Home fires burning…

This is the canal from Gloucester, the UK’s biggest inland port, to Sharpness at the mouth of the River Severn. I found this on a trawl through old images and it reminded me that I used to take a walk out on Christmas Day camera in hand and I recall well that this particular day was bright, cold and crips and there were very few people around. It was Christmas Day 2009.

This view overlooks the warehouses that would originally have been the timber yards that in their day would have been bustling with men unloading timber from Scandinavia. Some which would have gone to the nearby match factory, which is still intact, though a little run down these days. Matchmaking is one of those industries that many might be glad to see the back of. Working in foul conditions and with dangerous chemicals many of the poor girls working there would later suffer from Phossy Jaw, which deformed their faces and was a result of handling phosphorous for the matches.

There’s still at least one timber yard on the canal: Nick’s Timber. There may be more that I’m not aware of. But the timber no longer comes in on ships up the canal. It probably comes via another port and then by road.

The area makes for an interesting walk from Gloucester Docks, and like the ships, you can eventually get to Sharpness, but it’s a long way, so do it in bits. Sharpness Docks at the other end is also an interesting place to look around and has the feel of somewhere trapped in the 1950s.

The picture below is more recent, taken about a week ago, on a cold day. The inhabitants of Sheena Mackay were no doubt toasty in their ship’s lounge. This is in the marina at Sharpness where there are quite a few inhabited barges and boats, and quite a few more uninhabited. The whiff of burning coal as we walked past one of the barges took me back to my youth in Lancashire with chimney’s blowing out those evocative sulphurous fumes of the home fire burning, no doubt lit by a match from the Moreland’s Factory down the road here in Gloucester.

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