Middlesex Canal Association P.O. Box 333 Billerica, Massachusetts 01821
Volume 35, No.1 September, 1996
Saturday, October 19, 2 pm
Meet at by the Talbot Mills parking lot, where Rogers Street crosses the Concord River in Billerica.
Join MCA Directors Bill Gerber and Roger Hagopian for a walk along pieces of the Middlesex Canal in Billerica. From the Talbot Mills parking lot, the walk will lead around the millpond and south along the Canal, returning by the same route. Then those who wish may caravan to Gray Street to walk north along the Canal and return. At this location, culverts and other canal structures can be seen.
DIRECTIONS: From Route 3 (traveling north or south), take the Treble Cove Road exit (#28) and proceed toward Billerica. In about a mile, bear left at the fork. Continue to where Treble Cove Road crosses Route 3A. Proceed across and continue for about another quarter mile. This segment of Treble Cove Road winds through a labyrinth of small roads; follow the main course, generally bearing right, to a stop sign, where another road (which passes over a bridge across the Concord River within sight) joins from the right. Just beyond this intersection, bear right at a fork into Wilson Street (unmarked), the "lesser" road of the two. At the end of Wilson (less than a quarter mile), turn right into Lowell (at the Cambridge Tool Co. Office) and, in about 50 yards, turn right again into the parking lot. For more information, call Roger Hagopian (617) 861-7868 or Bill Gerber (508) 251-4971.
On Saturday morning, November 2, 1996, the Middlesex Canal Association will present another special program to celebrate the fourth year in this bicentennial decade of the Middlesex Canal. To be held in the quaint Thompson Library in Woburn, the colloquium will focus on the lives and contributions of the two key figures in the launching and construction of this strategic waterway connecting Boston with the Merrimack River and New Hampshire.
The first illustrated talk will highlight the prime mover behind the Canal, James Sullivan, a man of great importance in Massachusetts, who later became Governor. Coming from a remarkable family, Sullivan devoted 15 years to the development of the Canal, at the same time making major contributions to the commonwealth in other roles. The talk will be given by Dave Dettinger, who has selected from the biographical record the most outstanding achievements of this talented entrepreneur.
The second talk will be presented by Tom Smith, the lively historian of Woburn, and will describe the remarkable career of Col. Loammi Baldwin, the engineer and superintendent of the Canal. Like Sullivan, Baldwin's achievements reached far beyond his inventive and dedicated work on the Canal to encompass a wealth of other constructive ventures, some of which he shared with his sons. Tom will bring Baldwin's career to life, based on his intimate knowledge of local history and his collection of pictures.
In addition to these talks, Tom Raphael will provide a brief progress report on the actions already underway by the revitalized Middlesex Canal Commission to enhance the remaining portions of the Canal and to improve their access and their appeal to the public.
The colloquium will end at noon, when suggestions will be provided for lunch and for tours of nearby points of interest, including the Baldwin Mansion situated beside a watered segment of the Canal, the handsome 1790 House, the statue of Loammi Baldwin, and the birthplace of Count Rumford (Benjamin Thompson), now a museum open to the public.
A mailing, including directions for driving to the Colloquium, will be sent to all members of the MCA at a time nearer to the event.
The Middlesex Canal Association
1796 - Bicentennial Colloquium - 1996
Saturday, November 2, 1996
The Middlesex Canal Commission is charging ahead at full speed under the able leadership of Tom Raphael and the support of the Northern Middlesex Council of Governments. The first task of the Commission is to update the feasibility study published in 1980. By the nature of our charters the Commission and the Association complement each other. This is one case in which overlapping memberships help the common cause.
There is plenty of volunteer work to be done. We would like to expand our membership. Please tell your friends about the Association and bring them along to our meetings.
Plans are proceeding for the fourth year of our Bicentennial Decade program, which will be in the form of a colloquium again. Two hundred years ago the farmers and workers were busily digging the canal from the Concord Mill Pond toward the Merrimack River. An announcement and description of our colloquium can be found elsewhere in this issue.
Our spring walk was rained out for the first time in my memory. The intended route was from the Concord River mill pond in North Billerica to the southeast. We like to visit the major sections of the canal periodically so we will use that route (again) for the fall walk. (See the notice on p.1 of this issue.) It should be noted that the second task of the Middlesex Canal Commission is to develop a plan for an historic park in the mill pond area.
