If you can't beat them...

By Jerra

Coal Boat.

After a few phone calls and final preparations we were off!  The M6 at this point had only light traffic and virtually no Lorries.  After Preston the traffic thickened as it always does and the number of Lorries increased.  We had lunch at the Charnock Richard services and then on to a site we regularly use in Great Haywood.  

The weather was fine when we arrived, so after setting up the caravan we headed for the farm shop, always worth a visit.  This was followed by a wander down the canal which runs between the site and the farm shop.  On our way back the "coal boat" Halsall was just leaving.  Coal boats are probably the last truly working boats to be operating on the canals.  Like Halsall they are usually old ex-working boats which are mainly open space for load carrying.  If the cargo needed kept dry, grain for example, the hold would have been "under cloths", the first few feet of Halsall shows what this would have looked like.

Coal boats as you can see from the picture make a living by selling diesel, gas and solid fuel to boaters and houses beside the canal.  I am unsure if any of the crew survive by living in the "back cabin" which in a traditional working boat was a mere 10 ft (3 m) long and often housed husband, wife and children.

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