North West Opening Run

MTWC North West Group Opening Run  

Anderton Boat Lift – 8th May – Richard Whitehurst

A small group of North Westerners having already explored the Welsh Marshes in April the official Opening Run was slightly miss-placed on 8th May. Nonetheless, the more activities available for our much-loved machines the better. Whilst setting the NW Group 2024 calendar, towards the end of last year, who would have contemplated all the twists and turns involved in finally settling on a date. My initial plan was to combine the start of the run with the VMCC Founders Relay Rally and visit the local checkpoint run by the Cheshire Cats Section and held at J&S Motorcycle Accessories, Delamere. Because I was guessing at dates that early in the year I opted for the equivalent date from the previous event, two years ago. Guess what? The published date was moved forward by a week. OK, no problem, stick with our date and miss out on the Founders Relay Rally. Problem number two – the initial date, 5th May was the date of the Lakes and Lancs Group Run from Bolton Steam Museum and it was also May Bank Holiday weekend. After discussion at a group meeting, it was felt that any venue over a Bank Holiday may be rather over crowded on that day – lets go for a different date. This meant members were free to join the Lakes and Lancs Group, although crossing the Manchester Ship Canal and the heavy use of motorways and trunk roads did put off the use of three wheels. So, our event moved to Thursday 9th May. Guess What? The Boat Lift doesn’t open on Thursdays! So, fourth time lucky? Wednesday 8th May proved to be an acceptable day and was locked in. Canal and River Trust informed, lunch booked at the pub, members informed – we were ready.

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The Anderton Boat Lift is an incredible piece of 150 year-old Victorian engineering structure designed to lift boats from the River Weaver Navigation to the Trent & Mersey a distance of 50ft, one of the Seven Wonders of the Waterways. The double, side by side counterweighted, caisson lift was in continuous use until its forced closure in 1983 due to corrosion. Restoration began in 2001,  re-opened on 2002 and is now a very popular tourist attraction with both walking tours and boat trips available. Well worth supporting if you get the chance.

The warm sunny day began at our regular start point, Snowdrop Café at Grasslands Nursery, Over Peover, where we always get a cheery welcome. Being the keen, enthusiastic and punctilious organiser, I arrived with Gill in our F4 exactly at the prescribed time to an empty car park. Would anyone else arrive. No time to wait and find out as I discover I’ve left my mobile phone at home so being only 5 minutes away, was there enough time to pop back and collect it. Yes, there was! On return three Morgans had arrived – Bob Barlow, Sports MX4 with Pete Newham as passenger, Roy Summerscales in his Super Sports MX4 and Darren Parkinson in his 1935 Family Twin. Pete Newham would anyone believe me when I said I’d been here on time – of course they would! We spent a little time in the usual fashion, milling around and admiring the Morgans and then took a quick drink, and breakfast, for some, we set off for the Boat Lift on mainly small byways. A good plan, initially until we find someone thought it a good idea to completely close part of our chosen route. Using the excellent local knowledge of my navigator we were soon back on track. But not before Roy’s Super Sports lost power ascending a short rise. Managing to pull over into a small layby the problem was soon diagnosed as a loose plug lead, fixed back in place and we were on our way again. This put us behind time slightly and consequently we missed Mike Guess who had planned to meet us on the route in. I ’guess’ he got fed up with waiting.

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We arrived at Anderton and parked the Morgans in the arranged location alongside the canal bank and were joined by the group that drove directly to the boat lift, Trevor Gill and Guy Greaves in a Super Sports and Mike Guess in his Aero. It was particularly nice to see Mike using his Morgan for the first time since his fall and damaged shoulder. This may, however, be the last outing for Mike and the Morgan as soon it will be enjoying a return to competitive life in new enthusiastic hands.

Also at the lift we were joined by Dennis Rushton, Chris Jenkins and is friend Gordon, and supporting us from the Lakes and Lancs Group were Steve and Val Hughes. The last of the arrivals arrived having negotiated even more road closures on the way over from Wales, Bob and Flo Angell in their Super Sports bagged the last parking spot by the canal bank. Seven Three Wheelers in total – not a bad turnout. 

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Tea, coffee, cake and inspection of the engineering completed we popped over to Acton Bridge to a riverside pub for lunch where the staff coped well with the 16 bodies descending on them. Good food and time to chat and share stories we eventually set off home in the late afternoon. With days like this, I can’t understand why more people don’t have Morgan Three Wheelers.

Thanks to everyone for turning out and making it a special day, See you soon

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