Wednesday 12 October 2022

Albion Junction

Today's Canal - BCN Old Main Line

Although we left our overnight mooring in good time, kit was only to go a very short distance under the adjacent bridge to the services at Broad Street basin.

From past visits we knew that it is no longer necessary to turn in to the basin (although it was today entirely empty) as there is an access door from the main towpath. 

We assume that this was originally the office for the wharf operation, although the large block behind the basin itself was Fellows Morton and Clayton. Although it now seems rather neglected, almost forgotten, it still retains an air of importance, The yard alongside is used to store a few items but little seems to happen here.

Our water tank had not been filled since Wheaton Aston and was all but empty so filling it took a while, added to by the fact the Christine put the washing machine on as soon as the hosepipe was running.

It was 10:45, over an hour later, that we were finally underway properly, leaving the Broad Street basin entrance behind us.

Just around the corner is another CaRT depot, Minerva Wharf,  which is rather more active. There is more land for storage and more space to moor boats.

A little later we almost came to a standstill and we had obviously picked up more than just weed - although there was plenty of that around, and around our prop. The main culprit this time was a very heavy knitted pullover, accompanied by the remains of a dress.

At Ettingshall, just beyond the site of he former Bilston Colliery and Steelworks, comes Ten Score Bridge. We have tried several times to discover the origin of this bridge, In style it looks as if it was a railway bridge and, indeed, the works had many such in this area. However, no historical  maps show it and it only seems to arrive in quite recent times. Now kit provides access to the National Cycleway along the towpath from a new housing estate on the opposite bank.

Just after the start of the Bradley Arm there is another winding hole and what looks as if it was a lost canal. Maps show that it ran for about half a mile to link up with several foundries and a colliery.

Coseley Tunnel was part of Telford's great improvement project which included the New Main Line. Here he brought the tunnel up to new modern standards, wider and with a towing path on either side.

We have written about the old Beans site at least twice in the past. Only last year we noted that work on the latest project seemed to have just begun but was not making much progress. Today there were numerous machines active right across the site and the heaps of waste had grown. It  is clearly taking a long time to prepare the site and someone is spending a lot of  money on it.

We had set off with the plan to go down Factory Locks to join the start of the New Main Line, straight into Birmingham. However, it was now almost 1 o'clock and we would not get to a sensible mooring spot in the centre until too late. So, we opted to go right, continuing a little further on the Wolverhampton Level. 

The old canal buildings just round the corner have been a water activity centre for some while but this was the first time we have seen any actual activity!

At John the Lock's Mooring, an official Visitor Mooring which we have noted before but never had reason to stop here, we stopped for lunch.

Again, last year and the same link as above, we noted Coneygree Railway Bridge where the former deck had been removed in readiness for a new one as part of the Metro extension. There is still a lot to do if they are to meet the intended opening next year, but the bridge deck itself is  now in place.

It would have been possible to continue much further along the Old Main Line but Smethwick Locks are still closed at the moment awaiting a repair. It would mean dropping down Spon Lane Locks but there are no suitable moorings we know about before then. As a result we opted to turn left at Bradeshall and go down the Brades Flight, including a two-lock staircase and rejoin the Main Line at Albion Junction. We have moored overnight several times before close to the junction where it has been quiet, far enough away from the main railway line between Birmingham and Wolverhampton.

8.1 Miles - 3 Locks

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