Wednesday, 20 June 2007

An Armless Arm
One of the more popular vehicles of self-deprecation aadopted by the British is the time it takes nowadays to plan and build anything. In 1814 when the canal arrived in Aylesbury the residents of what was NOT the county town at that time might have had similar feelings. The original plan, launched in 1794 had been to connect the Grand Junction Canal at Marsworth to the Thames at Abingdon. Opposition from the Thames Commissioners scuppered that idea but an arm was built as far as Aylesbury. The construction of six miles, sixteen narrow locks and eighteen narrower bridges actually took only three years. Planning, debating and negotiating - particularly the over the water rights with the Grand Junction Canal Company - accounted for the other seventeen years.
When we arrived at Marsworth this morning to start our descent from the Chilterns into the Vale of Aylesbury work was in progress to replace the balance beams on the two-step staircase locks and so we had a wait of about four hours. It was pleasing to note that these beams were made in England from English Oak . When BW closed the Bulboune yard back in 1995 they had started bringing complete lock gates in from the Netherlands. I am unsure of the origin of the wood used.
Due to our delayed start of the great descent we stopped overnight near Wilstone and walked across the field to see the Jolley family whose daughter, Kate, sculpted the gecko which graces our tiller pin on high days and holidays.

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