Sunday, February 20, 2011

A Night at the Museum.

After spending an extra night at Merry Hill, we really had to get going. But it was still getting on for lunchtime yesterday by the time we were rolling.

Jill (Matilda Rose), Lesley (Caxton), Graham (Matilda Rose) and Joe (Caxton) waving us off.

At least I think that's what they're doing!

Around to Park Head, up Blowers Green Lock and we filled with water at the Pump House.

At Blowers Green

Leaving Blowers green we’re now on the Dudley No2 Canal, taking us around Netherton Hill to Windmill End.

Netherton stands on the hill of the same name.

It was at Hingley’s Foundry in Netherton that the anchors for RMS Titanic were cast. Last autumn there was a Channel 4 series – “Titanic, The Mission”. A group of modern engineers were tasked to recreate sections of the ill-fated ship, using techniques and materials available around 1912, when the vessel was launched. The first in the series showed them fabricating a bow section, bending iron beams to make the frames, and hot riveting plates together. A later programme was about making a replica of No2 anchor. Hingley’s of Netherton no longer exists, so the metalwork was cast in Sheffield, but brought to Netherton to recreate moving the original through the streets to Dudley. Unfortunately things didn’t go quite to plan and the 16 shire horses hauling the trailer carrying the 16 ton anchor were replaced for safety reasons when the anchor shifted. It finished the journey behind a massive tractor.

Anyway, the anchor was displayed briefly in Netherton, but it currently resides outside the main entrance to the Black Country Living Museum. I’ve not been round there to take a picture yet. I will, before we go.

Moving on, we passed Blackbrook Junction where the short-cut of the Two Lock Line arrived after leaving the Dudley No1 at Woodside Junction.

Blackbrook Junction Bridge. Remember the previous post? This is the other end of the silted up branch.

Windmill End has a group of branches and arms sprouting in all directions. To the left is Bumblehole then Boshboil Branches, to the right the Dudley No2 carries on to Hawne Basin, but our route, straight on heads to the southern portal of Netherton Tunnel

Windmill End

Netherton Tunnel

I thought the woodsmoke from the chimney might be a problem, but the tunnel bore is high and wide, by far the largest we’ve been in so far.

It took us around 35 minutes to travel the 1¾ mile hole through the hill, and it was a relief to get to daylight again. Brick lined throughout, originally lit by gaslamps, then electricity and now only by our own tunnel lights, it’s an impressive tribute to Victorian engineering.

Into daylight

Looking back to a spot of light nearly 1¾ miles away….

This later section of canal is now wide and straight, and links up with the New Main Line at Dudley Port Junction.

But before the junction it goes under the Old Main Line, engineered by James Brindley and completed from Aldersley Junction to Birmingham in 1772.

Under Brindley’s canal at Tividale Aqueduct.

At Dudley Port Junction we made a left, onto the canal motorway of the New Main Line.

Broad and straight, Thomas Telford’s New Main Line

By the early 19c the canals around and through the city were congested and getting worse. Telford’s solution was to build a new line, at a slightly lower elevation, but cutting out several locks and bypassing the earlier winding route. Using later construction techniques he built embankments and cuttings to carry the new canal, and shortened the Birmingham to Wolverhampton route by 7 miles.

The Black Country Living Museum is alongside the Dudley No1 canal, and at that point is at the same level as Brindley’s canal, so we had to ascend the 3 locks just before Factory Junction.

Factory Locks

We had a bit of fun here, with an awful lot of rubbish in the water. At one stage Rock’n’Roll’s propeller was jammed by a floating branch, but we managed to drift it off without resorting to the weed hatch.

It took us over an hour to get up the 3 locks, but from there it was less than a mile to go, turning left at Factory Junction….

Factory Junction

And then keeping right at Tipton Junction.

Tipton Junction

Moored outside The Black Country Living Museum.

We’re only just over 2 miles from where we filled up with water 4 hours earlier. But the impassable (for us) Dudley Tunnel means we have to take the long way around.

We’ve been into the museum today, but this post is long enough without adding the visit to it. Suffice to say it’s well worth the trip.

Locks 4, miles 8½


Nb Caxton said...

Lovely to meet you both and I hope you enjoyed the Museum!

Geoff and Mags said...

Thanks Lesley, it was, and we did!
Happy cruising, Geoff

scott davidson said...

What an interesting blog, introduced by a thought-provoking photo. The unusual wall painting of the dwellings is also a strangely modern interpretation. Something like this hieroglyphic view of a park by Swiss painter Paul Klee,
The image can be seen at who can supply you with a canvas print of it.