I am Linda and along with my husband Richard and our dog Muffin we enjoy our summers on the UK's canal system

Tuesday 4 July 2023

June/July 2023 - A sad farewell to new friends and onwards

Titford Pump House (Old Main Line/Titford Canal) – Friday 30th June

Before we left this morning, I found this anchor.  There is a plaque which says that it was erected in 2000 to commemorate the chain and anchor industry which existed in Tipton Green from the 1859s to the 1940s. 

Neptune Forge, Chain, Anchor, and Engine Works was founded in 1862 by Joseph Wright and Thomas Tinsley, a well known Dudley nail factor.  Neptune Works was a great success, becoming one of the largest chain and anchor works in the country. Its products were sold throughout the UK and abroad, to countries including Germany, Russia, and Turkey, where they were well appreciated. Only the finest iron was used. It came from Bloomfield Iron Works (B.B.H. iron) and from the Earl of Dudley’s ironworks.  The Neptune Works used to be on the site of where we had moored over night.

It didn’t take long until we turned off the Old Main Line and onto the Titford Canal.  The 6 six locks are just as you turn in.  The flight is called The Crow as originally they were adjacent to a chemical works owned by Jim Crow.  The BCN had provided us with lock wheelers again and on two locks, there were two of them!  We went up the flight in super quick time.  

At the top we had to wind above and reverse back to the next mooring place.  We were now on the highest navigable level of the BCN at 511 feet.  Richard had a look down the weed hatch and found this, we think it was a boiler suit in its time.  

At the top lock stands the grade II listed Titford Engine House which was built to pump water back up the six locks of the Crow flight, but later more often used to supply the feeders.  It is now the headquarters of the Birmingham Canal Navigations Society, who have so kindly supplied us with lock wheelers and who organised the Explorer Cruise.

Also at the top lock is the junction with the Tat Bank Branch (or Spon Lane Branch), no longer navigable, which was the original feeder to the Smethwick Summit, and is now a feeder (made by Thomas Telford, 1830) to Edgbaston Reservoir (Rotton Park Reservoir) which itself feeds the Birmingham and Wolverhampton Levels of the BCN.  Yes, you have read that right, the pump house pumps water into the reservoir not the other way around.

We had a quiet afternoon – we needed it!  It was our last evening with the others and Deb had organised a Chinese to be delivered.  It had been pre-ordered and was a very good meal.  Then was then a quiz which our team won!  I don’t think I have ever won a quiz before!  It was then time to say our goodbyes.  Some I doubt we will see again as they live up north but a couple of down our way and of course, Clarence and Over the Moon are cruising with us for a while.  I felt a bit sad but we will have fun with the others I’m sure 😊

I took this photo as we walked back to the boat. 

The Titford Canal was opened on 4th November 1837 and was built to serve the coal mines of the Titford Valley. Also, from Titford Pool was the Causeway Green Branch which opened in 1858 and abandoned, in parts, in 1954 and September 1960.

4.21 miles
6 locks

Merry Hill (Titford Canal - Tat Bank Branch/Titford Canal - Main Line/Old Main Line/Gower Branch/New Main Line/Netherton Tunnel Branch/Dudley No 2 Canal/Dudley No 1 Canal) – Saturday 1st July

8 different canals in one day!  Crazy!  I have to admit that the Gower Branch is only ½ mile long!  I shall have to add up all the canals we have been on at the end of our summer cruise.

Muffin reckoned it was much too early to get up! 

We wanted to get away early as I was worried that all the other boats would want to go down the locks at the same time.  In the end we left about 8.10am with Clarence in the lead.  Down the locks in double quick time as Diane was lifting the top paddle each time and Richard and I were both opening the bottom paddles. 

Left at the junction onto the Old Main Line until Brades Hall Junction where we turned onto the Gower Branch.  Clarence was filling the lock and very kindly said we could go straight in.  The first two locks are a staircase which worked easily.  However, on our way to the third lock something got wrapped round the prop, which turned out to be a length of wire and plastic bags. 

