Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Engines and Old Boats

Old Boats
We managed to arrive in Chester with some extra time, so decided to continue on down the canal to the end of the Canal at Ellesmere Port, where the Shropshire Union Canal actually meets the ocean and where boats on the canal would have picked up their cargo to be taken in to the cities and towns in England. In its heyday this port would have been bustling with activity, but now the ships sail by to load trucks which replaced the trains which replaced the canal boats. The area now is occupied by condominiums, a large modern hotel, and The National Waterways Museum. Hearing good things from fellow boaters, we decided to visit the museum while in Ellesmere Port.

The museum is a rambling complex of over nine building housing different aspects  of Inland Waterways history. There is a stable, a blacksmith shop, a woodworking shop, a basin full of old boats, a general history building, and my favorite, the engine room.

Many of the old boats were in terrible shape, and many were full of water. At least two were
Living Space for Narrowboat Family
sitting at the bottom of the basin completely submerged. One caused me some concern as I drove into the basin and found a smokestack sticking out of the water, and metal pieces just below the surface where I needed to go. Apparently there is a plan to move these poor old boats into a building where they can be preserved. There were a couple of original old working boats which you could enter to get a feel of how the families working these boats lived. Where we use the entire 70 feet of boat for our three bedrooms, two baths and full galley and lounge, entire families lived in an area smaller than one of our bedrooms. They needed the rest of the boat for carrying cargo.

Fire it up!
Most of the old boats on site are way to far gone to be restored and will simply be preserved for display, but the engine room was a different story. Here, dedicated volunteers have lovingly restored old boat engines to perfect working condition. There was a rainbow of colours with engines of yellow, red, blue, turquoise, and even black. The brass and stainless glistened and although these old engines would have thrown oil and grease around as they pushed the boats along the canals, these were polished and shining. They have all been restored to perfect working condition and are run regularly. When I was wandering around admiring the engine artistry, a volunteer fired up a huge single cylinder diesel engine. Watching him run through a complicated series of steps to get the engine going, I was happy to know that our little four cylinder engine started with a simple turn of the key. Although I enjoyed all of the museum, this room was my favorite.

And now, you will be subjected to pictures of engines.

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