Our first goal after leaving the outskirts of Liverpool was to get to Astley Green, hopefully on the right day, to visit the pit museum there. The pithead winding tower can be seen for miles. This is the only example left of what was once a common sight in the area.
The museum is staffed totally by volunteers. As You speak to them, it becomes clear that they all once worksd in the mining industry and have a wealth of information to pass on to visitors.
The main reason for the site being preserved is the pithead winding engine. It the largest one in UK, the drum alone weighing 400tons. and powered by two double expansion steam engines. The whole museum is run on a shoestring budget, asking only for donations from the visitors. We found that the basic style of the museum, coupled with the obvious enthusiasm of the volunteers, gave the place an immediacy, lacking in many slicker operations.
After spending the night moored in the shadow of the tower amidst a landscape devastated by past mining activity we moved on through the edges of Salford and Sale, all part of Greater Manchester, to reach the next place on our list, Dunham Massey Hall.
This NT Property was used as a military hospital during WW1 and has been furnished to accurately show the way it was then. You can see the way the operations were carried out as well as follow the fortunes of some of the patients who were treated there. A lot of these stately homes were used in this way, often, as here, staffed by the families and servants that occupied them. There were actors taking on the roles of staff and patients, mingling with the visitors and bringing the the whole place to life.
The hall is set within a large deer park, and, being so close to Manchester, is very popular at the weekend. The deer however, seem quite used to the number of people there, and can be seen quite close up, allowing us to get some good pics.
The weather was quite stunning over the weekend and the clear skies allowed us to view the total lunar eclipse last night. Setting the alarm for 2.45am, we tumbled out of bed to put the kettle on and watch the moon slowly disappear, to be replaced by a red disc, the classic 'blood moon'. After seeing the'blue moon' earlier in the year it just had to be done! It will be another 30yrs before we get another eclipse like this.