Friday, 13 February 2009

Mad as Hatters

Looking back down Atherstone flight on our way to Atherstone town.
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!
Below, Market Square Atherstone.

Market Square.

Above, Long Street Atherstone.

After a rather indifferent lunch in Atherstone we headed out of the town into glorious springlike sunshine. We are now moored in a tranquil spot for the weekend just past Hartshill.


Nb Epiphany said...

Hi Leslie,thanks for the info on Atherstone. we are looking forward to exploring it when we have done the Ashby! Have been in Coventry too long (See blog on website!) and will be glad to move tomorrow!
Maybe we will see you enroute. Like the review in CB!
Fiona, Nb Epiphany

Lesley NB Caxton said...

Hi Fiona
We will be moving on Monday, destination Hawkesbury Junction and hopefully we will be able to meet up. Your entry on Coventry has whetted my apetite - the family had a series of Alvis cars when I was a child - I even got to drive the last one - and Coventry was the home of the Alvis so I think that deserves a visit don't you?