A historic 19th century commercial boat anchor, rescued from the bottom of the River Weaver Navigation, has been given a new home on display at the foot of Anderton Boat Lift, Britain’s Cathedral of the Canals, in Northwich.
The Canal & River Trust waterways and wellbeing charity, which operates the famous lift and visitor trip boat, was asked to provide a permanent resting place for this fascinating boating relic by the family of former British Waterways sections inspector Neville Robinson.
The anchor, thought to date back to 1840, belonged to the old Weaver-built schooner British Queen, and was discovered by Neville and his colleagues buried deep in silt at Pickerings Wharf in the 1980s, when they were dredging the Weaver to maintain river depth – a task now carried out by the Canal & River Trust.
The anchor then spent many happy years as a curio in the Robinson family garden – even moving house with them. But when Neville and his wife died recently, their son and daughter felt it was time to find the treasured memento a permanent and more fitting home on dry land next to the Weaver, where visitors can enjoy seeing it too.
With the help of John Tackley, president of the River Weaver Navigation Society, and Ani Sutton, the Trust’s North West destinations and attractions manager, the anchor is now in place on public view. And in August, the Robinson family, guests and boating colleagues met at Anderton to enjoy a celebratory ribbon cutting.
Ani said: “The anchor makes an attractive feature in this part of the boat lift grounds and is in a prime position for people to enjoy as they embark or disembark from boat trips through the Victorian boat lift. It has a real air of mystery about it and provides a fascinating extra exhibit for visitors to enjoy as they meander around the beautiful grounds.”
Neville Robinson’s daughter Lynne Foster is delighted with the anchor’s new home. She added: “No one knows how the anchor came to be lost in the first place, but it is wonderful for it now to be permanently on view close to the river and the boat lift for everyone to enjoy. It is back where it should be, on the River Weaver, where it had laid unseen for over 100 years.”
Visitors can see the new anchor exhibit during Anderton Boat Lift centre opening hours. The visitor attraction is currently open to visitors five days a week on Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday (10am – 4.30pm). Entry to the grounds, visitors centre, café, playground and shop is free but there is a charge for boat trips through the lift and along the Weaver Navigation. Boat trips are currently being run with reduced capacity so visitors are strongly advised to book in advance by ringing 01606 786777.
The Anderton Boat Lift, opened in 1870, is Britain’s first boat lift and one of the Seven Wonders of the Waterways. It provides a unique way for boats to travel 50 feet between the Trent & Mersey Canal at the top and the River Weaver Navigation below.
For more information about visiting, please check out the Canal & River Trust website: https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/places-to-visit/anderton-boat-lift-visitor-centre.