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Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Urban Navigation - Part 1

Just spent time on the narrowboat, something a bit different this time, taking a tour of some of the 100 miles of Birmingham and the Black Country canals. More canals then Venice. I have always wanted to cruise this area as it is the birthplace of British Industry, in which the canals had a big part to play, bringing in raw materials and carrying finished products to market, they where the motorways of that era.
We cruised into Birmingham from our base at Alvehurch, near Redditch, this is surprisingly picturesque, a green corridor into the heart of Birmingham passing the Cadburys factory at Bournville, through Selly Oak and past Birmingham University. We moored overnight in the centre of Birmingham, on a loop of the main canal near the Sealife centre and National Indoor Arena. It was surprisingly quiet and secluded, overlooked by regeneration of wharehouses into homes and apartments.
Nearing central Birmingham, waiting for oncoming
boat to pass through Edgebaston Tunnel.

Entering central Birmingham near the Mailbox.

Moorings on Oozell Street Loop.

Looking down the Farmers Bridge flight of locks, this canal heading for Aston,
past the Villa football ground and then under spaghetti junction.

The next day we left Birmingham for the Black Country, heading up the "BCN new main line" towards Wolverhampton, there are many old branches and loops which used to serve foundries, railway interchange basins, and factories. We did not explore all these due to time.

Leaving central Birmingham.

Canal crossroads, there is a loop to the left and a loop to the right, these
where part of the original James Brindley contour following canal, now
called the BCN "old main line" The canal ahead, the BCN "new main line
was cut later by Thomas Telford to relieve congestion.

Telfords "new main line" straight ahead, James Brindleys "old main line"
to the right following land contours.

One of many "Toll" Islands, boats where checked here and tolls paid
based on cargo carried. Typical Telford canal, straight and
wide using the cut and cover method (cuttings and embankments)

This area, once surrounded by Foundries and mines has reverted
back to nature quite nicely. This is the Galton cutting at Smethwick
with a short tunnel ahead.

Telfords Cast Iron Galton Bridge.

At Oldbury the M5 crosses with the legs in the centre of the canal and
just visible behond the Aquaduct carriying the "old main line" accross
the new.

Bromford Junction, a connection from the "old main line"comes back into
the "new main line" via 3 locks downhill.

Branch off the "new main line" leading to Netherton Tunnel and linking to
Dudley, Stourbridge and the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal.

Tipton locks, 3 locks climbing up to the Wolverhampton level.

Moored at the entrance to Dudley Tunnel just outside the Black Country

Dudley tunnel entrance. This was always quite low but has subsided over
the years, boats, have to check to see if they fit through the curved
height gauge on the right. no chane of ours fitting through.

Part 2 to follow.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting post! I recognise most of these locations because I live close to Rushall Junction and ride my bike a lot on the canals. It really is amazing how peaceful and quiet it is under Spaghetti Junction isn't it!?


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