21 June 2008

Scales Tipped Again at Mossley Docks

Following my story about the massive bream caught near Waggon Road bridge 91, known by some as Mossley Docks, I witnessed the landing of another, rather large, such fish on Sunday 25th May. John Gibson, who lives in Mossley, was casting his line just in front of our temporary mooring outside our workshop and managed to hook the aquatic creature he is shown holding.

He asked me if I would take a photograph on his mobile telephone of him holding the bream and since John had helped me with a little job earlier in the day, it was a fitting thank you to oblige. No keep net being available, it was released back into the canal immediately after.

The weight of the bream was estimated at 2 - 3 lb., and it bears out the reputation of this section of our canal as being a favourite spot for large fish.

John's dad, Stephen, likes to fish for pike near here and the two other pictures are of pike caught within feet of where our boat is now, one from the towpath and one from the offside bank. Fearsome predators by all accounts, I am told they even take ducklings given the chance.

John says he fishes at this spot most weekends, alternating with the Diggle area, although I have no feedback of the success at that venue.

[Alwyn Ogborn]

11 June 2008

Canal's Cilly Season

Lock gates maintain a water-tight seal by fitting very closely to the shaped stone work along their hinge line or 'heel' and their bottom edges against wooden blocks bolted to the lock structure forming a 'cill'.

The position of the cill is often marked in paint to warn boaters to keep clear when descending a chamber; avoiding the risk of the stern being caught on the cill.

Recently, at the tailgate of Lock 13W, the bolts securing one of the cill timbers came loose and as the lock filled, pressure of water under gate forced the cill block up and washed it several metres downstream.

The first photo shows the position of the missing wooden block from the lower cill.

The block was retrieved and can be seen propped against the stop planks which form a temporary dam, allowing the chamber to be drained and repairs to take place.

At Lock 17W, the top gate seal is made by thin piece of wood fixed to larger wooden block.

Recently, a boat left the lock while the pound above was low and with limited freeboard, accidentally caught the cill, breaking the thinner piece of wood (see photo, right), thus compromising the seal.

Consequently the lock chamber would not empty easily (with water gushing under the gate) and more seriously, a boat on its descent would be in danger of being swamped.

A similar problem happened with the upper cill of Lock 20E near Slaithwaite, also in June. All of these problems led to stoppages until the repairs were carried out by British Waterways staff.

[Martin Clark]