Thursday, February 17, 2011

What a day…..

In an enjoyable way. I think we’re all a little weary this evening, but there’s a sense of satisfaction in a job well done.

Knowing that it was going to be a long day we were away at 08:30 this morning. George and Carol led the way up the 4 Stourton Locks, we followed on 10 minutes later.

Mags swings Seyella round to enter Stourton Bottom Lock.

We rattled up these first 4, and were approaching the Stourbridge Locks by 10:00.

Under the last bridge before the locks, a last look at open country.

Just below the 16 locks of the Stourbridge flight the Stourbridge Town Arm branches off to the right.

Waiting at Stourbridge Bottom, the Town Arm goes off on 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.

In Lock 10, Lock 9 directly above. The side pond is behind the lock house on the right.

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.

Looking back at the Red House Glass Cone.

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.

Seyella in Stourbridge Lock 1, John the local in the foreground.

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.

Rock’n’Roll approaches Delph Bottom Lock.

Under Black Delph Bridge and we’re now officially on the Birmingham Canal Navigations.

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.

Delph Locks 2 to 7.

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.

Looking down the “thick” of Delph Locks.

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.

From Lock 1 the original line is clear, under the iron bridge to the left.

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.

Merry Hell Hill from our moorings.

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.

Adam posted a comment last night. Hmmm, we’ll have to see how we go. So far the natives seem friendly.....

Locks 28, miles 5½


Steve Heaven said...

We did Hyde Lock to Netherton tunnel last September in one and a half hours! But we were on out bikes, not in JH.


Geoff and Mags said...

And I didn't think we did too badly, 7 hours from Stourton!