This month we are taking a virtual trip on the Shropshire Union starting at the southern end of the mainline. Just past Autherley stop lock is Water Travel www.surftech.co.uk/canal/watertravel/ a long established narrowboat hire company. Five miles on at Brewood is Countrywide Cruisers www.countrywide-cruisers.com with 12 narrowboats for hire. Norbury junction is the base for Norbury Cruising Club www.norburycruisingclub.co.uk and one of the many hire bases of Anglo Welsh www.anglowelsh.com. They also have bases at Bunbury and Trevor on the Shropshire Union. Four miles on, at Knighton, is the site of the former Cadbury processing plant once the destination for Bournville 5 www.bournville5.btinternet.co.uk George Wiseman's horse drawn boat that carried milk. This site is about the making of a video telling the story but does not seem to have been updated recently.
Ted's Boatyard www.tedsboatyard.co.uk at Market Drayton offers chandlery plus full boatyard services with large undercover facilities both in and out of water. Empress Holidays www.empressholidays.co.uk have nine narrowboats for hire at Nantwich and at Bunbury we come to another Anglo-Welsh base, which was the start point for two American brothers' first trip on British waterways. Alienon http://18.104.22.168/exevale/ is their site which includes photos and video clips. At Beeston Chas Hardern Boats www.chashardern.co.uk offer narrowboat hire. Kendall Narrowboats http://kendallnarrowboats.co.uk are new boat fitters based at Croughton and at the end of the mainline at Ellesmere Port is the Boat Museum www.boatmuseum.org.uk, our site of the month last December. A final mention must go to the Shropshire Union Canal Society www.shropshireunion.co.uk who look after not only the mainline but all the other parts of the Shropshire Union as well.
Going up the canal from the mainline we soon come to Wrenbury where Alvechurch Boat Centres www.alvechurch.com has a base and at Whitchurch is a base of Viking Afloat www.viking-afloat.com. The Lyneal Trust www.lyneal-trust.org.uk is a registered charity that provides canal holidays for people with disabilities with their families and friends from Lyneal Wharf near Ellesmere. Just past Frankton Junction is the base of Maestermyn Cruisers www.maestermyn.co.uk, a website that includes Welsh Lady Cruisers. Marine Cruises and Chirk Marina www.chirkmarina.co.uk is the website of both the marina and their hire fleet. Black Prince Holidays www.black-prince.com also operate from here. Pontcysyllte aqueduct featured in the Boater's Wedding www.pagination.plus.com/wedding/ of Joe and Jackie Jones that took place in June 2002. At the end of the canal Llangollen Wharf - Canal Boat Trips www.horsedrawnboats.co.uk offer trips on horse drawn or motorised boats.
Other SU Canals
On the SU Middlewich Branch is Cheshire Cat Narrowboat Hire www.cheshirecatnarrowboats.co.uk based at Venetian Marina Village www.venetianmarina.co.uk which has a chandlery, workshops, tearooms and gift shop in addition to extensive moorings. The Montgomery Canal is represented by Pete's Montgomery Canal Website http://members.tripod.co.uk/pkirkman/montgomerycanal, which brings together up to date items of news, information and interest about the canal. The excellent site of the Shrewsbury & Newport Canals Trust www.sncanal.org.uk was our Site of the Month in October 2002. The Trust was formed to save the canals as very little of the line has been built on and no insuperable engineering problems lie in the way of restoration.
Site of the Month
Something a little bit different this month. Doug Myers' Thames Bridges www.dougmyers.co.uk is the site of an artist with the ambitious project of painting in oils all 135 bridges on the River Thames from Lechlade to the estuary. The series is due to be completed some time in 2006 but already 96 completed paintings can be seen on the website. These include Ha'penny Bridge at Lechlade and at the other end of the river the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge at Dartford. In between there are a great variety of bridges; the familiar Tower Bridge, the new Millennium Bridge, the M4 Motorway Bridge at Bray, Folly Bridge at Oxford and Old Man's Footbridge. The bridges are depicted at different times of the day, seasons of the year and weather conditions; Henley Bridge at night, black clouds over Newbridge, sunset at Shifford Lock Cut Footbridge, Ten Foot Bridge through the mist, Walton Bridge in the rain and Lower Desborough Bridge in the snow.
Doug Myers is an artist who can portray the water surface in all its manifestations and finds a fresh way to approach each composition. In some pictures the bridge dominates in others it is in the background - in the case of Little Wittenham Bridge a long way in the background - and bridges are viewed from almost every angle. The Thames Bridges originals are oil on canvas 20 by 16 inches and are available as prints. There are also other paintings by this artist on the site. Have a look and you may find that, like me, you can't leave the site until you have seen them all.
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