Whats Happening ?

Open Day

Starting at 2.00pm over 85 members of the general public visited the site of the Sea Lock today as part of an ‘Open Day’ opportunity for people to see for first hand the  progress of restoration of the site.  Boards  erected at key points along  from the way in from Annery Kiln provided text and pictoral information about the historic and  present-day land usage.

Assisting Hilary and Adrian to guide visitors along was Norman Richards, Barry Hughes and Chris Hassall.  Other friends had volunteered to act as parking wardens and to collect entrance fees (£2 per person which goes towards restoration costs.)  Down at the wharf area refreshments were available including cream teas courtesy of Steve Blazey. (Steve and his wife are the owners of Blazeys of Bideford where great coffee and cakes are on sale).  Two large marquees had been erected on the quayside, one containing a display of pictures, maps and literature about the history of Lord Rolle’s Canal and the works that were being undertaken on it as well as the Tub-boat building project..  The second contained artifacts found on site and some on loan from the North Devon Museum Trust relating to ship building.  Looped slide-shows of the restoration of the Sea Lock and the Tub Boat Project were on display as was a short, vintage tv documentary programme from the 1960s about the working life of the North Devon Trading MV ‘Advance’ barge which now lies sadly, rapidly decaying in the wharf basin.

As well as the full-size, almost finished, replica tub-boat on display was the under-construction lead tub-boat, the under-restoration reed cutting paddle driven narrow boat. Also on loan from the NDMT and on display were two horse drawn ploughs, hand driven chaff cutting machinery and grain crushing machinery; both of these machines being made by Tardrews of Bideford.  The Tardrew family had interests in iron foundry work,  lime kilns and transporting goods along the Rolle canal.

Two agricultural tractors belonging to the NDMT were prominently displayed, one being an old grey ‘Fergie’  (1940s Model T20 Ferguson) and a very rare 1916 Mogul International tractor.  The Mogul had been in storage for a very long time and its engine idle for probably more than 30 years.  Earlier in the week, following considerable degunking,  tweaking, head-scratching  and other such mechanical terms, the concerted efforts of Wesley, Norman, Bob and later, Adrian, finally managed to fire-up the engine and eventually get it running  smoothly (in a relative kind of way!)  It was hoped to have the Mogul running during the course of Open Day but Wesley was unavailable and without his experience of such machines it was considered too dangerous to attempt starting it.

By 5.30 most of the crowd had finished all the cream teas and begun wandering home, hopefully considerably more informed than when they first arrived.  Those attending showed a great deal of interest, asking questions and making comments appropriate to what they saw.      The weather had been cool and dry all day making for a very good event but by the time Hilary and Adrian returned home the weather took a turn for the worse and rain began to fall.  The considerable task of clearing up was postponed until the following day although a lot was completed before the rain set in.