Burt VerPlanck's Guide has been published and is available for sale. Roger Hagopian has finished the video tour of the Middlesex Canal. The manuscript of the Lawrence book is nearly complete thanks to the noble efforts of Dave Barber. It should be published this fall. An order form for our several products is included in this issue. In addition, Carl Seaburg and illustrator Tom Dahill are progressing well on their book sponsored by the Medford Historical Society.
Make plans to enjoy the World Canals Conference in 1997 - next year. It will be in Pawtucket, RI, October 14-17, 1997, hosted by our neighbors, the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor.
In my last letter I announced that I was not planning to run for reelection as president, so I served as chair of the nominating committee. We did not find a candidate for president, so I am serving again somewhat reluctantly. It is awkward to run a group in Middlesex County from New Hampshire, even southern New Hampshire, and all the phone calls are long distance.
Nolan Jones, President
MIDDLESEX CANAL VIDEO PROJECT COMPLETED
by Roger Hagopian
Journey Along the Middlesex Canal, the video production of the Middlesex Canal Association, is now available after two and a half years in the making. The 28-minute tape contains an introduction with an historical narrative, followed by a town-by-town exploration of the route of the Canal from Charlestown to Lowell. Old paintings, photographs and maps of the Canal are integrated with present day scenes and twentieth century artists' conceptions of the Canal in its prime.
The introductory portion of the tape provides an historical insight as to the origin and purpose of the Canal. Canal terminology, such as locks, aqueducts, and culverts, is depicted and defined for the average viewing public, not necessarily the avid historian. The adversarial relationship between the declining Canal and the railroad is portrayed. This segment concludes with the various preservation efforts evolving around the Canal.
The "journey" itself follows the route of the Canal from Charlestown north as it passes landmarks, past and present. Original maps from the period document the Canal's location, while the Canal remains are traced through parking lots, streets, backyards and backwoods.
Most notable are Tom Dahill's water color scenes, to be included in the upcoming book on the history of the Canal, The Incredible Ditch, by Carl and Alan Seaburg. Many of the black and white photographs were developed by Tom Raphael from the glass slides of Fred Lawson. Also included in this video are the only known photographs of the Canal in operation near the end of its existence.
Bill Gerber and his canoe provide a barge's eye view during the journey into the past. Cameraman Roger Hagopian taped nearly 200 scenes, maps, paintings, and pictures of the Middlesex Canal. Much of the narration can be found in the text of the Middlesex Canal Guide and Maps by Burt VerPlanck, also completed this year. All of the above-mentioned persons are on the Board of Directors of the Middlesex Canal Association.
Journey Along the Middlesex Canal will be distributed to the libraries, historical societies, etc., in the area and is for sale to the general public. See the order form at the center of this issue of Towpath Topics.
REPORT OF THE MIDDLESEX CANAL COMMISSION
by Thomas Raphael, Chairman
The Executive Committee of the Middlesex Canal Commission met on May 16, 1996 to organize and initiate programs. Vice Chairman Ellery Schempp was put in charge of funding sources.
Project priority reports were received on schedule from Chelmsford, Billerica, Woburn and Winchester. Wilmington will meet in August and Lowell will meet in September due to prior commitments.
Chelmsford has identified two sections of the canal for restoration and is preparing for an engineering study project or projects: [note - code numbers are from the original Commission report]
CHE-1 Brick Kiln Rd. to Riverneck Rd.
CHE-2 Riverneck Rd. to Lowell border
Billerica has identified two reconstruction projects and is determining whether engineering studies are needed or whether contractors can prepare proposals:
BIL-1 George Brown St. to Dignan Rd.
BIL-7 Route 3A to Brick Kiln Rd.
In addition, the following studies are underway:
BIL-2 Find access to Gray St.
BIL-3 Locate owners and right at Iron Horse Park
BIL-4 Access at High St. Bridge and at Rogers
BIL-5 Concord Mill Pond/Talbot Mill area
BIL-6 Colson St. to Rt. 3A - add to BIL-5?
(We have been informed that we will be awarded $110,000 for the Mill Pond Study.)
Woburn has identified one section of the canal for clean-up and restoration and two bridges to be repaired, and has cost estimates:
WOB-4 Repair Edgell's Bridge
WOB-5A Repair erosion and clean overgrowth Baldwin mansion to School St.
WOB-5B Repair Nichols Bridge.
In addition, Mayor John Dever and Alderman-at-large John Beauchamp have expressed total support for the canal as a major attraction in their plan to promote tourism to Woburn, based on its history and its supply of hotels and restaurants.
