 12 minutes, compared to around 45 minutes that it would take to pass through the locks. This method saved time and also water, as the same section of water went up and down the incline all day so there was little wasted.
Carolyn enjoying the views at the top of the plane.
This is the plane taking boats up and down in the large caissons back in the early 1900s. Although the plane reduced travelling times considerably, in the long term it proved not to be cost effective and was ultimately unsuccessful. Traffic on the canal did not improve enough and was too irregular to justify keeping the plane running and paying the three staff who were needed to run it. The locks at Watford Gap and Foxton were never widened, so even though wide boats could pass through Foxton on the lift, they could not travel much further south to places such as London. The Grand Junction Canal Company was becoming disillusioned with the plane and felt that it had spent a large sum of money and was getting little return. On 26th October 1910 it was announced that that the plane would close down in a fortnight, and that all traffic was to use the locks. The plane continued to be used occasionally after this, but in 1914 part of it was dismantled and the rest was taken down between 1924 and 1926. The machinery was sold for scrap in 1928.
It was then back down to the bottom of the flight and with a hire boat coming out of the bottom lock and wanting to turn right towards Market Harborough there were a few problems. After a bit of pushing and shoving they eventually got around and on their way. It was all a good spectacle for the Gongoozlers watching. The blue boat in front belongs to fellow bloggers Clinton and Sharon on nb Tacet, they came down the flight to turn and were waiting for their slot to go back up. We had a quick natter before they made their way back up and headed back down South.
After all that excitement there was only one thing to do. Notice that its only half a pint, weren’t we being good. Mind you it was only eleven o’clock in the morning. But at least the Sun was above the yard arm !!