Saturday, December 30, 2023

Finding direction in life

Photos courtesy of Unsplash 

The River Severn rises in the mountains of Wales, passing by the Powys towns of Newtown, Welshpool and over the border into England. Meandering through Shrewsbury and on to Stourport, Worcester and Gloucester. Here there are inland docks with the commencement of the canal to Sharpness, with its access to the Severn Estuary and the Bristol Channel. The river itself flows on to open out into its famous estuary. It has seen times of substantial waterborne cargoes.

Before the days of steam tugs, hundreds of vessels called trows, either propelled by sail or pulled by horses and men, carried cargoes up to Pool Quay near Welshpool. It was not easy as the river is notorious for being shallow. Crews had to rely upon spring tides  and flood water to keep going. 

The major flow of traffic on the river in the last century came about following the decline of traffic during the First World War and into the 1920’s. Oil became an essential commodity and the River Severn became a busy commercial waterway again, with a fleet of motor tanker barges that turned the river into a floating pipeline delivering oil at storage sites from Gloucester to Stourport. They were sea going barges as they had to make the rough sea journey from Swansea to Sharpness before the canal to Gloucester and  onto the river. The crew of four  had to be skilled in both seamanship and river work. In the Bristol Channel they needed knowledge of tides, currents and marker buoys besides the awareness of ocean going ships. On the river there was the skill of navigating the barge especially in times of both flood and low water levels.

Life for the men was hard. a typical day would start at 5am taking the tanker barge empty to Sharpness, then out into the sea, hoping to reach Swansea Queens Dock in time to be loaded and achieve departure on the tide. If the flood tide was in their favour the crew might get a nights sleep at Sharpness. Another 5am start would see them on the long trip up to Worcester or maybe Stourport. It took three hours to reach Gloucester up the canal, then seven hours to Worcester. Next morning it was off again at 5am. The oil traffic  continued, along with other river freight cargoes until the 1970’s with the M5 and M50 motorways and a pipeline now built. Actually the last barges did not carry oil but grain between Sharpness and Tewkesbury.

The longest journey the tanker barges made was from Swansea to Stourport, which took two days including a night at Sharpness. A journey that needed such a variety of skills and knowledge to both stay safe and progress. Everyday brought challenges just like life.

Do you know your final destination on your journey through this life? Are you ready to face whatever comes along your life’s journey? Well we can, on the authority of the Bible, have the certainty of a glorious final destination and someone very special to be with us every step of the way there. You and I are born in sin and God required one great sacrifice to deal with it forever. The Lord Jesus Christ died on the cross to give us the free gift of eternal life. If we trust Him as our Saviour the consequences of our sin will be dealt with forever. We will spend eternity with Him as our final destination and He will be with us all the way on life’s journey there. The men on the barges knew the features of their destination and the knowledge to meet the challenges of the journey. Are you certain of your final destination and also have the assurance of one to guide and keep you on the journey of life?


No comments

Blogger Template Created by pipdig