We had 20 locks to do today and some of them in the rain, well heavy drizzle is probably a better word.
The first 16 locks were the Stourbridge flight which dropped us down 145 feet. At lock 10 the top gate was miraculously open! The miracle continued as all the rest of the locks were set and the gates open. We never actually saw anyone, but I knew there was a man ahead of us as he kept peering round corners and bushes! Eventually at the bottom lock I saw him walking back up the flight, of course I gave him a BIG thank you.
Dadford's Shed was a transhipment shed built between 1884 and 1903 is named after Thomas Dadford Junior who supervised the building of the canal between 1776 and 1779.
Back in 2011 we stopped at the Red House Cone. I wrote then “It was built at the end of the 18th Century and was used for the manufacture of glass until 1936 and is now one of only four cones left in the United Kingdom. Reaching 100 feet into the sky, the Cone enclosed a furnace around which men made glass for 140 years.” It is pretty much the same now but there may be less cones left standing.
At the bottom of the Stourbridge locks is the junction to Stourbridge itself. We did not want to go up there! We don’t have good memories of it ☹ Back in 2011 we had Millie, the cat, with us. Muffin wasn’t on the scene then. Richard had made her a special cat flap door so that she could go in and out at night, when it was safe. We let her out at Stourbridge, but she wasn’t on the boat in the morning. I wrote “We had a real panic in the morning as we lost Millie. We were just about to leave at 10am when I realised that she wasn’t on board, so I went and called her but nothing. I must have gone out and called her half a dozen times and Richard went looking for her but nothing. There was a spiky fence between us and some scrub land, but we couldn’t get through. We had a very sombre lunch and as Richard got up, he saw her appearing through the fence. She sauntered to the front of the boat and climbed on as if nothing was wrong.” It was the only time she went missing though!
Our luck didn’t continue as got tot the bottom of the Stourbridge Arm, we had to call our River and Canal Rescue (RCR) as we had something round our prop which Richard just couldn’t shift. The guy came out and had the right tool and removed it in minutes!
After the Stourbridge flight there are a couple of miles before the 4 locks of the Stourton flight. These were nice and easy and a joy to go through as the houses on the canal bank had really lovely gardens. Here are a few. The first two are more traditional, but the third is a modern take.
This duck house made me smile!
At Stourton Junction Over the Moon and Mary H reversed back onto the moorings while Clarence when in nose first – Clarence will leave us tomorrow to return to their marina as Diane has to go back to work.
Steve (Clarence) had been having problems with his bow
thruster, you could hear it working but nothing was happening. Most boats have a gas locker fitted in the
bow but Clarence’s gas locker is in a different place, so Steve got in
there. He found that there was about 2
feet of water in there! He had to empty
everything out – coal, wood bricks, chairs and goodness knows what else and
then start bucketing the water out. At
the bottom was wood pulp from the wood bricks which took ages to get out. Eventually he found that there was a hole in
the bow thruster tube. A phone call to
RCR and a chap brought out a bilge pump, but it didn’t work properly, so Steve
had to get up every couple of hours to bail water out ☹
Wolverley Lock (Staffs & Worcs Canal) – Tuesday 4th July
We said goodbye to Steve and Diane, and we just hope that they can find a boatyard that can take Clarence out of the water to repair their bow thruster.
I went to set the first lock and just had to take this photo of the bottom lock of the Stourton flight. It looks so pretty.
Stewponey Lock was our first. Me being me, had to research where a strange name like Stewponey came from! It appears that the area and lock are named after a tavern. Wikipedia says “The origin of the name "Stewponey Inn" remains uncertain. Rev. Sabine Baring Gould claimed that Stewponey was said to have been a local pronunciation of "Estepona" and that the Estepona Tavern was so named because the founder of the tavern had been a soldier quartered in Estepona in Spain and his wife had come from there. Other suggestions include it being a corruption of Stouri pons (Latin for "bridge of Stour").”
Yesterday we passed a 5* Duck Hotel, today it was a duck picnic table!