Winchester has identified two sections for planning:
WIN-1 Sandy Beach Reservation and Parkway (MDC)
WIN-5 Wildwood Cemetery - Master Plan Study
Boston, Medford and Somerville will only be considering signage and interpretive sites based on the Suttie project. The Central Artery and Charles River Basin are possible sites for signage and interpretive sites for Boston Canal Extension. The MDC will prepare proposals.
The Commission will take the initiative to apply through the Massachusetts Historical Commission to amend the National Historic Site Register to include all the rest of the canal from Woburn to Boston.
Publicity about the canal has resulted in an offer of land in Billerica.
Consideration is being given to a project to have the complete canal route on GIS computer showing its original location on all current assessors' map sections.
The Chairman has met with Senator Havern and has a meeting scheduled with Representative Miceli to discuss Legislative funding.
NMCOG has received Council authorization to continue as Commission Secretariat.
PAWTUCKET CANAL DAY IN LOWELL
Help celebrate the 200th Anniversary of the Canal on Saturday, September 28, 9am to 5pm. Special exhibits, lectures, boat trips, music, etc. For information and boat reservations, call (508) 970-5000.
JUST OFF THE PRESS!
A NEW GUIDEBOOK TO THE MIDDLESEX CANAL
Burt VerPlanck has produced a definitive guidebook to the Middlesex Canal. Complete with nine foldout maps, each tracing the course of the Canal through the nine towns it traverses on its route from Charlestown to Lowell, this handy booklet provides detailed access directions to every significant feature along the Canal.
Entitled "Middlesex Canal Guide and Maps," this booklet has been published by the Middlesex Canal Association in a convenient 6-in. by 9-in. format. It begins with a succinct historical background of this early waterway, so critical to the economic development of eastern Massachusetts in the years following its completion in 1803. This introduction is accompanied by a master map which shows the overall route of the Canal and serves as an index to the town maps that follow.
Each individual map is in multiple colors and delineates not only the route of the Canal relative to modern roadways, but also the location of historical points of interest. Each map is preceded by a set of exact instructions for access to the visible remains of the Canal, as well as points of interest.
Burt has assembled this guidebook with utmost care to assure its accuracy, along with convenience of use, requiring many hours of research plus painstaking efforts to define and verify the optimum access. The book is certain to become a classic for anyone who enjoys studying and reliving those exciting days when our Commonwealth was striving to establish its position in a fledgling Republic.
The guidebook is available for $17 per copy at local bookstores, or by phoning Burt at (617) 729-2557. Also note the order blank that includes the book in the center of this issue of Towpath Topics. MCA members ordering by phone or mail will pay $12 plus shipping. The book will also be on sale at all meetings of the Association.
A RIDE IN THE DRAGONFLY ON THE
BRECON AND MONMOUTHSHIRE CANAL
by Nolan Jones
Joan and I cruised the Llangollen Canal in North Wales two years ago with Martha Hazen and Bruce McHenry. While traveling westbound on the Llangollen Canal we passed the entrance to the Montgomery Canal, the second canal in North Wales. One day we even did some shopping and our laundry in the town of Brecon in South Wales.
We arranged a house swap in southwest Wales this past summer. Joan likes to browse in used book shops. Examining the treasures in a shop late in our stay, Joan found some books on all the canals of Wales. We discovered that there had been several canals in South Wales in addition to the two in North Wales.
The larger of the southern canals were the Brecon and Avergavenny, and the Monmouthshire, frequently referred to together as the Brecon and Monmouthshire Canal. They ran 42 miles from Brecon to the sea at Newport in southeast Wales.
So we rang up Dragonfly Cruises and booked a day trip out of Brecon. It turns out that the canal basin was less than a mile from where we had shopped two years earlier.
It was a delightful journey through the green and peaceful Welsh farm country. We went through one lock, across one aqueduct and under a few lift bridges. The guide was Phil Hughes, what we would call a board member, of the Monmouthshire, Brecon and Avergavenny Canals Trust. At present there are sections of those canals that are watered, but there are gaps. To the main objective of the Trust is to restore the gaps so that the canals are continuous again.
The legislation authorizing the Monmouthshire was passed in 1792. A major section of the canal was completed in 1796, so it predates our Middlesex Canal by a few years.
