Thursday, 7 July 2016

Weaving our way

Moored under the canopy of the huge canal warehouse
Not much more than a hundred years ago Burnley was the largest producer of cotton cloth in the world. Yes, in the world. In 1910 there were nearly a hundred thousand power weaving looms in the town.
The legacy of that is the ‘Weavers’ Triangle’, a close packed collection of sturdy stone mills, warehouses and associated industrial buildings along the edges of the canal – which was of course a major transport highway for their supplies and produce in the mid 19th century.
But the cotton weaving industry collapsed and so, too, did many of these once proud buildings. Now, though, they are the centre of a major regeneration process, supported in part by the Prince’s Regeneration Trust.

Seadog Brian admires the new bridge and public space
As we came into the area , it was clear that some work has been done – a school incorporates part of an old warehouse, there’s a stylish new canal bridge (isn't there always a bridge in these schemes!) and a new canalside seating area – but it’s clear that there’s much to be done too.
We moored up under the canopy of the fine canal warehouse to visit the Weavers’ Trust Museum. Which was shut: it only opens Saturday through to Tuesday afternoons. It was Wednesday. I really struggle with the lack of visitor information about some of these schemes: beyond Wikipedia, there’s little even on the internet.

Rose Grove – home of rubbish dredged from the canal
The cruise into Burnley had hardly been inspiring; the water black and our prop churning endless rubbish off the bottom. We filled up with drinking water at Rose Grove services (was ever a spot less appropriately named!) where CRT collects the many shopping trollies and junk it excavates from the canal.
The Exbury Egg energy efficient workspace
After the Weavers’ Triangle, the canal swings hard left by the old Finsley Wharf where a large wooden egg stands canalside. It’s the Exbury Egg , an ‘energy efficient, self sustaining work space’ that’s there for the summer as part of a national tour.

Looking down on the town centre from the embankment
And then we were on the famous straight mile; the massive embankment that drives the canal high along the edge of the town, with the centre on one side and lines of Coronation Street style terraced houses on the other. Another astounding feat of 18-19th century engineering.

Oops! A back garden collapsed into the canal
Glad to be back in the countryside again after these urban miles, we moored last night opposite Reedley Marina where our only reminders of the 21st century were the distant thrum of the M65 and a couple of scrotes who screamed up the towpath on their mini-moto bikes. Fortunately it soon rained so they scuttled back home to their mum
and left us to listen – and watch on a hiccoughing, sketchy live stream – to Wales sadly losing to Portgual.

1 comment:

  1. Having spent much of my early life and part of my working life in and around the North West Industrial region I still find it strange to view it through todays eyes. Despite the dark mills and narrow, often lorry packed street, it was till full of life and excitement. At he end of the working day there were lines of buses waiting for all those workers rushing out of the many many factories when the whistle blew...that is apart from the hundreds, yes hundreds who flocked out on their bikes. The decline was swift and dereliction followed on very quickly....those companies who took advantage of empty factory space found it tough going and many just got discouraged. True there are regeneration schemes but the reality is that noble as there intentions are it never will return the areas to there former glory days. Often think that despite the heritage and nostalgic views of the past it would be best to flatten and move on (sacrilege I know but we all move on don't we)