Sunday, 26 June 2016

Transported through time

A boat and butty pair of Joshers lined up for the show
Old codgers like me are in their element at a weekend like this past one. Like the rest of them I wandered round Lymm Historic Transport festival, through lines of classic cars muttering 'I used to have one of them...I had one of those too...I bought one of them for fifty quid when I was a student.'
Massive, rumbling, steam whistle blowing marvels
Or if I wasn't doing that I was gazing, glassy eyed at gently rumbling steam engines, watching huge rods slide back and forth and steam hiss quietly. Like most people I know next to nothing about steam engines but I still find them hypnotically fascinating. Just like the blokes who were standing and staring at boat engines like ours.
We arrived at Lymm a couple of days ago in the middle of a line of historic working boats. We even followed one through a tunnel on the way and nearly died of asphyxiation from its smoking Bolinder. It would have been a glorious way to go, listening to the off-beat thumpety-thump of the Bolinder echoing round the tunnel walls.
This curvaceous Cadillac was a star of the show
Lymm is an affluent little town - Bobby Charlton is one of several ex and present day footballers who live here - that's set beside the Bridgewater Canal. For the past four years it's run the historic transport day. And it's great. The boats parade along the canal; the cars, traction engines and bikes parade through the town to the show field.
It's well organised but free and easy. When it comes to wheels, well pretty much anything goes. From penny farthing bicycles to Ferraris, from scooters to Cadillacs. If it's stood the test of time, it's in – even if it's an Austin Princess. How many of those can there be!
Well somebody loves this Austin Princess
There was a terrific collection of cars, mostly from the fifties and sixties when pinks, pale blues, primrose yellow were the colours and chrome trim and bodywork fins abounded.
There were scooters brought by ageing mods, still sporting the remnants of mod hairdoes and some fascinating bicycles - including one which went forwards in high gear when you pedalled backwards and in low gear when you pedalled forwards. Honest.
The Hetchins and Witcomb bikes are worth more than the MGB

And in case you're thinking this is a bit of a bloke-fest, Mrs B and our visiting 'northern daughter' both enjoyed it thoroughly. An Alpine A110 or a pale blue and cream Zodiac convertible might sit nicely on a certain northern driveway.
Rock on: chrome trim, vinyl seats, bright colours
What a delectable little thing: the Alpine A110

Now the Bridgewater is a wide canal and that means you get wide boats as well as narrow ones. And they don't come much wider than Parbella, a historic Duker which used to carry maize from Liverpool docks to the Kellogs cornflakes factory on the canal in Manchester.
You don't argue when Parbella is coming towards you
That led the boat parade – and terrified any luckless passing boat travellers into instant submission. Following Parbella were more big boats - old Leeds-Liverpool Canal short boats (shorter than working narrowboats but twice as wide) and then an impressive collection of narrow boats.
Terry steers us through the organised chaos of the parade
We had a grandstand view from Nb Starling, the Cowburn and Cowpar working boat of our Streethay friends Terry and Tina Bellamy. It's a kind of organised chaos as 50-odd boats shuffle along the canal, turn and try to come back in line astern but it worked and despite the rain a big crowd hung around to watch them come sailing by.
It was great being part of the show - on the stage (albeit as a bit part player) for a change rather than in the audience.
Thanks Terry and Tina and thank you Lymm organisers for a great event.
Now, I wonder where we can find a working boat...

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