We also learned of the Crumlin Arm of the Monmouthshire Canal and the Fourteen Lock Park and Canal Centre. Shortly after the Crumlin Arm leaves the Monmouthshire, the canal rises 178 feet in less than 3/4 of a mile. The canal and the locks are derelict, but it is a very interesting park. Most of the 14 locks were double (staircase) locks. There was one triple and one single lock and they all had overflow/feeder ponds. When the canal was in operation the flow of water and its management must have been very impressive.
NATIONAL CANAL MUSEUM
by Dave Barber
On June 14, I attended the opening of the new National Canal Museum in Easton, PA. This upgrading and enlargement of the original museum is now open for your visit. In July, it was to be joined by the new Binney & Smith Crayola Factory exhibit. Both of these are part of the revitalization of downtown Easton.
The day began with my crashing a morning boat ride on the Josiah White, which I stumbled on when I went over to the Lehigh Canal to take pictures of the boat. I had not seen it since it was completed a couple of years ago. Instead of just taking pictures, I got invited to join the group for a ride up to the Chain Dam and then down and into Lock 46. On the return from the lock, I elected to walk the towpath so I could take pictures of the boat in motion.
After that, we moved to the center square of Easton where many speeches were made, followed by a ribbon cutting ceremony. This was followed by a "wedding of waters" of many canals. The Blackstone Canal was represented by an official sample sent in by Louise Redding of the heritage corridor commission and by an unofficial sample I brought to make sure we weren't left out. Water also came from the Middlesex Canal, South Hadley Falls Canal, Farmington Canal, and Windsor Locks Canal and many others.
The new museum is much expanded over the original and well worth a visit if you are in the area. Additional space is available for the expansion of exhibits as time and funding allow.
WORLD CANAL CONFERENCE
by Dave Barber
The first World Canal Conference was held in Birmingham, England, on June 26-28, 1996, as part of the 50th anniversary celebrations of the Inland Waterways Association. The first day began at the International Convention Center on the edge of the canal with the final assembly of a giant jigsaw puzzle with each piece representing a region of the canals of Great Britain. Each piece had been transported to the site by water.
After that, the keys for a new mini-backhoe were given to the Waterways Recovery Group, the IWA's voluntary restoration arm. As the conference progressed, the backhoe was removed from the plaza and loaded for transport to a WRG canal camp on the Droitwich Canal where we were to see it in action the next day.
We then moved to the convention center's auditorium for introductory remarks and a talk by Alan Jarvis, the past chairman of WRG, on the role of the volunteer in canal restoration. Alan felt that volunteers' role is first, by example and campaigning, to convert the idea of restoring a canal from an impossible dream to a very real and desirable project in the eyes of the public and public officials, and then to allow public officials to fund and perform the majority of the work while monitoring and supporting the developing situation. Alan's talk was followed by a panel discussion on various topics and then a stand-up lunch. During the day there were various exhibits set up by several canal and commercial groups, including one by the Blackstone Canal Conservancy.
After lunch, Dr. Chin of the University of Birmingham gave a very interesting talk on the history of the city and the role of its canal system. This was followed by a quick tour of the symphony hall; an outside tour of the neighboring canal junction, locks, and Gas Street Basin; and a visit to the newly opened aquarium. The day concluded with the Vice Mayor's dinner reception at the city hall reception room.
The next day, there were several options of activities from various seminars to a tour of canal sites. I chose the latter, which began with a boat trip from Gas Street Basin past the convention center and along the Main Line. The journey involved seeing a sample of the industrialization which the Birmingham Canal Navigations were built to support. At the basin we saw the recent redevelopment of an old canal-railroad transfer basin into a secure residential boat mooring basin. We then boarded a bus to Digbeth Basin and the Warwick Bar that marks the end of the Grand Union Canal in Birmingham. Here we took a walk along the towpath to Bordesley Junction and then along part of the Birmingham and Warwick Junction Canal to view the improvement work being done on the towpath and access to it and on redeveloping adjacent buildings and land. After coffee and cake at a new community center built along the canal, we traveled by bus to the Droitwich Canal where we had a walking tour of Locks 4 through 1 which were in various stages of reconstruction from just starting to complete. Here we got to see the new backhoe of the day before on its initial day of use by a WRG canal camp.
Following this tour, we traveled to Stourbridge to view the restored Bonded Warehouse, have lunch, and then travel along the Stourbridge Arm in the Trust's trip boat. Stourbridge is where the Stourbridge Lion, the first locomotive to operate in North America, was built for the Delaware and Hudson Canal Company and this was acknowledged by a painting in the warehouse. On reaching the junction with the main canal, we walked part way up the flight of locks to the glass factory.
