Wednesday 13 April 2022

Watling Street, Brewood

 Today's Canals - Birmingham Main Line, Staffs and Worcs, Shropshire Union

We awoke to a rather wet morning. We needed to fill our water tank but another boat had moored night on the water point just behind us, Then another boat arrived and also wanted water so, rather than stay in a queue we set off quite early (for us) intending to fill at Wolverhampton.

Just outside the museum grounds this open space is getting a makeover, with a durable tarmac path down to the canal.

Even a couple of decades after the 9/11 attacks, conspiracy theories still abound.

We made good time and reached the services by just after 10.30. Sadly, unlike the tap at the Black Country Museum, this one is remarkably slow and it was almost an hour before we were filled up.

A short distance later and we started on the Wolverhampton 21, a flight of locks that took us down to the level on the Staffs and Worcs for the start of the Shropshire Union. It was only damp when we started but the rain quickly worsened and we could not avoid being soaked. Nevertheless we made good progress and first nine locks were completed in an hour.

A few locks on and we were delayed for one lock by a single hander who had taken refuge in one lock to avoid the worst of the rain. Christine set the next lock for him but also offered him the opportunity to stop on a lock landing and dry out for a while! Like a gentleman he took the hint and let us pass.

For several locks near to the incinerator we were treated to some sunshine and blue skies but alas we could see that it would be short lived and indeed the rest of the flight was again completed in rather heavy rain.

Many railway lines were built go service the extensive industries in the past and plenty still remain - there are several bridges and large viaducts over the canal lock flight.

As soon as we turned out onto Aldersley Junction we moored up on some convenient bollards for a welcome bowl of soup and the rest of lunch. We completed the flight in two hours and thirty minutes.

Soon after we set off again the rain cleared away and most of the afternoon was pleasant - dry and warm.

We entered the Shropshire Union through the stop lock at Autherley and then headed almost straight for miles towards Brewood. This canal is famous for being built in very straight sections with plenty of embankments and cuttings. The latter gave problems from the outset and last to this day as the technical calculations at the time of construction permitted much steeper slopes than the ground conditions can sustain. Almost every winter there are land slips, sometimes blocking the canal for a while. But let us nio be too critical - the engineering was pioneering for its time - as shown by the difference between construction in Brindley's and Telford's days. The former had to follow the  contours whilst the latter just went where he wanted to go!

The stretch right at the start has land to the east which we have seen before as a popular open space. It is getting more paths with all weather surfaces.

A turnover bridge.

One of the problems that was found with building canals on embankments is when there is a breach. Far more water drains out that would be the case with a contour canal. In an effort to counter this, stop gates were built at strategic points. Many have not been maintained in a working condition. This set close to Pendeford Bridge look as if they were installed some time after the canal was built.

We eventually moored for the night just before the crossing over the A5. We did have to cope with the famous Shroppie Shelf which left us some distance from the bank!

The rain meant that we were rather limited in photos for the morning. Then, after lunch and when the sun started to poke through, the former phone we use as a camera started to complain that it was almost out of charge but when we plugged in that it detected moisture in the charging port and refused to play ball. Once the battery was exhausted we could take no more. Only after we moored did it revive itself.

14.3 Miles - 22 Locks

1 comment:

  1. We may meet you, we are heading that way from Barbridge. I have often wondered about the 9 coverup, but never got round to looking it up