Thursday, February 24, 2011

Birmingham Canal Area

A lot has been done here to transform a run-down post industrial area into an amenity that can be enjoyed by all. Other cities should take notice. Even Manchester’s Castlefields, once such an optimistic development, now looks jaded and tired in comparison.

Our moorings, near Oozell’s Street Loop

There’s no litter on the paths along the canalside, the water is clean (here at least) and the properties are occupied and well looked after.

Just a couple of hundred yards from where we are is what was the busiest canal junction in the country.

Old Turn or Deep Cuttings Junction

Here the BCN meets the Birmingham and Fazeley canal heading east and north, and the Worcester and Birmingham heading south starts at Gas Street Basin just to the right.

Where we are is overlooked by the NIA, just alongside of the junction is the Sealife Centre, then past the bars and restaurants is the Mailbox and The Cube.

Just through Broad Street Tunnel, only a few yards in length, is Worcester Bar. Until 1815 this was a physical barrier, as the 2 canal companies couldn’t agree to connect the canals. An Act of Parliament was required to resolve the problem, and a stop lock inserted. The companies still wanted to exert control over their own water!

Now though, the stop lock has been removed.

Worcester Bar, with Gas Street Basin on the right and Broad Street Tunnel in the distance.

Heading now on the Worcester and Birmingham Canal, the navigation does a sharp right turn, and on the bend are The Mailbox and The Cube

The Mailbox

The Cube

I’m able to live with the architecture of The Mailbox, but I’m afraid The Cube isn’t to my taste!

From here the canal runs under Granville Street Bridge, then out through a surprisingly green corridor towards Edgbaston (home of the Warwickshire County Cricket Club), and ultimately to Worcester, 30 miles and 58 locks away.

Back to Old Turn, and the line to the left, the Birmingham and Fazeley, heads almost immediately downhill, down the 13 locks of the Farmers Bridge Flight.

Farmers Bridge Top Lock, with Cambrian Wharf moorings to the right and the BT Tower beyond.

This is the start of the long descent to Fazeley, 15 miles and 38 locks away, and the junction with the Coventry Canal.

Looking down on Lock 2, Farmers Bridge Locks.

Another couple of weeks and we could have taken this route, heading north from Fazeley to Fradley on the Trent and Mersey. But with winter maintenance work still going on at Curdworth, we’re going the long way around, down the Worcester and Birmingham, Stratford Canal, Grand Union from Lapworth and on to the North Oxford at Napton Junction. We’ll be leaving George and Carol at Braunston as we head north, up to the Coventry and then Fradley.

Locks 0, miles 0


neil.thomsett said...

Hi Geoff and Mags,

I hope you don't consider me pedantic, but I'd like to explain the junction names in central Birmingham.

- The junction with the 'roundabout' in the centre is Deep Cuttings Junction.

- Although the loop that heads off to Sherbourne Wharf seems to leave the BCN Main Line at Deep Cuttings, it is actually slightly offset and is considered a separate junction. This is 'Old Turn' junction, which kinda makes sense as it heads of on the BCN old main line route.

- As I'm sure you are aware, Farmers Bridge Junction is the anomaly, as it isn't really a junction any more. It is the area above Farmers Bridge locks in front of Cambrian Wharf.

Sorry if this is all obvious, but I thought your readers might like a bit more detail. Hope to see you out on the cut again soon!

Hotel Boats Snipe & Taurus

Geoff and Mags said...

Thanks for the clarification, Neil.
I hadn't realised that Old Turn and Deep Cuttings are actually 2 seperate junctions. Now you explain it, it seems obvious.
Have a good summer,
Regards, Geoff.