Being a little late, we then quickly reboarded our bus to travel to the Black Country Museum at the Dudley Tunnel, where we traveled in a boat through part of the tunnel and its interconnecting mining tunnels. On reemerging, we inspected the steam canal boat President, and various exhibits at the museum. The tour then concluded with a return to the convention center along which we crossed several canals that connect the Old and New Main Line Canals in Birmingham.
The final day of the conference included several papers on canals and restoration, but we were unable to attend these.
THE WARWICKSHIRE RING
by Dave Barber
(Editor's note: this is the first part of Dave Barber's lengthy article. The rest will appear in the next issue of Towpath Topics.)
After arrival in Heathrow Airport and ground-based sightseeing, we bussed through Birmingham, east to Stretton-under-Fosse near Rugby on the Oxford Canal, where we picked up our six boats from Rose Narrowboats and began our two weeks of cruising the Warwickshire Ring. Our group of six were aboard the 60-ft boat, Rainbow. After about a half hour of instruction on the boat's operation, we cruised south for about two hours, passing through our first tunnel at Newbold-on-Avon to Bridge 58 outside of Rugby where good moorings exist next to a large supermarket. Then it was all hands (from all six boats) to the supermarket for supplies. After returning, we then went out to a restaurant located across the canal for supper.
The next morning, we left last of the group after a leisurely breakfast and a quick walk back to two aqueducts we had passed over just before tying up the night before. One aqueduct was a three span masonry one over a river, while the other was a cast iron arch type over a road. The day before, one of the other boats in our group had an interesting time at these aqueducts which are only wide enough for one boat at a time. While they were passing through the aqueduct, a boat coming the other way didn't stop, resulting in both boats trying to fit in a space big enough for only one and bringing both to a sudden stop. Fortunately, no damage or injuries occurred. We soon reached the Hillmorton locks, which were our first. Here there were three steps up with two side-by-side chambers at each step. While we had caught up with another of our boats, opposing traffic soon separated us. Cruising on from the locks, we followed contour canal until we arrived at Braunston Junction. Here we became confused by our maps, which changed the direction of north from sheet to sheet. So, instead of going to the right under one of the two cast iron towpath bridges and onto the combined Oxford and Grand Union Canals, we first went left, onto the Grand Union Canal, but tied up after about 100 feet to have lunch. After lunch, we spent a few minutes walking around the area and looking at all of the other boats that were tied up at this very busy spot, and determined that we had made a mistake. However, we also determined that there was a good water point through the next bridge and a spur to a marina just beyond to allow us to turn the boat around.
So, leaving the lunch stop, we traveled through a narrow channel between two lines of moored boats to the water point and filled the water tank (a daily job). After that we continued through a narrows and made our first attempt at turning the 60-ft boat around. My inexperience was complicated by two other boats behind us that wanted to do similar maneuvers. After several shufflings back and forth, we got the job done, but it wasn't pretty. However, I got better in later days.
We then cruised back through the narrows, past the water point, between the lines of parked boats, and turned left on the combined section of the Oxford and Grand Union Canals. This section is novel, as boats traveling north from the Thames on the two canals go in opposite directions on this section. This section of canal passes through pasture land and follows the contours. Being Sunday afternoon, there were a lot of boats out, so we went through this section slowly as one of a line of several boats. Coming around a blind corner to the right, the boat ahead passed a boat facing the opposite way that was tied up to the towpath, which was on the right. Just as the two boats passed starboard to starboard, the tied-up boat untied from the bank and headed out into the channel, only to notice that our boat was coming around the corner, and it was now across our path. With a quick gulp and rapid reverse, I brought our boat to a halt without touching bank or boat. The other driver expressed his thankfulness for quick action as he went past.
Continuing on, we came to Napton Junction, where the two canals separate. Here we turned right on the Grand Union Canal and entered on a rather straight section in open fields. Just when things seemed to be settled down with no other boats in sight, we noticed a camera case floating on the water passing beside our boat. Rapid consultation determined that this belonged to one of our crew. So we rapidly stopped, backed up, and successfully retrieved it before it sank. Never a dull moment.
After that maneuver, we soon came to the three Calcutt Locks. Being now on the Grand Union that was enlarged in the 1930s, these locks are wide enough to take two boats side by side. The earlier single chambers are alongside and are now used as overflows. After waiting for other boats to lock through, we refilled the lock and entered alone. Just as we were about to close the gates, an ex-working freight boat appeared and joined us. This boat was still set up as it was in its freight hauling days, but was being used by an extended family as a camping boat. We locked down through this and the next two locks paired with this boat.
