The Pinfold and The Jolly Tar #narrowboat #England

There’s a certain brutality to the Cardinal’s current moorings. The A-road following the line of the canal is a deep slash across this region. Lorries thunder along it day and night, every day of the week. Roughly one in ten of the juggernauts is rushing back and forth from the factory just up in the direction of Chester. I don’t know what they make in that establishment but they make lots of it, possibly it’s Soylent Green, more likely it’s just money.

There is a pavement for pedestrians between that lorry and the barrier at the side of the canal – but you can see that it’s not designed for fun…

There’s a dead pub across from the canal junction. The Jolly Tar. It doesn’t look terribly jolly now. To be honest, it didn’t look terribly jolly when it was open… Geograph photo here.


The story doesn’t seem to be the usual one – it got demolished and only then did it burn down… Local newspaper story here.

Photograph taken from the bridge in the image below, the Middlewich Branch junction.

It is undeniably a blot with no cheer now though, and slap bang opposite the junction of the main Shropshire Union canal with the Middlewich Branch.

The Cardinal and I have been back and forth through here a few times this past year. The folk on the moored boats, having reduced the canal to a third of its width, like to stare and sometimes shout at passing boats.
Doesn’t it look nicer with all but the CaRT sign removed? Through there is Middlewich, to the left of frame is Chester, to the right of frame is Audlem and the “the south”.

I’ve cheered this old bridge up a bit in these photographs by blending away the vast collection of tasteless signs nailed all over it. I do dislike the way that we humans must slap vast signs on anything and everything. We produce the most elegant of structures and then we cover it in shi*te. Silly, silly humans.

Mind you, between you, me, the gatepost and the internet, the farm next to where the pub used to be is in need of a damned good hug. Times is hard, and the walls are cracked through and parts of the roof are disappearing one slate tile at a time. Cheshire is an odd county. A million quid’s worth of – leased, on the never-never – fancy cars pass by on this road every two minutes, and yet half of the county is decaying like a road-kill badger. It is difficult to keep momentum once the cracks begin to show.

You’ve only got to look at my own case to see that. Once upon a time a Greek god, now more like a Greek tragedy with thick specs and carpet slippers.


I don’t know why I like the moorings here, but I do – for a short stay. The thunder of the traffic encourages me to appreciate the silence of the countryside even more, and the constant rush rush rush of the people, back and forth, back and forth, reminds me to appreciate the pace of life on the Cardinal.


There aren’t really any facilities here. There were, once upon a time. Yon side of that bridge hole behind the Cardinal is a building that used to be all things necessary. It is closed and neglected now. The only thing a boater may do here – aside from move on – move on – move on – is to dispose of rubbish. There’s a locked compound just a little farther on, with a big skip inside it. During summer it overflows ten minutes after the dustbinmen leave, but in winter there’s always room for one more bag of silly plastic packaging and empty jars that a chap can’t do anything with. It’s a sign of the times that even rubbish disposal is a rare and valued service on the canals, and a facility that is being eroded constantly.


The lane here leads to a marina, of sorts. I think that they “manage” the moorings, the double line of boats that you can see through the bridge hole in one of the earlier photographs. They also have a chandlery. TBH, I’ve been in undertakers that were more cheerful. If they ever had a whole live personality between them in there then at some time they obviously flung it into a corner and used a flame-thrower on it. I do wonder if perhaps this whole locality just has the wrong vibe for businesses of any variety.

We’re on what the Canal Rozzers describe as “Visitor Moorings”. A visitor mooring is where they set a few mooring rings in concrete blocks and then slap up signs, always with the signs, limiting mooring to 48 hours. During what they call the “winter season” this restriction is lifted and the moorings revert to the more proper and legal 1995 Waterways Act’s 14 days. We won’t be here for fourteen days! Just long enough to reacquaint myself with the insane pace of modern affluent society, and then I’ll untie the ropes and we’ll be offski to pastures more civilised.

I’m not entirely sure what non-“winter season” boaters might be expected to visit while moored here on these “visitor moorings”. There is a pub, ten minutes walk away in the next village along, presumably the pub that won the contest against The Jolly Tar and thus remains in business. There’s the chandlery with the corporate personality of a slapped ar*se,  of course. Other than that, though, no shops, no nuffink. Buses pass occasionally on the main road, they must be going somewhere.

