Today was mostly about cruising and catching up some hours to get us back on schedule as we had slipped behind just slightly. The area we are going through is a suburban sprawl called Milton Keynes. Many of you may have heard of this place but a bit more about that shortly. Our first bit of excitement for the day was to cross the Iron Trunk aqueduct. A little video of Ange De L’Eau making her way across.
The Iron Trunk aqueduct is a navigable cast iron trough that carries the Grand Union Canal over the River Great Ouse. The present structure was built in 1811, to replace a previous brick structure that had failed. When the present structure was erected, it was known as the “Iron Trunk”. The structure has two cast iron trough spans, with a single central masonry pier. The trough is 15 feet (4.6 m) wide, 6 ft 6 in (1.98 m) deep, with a total length of 101 feet (31 m). The canal surface is about 40 feet (12 m) above the surface of the river. Not good for people who don’t like heights.
We were passing through some gorgeous stretches of the canal with many overhanging trees and slivers of sunlight making their way through the leaves. The shade and coolness that was created was very much appreciated as it was another warm day.
Added in a similar photo to the one above but the light in this one makes it look like a painting. It is often surreal for us as we cruise through these chocolate box cover scenes.
Back in 2016 we put in a lot of detail about the history of the canals along with technical aspects of it. Some of you will find us repeating ourselves but this is for the benefit of those who are new blog followers. The picture above is to get you to focus on the metal rod that is on the inner arch of this brick bridge. The purpose of the iron rubbing strips was to protect the bridgework from the very strong towrope that the horse was using to pull the canal boat. When the rope was taut it could grind away the strongest stone as it passed through locks and bridges. Rope marks from these ropes snarling and snagging on bricks and stonework is still evident all over the canal network and is testament to a time before engines powered the boats. Iron of course was quite soft back in the 1700/1800’s and hence the grooves you can see.
On yet another aqueduct but this time going over the road. More often than not we go under roads as much cheaper than building aqueducts plus back in the day the canals came before the myriad of roads that criss cross the UK.
We passed by a rather unspectacular town called Wolverton. Wolverton has a long history associated with providing carriages for the British Royal Train.
The works produced Queen Victoria’s 1869 saloon, comprising two six-wheelers joined by the first bellows gangway in Europe; the carriage is now part of the collection of the National Railway Museum, York. We were fortunate enough to view in back in 2016 in the museum which we have to say is the best train museum we have ever been in to.
Further Royal coaches were built, and in 1961 for Queen Elizabeth II. We have read where the interior is very “Formica” in design – my, how the royal standards have fallen. We read where King Edward VII had an armoured saloon car built for her during WWII.
Now back to Milton Keynes – In the 1960s, the UK Government decided that a further generation of new towns in the South East of England was needed to relieve housing congestion in London. The New Town (in planning documents, “New City”) of Milton Keynes was to be the biggest yet, with a target population of 250,000, in a “designated area” of about 22,000 acres. As it is such a staged town it has the reputation as having no soul.
We moored up and got on with our daily tasks, the same of which your perform at home, only in a much more combined space.