Continuing on, we followed the freight boat to Stockton Locks where 10 locks lie close together. Here, at the other boat's suggestion, we breasted the two boats together so that they could be driven in and out of the locks together with the other boat supplying the power. This saved time as it is not necessary to jockey the two boats into each lock individually. With this method and both crews available to work and preset locks, we practically flew down the first eight locks.
After eight locks, the other crew informed us that they had reached their planned tie-up point for the night. So we continued on through the final two locks by ourselves. Shortly after this, we caught up to the rest of our boats at our planned night stop at Long Itchington.
Here there were two pubs, one on each side of the canal, but a quick survey showed that neither wanted to serve us food. So we walked into the village passing a half-timbered house in which Queen Elizabeth I was reported to have stayed. At the road junction just beyond, we were supposed to turn left and then left again to find a restaurant. However, on the right was a pub with a chalkboard sign outside saying they were serving food now. While about 20 motorcyclists were out front, we determined that they were just leaving and we decided to enter. We soon found only one table being used, good food, and good beer. It proved to be an excellent choice and the first of many pub meals we enjoyed. While we were there, a bus pulled up and about 50 older women of some garden club entered to enjoy an evening cocktail. We found the transition from biker bar to garden club in 30 minutes to be amusing.
Monday was scheduled to be a day of both land based and canal sightseeing. Leaving our moorings fairly early, we continued along the Grand Union Canal through ten more locks to Sydenham, where a grocery expedition was made to a canalside store. While we were there, a school group came down to the canal with their teachers, and there were several comments about the American flag we had flying from the tiller. Not all of our boats stopped here. We then continued on a short distance to Lemington Spa where all the boats stopped to visit the stores and banks, and tour the gardens.
After that, we returned to the boats and cruised on, crossing the River Avon. This Avon is the one that flows by Stratford, which was just a few miles downstream to the left. The Avon is navigable below Stratford, but the proposal to make the Higher Avon navigable between Stratford and the Grand Union aqueduct has not been implemented.
A ways beyond the river, we came to the base of Warwick Locks where two wide locks lifted us out of the valley. At the top lock, there was The Cape of Good Hope pub on the berm side, which we later returned to for supper. After leaving the top lock, we passed under two bridges and then came to a junction where the main canal went straight ahead while the Saltisford Arm bent very sharply to the left. Here we took the sharp left, which went better than our prior turn at Braunston, and proceeded up the arm with little space between the moored boats. About halfway in, the navigable portion of the arm ends at a tight turning basin, while the former route of the canal continues, wet but shallow, to a railroad fill, and then is filled in into Warwick.
After the boat was turned, we tied up at the Saltisford Canal Trust's dock with our other boats in breasted pairs and went to the Trust's store for books, postcards, etc. Completing that, we walked into town for the major event of the afternoon, an exploration of Warwick Castle, proclaimed to be the finest medieval castle in England. Returning to the boats, some of the crews elected to have supper in pubs along the way with not entirely happy results. We decided to return to the boat and then continue back along the canal to the Cape of Good Hope Pub at the Warwick top lock where we had a very good meal. The Cape of Good Hope is one of those English pubs that have been in business for over 100 years.
Tuesday we all got an early start as we knew we had our work cut out for us, namely the 21 wide locks of the Hatton Flight. Being the fourth boat out that morning, we paired up with the third boat, Serenade, and climbed the flight in good order, with each crew operating one side of the locks. Just before the top lock, a canal store was along the towpath and got much business from us in T-shirts, ice cream, canal guides, and other items. We had a fair amount of time here as we elected to rewater both boats at the water point above the top lock and the flow was very slow.
We then motored on a short while to the Mid Warks Yacht Club which is just across the canal from the Hatton Railroad Station. Hatton is a railroad junction with trains to both Birmingham and Stratford-on-Avon. Arrangements had been made to stay here for three days while we attended the World Canal Conference, since it is out in the country, while having a good rail service. The Yacht Club also provided us with security, land based toilets, and water for the boats. A half hour walk along the towpath to Shrewley Tunnel ahead and up to the village on top brought us to an excellent pub (also over 100 years old) where we had supper.
While here, the first mechanical problem with the boats reared its head, with Prestige not being able to keep a battery charge. The boat company chose to replace all three batteries.
(To be continued)