Sunday 23 May 2021

Cross Green

 Today's Canal - Staffs and Worcs

We began the day by tuning in to the streamed service from Bishops Cannings. The benefice (group of parishes) there have just started to have a mixture of on line and in-person services. At least this means that when we are away we can at least be part of the parish in which we live, especially as finding a church near the canal is now rather more complicated than it was before as many places presently have a booking system.

We were away by coffee time on a morning that was rather grey and somewhat chilly. We quickly added an extra layer. The first lock, Awbridge, was just a short distance around the corner from our overnight mooring. 

Although a road bridge is shown here on the 1884 map, it does feel as if the present bridge was a later addition with the tail of the lock squeezed uncomfortably underneath.

Dimmingsdale was the last of three locks close together before a rather longer pound intervenes.

Just before Dimmingsdale Bridge there is a very short arm with just about enough room for two or three working boats. It is not shown on the old OS maps (but there is a wharf given) so it must have been dug since 1944. It is not even on the current OS map!

At the end of the long pound we arrived at the two Wightwick locks. At the first there was a chap who used to teach canal history. He was keen to borrow a windlass so that he could lend a hand!

At Compton Bridge there are several of older buildings that look as if they were once part of a canal complex. This one, now converted into a home, is very reminiscent of several canal stables that have survived and found similar new uses.

A railway line is also shown on old maps running through Compton with a station nearby at Tettenhall, and called the Wolverhampton and Bridgnorth Railway - its track is still shown today. A little further on, we passed under a former bridge over the canal. An information board just above the lock shows that there is now a footpath along the track of the line. However , several websites suggest that it took several failed attempts to connect the two towns before anything was actually constructed. It began in 1913 but was halted during the war and revived in 1924. The section between Wombourne and Wolverhampton was the only part completed and opened to passengers.

Double Pennant Boatyard (DP Marine Services) is a bit of a mystery: we have not found anything on the internet about it and it does seem to be largely moribund. On old maps there is no clue other than to say that it was a wharf. Today is houses a couple of boats that appear not to move very often.

At Aldersley Junction we have noticed before the unusual arches and derelict building at the roving bridge. However, there is nothing obvious to suggest what was once here. The history teacher mentioned earlier told us that he understood that there was once a lock cottage and a hotel on this site but an inspection of various maps leads us nowhere.

We did find a Wolverhampton Council document on the Conservation Area that includes the 21 locks. It says of this site Remains of stables and lodging houses form part of the locally listed archaeological site so describing it as a hotel may have been overstating it!

We stopped for lunch at Oxley and afterwards called at the boatyard opposite to fill up our diesel tank. We came here for work to be done on our previous boats, several times, but last in 2016 when they replaced its engine - a slightly harder task than they envisage! We ave always found them excellent and very chatty - if a little eccentric! Orph disappeared before we could talk to him but we had a long chat with Phil who, as always, was full of stories of past exploits.

The Pendeford Narrows only provide room for one boat at a time, apart from a couple of passing places. We always have to hold our breath (for at least 15 minutes) hoping that no-one has started from the other end - it is not possible to tell at the start. We were fortunate that there was nothing coming!

By now the weather was threatening to turn for the worse and we managed to find a useful mooring with the opportunity of a tv signal between Cross Green and Slade House. Soon after the wind pucked up and most of the evening was very wet indeed.

9.1 Miles - 6 Locks

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