The street lighting on the A road is a giggle – so bright that my solar panel array cops about half an amp all night from them. It’s enough to run the LEDs on the control panel.

I did venture up the road a little, in the way of walkies. Not a wildly satisfying experience – the pavement is just 2′ 6″ wide, right next to the main carriageway. About half a mile on at a huge new roundabout (doubtless to service roads to even more silly developments in the distinctly alimentary pipeline of the council wallahs) the pavement disappears altogether. Pedestrians not wanted. Be on your way.

The only item of historical interest is the Pinfold. The big blue sign tells me that this is – was – an arrangement wherein stray animals were held for ransom by the ancient local powers that be. Owners had to pay a “fine” (id est, a bribe, bung money) to retrieve their own property. Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme old robber barons running everything, eh?



I did go and stand inside the walls for thirty minutes, but no-one claimed me. Two old ladies poked me with an umbrella, but they just sniffed and walked away, there was no talk of bailing me out of council clink.

“Impounded” indeed! Held for ransom more like, by our self-appointed lords and masters! Ever-thieving bast*ards! I really must work on this replacing one letter with an apostrophe lark, I don’t think that I’m doing it corr*ectly. 😉

So there we have it. These are nice moorings, in some weird way, but they’re not “nice-nice” moorings. They’re more industrial than rural. They do allow me to gawp at the animals rushing hither and thither though, and to wonder just what is in all of those heavily-laden lorries.

As a narrowboat-dweller you don’t half find yourself fetching up in some unlikely places.

That, though, is surely the beauty and the fun of it all.

Chin-chin for the mo.

Ian H.


  1. With so many boats docked there even in winter, you would have thought they could maintain facilities. I drive through the edge of a much drearier blighted area. I’m convinced it’s the driving through that blights it. It clearly thrived at one point. But now it’s boarded up. Because everyone goes to places with vast parking lots and enormous overly lit stores with self check out. They don’t walk two blocks to the local grocer. They drive to the national chain grocer.

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    1. It is indeed so. No-one lives close to where they work anymore which means that everyone drives – so every town and village demands a by-pass road which then means that the local shops die because there’s no passing trade – and everyone has to drive even more to get to out-of-town “shopping areas”. It is insane. These “A-roads” are horrid, only two types of people attempt to cross them on foot – the quick (the very quick and fleet of foot) and the dead…

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  2. Apart from the captured narrowboats, the Stargate portal looks enticing to river traffic, but maybe that is the lure of it. The Pinfold reminds me of something near where I live, but it is a little larger and still in use the last time I saw it, only this one traps all manner of wild flowers which grow in abundance within it. I’m surprised we don’t have a Pinfold though the importance given to dog fouling (in the vast scheme of life’s abhorrent acts) if I remember that rightly – BIG issue always! It’s a bleak time of year whichever window you look out of – I await Spring and look lovingly at the daffodils and tulips someone bought me the other day. I love daffodils because they seem courageous given the time of year they flower – ah, melancholia wherefore art though cheery daffodils?

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    1. I too love Daddofils – the wild guerrilla warfare flower of choice! Yesterday I noticed some rather defiant snowdrops and something in pink (about two or three inches, a small, tight bundle of petals). Tis nice to see some colour finding its way back into the scenery. If only most people were as pretty as the flowers… 😉


    1. Tis indeed. Today is Monday morning which, by some sneaky trick of logic and linear time, means that last night was Sunday night – the traffic actually eased off a little, there were occasional brief, thirty-second gaps! The day today is dull, grey and very very wet – the passing traffic now has that swish of tyres as well as everything else. I certainly won’t be walking along the roadside today, not with all of that spray… 🙂

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    1. Apologies – I didn’t intend this to be depressing, just …different! 🙂 The problems of the canals have, these days, the same causes as the problems of the rest of the country – tax tax tax being diverted to line pockets, smooth palms and feather nests. Instead of being a National treasure they’re now left scrambling for funding from silly cycling schemes and fishing licences and nonsense. Actually, you’re right – that IS depressing!


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