Thursday, 25 March 2010

Lock day.

8 Locks, 0.82 Miles. Now moored in Walsall.

British Waterways were on the job early this morning due to a drained pound part way down the Walsall flight. The top lock had been full overnight but was now draining as BW had the top paddle open and the bottom paddle half open to get some water further down.

Walsall 002Lock 7 Walsall flight. Smiths old Flour Mill building in modern day use.

Just as we were about to set off the BW guy returned to bring things back to normal on the top lock but we had already beaten him too it by setting up the lock for ourselves. After a bit of a chin wag with the BW man we were away. Everything went quite smoothly until lock 7 where upon the bottom gate refused to close fully after Gypsy Rover had departed. With only one top paddle open due to the anti vandal device on the opposite side refusing to unlock we couldn’t fill the lock quick enough to overcome the leakage. Derek on Uccello finally caught up with us and between the 2 of us managed to unlock the anti vandal device. With 2 paddles now operational we soon had the lock full and the top gate open but it was draining the pound rather rapidly so Carrie had to get Uccello into the lock ASAP so that we could get the gate shut and stem the water flow.No sooner had we got the top gate shut, the lock started to drain without the bottom paddles even being opened. At least we had got Uccello through and not stranded between locks. We have since informed BW to get their men to attend to the matter.

Walsall 007 The sprung loaded boom across the entrance to Walsall town basin.

While working our way down the flight a group of about a dozen guys arrived dressed in Hi-Vis jackets armed with all sorts of tools and equipment. It transpired that they are 18 – 24 year olds on a 6 month work experience with the “Black Country” and a local council initiative under contract to BW tidying up the towpaths and waters edge on the BCN. They were doing a pretty good job of making the canal a pleasant and tidy environment.

Walsall 010 Walsall town basin in front of the town's new Art Gallery. Uccello and Gypsy Rover in residence.

Going into Walsall Town Basin we had heard and read that there is a boom across the entrance. It turns out to be nothing more than a 6” diameter plastic pipe that is only attached at one end by a large spring. When you push past it with the boat, it merely springs back into place once you are clear of it. Simple really and not a problem. There are 6 moorings, 4 on pontoons and 2 wharf side but if you don’t feel like staying in town you can moor on the BW work boat pontoons by the Walsall junction which were completely empty when we came through.

Walsall 011 Redeveloped part of Walsall town centre close to the canal basin.

Walsall 013 Red Lion hotel dated 1896. Walsall town centre.

As we had arrived in Walsall quite early it gave us the opportunity to go and do some sight seeing. With a mixture of old and new buildings there were plenty of interesting and historical buildings to look at. Like with many towns and cities these days modern shopping complexes are depleting the High St leaving many empty shops and those remaining, fighting for survival.

Walsall 015Hey, this is Walsall not Edinburgh.

The one really interesting fact was a statue that from a distance looked like so many we have seen of Queen Victoria. It turned out to be a statue of Dorothy Wyndlow Pattison aka; Nurse Dora who in 1865 was instrumental in bringing health care to the mine workers and families in Walsall. She also started the first Cottage Hospital here, where she worked until her death in 1878. She is the first woman in Britain that is not royalty ever to have a statue erected in her honour. There is also a plaque on the wall of the Tesco Metro in the centre of town which was the approximate site of her original Cottage Hospital.

Walsall 023 Statue to a woman who wasn't royalty. Dorothy Wyndlow Pattison aka Nurse Dora in Walsall.

Walsall 035One heck of a mural in Walsall.Walsall 040  Walsall has a history of leather work hence the new museum cafe, shop and original tannery over the old limestone mine.

2170 locks, 4198.15 miles, 87 tunnels, 130 swing bridges and 58 lift bridges since Nov 2006

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