Maria was at Marple between 23rd June and 3rd July, close to the spot where she was built in 1954. She was on public display near Marple Top Lock during this time and was horseboated down the locks as part of the Marple Locks Festival. Here is Sue Day’s report of the occasion:
The crew had a very long busy day, from 10 am to 10 pm. All brasses gleamed on the boat and the boathorse harness. The sun shone down with great heat. Our thanks go to Bilbo who was an absolute star in the heaving crowds on the locks in the morning. There was a great atmosphere on the locks in the afternoon, with interested onlookers, without the huge crowds which makes operating difficult.
At noon at the Top Lock, the boat was loaded with a few “vintage sacks of coal” which were taken down the locks to the festival site in the park. After a harnessing demo to the public at 2 pm, the boat continued to Samuel Oldknow’s warehouse where the sacks were unloaded. After the flight of 16 locks, the boat crossed the high Marple Aqueduct before soon being legged through Hyde Bank Tunnel (which is not in Hyde!).
The Marple Locks Festival is a lovely event and we are most grateful to the Marple Locks Heritage Society organisers who invite the Horseboating Society to attend and make a centrepiece of the horse-drawn boat Maria as she was built in Marple in 1854. She was built at the boatyard of James Jinks and named after his daughter Maria.
Later in the ten mile journey, we think Bilbo probably injured himself on the two turnover bridges as we made our way home. The horses have struggled for many years on the slopes there, ever since they were resurfaced with slippery setts (maybe granite?), and Bilbo slipped badly on his return journey. It seems to vary according to the state of the horse’s shoes and if it is wet or dry. Whatever, he was slipping badly and may have jarred himself in the shoulder, resulting in lameness on his off side foreleg. Fortunately we were able to rest Bilbo and send for the horsebox to collect him. Maria was then towed by historic motorboat Joel the last couple of miles to the boatyard at Guidebridge, both boats belonging to the Ashton Packet Boat Company.
As treatment that night, Bilbo was put on his own into a flat field with short grass. No other horses to push him around, easy terrain, short grass for ease of movement. He was walking soundly in the field on the next day. So I lifted his leg and he had good shoulder movement again whereas the previous night he could not raise his leg to much height while walking and he was stumbling. However I detected slight swelling in his good foreleg so he must be rested until that goes. Probably caused because he will have taken more weight on the good leg to compensate for the lameness in the other foreleg. It was a huge relief to me to see him getting better so quickly. Poor boy.
Time for Bonny to come back into work while Bilbo has a little time off.
Sunday 3rd July:
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