Friday, June 4, 2010

3 June 2010 - Outing to Alderton Boat Lift and Jodrell Bank

Alderton Boat Lift

On a boat entering the Alderton Boat Lift

Upper part Alderton Boat Lift

Alderton Boat Lift

Boat entering upper part of the Alderton Boat Lift

Gear invented by Andre-Gustav Citroen

Jodrell bank telescope

Lyn at Jodrell Bank telescope

Our hosts Roy and Davina Perrier at Jodrell Bank telescope

Today we went out to the Alderton Boat Lift which was built in 1875 to lift and lower boats 50 feet from an upper canal (Trent and Mersey Canal) to the lower river (River Weaver).

It was the first lift of it's type ever built in the world and has two Caissons in which the boats are raised and lowered from River to canal and Vice Versa. It currently uses 2 large single hydraulic rams and the hydraulic fluid flows from one to the other to raise and lower the Caissons containing the boats.
The Cassions are full of water so the boats are still floating during the journey up or down and one acts a s a counter balance to the other. This is done by raising the water level in the upper Caisson so that contains more water then the lower one so that it naturally wants to descend whilst the other one comes up. It uses pumps to pump the hydraulic fluid from one to the other.
In 1906 because of corrosion in the hydraulic rams caused by the salt and other pollutants in the water, the lift was converted to use a system of electric motors and pulleys.
In 1983 the lift was closed as other methods of transport were being used and was left to rot away.
The lift was reopened in 2002 after a group of people got together and raised £3.5 million for a project to rebuild it. As well as major works to the structure, it also involved converting it back to using hydraulic pistons but this time using modern day hydraulic fluid rather than water.
If you look at the centre one of the pictures I took above us, you will see a geared wheel as part of the mechanism. The dual chevron gear, was invented by Andre-Gustav Citroen and apparently this shape is used on the front of all Citroen cars as their bonnet emblem today.
(Perhaps not quite a spectacular as the Falkirk wheel opened in 2002 to link the Union Canal with the Forth & Clyde Canal at Falkirk in Scotland but still very impressive never-the-less).

After a quick lunch we headed off to have a look at the Jodrell bank radio telescope which was having some maintenance work done on it. As we were walking around it a loud alarm sounded and the thing start turning on both axis to almost face where were standing. It was pretty spectacular to see such a large object turning. Roy said he was surprised that they would move it as it was undergoing maintenance but I told him that I had given the telescope 'driver' 5 quid to give it a spin. He was duly impressed.

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