These image are from the archive and show the lock keeper on the Rochdale Canal in the centre of Manchester in the Spring of 1977. Those gnarled, strong hands look as though they have endured a lifetime on the cut (Travel Theme: Strong & Weekly Photo Challenge: Endurance).
In those days the Rochdale was still in private ownership and you were obliged to pay for the descent along the short stretch of canal which links the Ashton Canal with the Bridgewater at Castlefield. There was so much water flowing down the Rochdale that it cascaded over the back gates and made the process of emptying the lock a long, slow process. When I passed this way again in 2008 the lock keeper and the house adjacent to the top lock were gone but, the plumbing remained a problem.
(click on the images to enlarge)
This photograph was taken along the Rochdale Canal in 1981. The journey through Manchester forms part of the Cheshire Ring and this section was always ‘interesting’. An excess of water coming down the flight would cascade over the back gates filling the lock almost as quickly you tried to empty it – descending was a slow process. In confined spaces there were short lock beams operated on rusted chains by a windlass, smooth and easy it was not. On top of that there were just too many disreputable characters lurking in the shadows, some quite keen to lend a hand 😦 . This stretch of canal has changed utterly in the intervening years but the excess of water, laborious locks and ‘helpful’ characters remain:
This second image shows where these broken English windows once looked out. The iconic Refuge Assurance Building can be seen in the background with the time frozen at 11:25. The puddles along the towpath are not from rain but from the canal overflowing – the natural flow of water down the canal combined with emptying locks is more than some of the pounds could cope with. I have been down this stretch three times (1977, 1981 and 2008) and there was never a dull moment.
The photographs were taken with a Mamiyaflex C330F Twin Lens Reflex – the scans are from the printed images, scanning 120 Roll film being just too tortuous.