Summer Programme Reports.


25 members attended the annual lunch held at the Best Western Sysonby Hotel and Restaurant on Friday, 11th May. After an enjoyable meal, we were entertained by Anthony Poulton – Smith who gave a talk entitled ‘Old Wives Tales’.

Thanks go to Peter Raikes for organising and overseeing the event.


42 members and friends attended the first outing of the 2018 Summer Season. The visit was to two venues: the Anderton Boat Lift near Northwich, Cheshire in the morning and Little Morton Hall, a National Trust property near Congleton, Cheshire, in the afternoon. Initially, the weather was overcast but became increasingly pleasant through the day. We departed the Melton Indoor Bowls Club at 8.00 am and proceeded on a 2.5-hour journey to Anderton via a circuitous route avoiding traffic in the vicinity of East Midlands airport. During the journey, passengers had access to comprehensive notes on both venues and amplifying notes on things to see and do during the visit. After a comfortable journey, thanks to a thoughtful and skilful driver who manoeuvred the coach through seemingly impassable lanes, we arrived at Anderton at 10.40 am slightly behind schedule. The coach parked close to the Anderton Visit Centre where we were met by a member of the Anderton Welcome Team who issued lift and river trip tickets. Before departing for the Visitor Centre, we paused for a group photograph We were told to assemble at the lift head at 11.15 am for boarding at our reserved slot at 11.30 am. Unfortunately, there was a technical hitch and we boarded the ‘Edwin Clark’, so-named in honour of the principal designer, one hour behind schedule. During our descent on the lift and subsequent trip on the River Weaver, we received an articulate and most informative talk on the history of the lift, economics of the Anderton and Northwich basins and the eco-system surrounding the Weaver navigation. Salt has been extracted from rock salt beds underneath the Cheshire Plain since Roman times. By the end of the 17th century a major salt mining industry had developed around the Cheshire “salt towns” of Northwich, Middlewich, Nantwich and Winsford. Completion of the River Weaver Navigation in 1734 provided a navigable route for transporting salt from Winsford, through Northwich, to Frodsham, where the Weaver joins the River Mersey. In 1759 the second Weaver Navigation Act appointed the Trustees of the Weaver Navigation and gave them responsibility for maintaining and operating the route. The opening of the Trent and Mersey Canal in 1777 provided a second route close to the Weaver Navigation for part of its length but extended further south to the coal mining and pottery industries around Stoke-on-Trent] The owners of the two waterways realised it would be more profitable to work together. In 1793 a basin was excavated on the north bank of the Weaver at Anderton that took the river to the foot of the escarpment of the canal – 50 ft above. The Anderton Basin was owned and operated by the Weaver Navigation Trustees. Facilities were built to trans-ship goods between the waterways including two cranes, two salt chutes and an inclined plane that was possibly inspired by the much larger Hay Inclined Plane at Coalport, Shropshire. The facilities were extended when a second quay was built in 1801 and a second entrance to the basin was constructed in 1831.Further developments led to the construction of the lift. The Anderton Boat Lift is a two-caisson lift lock and provides a 50-foot vertical link between two navigable waterways: The River Weaver and the Trent and Mersey Canal. The structure is designated a ‘scheduled monument’ and is included in the National Heritage List for England. Built in 1875, the boat lift was in use for over 100 years until it was closed in 1983 due to corrosion. Restoration started in 2001 and the boat lift was re-opened in 2002. The lift and associated visitor centre and exhibition are operated by the Canal & River Trust. It is one of only two working boat lifts in the United Kingdom; the other is the Falkirk Wheel in Scotland. After our 45-minute boat trip, through beautiful countryside, from Anderton to Northwich and back, we disembarked and made our way through the hillside gardens to the Visitor Centre for well-earned refreshments.

At 2:30 pm, we boarded the coach for our journey to Little Moreton Hall and arrived there at 3.20 pm. On arrival, we were greeted by one of NT Welcome Team who issued tickets for non-NT members and provide information for our visit. Little Moreton Hall, also known as Old Moreton Hall, is a moated, half-timbered, Tudor manor house and arguably the finest in the country. The name Moreton probably derives from the Anglo-Saxon ‘mor’ meaning ‘marshland’ and ‘tune’, meaning ‘farm’; thus, literally ‘a farm at a marsh’. The area where Little Moreton Hall stands today was named Little Moreton to distinguish it from the nearby township of Moreton-cum-Alcumlow, or Greater Moreton. Little Moreton Hall first appears in historical records in 1271, but the present building dates from the early 16th century. The earliest parts of the house were built for the prosperous Cheshire landowner William Moreton in about 1504–08 and remained in the possession of the Moreton family for almost 450 years, until ownership was transferred to the National Trust in 1938. Little Moreton Hall and its sandstone bridge across the moat are recorded in the National Heritage List for England as a designated Grade I listed building and the ground on which it stands is protected as a Scheduled Monument. The house has been fully restored but is in on-going, complex maintenance. The building is highly irregular, with three asymmetrical ranges forming a small, rectangular cobbled courtyard. A National Trust guidebook describes Little Moreton Hall as being ‘lifted straight from a fairy story, a gingerbread house’. The house’s top-heavy appearance, ‘like a stranded Noah’s Ark’, is due to the Long Gallery that runs the length of the south range’s upper floor. and comprises the Great Hall and the northern part of the east wing. A service wing to the west, built at the same time but subsequently replaced, gave the early house an H-shaped floor plan. The east range was extended to the south in about 1508 to provide additional living quarters, as well as housing the Chapel and the Withdrawing Room. William Moreton’s son, also named William, replaced the original west wingwith a new range housing service rooms on the ground floor as well as a porch, gallery, and three interconnected rooms on the first floor, one of which had access to a Garde robe. He also had a new floor inserted at gallery level in the Great Hall and added the two large bay windows looking onto the courtyard, built so close to each other that their roofs abut one another. The south wing was added in about 1560–62 by William Moreton II’s son John. In 1559 William had a new floor inserted at gallery level in the Great Hall and added the two large bay windows looking onto the courtyard, built so close to each other that their roofs abut one another. The south wing was added in about 1560–62 by William Moreton II’s son John (1541–98). It includes the Gatehouse and a third storey containing a 68-foot (21 m) Long Gallery. The last major extension to the house was in about 1610 when a small kitchen and brew-house block was added to the south wing. The gardens lay abandoned until their 20th-century re-creation. As there were no surviving records of the layout of the original knot garden, it was replanted according to a pattern published in the 17th century. Members thoroughly enjoyed the Hall but, because of our arrival later than scheduled, probably did not do justice to the visit. We boarded our coachat 5.00 pm and arrived back in Melton shortly before 7.00 pm, tired but in good spirits.

Thanks go to Peter Raikes for organising this event and for making sure that everything went smoothly on the day itself.



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