Leaving Avignon today and have just got our internet back and working so a bit of catching up on Manchester times. Manchester was wet and windy and very cold. A little bit of sun in the afternoon on our last day as we were cruising down the Manchester Ship Canal. The Ship Canal trip took some 6 hours. Starting in Liverpool (we had left Manchester by train to go up to LIverpool ) on the River Mersey and ending back in Manchester. The vessel we were to travel on got delayed in a lock apparently and a new vessel had to be readied for us, meaning about half an hour wait in an English queue. There were some interesting types in this queue all jostling for position as we waited. Most seemed to be locals out for the day. For one it was his birthday celebration. Our boat had been decked out for the WWI 100th ‘celebrations’. It was called the ‘Razzle Dazzle’ and had been painted up with a range of WWI naval camouflage patterns.
Despite the weather and the somewhat tedious non stop commentary for 6 hours by a walking encyclopedia on the Canals history and current day status we found it an interesting trip. The Canal was built in the late 19 century from Liverpool to Manchester to compete with the existing railway. The railway owners were exploiting their monopoly unmercifully so why not build a big canal. The Suez had recently opened. All manner of sailing and steam vessels used the canal. Cotton from the US, live cattle and sheep, oils and other manufacturing inputs. It became a great success and operated through the 1950s until in the early 60s containerisation effectively killed it off .
Today the Canal still takes a range of ocean-going coastal type trading vessels……..petrol, chemicals, coal ………..and there are plans afoot to set up a small specialised container port for coastal operators. There were 5 lock sets, numerous swing road bridges, viaducts and a couple of lifting bridges to allow us up the canal. Also a swing viaduct for another small operating canal which crosses over the Ship Canal. After 6 hours Homealone found all this technology, whilst interesting, a bit repetitive, particularly the commentator. Overall though it was good trip finishing in sunshine back in Manchester.
The day before we had spent the wet weather dashing around town taking in the monuments. Spent a couple of hours in the Museum of Science & Industry (MOSI). This was a great display of Industrial Revolution machinery and technology. Including a working cotton-spinning mill which was demonstrated to onlookers.
At the end of the day we charged off to find the laundromat to catch up on the washing, getting drenched along the way (including a brief shower of sleet), only to find it was closing…………at 5pm mind you. So back to the hotel to pack for the next days flight over to Paris and the train down to Avignon.