1977 – 8 Beech and Sycamore

An attempt to do the newly re-opened “Cheshire Ring” from Middlewich was stymied by a wall collapsing on the Ashton Canal. The boats turned round in Manchester at the top of the Rochdale Nine and fitted in a trip to Ellesmere Port instead.


Dates:  28th December 1977 – 4th January 1978

Boats:  Sycamore and Beech from Willow Wren Kearns at Middlewich

Crews:  Sycamore:  Ian and Suzanne Brown,  Dai Evans, Ken Harrop, Lily Hopkins, Mike Piet, Duncan Roberts, Charlie Ross, Hilary Smith, Grahame Yard and Gill? (12)

Beech:  Jim Davies, Steve Greenfield,  Kris & Bernard Jordan, Hugh Mowat, Neil ?, Dave? and others

Route:  Middlewich – Trent & Mersey – Preston Brook – Bridgewater Canal – Manchester – Bridgewater Canal – Preston Brook – Middlewich – Barbridge Junction – Ellesmere Port  and return to Middlewich.

Stopping Places:

Wed 28th :  Broken Cross (Olde Inn)

Thu 29th:   Sale (Bridge Inn)

Fri 30th:  Lymm (Spread Eagle)

New Year’s Eve: Middlewich (Newton Brewery Inn)

Sun 1st Jan: Christleton (Ring o’ Bells)

Mon 2nd : Ellesmere Port (Bear & Billet and Old Custom House)

Tue 3rd:  Barbridge Junction (Jolly Tar) (Some of the crews went to Tarporley on the bus instead).

(The above is Sycamore’s itinerary. That of Beech may have been slightly different).

Photos: One of mine and the rest from David Evans and Mike Piet  including a few “people” shots in the Jolly Tar at Barbridge Junction are on this Flickr link.  More information is needed on some of the photos please.

Mike’s Diary Notes:

Canal 1977-78 (not the Cheshire Ring 2) Sycamore & Beech from Middlewich
Wednesday 28 Dec Nice drive south from Blackpool. Meet Steve, Ian, Su & Hilary. Off at 15.30 to Broken Cross. Corned beef hash. Into ‘Olde Inn’. Darts & regale old tales. Not far to go to bed. Sneezing & wheezing – tuck up in back cabin.
Thursday 29 Dec Dull all day. Late up as we approach Anderton. Cold streaming but blow it out. Steam along Bridgwater at high speed. Good cut. Stop at Lymm to buy stores. On through suburbs to Dale Lane, Sale. Railway. Look at town. ‘Bridge Inn’.
Friday 30 Dec Lie in but feeling better. Dull AM but sun later. Head up Rochdale early on – in bad condition. Boat shaft at Piccadilly. Canal blocked at Romily. Water up on Ashton Canal & negotiate passage back to Rochdale OK. Put up sign of 4 week stoppage. Crowds on canalside. Roar through walled industry & stop at Lymm. Sausage, beans & mash. ‘Spread Eagle Hotel’.
Saturday 31 Dec Up earlier but not first. Mixture of rain & sun. Visit houses at Runcorn & get wet. Walk over Preston Brook Tunnel & steer Barnton Tunnel & at Anderton. Stop early in private moorings at Middlewich. Church bells ringing. Coq au Vin. Along towpath to ‘Newton Brewery’. Marstons of all types – pies until 00.30.
Sunday 1 Jan Up early to water at Willow Wren. To Barbridge & on to Christleton. Beautiful evening up to Beeston Castle along narrow valley. Long evening & night steer with Lily. Duncan poorly so Ian cooks Chilli con Carne. ‘Ring o’Bells’ at Christleton. Evening frolics (any ideas?).
Monday 2 Jan Miserable morning & descent of Chester Locks. On to Ellesmere Port – beefed up soup. Day becomes more pleasant. Museum shut & on to MSC edge. Green Goddess. Small party in warmth to take boat back in sunshine (not sure what this means!). Duncan’s curry. ‘Bear & Billet’ & ‘Old Custom House’. Wind & rain. Bed.
Tuesday 3 Jan Up 1.30am as boat is adrift. Pyjamas & anorak to move back & tie up. Adrift again at 6.00 so get up and move into locks. Water. Blowing hard but luckily stern wind. Only aground once. Rushes at Beeston. ‘Mess meal’ of leftovers at Barbridge. To ‘Jolly Tar’ – flashguns in all directions. Darts, dominos & pool. Frolics (what?) back on boat and write ‘supersax’ lyrics. Sad but another week is over.
Wednesday 4 Jan Duncan up alone & round Barbridge Junction. BWB wait for us to pass before closing cut. To Middlewich at 12.00 to clean & unload. Chat to Kearns. Home in sunshine.

Sycamore: Mike Piet, Ian & Suzanne Brown, Hilary Smith, Lily Hopkins, Gill ? (friend of Lily?), Ken Harrop, Grahame Yard, Charlie Ross, Dai Evans, Duncan Roberts

Beech: Steve Greenfield & Chris Bailey, Kris & Bernard Jordan, Jim Davies, Hugh Mowat, Neil ?, Dave ?


3 thoughts on “1977 – 8 Beech and Sycamore

  1. Hi Jim and Hil. This was the time of the first? Firemans strike and the green goddess manned by RAF (?) personnel was escorted to the canal side by a police motorcyclist in a practice and training run. It’s next to the boat museum now in Ellesmere Port.

  2. The Jolly Tar is no more, sailed past it last week and the last lorries were being loaded with it’s rubble. It is now a flat compound but surprisingly the roadside sign was still there.

  3. Fantastic photos!….I have owned the Sycamore for a few years now. Has been re skinned and had a fair bit of replateing but she’s still afloat. Just seen these while sat on her at Shacklestone on the Ashby…Thank you

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