|Posted by Allan Hickson (Mod) on November 7, 2017 at 10:15 AM|
We moved into October with match in hand and furnaces to be lit ahead of our trip up the Manchester Ship Canal and Weaver Navigation for the annual Leigh Arms Steam Party at Acton Bridge. Warming fires over the next few days saw steam raised for a rather choppy departure from Canning Half Tide Dock into the Mersey on Wednesday 4th October. Unusually, there was a bit of traffic awaiting entry into Eastham Lock, Kerne finding herself fourth in a queue for entry, so we amused ourselves for an hour or so with a few circuits round the channel coupled with a number of running adjustments and a few cups of tea. Once into the Ship Canal we had a good run up to Marsh Lock and into the Weaver, where apart from our usual ‘grounding’ in the mud by Dutton Lock, we made good time to Acton Bridge. However the delay at Eastham resulted in our arriving at Acton Swing Bridge after the bridge staff had finished for the day. This was all a little frustrating as our designated mooring was, literally, ten yards upstream of the bridge meaning an ‘out of steam’ move the following day. Not to be daunted by this inconvenience, the crew followed the same routine as we have over the last 40 years or so: – clean up, wash up, lock up and up to the pub.
The next two days were spent cleaning and bulling-up the vessel ahead of public opening on the Saturday and Sunday 7th and 8th October, with special attention being paid, as usual, to the Engine and Boiler Rooms.
The Leigh Arms Steam Party is very much an informal event, greatly enjoyed by the crews of ships, boats, steam engines and other vintage vehicles alike, and in the spirit of the event several of us arranged accommodation so that we could fully appreciate the fun and camaraderie of the Friday evening. After a hearty breakfast on Saturday and a touch more spit and polish we started to welcome visitors aboard, who were able to witness the lighting of small fires in the boiler to keep the boiler hot over the weekend and be given explanatory tours round the vessel by the crew. All things went well with a good number of visitors aboard and onlookers on the quay, but things suddenly changed as the rain started to come down with a vengeance. Suddenly the warm dry Boiler Room of a steamship became a very desirable place to be as the quay emptied and the vessel filled up. Sunday dawned with fine weather and good crowds in attendance, over 500 visitors being counted aboard with several hundred others meeting and talking to the crew quayside.
For a number of logistical reasons we had decided to delay our return sailing to our winter mooring at Liverpool’s Sandon Dock until Tuesday 10th October, the voyage going without a hitch and without the delays at the various bridges and locks that often seem to have a habit of holding us up.
So, that was it for the 2017 steaming season, the following weekend seeing the start of winter lay-up. The boiler water has now been drained, the fire bars removed, the boiler tubes swept, furnaces and combustion chamber cleaning commenced. The carpentry team are back down the Forward Cabin where the final bench carcase has been installed and the facing and bench top added, leaving the forward bulkhead to be constructed (CAD drawings having been completed) and the new stove installed.
Hopefully we can have a nice warm cabin to enjoy our lunches as the winter weather begins to bite.