We woke to a bright sunny morning and decided to take advantage of the fine weather and the lack of traffic to get up and tackle the eleven locks in the Atherstone flight. It was one of those mornings when you have the world to yourselves and you treasure the moment. In November we were coming through here on our maiden voyage and it was all rush, rush,rush to get through and reach Brinklow. Not so now. We intended stopping and having a look around Atherstone and we were not disappointed. Below the church occupies one side of the Market Square.
Originally a Saxon settlement that at the time of the Norman conquest it was in the gift of Countess Godiva; Yes, the Lady Godiva of legend. Atherstone was given to William's nephew, the Earl of Chester at the conquest and over the ensuing years developed into a thriving Market Town. From the 1600's Atherstone had gained the reputation as a Hatters (makers of hats)town and this continued right up into the 20th century. Specialising in the production of cheap felt hats that were exported to the colonies amongst other things. Apparently the hat industry here took a knock when slavery was abolished as Atherstone hats were purchased by slave owners to dress their slaves. Right up until 1931 there were 3000 people working in the hat making industry in Atherstone, now it is no more. The industry has gone;400 years of hat making kaput!