Sunday, 14 March 2010

Different as Chalk and Cheese.

3 Locks, 9.72 Miles, 3 Tunnels. Now moored at Handsworth Wharf.

Smethwick 008 Thank Goodness we're nearly out of Gosty Hill Tunnel

Despite our location we had a quiet trouble free night but as there was nothing to do in the area we opted to high tail it off the Dudley No 2 Canal back towards Birmingham. At the Bumble Hole Visitor Centre we stopped for water and a browse around the centre. It is run and managed by volunteers who have done a great job with a pictorial history of the canal and railway of the area.

Smethwick 021 Spon Lane Top lock under the M5 motorway

One diorama showed the extent of the waterways and railway lines in the area serving collieries,engineering works and factories. It was amazing to see how much was packed into an area approx 10-15sq miles, it must have been a very busy place in it’s heyday. Much of it has now disappeared and we are left with a mere skeleton.Two stories that caught my eye were of the Chain and Anchor Works that had made the anchor for the Titanic.When it came time to get the anchor down to the canal for shipment to Liverpool it took 24 horses and a special cart to shift it. The other was of the surrounding houses being affected by the constant thumping of the steam driven hammers making chains. Residents would come home after work and would find their furniture had moved or things fallen off shelves etc, I bet those houses didn’t last long before falling apart.

Smethwick 027 Summit Tunnel on the Old Mainline, Birmingham

The tunnels that we passed through couldn’t have been more different. Gosty Hill was narrow with one section of very low headroom and no towpath. Netherton tunnel was quite the opposite being wide enough for 2 boats to pass with ease, approximately 20ft of headroom and a towpath down both sides. The Galton bridge summit tunnel is a modern cast concrete structure again wide enough for 2 boats with just 1 towpath.

Smethwick 036On Telford Aqueduct over the Birmingham new Mainline – fancy that another boat apart from us.

Turning off the New Mainline we headed up the Spon Lane locks which hadn’t seen a boat for a while judging by the rubbish in the lock entrances. Once through the locks we travelled below the M5 high above us. Just before the Smethwick locks we did a hard right turn through a very narrow bridge hole onto the Engine Arm branch. This took us across Telford’s Aqueduct high above the New Main line, all quite spectacular. The short run up the arm didn’t take long and we found the visitor moorings and BW facilities very inviting. The resident boats have a very nice set up with power, car parks, sheds and all the amenities, all in a secure area, I bet these moorings don’t come up for grabs very often.

Smethwick 037 Our secure overnight mooring on the visitor mooring at the end of the Engine Arm on the BCN

2113 locks, 4164.20 miles, 87 tunnels, 130 swing bridges and 58 lift bridges since Nov 2006


James said...

You've gone past the Duck's former home, in the engine arm. If you say a 60' foot trad with a striking grey and chequered paint scheme, that's the former owner's new boat.

Seeing your pictures of the Engine Arm really reminds me of when we went to buy the boat!

Derek and Dot said...

Hi James

A shame we never saw your comment before leaving the Engine Arm yesterday morning. Hows Cambridge?
Take care Dot