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18th July 2005


Some of you may have heard of Neil Arlidge and his Tuesday Night Club, whose exploits have been extensively reported in one of the waterways magazines. I was invited to join them for a day on the Trent. The day out actually started the night before, when I joined the crew of the Good Ship Earnest outside the Balitmore Diner, next door to Nottingham Castle Marina. The evening was oppressively hot, but we chatted and drank until it was decided that it was “time for bed”. Seeing as how Neil & Co had been up since 0400 that morning, had driven up from London and boated from Langley Mill to Nottingham - in itself more than most people would do in a day - the rest of the crew slept well. I awoke at 0430 with first light and then “enjoyed” an unsettled sleep until Neil got up and started the engine, just after 0700.

Castle Lock was worked without incident, and the rest of the crew were impressed at the progress that’s been made in improving Nottingham’s waterfront. Having negotiated the right-angled bend near Hooter’s (not without rather more throttle than I originally intended) we set off on the run down to Meadow Lane Lock, alongside one of the main routes into the city. They never even knew we were there!

Having locked out into the Trent (and picked up the locking crew from the ladder below the lock - no namby-panmby calling at the pontoon for THIS crew!) we did a right and headed upstream, under Trent Bridge of cricket ground fame. Instead of mooring on the Trent outside County Hall (which is what you’re supposed to do) we continued upstream, under the pedestrian-only Suspension Bridge which is the official limit of navigation, under Wilford Bridge, which used to be a road toll bridge until it became unsafe and was replaced by the present footbridge, and on up to Clifton Bridge, well past the site of Nottingham Power Station and Clifton Colliery, which is now a retail park.

The Master was poling for depth all the way up, but we only found one really shallow patch near Wilford church. Nevertheless, he decided to turn just short of Clifton Bridge. This will show you where.

........... getting closer.................

Close enough!

"It's MY boat, and I say we're not going any futher!"

You'd hardly think we were in a city..............

St Wilfrid's church (tower visible on the right) is where I was a choirboy!

Back under the suspension bridge.........

The run down was a lot easier as we knew we were OK, so more pictures were taken.

Once we'd gone back under Trent Bridge, we threw a right towards the EA building next to Nottingham Forest's football ground, as the entrance lock to the Grantham Canal beckoned.

The lower gates were open but we weren't able to get in, as Earnest slid gracefully to a halt on a sand bar immediately in front of the lock - hardly surprising, really.

I’ve not been through any of the Trent locks downstream from Nottingham, so Holme Lock was an eye-opener - it’s HUGE! Earnest was the only boat going down and we took up no room at all!

A happy coincidence saw a Central Trains ex-Midland Mainline unit on a Grantham - Nottingham service crossing the river as we approached.

It was interesting to note the addition to the railway viaduct across the flood plain carrying the Nottingham to Grantham railway line: the rail connection to the (now closed) Cotgrave Colliery was taken from the eastern side of the main river crossing, and the 1950's concrete contrasted greatly with the original brickwork.

Work has recently finished on Gunthorpe Bridge, that grey, concrete, 1930's bridge over the river. There was a safety boat pirouetting under the bridge, and we were advised to steer well to the left of the central arch

......... “as they sometimes drop the scaffolding clips in the river!”

The scaffolding was well on the way to being dismantled and there was very little left for the scaffolders to actually stand on!

SCSI, the Ship's Parrot, communing with his Master.

"Windmill (dis)" (Nicholson's)

A late breakfast was served as we plodded steadily down river: a rather unusual one for TNC Members as they went in turn to sit down in the cabin to eat it! I gathered that meals during the day TNC-style are taken “on the hoof” - after all, isn’t the crack in your bum intended for steering whilst eating? In due course, we reached the long Averham weir, which is the only one not to have namby-pamby orange floats along its full length. Once we got off the flowing river and into Newark Dyke, the water became much more narrow as we passed the marinas full of white, plastic, twin-engined, seagoing boats - not what we’re used to further upstream! There was a nice Dutch Barge for sale at Fiskerton, though....................

Now we were on the outskirts of Newark, which hasn’t yet grasped the full potential of its waterfront. There are some restored buildings (including the Millgate Museum) but there are other attractive ones which are crying out for a waterside frontage.

Neil and the TNC waiting for the lock............

Newark Town Lock was fairly busy: the ex-Salters trip boat was coming up and there were a fair number of boats to go down. I disembarked, thanked Neil for his hospitality, and was just about to set off when I spotted something VERY interesting........... but that’s another story!

Entering the lock..........

Going down.............(carefully)

Onwards and downwards - destination Torksey!


Created on July 18th 2005