Thursday, 12 May 2016

Two gadgies sail on the Alley Alley O... May 11th
  The childrens' rhyme "The good ship sails on the alley alley o" has been discussed in my family recently. There are slight variations, some sing "on the alley", some sing "down the alley " and a Scottish friend claims "through the elley Alley O". It is generally thought that the alley in question is the Manchester Ship Canal although some feel it refers to the Atlantic Ocean. Regardless, Harry and I have decided to take the ferry trip down the Ship Canal from Salford Quays to Liverpool.
 We stayed the night in a hotel near  Old Trafford, home of Manchester United, had a meal in a pub full of their supporters as the team were playing away to West Ham. Man U lost, much cursing all round.
The ferry, the Snowdrop,left Salford Quays at 10 am next morning, carrying about 200 people, including the Sale Walkers and the West Horton History Group.
The MSC was opened in January 1894. Original estimate for the cost was £5million, the final cost was £15m. Nothing changes. Queen Victoria came to officially open it some months after the first ships had sailed down it. Today it is little used, mainly because ships are too big, but there is hope for some rebirth in traffic. The ferry took us the length of the canal, 36 miles.
   The  Snowdrop, possibly an old Ferry Across the Mersey as Gerry sang. Built in Dartmouth in 1959,  painted in "dazzle camouflage" inspired by WW1 and WW2 designs intend to confuse enemy submarines. It worked, we only saw one all day.
 Old Trafford, home of MUFC. The ground holds 75000 spectators, biggest club stadium in the UK
                                    This bridge across the old docks was raised to let us through. The odd shaped building is the IMperial War Museum North

There are five locks along the canal, allowing the water to drop 60 feet. This is one of them

   This amazing piece of engineering carries a canal across the MSC. The old, narrow canal, was built first, long before the MSC.It swings through 90 degrees. In the background is a motorway 
                           Twentieth century flies over 19th century.
Another lifting bridge to carry a road across the MSC
                        The big ship sails on the alley alley o......
But now it carries containers, not bales of cotton

 Runcorn  Widnes road bridge and old railway bridge behind
The shield represents the connection between London and Liverpool by rail.

At one point the canal runs alongside the river Mersey, separated by an earth embankment.  Eventually the canal enters the river by means of a lock.
 It looks like graffiti but is a list of ships "demasted" as they were too high to pass under the canal bridges
As we approached Liverpool we were given the choice of disembarking on either the Birkenhead or Liverpool sides. We opted for Birkenhead so we could see an old U Boat which had been salvaged, brought to the Mersey and cut up into sections, allowing visitors to see the interior without clambering down ladders. Although heavily corroded it was fascinating
                                  The three graces on the Liverpool waterfront

                           U 534, all I can say is I am glad I didn't have to go in one. Uncomfortable and cramped. But the artefacts that were recovered were interesting. An Enigma machine, gramophone records, personal items, torpedos, sextants and much more.

This is a great day out, lasting in total, including the coach back to Salford, about 10 hours. A lady gave a commentary along the canal, pointing out landmarks, old factories, giving a history of the canal. Well worth it. And for birders: geese, sanderlings, ducks, swans, herons, a buzzard or two and the usual lbjs.