Two Statues, four miles apart
Stone to Wedgewood: 4¼ miles, 8 locks
Uphill through Stone this morning – slowly. Pride in the town is widespread: flower displays frame a local information board, helpful information panels explain the canal’s history and buildings, while factories, works and
do their bit to add to the floral spectacle.
At the first lock The Star pub was closed, so there were no beer-swilling gongoozlers to make remarks, ask questions – or even award marks for technical merit!
Just below the second lock of the day is a curiosity, a sculpture of Christina Collins,
a murder victim whose story can be found here.
Past the striking buildings of Joule’s Brewery
and then there was a lengthy pause for refilling with water, emptying of rubbish and loo, and the purchase of a replacement gas cylinder. There was little boat movement, but chance to register the sounds around: a lawn-mower, a delivery truck, a cockerel, a train hoot, pushchair wheels on the towpath gravel…No single noise dominated, interrupted or intruded. This is Stone, where canal and town, trains and humans seem to integrate so successfully.
At the third lock is another curiosity, a tunnel for the boat horses.
Beside a small boatyard nearby stands a railway signal
– who knows why…
The four Stone locks completed Cleddau cruised on northwards. Just as the northern Welcome to Stone sign was reached there was a moment of excitement for a young angler
– a roach (apparently).
The canal creeps northwards: was this new housing here two years ago, the last time Cleddaupassed this way? Just look at the fencing around that winding hole
– brilliant! There are a few places (near Hurdsfield on the Macc is one) where local anglers regard a widened area designed for turning a boat as their personal fishing pond…
Above Measham Locks there is serious business going on – the towpath is being improved to cycleway standard. In places lengths of metal piling
have been installed, an asset for boaters hunting mooring places. Through Barlaston to a mooring near Wedgewood. A huge flock of Canada geese was practising, it seemed, for a graduation flypast
while young bullocks were paddling and drinking!
To Wedgewood – and a return visit to the Visitor Centre. You have to cross the railway line to reach the centre and the station halt is called Wedgewood.
(Where else is named after a particular person?) One train passed by on the way to the Visitor Centre, two on the way back. The previous visit was on a Sunday when no craft demonstrations were taking place. So, a beeline was made for these today – where do they take place? “Go straight past the statue,” advised the Museum receptionist. There stands Josiah Wedgewood.
What a man – scientist, industrialist, entrepreneur. It was he who recognised the business potential for transporting goods by water; it was his successors who relocated the Wedgewood works from Etruria to a purpose-built factory and community by the canal at Barlaston. The craft workers today were using lithography, painting freehand and creating clay patterning for pots. A romp around the Museum
is a reminder of the 250 year history of this family company and of how fashion affected Wedgewood designs
– worth visiting if you have the chance. But don’t leave it too long, a huge shadow hangs over the Museum and its precious pieces – it’s a Pension Fund crisis writ large.
Postscript: Sat outside for a towpath dinner tonight,
aware that the phone bleeped a couple of times. Have now read a message from the Cheshire Mum returning by train to Macclesfield from meetings in London. “Just saw you sitting by the boat as I whizzed by on that train!” (Is there no privacy for aged parents!)