We stopped to offload rubbish and take on water at Kinver and while we were there, I got an email from C&RT saying that the canal was blocked up ahead by a fallen tree. Great!! As we went along, we asked a couple of boats coming towards us if they have got through the blockage, oh yes, not a problem. We cruised on and found the tree and we could get through. Somone had been out with a saw or sharp secateurs and cut quite a bit back. We got through with no problems.
I got a message from Over the Moon to say that they had just been rammed by a hire boat, which had damaged their cratch. The boat had been in the middle of the canal as it rounded a corner and was going much too fast. The skipper then denied that she had hit them. Quite how they were supposed to get damage if they hadn’t been hit, I don’t know. I should point out that Over the Moon is only 6 months old.
Debdale Lock has a cave house cut into the rock. With the lock ladder there I thought it looked a bit like it has its own swimming pool! Research shows that the cave was dug out as stabling for horses in the age of horse drawn boats. I saw somewhere else that it was used by the Navvies when building the canal, but it could probably have been used for horses later on.
James Brindley, and his assistants were experimenting with weir design along this stretch of canal and this type were known as Brindley Lobster Pot Weirs.
Our last lock of the day was Wolverley where it is overlooked by a pub garden. It is one of those locks where gongoozlers congregate and if something is going to go wrong it will happen here!! Fortunately, everything went according to plan and I heaved a sigh of relief. I looked back and took this photo as Richard was shutting the gates.
The Bird in Hand, Stourport (Staffs & Worcs Canal) – Wednesday 5th July
We were away at 9am and our first stop was Sainsburys in Kidderminster. It is brilliant when you find a supermarket right by the canal and has moorings. It means I could get some heavy things and wheel the trolley back to the boat.
St. Mary’s and All Saints’ Church looks over Kidderminster Lock. It is Grade I listed which is not surprising as the foundation existed at the time of the Domesday book. Records of a consecration in 1315 probably refer to the chancel. The current church building dates mostly from the 15th and 16th centuries.
This is a statue of Richard Baxter (1615 – 1691), who was a famous English Puritan cleric. He lived and worked in Kidderminster between 1641 and 1661. During the Civil War, he was a chaplain in the Parliamentary army and after the Restoration he became a royal chaplain. There is another statue in the town of Rowland Hill, the founder of the first postal service in the world, stands in front of the big Head Post Office building - he was born in Kidderminster in 1793. The service was known as the Penny Post, and it was copied all around the world. Hill made the case that if letters were cheaper to send, people, including the poorer classes, would send more of them, thus eventually profits would go up. Proposing an adhesive stamp to indicate pre-payment of postage – with the first being the Penny Black – in 1840, the first year of Penny Post, the number of letters sent in the UK more than doubled. Within 10 years, it had doubled again. Within three years postage stamps were introduced in Switzerland and Brazil, a little later in the US, and by 1860, they were used in 90 countries.
From the ancient to the modern. From Kidderminster Lock you have your choice of McDonalds or Pizza Hut!
Ah! McDonalds has a drive-thru – that wins!!
After the lock is a shopping area (with Tesco) with good moorings. Very helpful if you are a shopaholic!
Caldwell Lock with its lovely sandstone rock. I’ve discovered that there used to be a castle close by called, strangely enough, Caldwell Castle. There is now only one tower left which Grade II* listed.
High up is a viaduct which carries the Severn Railway which goes from Kidderminster to Bridgenorth. I was just about to take a photo of the viaduct when this steam train came across. We have been on the Railway.
Falling Sands Lock is one of my favourites. It is so peaceful and beautiful. My research shows that there was a cottage there which was sadly demolished some 60+ years ago. If you are interested, you can find a very interesting article on the cottage here. This is courtesy of a blog written by Granny Buttons.
We stopped for the night at the Bird in Hand moorings in
Stourport. We had to breast up with Over
the Moon, so we all got chairs out on our rear decks and sat, had a glass of
wine and chatted.