Summer Cruise Day 21
Another early start today as we left our Evesham mooring after a quiet night, despite being close to a main road and the riverside benches being occupied ‘til late evening with small groups drinking Eastern European beer.
So we crept away at 8:15 and found Evesham Lock set for us, and were assisted through by another narrowboater and and a man who was, I assume the lock keeper, because he assured me I’d swamp the front of the boat by being that near the lock gate.
As I said I hadn’t done so at previous locks he said “ Please yourself” and I continued my practice of filling the lock by the opposite side paddle until the sluices were covered without any problem.
We passed the The Bridge Inn & Ferry at Offenham, curiously there is no bridge and the ferry doesn’t look much used. See footnote 1
Many of the Avon Locks have been renamed after benefactors of the trust so next was George Billington (Offenham) Lock which is just a 3’ rise and has a unique tower next to it again dedicated to a man instrumental in re-opening the Avon to navigation.
At Robert Aickman (Harvington) Lock we joined a Viking Afloat hire boat who were heading back to Worcester and whose help was appreciated as the top gates were extremely difficult to open. We caught them up again at IWA (Marcliff) Lock and shared with them again and were impressed with their (12 year old?) son’s steering ability who seemed as competent as the adults, if not more so. Good luck to them, they need to be back at Worcester Sunday night, so they pressed on to Stratford while we moored up and had a pleasantly lazy afternoon at Bidford Recreation Ground moorings.
We were joined on the moorings by nb Against the Odds by mid-afternoon who we have seen most days since Tewkesbury.
For boaters contemplating cruising the Avon it’s worth knowing that many of the locks have overnight moorings adjacent as other moorings are sparse as you progress further upstream.
The first documentary evidence of a bridge at Offenham is from 1285 (Watson no date). This stone bridge crossed the river close to Dead Man’s Ait (or island), where many skeletons of horses and men who did not manage to fully escape the battle of Evesham in 1265 have been found (Cox 1953).
The stone footbridge that was once located to the west of the study site was probably removed when the Evesham to Stratford section of the Avon was made navigable in the second half of the 17th century; the crossing thereafter being served by a ferry. Ferry Lane and Boat Lane clearly refer to this part of the crossing’s history, and the route continued to support traffic and a public house; the Bridge Inn (WSM 07366), which presumably originally dated from the time of the bridge.