After a week at Beale Park watching the jubilee celebrations, we took the opportunity for a night on Pangbourne Meadow (so I could restock the fridge without having to carry the shopping down the towpath). I would have called a water taxi but the standard of boat building in these parts leaves a lot to be desired.
Despite the dodgy rafts, the prestigious Pangbourne college, has historic naval links, but in 1939 it was the Royal engineers took advantage of the meadow and used the area to train in bridge building. However the Whitchurch bridge is still standing (Whitchurch being on the Oxfordshire side, Pangbourne is in Berkshire) has stood on the site since 1792. When it was first built the ferryman received £350 in compensation for loss of trade. Its one of only 2 remaining private toll bridges over the Thames. (Swinford being the other)
But with the sun shining we set off -our destination, Shiplake lock charging point.
Our first chuckle of the day came when we saw two heads popping up out of the water, we realised they were divers, I duly called out what are you looking for?…. “Bodies” came the reply. It turns out they were filming for Midsomer Murders. I suspect Firecrest’s photobombing shot will end up on the cutting room floor.
Filming was obviously the order of the day, because we saw these two capturing the moment
and this swimmer who was either being chased by a submarine, or was well prepared to sue any boat that cut the corner too close for comfort.
Or perhaps just keeping a look out for anyone going the wrong way.
but the two things that puzzled us the most, was seeing a letter box built into the railway embankment wall below Mapledurham. Who was going to use it to post letters and who was going to collect them.
Then we saw another built into the Sonning bridge arch which caused me to ask Mr Google for some answers. The Sonning post box was is an art installation, just the front of a box, put up by the artist, Impro, in 2013, the Mapledurham post box appeared in 2016 but is probably a copycat prank with no one claiming responsibility.
but as I’m posting about bridges, we couldnt pass through this area without mentioning Christchurch footbridge in Reading.
Completed in 2015 linking Reading and Caversham, and if like us you like a few facts and figures,
it is 123 metres long, the mast is 39m tall. Is made up from more than 455 tonnes of steel,
A 68 m river span weighing approximately 200 tonnes and supported by 14 pairs of cables,
1,100 metres of reinforced cable attached to the main bridge mast, supporting eight separate steel sections
A 50 tonne mast sitting 39m above river level, supported on nine piles 750mm in diameter and 19 metres in length.
On a hot day, a mast that expands 3cm as it warms up.
A bridge deck which expands up approximately 6cm at the middle of its river span on a hot day.
A bridge deck is only 380mm deep – about the size of a car steering wheel
234 LED lights – 39 of which are colour changing – alongside its white LED walkway illuminating lighting.
I wonder if it will last as long and look as good as the brick bridges in a few hundred years.
We had been warned that there was absolutely no mooring to be had in Reading, however we spotted this gap, which leads directly to the entrance of tesco. I took advantage and restocked the ballast, eg, if theres a shortage of tinned tomatoes or other heavy bulky goods, we’ll be ok
Weve got used to seeing some pretty prestigeous boats but obviously not all boats in Reading wanted to be seen
We made it to Shiplake Lock to recharge our batteries. And our final mystery of the day….