Today’s Treasures – Audlem Wharf
Take a walk on the waterside this autumn – along the Weavers Way at Audlem – the towpath along the Shropshire Union canal which was designed and built by Thomas Telford. One of his last projects before his death in 1834, it includes a flight of 15 locks and an aqueduct over the River Weaver.
It was a beautiful autumn morning, warm and sunny with just the hint of a breeze stirring the branches overhead, dislodging yellowing leaves which fluttered down like confetti to drift lazily along the surface of the canal, dappled sunlight painting patterns on the sparkling water, ripples chasing each other along the canal banks to finally swirl in eddies and whirlpools at the lockgates.
Brightly patterned barges were tied up at the permanent moorings – chimneys smoking and washing fluttering in the breeze – and part of me longed for the simplicity of canalside living – so different now from the days when narrow boats worked the canals carrying everything from coal to cheeses, spending their whole lives on the canal and stopping only when the ice was so thick it froze them to stillness. This towpath remembers horses hooves plodding along pulling working boats behind them, the locks a real hindrance to momentum – once the boats were moving it only took slight pressure to keep them going but a standing start takes a lot of horsepower.
Next to the Shroppie Fly is Audlem Mill, built in 1915 for H Kingsley Burton, a local miller – it was one of the first mills powered by a diesel engine. It was converted into retail space in 1973 and is now a treasure trove for canal enthuiasts and needlework artists. The ground floor has an extensive selection of canal ware – from windlasses and neckerchiefs through jigsaws, candles and teatowels to canal books and maps. The first floor is (to quote the leaflet) ‘An Aladdin’s Cave of every kind of product and accessory for needleworkers’; sewing, knitting, weaving – whether you are making cushions, bonnets or rugs – it’s a paradise for anyone who loves art and crafts – with some wonderful gift ideas. Audlem Mill hosts workshops on all these skills throughout the year visit www.audlemmill.co.uk for details.
Part of the Canal and RiverTrust, The Towpath Taskforce at Audlem welcomes volunteers to help to maintain the towpath. They meet on the second Saturday of each month at the wharf outside the Shroppie Fly pub at 10.00 am. If you think you might be able to help please contact Neville Preece on 0303 040 4040 or at [email protected]
Published in the October edition of the Whitchurch Gossip