We rattled up these first 4, and were approaching the Stourbridge Locks by 10:00.
Just below the 16 locks of the Stourbridge flight the Stourbridge Town Arm branches off to the right.
As the slope increases the locks come closer together. The first 5 are well spaced, then there are the Double Locks, 9 and 10 (they’re numbered from the top).These have only a few feet between the top gates of Lock 10 and the bottom gates of 9, so a side pond was used to contain enough water to operate the locks. The same principal is used at Bratch Locks on the Staffs and Worcs.
Just below these locks we passed the Red House Glass Cone. This is the remaining legacy of Stourbridge’s major 18th and 19thC industry, glassmaking. The shape, similar to the Stoke on Trent bottle kilns for firing pottery, is to force the furnace at the bottom to “draw” making very high temperatures possible.
The black building alongside the lock is Dadford’s Shed. Timber built, it was originally a warehouse with it’s own small basin, but is now occupied by a boatbuilder.
We picked up a helper half way up the flight. John was a local chap out for a walk with time on his hands, and, with his help, we reached the top lock at around 13:00.
We had a bowl of homemade soup with homemade bread for lunch (each, that is!) courtesy of Carol at the top, then set off on the last leg, just under 2 miles to Delph, 8 locks then another ½ mile to Merry Hill.
The canal wiggles it’s way around Brierley Hill, then into Dudley, making an end-on connection with the Dudley No1 Canal at the bottom of Delph Locks.
The BCN was formed as the various privately owned canals supplying the city were merged, in around 1790.
In it’s heyday there were around 160 miles of canal under the BCN umbrella, now there’s around 100 miles still navigable.
Up the first lock on the Delph flight, around a right hand bend and the main run of locks can be seen.
The photo doesn’t do them justice. They are beautifully aligned and all the same distance apart.
Locks 1 and 8 however are off-line. This is because the original run of 9 locks curved around to the right of the above picture. The flight was rebuilt in 1858.
The stables on the left have been restored, and as well as horses (evidenced by the heap of horse muck alongside) is now home to a BW restroom.
Remains of the earlier locks can be found in the trees beyond the basin.
Just a short lock-free section of canal took us to the moorings looking across Merryhill Shopping Centre. Until 1983 this used to be the Round Oak Steelworks employing 3000 people at it’s busiest. It’s now a vast retail park.
We’ll stay here tonight, and move on around to The Black Country Museum tomorrow. Maybe after a little retail therapy?
It’s been good today. Lots of interesting things to see and the weather has been kind, dry with odd sunny spells. Looking forward to heading into Birmingham now.
Locks 28, miles 5½