Barry and Dickie let loose!

This is a rare post by Barry …

Once I’d finally given up hope that I was going to make it to France with Sandra, Kerry and Tony it was time to consider other options.

One of them was to attend the Middlewich Folk and Boat Festival as we were in the area. However the forecast wasn’t looking that good for the weekend and the mooring I had was away from the bank making trading unsafe, so I wasn’t very enthused about it.

Instead I called up my old shipmate Dickie Deal to see if he was keen on a few days cruising.

Dickie came to New Zealand for a holiday, back in 1981, to stay with a mutual friend of ours. However Jim was out of town when he arrived and so he came to stay with myself, John and Eddie, who all lived together. The plan was for him to stay for a couple of nights.

Well … twelve months later we finally managed to move him on and lost contact, until Sandra and I visited the UK in 2009 when I managed to track him down and catch up with him again in Brighton.

Dickie at the Wagon and Horses in Brighton back in 2009

Dickie’s recently retired from the merchant navy where for the last few years he’s crewed on the Royal Research Ship Discovery among others.

One of his pastimes was to paint up polystyrene coffee cups and attach them, in a sock, to the side of the multi million pound submersible and send them to the depths where the extreme pressure would shink them to about 3-4 cm tall.

Dickie gave me these three highly prized samples a couple of years ago

He managed to book a train to Holmes Chapel Station, the closest to Middlewich, where I met him and after catching up over a few pints we taxied back to the boat in Middlewich for the night.

The plan was to go down the Anderton Boat Lift the next day, however because The Weaver was in flood we decided to have a jolly along the Runcorn Canal, as I hadn’t done that arm before.

The next nights were spent in The Salt Barge at Marston entertaining some of the locals, then on to The Red Lion at Moore followed by a night at The Clarendon and The Barley Mow in Runcorn.

Moored at the end of the Runcorn Arm
One of the old disused Runcorn Locks leading the canal down to the Manchester Ship Canal.
The Silver Jubilee Bridge which crosses from Runcorn over the Manchester Ship Canal and the Mersey Estuary to Widnes

The Silver Jubilee Bridge replaced the Widnes-Runcorn Transporter Bridge built in 1905 which was the largest bridge of it’s type ever built.

It was officially opened in 1971 but is presently closed for restoration and the locals told us they believe it’ll stay closed until a two year period is up when the council can then start charging tolls.

I vividly remember crossing it in a bus back in 1976, while they were in the middle of widening it.

The new Mersey Gateway Bridge opened in 2017 now adds another 5 miles and 15min to the journey from Runcorn to Widnes.

With the river levels dropped we did manage a ride down the Anderton Boat Lift and as it was the last trip of the day we didn’t have the other caisson coming up beside us. Apparently the hydraulics are worked independently and both caissons are rested at the bottom overnight.

Dickie was aboard for six nights, which took my mind off my missed European trip. Well … that and the old stories revisited, not to mention the copious pints of Guinness and wine that were consumed.

Dickie was quite taken by the boating lifestyle and at one point I was a little worried about having to explain to Sandra about the extra crew member we’d acquired!

The new floating moorings outside the recently built but sparsely filled shopping development at Northwich where we moored the last night and from where Dickie caught the train home.

Thanks Dickie for a great week … my liver will never forget!

4 thoughts on “Barry and Dickie let loose!

    • Hi Ray, yes I was tough going but great to have Dickie aboard. He was even talking of the possibility of buying a boat himself. Heaven help the waterways, though it would be a great boost to the canalside pub trade. Hope you’re well and out cruising.

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