At the third lock is this amazing Hindu Temple. 

At the end of the Gower Branch, it was a left turn onto the New Main Line.  After a short distance it was another left onto the Netherton Tunnel Branch and through the tunnel.

Onto the Dudley No 2 Canal where we actually saw other boats!  We watered up at Parkhead Junction. 

We went down the last lock of the Parkhead Locks which was deep at 11ft 6ins, then on to Merry Hill where we moored up. 

Merry Hill is on an embankment and as such it was very windy.  However, it looks over a huge shopping centre which was very handy as I needed fresh food so Diane and I went off in search of Asda.  We found it at the far end of the centre and split up in the shop.  I did my shopping, loaded it back into the trolley and set off round the outside of the centre.  It was quite a hike pushing the trolley up hill and down dale!!  I dumped my trolley in the M & S trolley park and walked back with the shopping to the boat.  Well not exactly I rang Richard for help!!

I took this photo in 2011 when we were last here – I forgot to take one this time. 

As we have now completed the Explorer Cruise, we are entitled to have one of these plaques 😊 

Richard and I have really enjoyed the cruise.  We’ve met new people, visited new canals and places and had a good time.  Richard has made numerous trips down the weed hatch but then so have all the others.  The BCN was on my list of places that we still had to visit – not quite a bucket list!  It wasn’t on Richard’s, so doing the canals with other people has been great and even Richard enjoyed it in the end!  It’s not goodbye to everyone as we are continuing on with Steve & Diane (Clarence) and Steve & Tracey (Over the Moon).  Clarence will leave us Stourton Junction when they will head up the Staffs & Worcs and on to Otherton Boat Haven.  We will continue with Over the Moon until they stop at their marina on the South Stratford Canal.  Our BIG thanks go out to Deb and Eric for leading the cruise, Brenda Ward for organising it and the BCN Society for providing lock wheelers.

9.85 miles
10 locks

Fens Branch (Dudley No 1 Canal/Stourbridge Canal/Fens Branch) – Sunday 2nd July

We left our mooring at 10am, a much more acceptable time!

While we were waiting at the top of the Delph Locks, we discovered that Over the Moon is in love with Mary H!!

There are 8 locks on the Delph flight to do.  Richard and I managed to get into a good system with some help, now and again, from Steve (Over the Moon).

Just below the top lock is this junction.  Straight on doesn’t go anywhere now but is where the original Delph Locks would have been.  There were 9 locks but the middle 7 of the original 1779 locks were rebuilt in 1858 as 6 new locks, reducing the flight to 8. 

This is the view from the second lock.  I think it is one of the best views from the top of a flight of locks. 

These are old stables where horses would have been changed when narrowboats were drawn by horses.  They are Grade II listed.  Shame about the graffiti.  

 The flight has distinctive waterfall overflow weirs. 

Was it a high tide or a tornado? 

Brettell Lane Bridge is very low, we weren’t sure if we were going to get under it without taking the top box off.  In the end all was fine – phew! 

At Leys Junction the Stourbridge Canal is joined by the Fens Branch.  We all reversed down and moored up in time for a late lunch and ready for a BBQ.

Steve and Tracey didn’t have barbecue and the dogs thought that Tracey’s food looked really good!!

The Fens Branch is a short arm just above the Stourbridge 16 locks which we will do tomorrow.  I can’t find any information on the Fens Branch which is strange, and it didn’t really seem to go anywhere but it did have a use as a connection from the Stourbridge Extension Canal to the Stourbridge Canal.  The SEC opened in 1840 and was abandoned in 1935.  It was built to take coal from the mines around the Kingswinford area, and had two arms, the Bromley (0.3 mile) and the Sandhills (0.6 mile), it also had 2 inclined planes.  The canal was a success, with good amounts of iron ore and limestone being carried to blast furnaces, and finished iron and coal being exported to the wider region.

3.97 miles
8 locks

1 comment:

  1. Lovely pics! Have you estimated the total time Richard has spent with his backside higher than his head! Lol