Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Stratford on Avon (tramways and soul)



My back has still been bad so we’ve stayed put for the last couple of days with the odd walk in the fields or around Stratford. 

The tramway bridge a couple of hundred yards upstream from where we are moored

The tramway bridge was built in 1826 and carried a track which ran for 16 miles to Moreton-in-Marsh with a branch to Shipston-on-Stour.  The tramway used to carry limestone, coal and farm produce between the canal basin at Stratford, with its link direct to Birmingham, and the other two towns.

A guy called William James was the engineer and he planned to run steam locomotives on the tracks but Parliament wouldn’t pass an Act to allow it, so the wagons ended up being horse drawn.  As with the canals, the tramway became unviable once the era of the railway took hold.

Walking across the bridge

Having been here a couple of weeks we have become accustomed to the sights and sounds of the river changing during the day.  When Karen gets up for work we often hear ducks or swans pecking along the hull for algae but all else is quiet.  When Karen leaves for work there is no one else around either on foot or on the river but by seven o’clock it starts to change; runners and dog walkers are out on the towpath and rowers from the boat club are sculling up and down the river.  Their trainers ride up and down the towpath shouting out encouragement and commands – if moored boaters were still asleep that would soon wake them up.

Local commuters or workers in the town start walking past on their way to work after the runners and rowers have disappeared and then by ten everything changes as the tourists come out.  The river becomes full of little rowing or motor boats and those not venturing on the water are having picnics and feeding the waterfowl. 

During the day the odd narrowboat or plastic cruiser comes past but only one or two a day at the moment.  Later in the afternoon everything happens in reverse; the tourists begin to disappear; the little boats are back at their bases; the workers in the town start walking home and then the rowing club rowers start their evening exercises.  Finally we are left on our own with just the swans and ducks gathering around the boat hoping to be fed.

Restored truck and rails from the tramway

On Tuesday we had all sorts of weather including rain, sleet, hail and sun and it has definitely got colder so we had a fire lit all day.   

In the evening we went to Leicester to see one of Karen’s teenage bands, Shalamar, playing a gig there.  It was my first time out since doing my back in but as it was a standing only event it held up really well.  It took us less than an hour to get to Leicester, reinforcing once again how well positioned we are in the Midlands for reaching places that used to take forever when we lived in a house in Kent and always had to endure the M25 wherever we went unless it was to the ferry ports.

The bridge from the rowing club


Information mapshowing the tramway route




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