Monday, October 03, 2022

"Firing into the Brown" #21 - More canals and stuff..

"So Carnehan weeds out the pick of his men and sets the two of the Army to show them drill and at the end of two weeks the men can manoeuvre about as well as Volunteers. So he marches with the Chief to a great big plain on the top of a mountain, and the Chiefs men rushes into a village and takes it; we three Martinis firing into the brown of the enemy".

Kipling "The Man Who Would Be King"

Time for another update..
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More canal updates...  time to update the map...


We did the lock ringed yellow (Salterns Lock) last post - this time I went to the lock ringed green - Milton Sea Lock at the start of the Portsmouth section (blue line). 

Based on further reading I have also added the second route via the north of Thorney (red dotted), though sources do disagree, and I reckon the southern route is more likely. 

The yellow dotted line (Portscreek - my old cycle route to work) was the route taken when they eventually closed the Portsmouth canal section but still needed a route to Portsmouth Harbour (which is to the left of where the map ends) 

Apropos of something, I was thinking (as you do) of the difficulties of getting a sailing barge from east to west, and in confined waters, when the prevailing winds in our area are usually south westerly (ie. on the nose), and my reading would indicate that the answer was a steam barge (the "Egremont" - named after the principal financier of the canal) which they used to tow the barges along the 13-mile harbour section.

This information board at the lock sums up the Portsmouth section nicely...


This section of the canal ran from Langstone Harbour, ending at a canal basin in central Portsmouth which is now Arundel Street (that may be how it got its name being the terminus of the "Portsmouth and Arundel navigation company".

A 150 ton sailing barge by the way is no small thing, this is an example ==>


So the Portsmouth section of the canal =- which is after all the main interest of this little diversion, was filled with sea water not fresh water
  • was opened 1822, but went officially live in 1823
  • was drained in 1827 as it was leaking and caused local fresh water wells to become contaminated
  • in 1830 because of low levels of traffic they reduced prices to encourage more freight - a lot of traffic had already been diverted via Portcreek
  • in 1845 they had sold off sections of the Portsmouth section to the railway (which opened 1847)
  • by 1847 the entire canal (apart from Chichester) was unnavigable
Little over 15-20 years of use for all that expenditure...

Milton sea lock looking west along the line of what would have been the canal - there's a boat club now in what would have been the basin between the two locks

Harbour end of the lock

Remains of possible wharfage at the end of the lock

That house is the old pumping station - a steam engine would have sucked sea water out of the locks and into the canal

Stay tuned - next stop the canal basin/Arundel Street

More stuff:

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 Laters, as the young people are want to say...

6 comments:

  1. Interesting as my daughter and partner have just bought a property in Southsea and they will be looking for routes to kayak.

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    1. Not much water left in this one, Will.. :o) Southsea id my old stomping ground, as a younger man we lived in Eastney for a number of years before finally giving up because of the traffic... lovely place... for kayaking, I would suggest Langstone and Chichester harbours are marvellous... loads to see!

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  2. Fascinating information Steve. I had never considered how they would integrate the sea and fresh water parts of the canal. It must have been a bit of an engineering job to work it all out. And I can imagine they would not have made any friends by contaminating people's drinking water. Also interesting that it relied on steam engines to operate successfully, the very thing that would make it obsolete.

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    1. Hi Ben - me neither (re. salt/fresh) but when you pause to think about it, it becomes obvious - Portsea is an island and the highest point on the entire island is only 21 feet.. fresh water would have been at a premium but the place is surrounded by the salty stuff, and the boats would have been arriving via the sea water harbours ... so many uses for steam on the canals, but as you say it was the death knell at the same time..

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  3. An interesting post Steve.

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