Thursday 13 October 2022


Today's Canals - Brades Branch, New Main Line

We were ready to cast off at our usual time (OK, so a few minutes late!). Mike made all the usual preparations (removing chimney, getting out maps, tiller, camera and so on) and then untied he mooring ropes and pulled out the pins. Back on board he put the control into gear to make out way down to the junction onto the New Main Line.

Oops! The gearbox steadfastly refused to go into gear and we were in danger of drifting across the canal. Whilst Mike hastily jumped back onto the bank and re-secured us, Christine called RCR for an emergency call out. This is the first time on Alchemy.

There was a group of workers just a little down the towpath (checking the location of a pipe)and we guessed that the vehicles parked up by the bottom lock were theirs and that they knew how to get in through the gate off the main road. They kindly agreed to let the engineers in when they arrived. The ETA was around 12:30. So we decided to pull Alchemy back up to the lock landing to make things easier. As soon as he spotted us preparing to do this, one of the workers came and offered to help!

Time then to settle down to a drink the mugs of coffee - the ones made just as we were setting off has long since gone. Just as well we have books to read - or perhaps time to catch up on the latest episode of the Westminster Comedy (or will it turn out to be a tragedy?)

Just ahead of the ETA the engineers arrived and were let in. It took but a few minutes to diagnose a failed seal on the gearbox control which meant that all the oil in it had leaked away. RCR have long had a policy of training their own engineers if possible and today one of their apprentices was on the team. It was good to see have carefully the experienced engineer set about giving instructions on what to do and making sure that it was a full learning opportunity. In a remarkably short time the seal was replaced and the oil replaced. After testing they were on their way back to Derby and Nottingham!

By now it was well after lunch time so before setting off that is what we rectified!

Eventually, on a pleasant sunny afternoon, we began again and went to the end of the Brades Branch and turned left at Albion Junction onto the New Main Line. This is now quite familiar territory and held few surprises - except that it was sunny. It seems that most times we travel this way it is raining.

The line to Wolverhampton crosses the canal several times - this was one that Mike came over on Tuesday.

Bright, sunny afternoon . . .

At Bromford Junction, left would have taken jus up Spon Lane to the Wolverhampton Level but we had to go right.

Almost another obligatory photo op - we probably go over the top as much as underneath.

Many of the bridges along the new Main Line are as decorative as they are functional - a special characteristic of Telford who oversaw the construction of this faster route in and out of Birmingham. Here is Galton Bridge, now only used for pedestrians and cyclists - not sure what it was originally meant for.

The Pump House we saw last time from above, this time from below. One day we will be lucky enough to pass by when it is open to visitors.

By now we knew that we would not get to the centre of Birmingham where we planned to stop until quite late and run the risk of not finding a space in the proper spot. As a result we looked for somewhere earlier - the closure of Smethwick Locks meant that we could not sensibly aim go for the moorings alongside the Pump House which we used last year and which was a pleasant and quiet spot. As there are no locations recommended on our guides and maps we had to use our own judgement and take pot luck. So far very quiet and we can hardly hear the trains that are very close indeed. We will tell you tomorrow how it went!

3.6 Miles - 0 Locks


  1. We found mooring rings at the pump house on the Main Line, good place for lunch but don't know about overnight

  2. Thanks. We did likewise earlier in the year but there was a boat there this time doing maintenance.