Monday, 17 July 2017

The Headless Woman

IMG_5323We pulled pins from our mooring below Red Bull at 06.45 as we wanted to get to Harecastle tunnel for 08.00 when it opened . On route we stopped at the services and yet again another service area that is well maintained so unlike many of the ones down South.

IMG_5335After 5 locks we arrived just after 08.00 and as you can see Harecastle comprises two separate and parallel tunnels described as "Brindley" and the later "Telford" after the engineers who constructed them. The tunnel was built to transport coal to heat the kilns in the Staffordshire Potteries. At 1.5 miles (2.4 km) it was once one of the longest canal tunnels in Britain.

Today only the Telford tunnel is navigable. The tunnel is only wide enough to carry traffic in one direction at a time and boats are sent through in groups, alternating northbound and southbound. Ventilation is handled by large fans at the south portal.

You can also see that the water here is orange .It comes from the Iron ore which leaches out of the rock .The tunnel is 2,926 yards long and as soon as we get the nod from the tunnel keeper it should take us a bout 35 minutes to get through to the other side.

IMG_5338Carolyn is not that keen on any tunnels but out of all of them she dislikes this one the most simply because of the noise of the fans and the stories about it especially the following ones .

According to legend a young woman was decapitated in the Telford Tunnel in the 1800s and her body thrown into Gilbert's Hole, a coal landing stage within the tunnel. The man had hacked the woman's head from her shoulders with a piece of slate until it was removed.

It is believed that she now haunts Harecastle Tunnel, either in the form of a headless woman, or a white horse, and her appearance used to forewarn of disaster in the local mines. Some boatmen took long detours to avoid the tunnel, and today the tunnel keepers relate tales of occasional mismatches in the number of boats going in and coming out. Such tales are, however, fanciful, as any such discrepancy would result in a major search operation.

In fact there is no record of any such murder, and the story seems to have been inspired by the murder of Christina Collins in similar circumstances near Rugeley.

The association with another canal ghost 'Kit Crewbucket', who haunts the Crick Tunnel, would also seem to be spurious. Locally the Kidsgrove boggart is known as the Kickrew buggart because of the local dialect in which Kidsgrove is called Kickroo or Kickrew. (As The dialect is not written down, the spelling is optional.)

IMG_5356Out the other side and it’s now a cruise through Stoke which should take about 5 hours .

IMG_5360Passing Middleport pottery which was described as ‘The Model Pottery of the Staffordshire Pottery Industry’ when it was first built. It was designed to make all production processes more efficient and to improve conditions for the workforce.They still make pottery here and it also has a visitor centre with tea rooms.

IMG_5374A fine looking pair.

IMG_5377There are 5 locks that take you through Stoke with the first being at Etruria but I just love this one which is number 37. It’s not for the Graffiti but I just think it’s so good how the railway bridge had to be built around the lock balance beam.

IMG_5393After a good 8 hour cruise we picked up this mooring next to the Wedgewood factory for the night .

IMG_5398Pulling pins the following morning at 07.15 we were soon passing through Barlaston and passing the Plume of Feathers pub which is part owned by Actor Neil Morrissey who is famed for Bob the Builder, Boon and Men Behaving badly.

IMG_5401Well that's a shock . Every time I look in one of these information boxes they are empty . Well done people of Stone for filling this one up.

IMG_5411We had wanted to spend a night in Stone but the moorings were full although I did manage to drop Carolyn off to do a quick shop and then pick her up at the end of the town heading South.

The picture above is at Aston Lock and it marks the halfway point of The Trent and Mersey canal between Preston Brook and Shardlow

IMG_5414Just along from the lock and past Aston marina we picked up this mooring, Carolyn is checking the Internet and we have 10 megs which is just the ticket . With the Cows and Sheep as our nearest neighbours and the grass having just been cut this will do us for the night.

                                                                                              Happy Days

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