Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Anderton Boat Lift

We visited the Anderton Boat Lift on Sunday and it really impressed me.

It is a light structure that deals with huge weights with little evident effort. It’s also a very elegant solution to a difficult problem. My knowledge of engineering is too meagre to judge the originality of the ideas, but this boat lift obviously gained Edwin Morris a reputation valuable enough to earn him commissions across Europe. What is also impressive is what happened after it was shut down in 1983. A group of enthusiasts got together and stayed and worked together for 20 years to raise the £7 million necessary for its restoration, a project completed in 2002.

This is one of thousands of examples of people getting together of their own initiative to achieve something so big that the mind usually turns to government when faced with it. But government-run enterprises rarely have the type of person we had this Sunday to tell us about the Anderton. The man obviously loved the beast, and bubbled over with information which, had his audience possessed a modicum of expertise in engineering, would have greatly impressed them. There was also a certain sadness when he recounted the manufacture of the great stainless steel shafts, produced in Germany and tooled in Holland – the originals had been made in Stockport. He himself had worked at a blast furnace, “the best years of my life”. Glory that has passed from these shores.

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