Thursday, 11 September 2014

Through the Black Country.

Wednesday morning, ready to leave Brum behind. Heading for the Black Country Museum. It's a choice of Smethwick locks and the Old Main Line or the New Main Line and Factory Locks. So we chose the third option and went for the Gower Branch and Brade's Locks which means you go half way on the new line and halfway on the old.

Along the new line there is a procession of old basins, loops and side arms, some navigable but most filled in as the factories they served are long gone.

Just before Smethwick Junction a couple of factories still survive, filling the air with the acrid fumes and the noise of metal being worked. It gives a faint idea of how it must have been when the Black Country was the workshop of the world.

Smethwick Junction with the Old Main Line heading off. We passed it by and carried on

under the M6 and

past Spon Lane Locks, claimed by some to be the oldest locks on the system.

Albion Junction, where the Gower Branch heads off. You always get three things at a BCN junction, a finger post, a Horseley Iron Works bridge and graffiti.

Brade's bottom lock is quickly followed by the only staircase pair on the BCN.

The middle gates loom high over you as you enter the bottom lock.

Out of the top lock and onto the Old Main Line at Brade's Hall Junction. A couple of miles and a sharp left at Tipton Junction.

Unless you want to leg your boat through Dudley Tunnel is a no go, although you can take a trip into the tunnel and old mines on a Dudley Canal Trust trip boat.

 Moored in the basin at the museum we rapidly made use of the two best buildings there. Good beer in an old Black Country pub and then fish and chips, actually cooked in beef dripping, A gustatory treat.
Tomorrow it's down the Wolverhampton 21 and onto the Shroppie.

Watch this space.............

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