Shop front in the summer

Saturday, 29 September 2012

A BCN tour?

It's been a delightful day here today. Although it has been cool; around 12° - 15°C the sun has been out all day which makes a pleasant change (ssshhhhh... there has been no rain!). We had three day boats go out first thing which Simon saw to whilst seeing the dayboats back in. He then turned Ember round and has shown her out this afternoon. Steve's been doing turnrounds. It's only his fourth day of doing "Fred's" job, he's getting the hang of it now! Ange has been busy doing paperwork. Denise has been busy in the kitchen, aided by Joyce as and when necessary meantime Mrs. Handbag cleaned Ember and has stripped the other boats that returned today and has cleaned some boats ready for their next outings.

I went over to Parkhead Canal Festival last night to see some friends. The canal festival is held at the south portal of the Dudley tunnel. It is very rare these days to see a boat pass through the tunnel, for two reasons. 1. The headroom is very limited, meaning the majority of modern boats ride far too high in the water to pass through. 2. There are no ventilation shafts, meaning that all boats have to be towed through with prior arrangement with Canal and River Trust and the Dudley Canal Trust. I find Parkhead a gem of a place, as so many places on the so called BCN (Birmingham Canal Navigations) are. The canal here is actually the Dudley No.1 canal and it is a shame that is visited by so few boats. 

 There's a selection of historic narrowboats on regular display at the Black Country Museum, but at the end of September there is a gathering of historic boats held bi-annually where a large number of visiting craft can be seen on display at the museum and in the entrance arm. The above picture shows Hyperion on display in September 2009 under my ownership, restored to the Coronation livery of the Grand Union Canal Carrying Company, but carrying my own company name. She was loaded with 12 tonnes of limestone chippings for towpath improvements at Norbury Junction.

For the competent boater it's an interesting trip from Norbury to go south on the Shroppie to "Cut End", turn right onto the Staffordshire and Worcester canal to Stourton Junction, turn left and visit Stourbridge town arm by turning right at Wordsley Junction. Exit the Stourbridge town arm and turn right up the 16 locks, taking an immediate right above the top lock. After ascending the Delph (8 locks) visit Merry Hill before ascending the four locks at Blowers green to visit Parkhead and the southern portal of Dudley Tunnel. Retrace your steps down the first three locks and hang a left heading for Netherton tunnel. I personally would then visit Hawne basin by turning right onto the Dudley No.2 canal before the tunnel. Returning from there turn right, pass through the tunnel and join the New Main line (Birmingham level) at Dudley Port. Stay on this level and head into Birmingham's Gas Street Basin. Upon leaving Gas Street retrace your steps to Smethwick and turn right up the 3 locks which used to be paired locks. There's still evidence of this at the top lock. You are now on the Old main line (Wolverhampton level). Titford pools are worth a visit by turning left at Oldbury Junction underneath the M5 and ascending the six locks there, but be warned that the pools are very shallow these days. Retrace your steps and rejoin the Old main line, turning left at Tipton Junction to visit the Black Country museum and the northern portal of Dudley tunnel. From here return to Tipton Junction, turn left to Factory Junction and take another left heading for Wolverhampton, pass down the 21 locks and turn right at Aldersley Junction. Your now back on known territory and by turning left at Autherley Junction you are back on the Shropshire Union Canal.

Well that's it from me today.

Have a good evening.

Best regards,


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