Maritime History - Tall Ships 2008
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Over Fifty Members of the Maldon U3A left Maldon on Saturday 19th July and headed to Wrexham. The day started with an early start from Morrison’s car park and in true U3A tradition every one was on time. On our journey to Wrexham, Bowen’s our tour operator had suggested that we visit the “Bridgemere Garden World” for our mid journey stop but our driver Phil felt that three hours at the garden centre might be just a little to much. At his suggestion we stopped at the Wedgwood factory and had a very reasonable priced lunch in the Wedgwood Visitors Centre. Then we visited the Wedgwood Centre shop where we saw some of the beautiful pieces produced at the factory at not so reasonable prices. We did visit Bridgemere Garden World which must be one of the biggest garden centres I have every visited. Then we made our way to the first of our two hotels the Ramada Plaza Hotel, Wrexham. After a very nice evening meal some of us retired to the bar for a few jar’s before wending our way to our rooms.
Sunday morning we left Wrexham for Liverpool for a guided tour of Liverpool (European Capital of Culture).
Here we are in Liverpool
Photographs by Paul Costa
Then we headed to a parking spot between the Albert and Wellington docks where we were able at leisure to visit the tall ships moored in these docks. During the few weeks prior to this trip I had seen some adverse reports on Liverpool and its inhabitants. I was delighted to say that on all the occasions we visited Liverpool and surrounding districts the place was very clean and tidy and the people were very friendly. After seeing all of the tall ships in the Wellington dock and going on board the Mexican Naval Ship “Cuauhtemoc” Eileen and I headed for the Albert dock, passed the famous Liver building but this proved to be a tall ship too far so we headed up into the city centre where a very nice policeman (don’t they look young) told us where we could get a cup of tea.
Then it was back to the coach via a Sunday Market in a disused tea warehouse. Although it had fallen to disrepair it was a nice piece of Victorian architecture and I was pleased to note that it was soon to be turned into apartments. Chester was our last stop of the day, where we made our way to the second of our hotels The Best Westminster Hotel. The hotel was somewhat smaller than the Ramada. The rooms were cosy to say the least and the food on the whole was good.
On Monday morning after a good breakfast we left our hotel for Liverpool’s Pier head to embark on Mersey Ferries (River Explorer) for a short trip up the River Mersey. While we were on the River, Phil our driver looked out the best place for us to view the Tall Ships leaving Liverpool. So we drove the short distance up the coast to New Brighton where we had an excellent view of these lovely vessels, unfortunately the wind was against them so they were not in full sail. Nevertheless the flotilla led by H.M.S. Argyll was a spectacular site.
Anderson Boat Lift
Waiting for our boat
Tuesday found us on our coach for a tour of Chester. With our Blue/Green Badge guide Gerard (a fountain of information) we toured this lovely old city with its scores of black & white buildings not all Tudor I hasten to add, some were built as late as the twentieth century. Part of this tour took us to the lovely village of Eccleston. The first Duke of Westminster built this village for his estate workers it includes the Village school and church which is built in the style of a cathedral. After the tour we went on to the Anderton boatlift. Being lifted fifty odd feet to the next water level while in a boat was quite an experience.
The rest of the day was free time to wander at will around the City of Chester this gave Eileen and I a chance to see Chester’s lovely cathedral and take in some of Chester’s architecture.
Manchester Ship Canal
Wednesday saw us off to Liverpool again to catch the Mersey Ferry for a trip up the Manchester Ship Canal. I expected the canal to be lined with old warehouses and factories. Yes there was some industry along the canal but a large percentage of the canal goes through lovely countryside. It is now a home to many water birds, basically the canal is now clean enough to support wild life. We saw Kingfishers, Swans, Herons and Cormorants to name but a few. The canal, which was built to carry ships right to the heart of Manchester, is as deep as the Suez Canal was when it was built. This guaranteed that if a ship could sail through the Suez Canal it could sail up the Manchester Ship Canal.
There were six swing bridges, one swing aqueduct plus four locks to negotiate. The approach to Salford Quays was truly magnificent we saw the Lowry Centre, Old Trafford, Home of Manchester United and the new BBC Centre under construction. This is where we ended our journey and boarded our coach for the journey back to Chester. Everybody I spoke to enjoyed the trip very much.
Well all-good things have to come to an end and Thursday saw us on our way home.
We called at Wightwick Manor on the way back. This is a lovely manor house built at the end of the Victorian era by the Mander Family who had close ties with Wolverhampton having owned a paint and varnish factory in the city.
After lunch at the Mermaid Pub we headed off on the last leg of our journey back to Maldon. This is but a brief synopsis of what was for Eileen and I , a fun and interest filled six days. In conclusion I would like to thank Malcolm and Rosemary for what I consider was very nice and very well organised trip.
Report by Fred Lane
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Last revised: 30th July 2008