1974 – 5 Elm and Pine

This year the Salford crew were keen to repeat the experience of a camping boat whilst the Newcastle people wanted to go to Llangollen where, for some reason, full-length boats either weren’t allowed or couldn’t go. Salford went to Oxford on Bainton whilst Newcastle hired Elm and Pine from Middlewich and attempted to get to Llangollen. I say “attempted” because they didn’t make it due to a tree having been blown down across the cut, although Hilary’s photos show they got at least as far as Pontycysylle. Pine, but perhaps not Elm, had time to fit in a trip to the top of the Anderton lift and back.  As I wasn’t on this trip I have relied on Hilary’s very brief notes that accompany her photographs and information and photos from Mike Piet.

Dates:  28th December 1974 – 4th January 1975

Boats:  Elm and Pine – eight-berth boats from Willow Wren Kearns at Middlewich


Pine – Martin Bird, Jill ? (Martin’s girlfriend), Ken Harrop, Charlie Ross, Hilary Smith, Grahame Yard

Elm – Linda Barr, Clive Coole, Mary Davidson, Angie Ford, Alan Green, Steve Greenfield, Lily Hopkins, Mike Piet.

Route: Middlewich – Barbridge Junction – Hurleston Junction – Trevor – return to Middlewich, Anderton Lift, return to Middlewich.

Stopping Places and pubs:

Sat 28th Dec:  Church Minshull  (Badger Inn)

Sun 29th:  Marbury

Mon 30th:  Frankton Junction (no pub)

New Year’s Eve:  Trevor  ( The crew on Elm found a “super pub”, but name not recorded and for some reason the crew on Pine didn’t join them!)

Wed  1st Jan:  Ellesmere

Thurs  2nd Jan: Hurlestone Locks (walked to Jolly Tar at Barbridge Jc)

Fri 3rd Jan:  Middlewich

Mike Piet’s Diary Notes:

Canal 1974-75 (Llangollen Canal) Elm and Pine from Middlewich
Saturday 28 Dec Mike meets Lynda & Lily on Crewe platform. Bus to bus station and then Middlewich. Arrive 13.30. Martin & Gill doing shopping. Take over Elm. Start out at 15.00 & on to Church Minshall. ‘Badgers Arms’. Moonlight on clear night. Silly walk back. Darts with locals. Try to ring WWren but fail.
Sunday 29 Dec 7.00 up and away. Very windy but sunny. Break barge poles. Difficult to steer. Teaching people to steer at Barbridge. Up Hurlestone Locks behind Beech. Lunch at Burland. Ring Willow Wren and wait two hours for Frank Kearns to look at lack of neutral gear. Rain and wind. Almost blown over at Wrenbury Frith lift bridge. Crawl into Marbury next to weir. Clear night. Lakeside pub with separate bar. Scare out Beech!
Monday 30 Dec Early away but behind Beech. Elm & Pine together to Grindley Brook Locks. Elm leads. Stop for provisions at Whitchurch and ring WWren. Boring bit across Wixall Moss. Beautiful meres around Ellesmere. Wait for Willow Wren but go on to Frankton Junction. No pub so all sit in Elm. Drink from off-licence. Ken & I try later but pub still closed. Squeeze into boat.
Tuesday 31 Dec Hear about tree (blown down and blocking canal beyond Ruabon). Ring BWB. Windy. Long walk to Chirk aqueduct & tunnel. Shallow canal. Irish Bridge – rescue pole & avoid boats. Sticking on bottom along the side of the cut. Pont Cysyllte. Stop next to Anglo-Welsh at Trevor. Walk along canal to Llangollen. Tree at bridge 43 – Beech crew hacking at it with saw! Super town at Llangollen. Waterfalls. Old station. Bus back to Trevor. Mistake and separate boats for NYE. Elm to super pub in Trevor. Photo with silly hats.
Wednesday 1 Jan Late up and manual winding at junction. Start return journey. Kingfisher (bird rather than boat I assume). Threatening weather. Gentle day. Water at Ellesmere at dusk. Fine warehouse. Bird swarms. Dairy. ‘White Hart’ & play darts. Nice night again. Sing Auld Lang Syne on side of canal.
Thursday 2 Jan Away early and head back. Exercise on lift bridges. Through Grindley Brook staircase. Meet BWB tug and drinks at Baddiley. Shopping at Burland. Stopped at Hurlestone Locks. Walk to Barbridge pub. Back and complaints to lock keeper.
Friday 3 Jan Disaster day! Alarm clock failure. Clive bends rudder on Hurleston lock sill – ring WWren from Barbridge. Break window. Steve strips to get mallet from canal. Fight steering back to Middlewich. Mixed weather. Mr Kearns shocked at 45° bend on rudder. Stay at WW wharf. New drydock and saw Oak. Curry for tea and walk with Lily to Northwich. Meet Phil at Broken Cross. Walk back 23.30-1.00am.
Saturday 4 Jan Wake at 9.00. Breakfast and cleaning. Group photos at lock. 11.30 bus from Middlewich. Wait at Crewe Station for 30 minutes. Lynda, Lily & Steve travel north. Mike with Ken & Chichester mob on 12.51 train to Euston.

Elm: Mike Piet, Lynda Barr, Lily Hopkins, Steve Greenfield, Angie Ford and Clive Coole (Mike’s house-share friends from Chichester), Alan Green (Mike’s friend from Chichester), Mary Davidson (Alan’s girlfriend)

Pine: Ken Harrop, Grahame Yard, Martin Bird & Jill ?, Hilary Smith, Charlie Ross

Notes: Mike was working in West Sussex County Council for a year out of University and invited people from Chichester on the trip.

Photos:  Photos from Hilary and Mike are on this Flickr link.



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