On Friday we’re going to drop in for a cuppa with our old boating next door neighbour Glyn on the Slough Arm. It’ll be nice to catch up on the news of one of England’s least popular canal arms. Not that unpopular with us I might add. The photo at the head on the blog was taken on the Slough arm as was the one below. What’s not to like? Ah yes, Slough – well nothing’s perfect.
Maybe next summer things will pick up for the old arm because they are supposed to be dredging it this winter. My 1904 Bradshaw’s lists the depth there as 4ft for narrowboats and 3ft 9 ins for wide beamers. I should think today you could knock at least a foot off that. If they could dredge it out to the original dimensions what a difference it would make.
While I was on that page of Bradshaw’s I got seduced into reading depths of other bits of the Grand Union, or the Grand Junction as it was then. Interestingly while below Berkhamstead they quote 4ft or more as the depth, the stretch between Berko and Braunston is only stated as 3ft 8ins. I would have though that was a bit dodgy for the working boats of those days. Strange also that some of the arms now regarded as shallow offered a greater depth than some of the main line in 1904. The Leicester arm from Norton to Foxton offered 4ft, and the Northampton arm, now notoriously shallow, allowed 4ft 3!! I wish.
The prize for the shallowest of all went to the now defunct Buckingham arm, which had a max depth of only 1ft 8in at Buckingham. No wonder it closed. The Aylesbury and Wendover arms offered only 2ft 6ins. I’d be surprised if the navigable bit of the Wendover is that deep now. Herbie draws 2ft and struggles up there. Bradshaw says it is navigable only as far as Tringford stop lock, whereas today, thanks to the work of volunteers you can get some way beyond that.
It would be very interesting to have someone publish navigable depths of the system today. Inevitably, most areas would have silted up and be shallower. If it weren’t for the working boat enthusiasts ploughing furrows up and down as they travel along itd be even worse I suppose. Keep it up lads. Oh and lasses – (must keep Sarah off my neck.)