Wednesday, 22 July 2015

From one canal to another, then another...

On Wednesday Susan and I left Beeston for the day with a friend. It was her birthday and she got to decide where we went, and she chose Foxton Locks near Market Harborough in Leicestershire. 

By coincidence it was to another canal. A few weeks ago I posted photographs of a chance visit we made to Bratch Locks in Staffordshire on the western edge of the Black Country and I have another canal walk to make with my daughter.

I will let the photographs tell their own story. I have overlaid the Canal & River Trust map with numbers showing the direction of the photographs and our walk. It was a lovely five hours, including a good lunch at the Foxton Locks Inn.

Some of the photographs have text below them.

The Union Jack flying at the top of the incline plane is actually on the roof of the Foxton Locks Museum (see below)

This is a close-up of what brickwork remains from the incline and reminded me of Roman foundations you might see at a excavated site almost anywhere in England. There is something ageless about what is left to remind us that once there was a great working structure where now only cemented bricks and rubble remain.

Look closely and you can see the front of a narrow boat in among the trees. It is in line with the top of the incline plane. The picture was taken from the viewing platform marked on the map above.

The Foxton Locks Museum is run by Foxton Inclined Plane Trust, which exists to promote and preserve the site. Until visiting the Museum, I had not realised how short-lived the inclined plane was. It only operated for eleven years between 1900 and 1911, and sold for scrap in 1928. 

The Museum is actually new and was built by the Trust. Only its back wall is original.

Any 'experience' you have on a visit to a museum or similar venture begins with the welcome you receive and it is obvious that the Foxton Inclined Plane Trust understand this well. This is Penny, there to welcome us and take our money, and to sign me up so our £12 entrance cost (3 x £4) could be turned into a gift-aid donation. With it came membership and free admission for the next twelve months. A great deal if you live near-by.

Over the years I have visited too many places where the staff have been sullen at best or indifferent at best. I want to shout at them and say you have a job many would love; working in a public space, surrounded by history or attractions that people have travelled miles to see and all you can do is welcome them with disdain.

Penny here at Foxton Locks Museum could give lessons in how to be a great 'meeter and greeter'. She checked more than once that we were enjoying our visit and her colleague was just as cheerful and helpful. A real credit to the Trust and its museum.

The museum is child friendly with lots of exhibits aimed at children, like this mock up of a boiler. The two black square holes in the corners contain lots of wooden balls which when put into the round holes in the boiler door set the large gauge on the top edge of the boiler turning, together with suitable steam engine like noises. The balls then roll back into boxes located behind the square black holes at the bottom. It sounds very realistic.

My selection of photographs has been chosen in the hope that you might want to visit Foxton Locks as a result of reading this blog. There is a lot to see and it really is a great day out, especially if you drive down to Melton Browbray, then down the B6047 towards Market Harborough. From Beeston it's 46 miles my way.

I have been a great fan of canals all of my life and have written about them on and off for over forty years. I like them for walking along because they are, for the most part, flat. My old Lenton parkviews blog contains a number of canal related posts, including entries for the Nottingham & Beeston canals and my favourite, the Erewash Canal.

1 comment:

  1. The museum looks interesting, it was closed when we visited the locks and I remember we ate at a small place opposite the Inn - it was darkish inside with loads of old tables and chairs and paintings/objects on the walls and people in corners playing guitars. Glad you had a good day:)