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The Lorenz Years

The Lorenz Years

In 1988 a log book kept by Roger Lorenz tells us that ‘Swallow’ undertook some trial trips; the first was on 14th May from Barton to Watch House Cruising Club and next day to Dutton.  Swallow towed FMC ‘Clematis’ from Moore to Dutton.  On 10th June ‘Swallow’ moved on to the Boat & Butty yard at Runcorn where she was left for safe keeping.  For this trip the log book notes ‘Di in charge’.  On 30th June we are told that ‘college friends’ took ‘Swallow’ back from Runcorn to Barton Yard.

On 2nd July ‘Swallow was taken to Worsley for painting and decorating by John Ball  This was completed by 10th July and she returned to Barton albeit briefly as she was off again to Runcorn and back – on the return journey skippered by Derek Entwistle, owner of ‘Stork’.

‘Swallow’  was then used extensively by the Lorenz family for trips; these are chronicled in a more detailed diary and the first,  which commenced on 27th May 1989,  was from Worsley to Parbold and return via Wigan departing at  4pm.  We are told that ‘assorted passengers’ were dropped off at Boothstown on the way.  The engine was started by hand and ran ‘rough at first ....but then sweet as a nut all day’. The crew were blessed with brilliant sunshine, with herons spotted at Boothstown and Marsland Green.  Roger notes that crew co-ordination at Poolstock locks could have been better and ‘the skipper stayed on board – a wise move!’   Seeking a fish ‘n chip shop they found one closed and ‘no more’, one closed at weekends, and one not opening until 9 pm.  The latter provided sustenance at 10 pm -  enjoyed with a bottle of wine and a belated Anniversary card.  Roger notes ‘and so to bed – cushions comfy, bedhole a bit on the short side, bunk bed satisfactory’.   A good night’s sleep was marred only by the passage of a Marathon canoe race in the early hours!

Next day ‘Swallow joined a rally of boats at Appley Bridge in warm and sunny weather but continued to Parbold ‘for cider, picnic lunch and ice cream’.   On the return trip Roger notes they met former L&L boatman Alan Holden on ‘Anna’ (built by Lorenz and co at Barton) and another boatman.

  The second, from 11th June 1989, was to Timperley and return, - a picnic trip with Amy and Vicky.  We are told of a ‘moment of panic at Water’s Meeting when the steerer aimed to go to Castlefield but the plan was to go to Timperley! – ‘emergency procedures effective and honour saved!’

 A third working trip was made on 26th August to Castlefield and return towing ‘Banstead – we are told ‘average speed 4 mph’, while another short trip on 4th October was from Barton to Worsley Cruising Club and return.  

The fifth, a family Christmas trip departing 23rd  December,  again to Appley lock and return proved to be more of an adventure – stuck on an oil drum for 25 minutes below Poolstock locks (flushed off with water from the lock), then stuck again on an iron bedstead just before Dean Lock  - pulled off eventually by a tug (‘Albert 1’) .  ‘Swallow’ joined Geoff Wheat’s ‘Princess Anne’ at Parbold after a journey of some ten hours. The rest of the boats (‘Mallard’, ‘George’ and ‘Mary’, ‘Touch Wood’ etc) had gathered a bridge further on ‘but at least we were nearer the pub’.  They enjoyed walks on Christmas Day and ‘a good Sing Song in pub on Boxing Day.  On the 27th they departed for Burscough but were ‘stranded’ by a broken Spencer’s swing bridge.  ‘Swallow’ winded and returned to Shevington and on to Worsley on 28th and Barton Yard on 29th.

At this point the detailed diary is discontinued but we still have the Engine Hours Log Book to provide information regarding the rest of the Lorenz family trips – albeit with no detail.

 The first long distance trip was in July 1990, to Whaley Bridge and Marple and return via the Ashton, Peak Forest, Macclesfield and T&M canals. There is a note the effect that the cratch (deck) board was demolished in Woodley tunnel!  This was followed in August by a foray up the Shropshire Union canal, and in December Swallow joined a number of other historic boats ploughing a channel up the Llangollen Canal – passing successfully (though with difficulty) through Hurleston bottom lock (not possible currently).   Further trips around the North West continued until 1993, with no trips in 1994, and just one trip in 1995.  Trips resumed in 1996, though none in 1998, with trips to Middlewich and return and round the ‘Four Counties’ in 1999 and towards Liverpool and return in 2000 – the latter three crewed by David and Chris Lowe -  prior to sale to David. 


A selection of photos by Roger Lorenz to illustrate this period 

( Our thanks go to Stef Lorenz for supplying and allowing publication of them here )


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