Saturday 20 April 2024

Central Birmingham

Today's Canals - Worcester and Birmingham, BCN

The weather today was very similar to the past few days, with bright spells and high winds. Although we were awake early, it was around 9.30 when we cast off. We wanted to get to the centre of Birmingham in good time to make sure of a mooring but also we needed to stop on the way at Selly Oak for a supermarket shop.

This may look like the obligatory snap of the restored former toll house at Kings Norton Junction, but actually the main feature is meant to be the sky (OK, just kidding!)

Just after the junction are indications that this was once a wharf, the industrial buildings behind were originally Sherborne Mill, a paper mill and printing works founded in 1829 and lasted until 1972. Its main products were wrapping paper and paper bags for the retail grocery market. See here for more information with a picture of the works in 1881 here. The wharf was known as Sherborne Wharf - not to be confused with the same name in central Birmingham where we have left the boat on several previous occasions.

The sun was in just the wrong direction for taking photos as we continued northwards to Selly Oak. Here we were able to moor in the new basin opposite Sainsbury (but we did have to negotiate around a group of novice paddlers) Once we had completed the shopping we decided that there was too much to lug across the footbridge back to the  boat so Mike went unloaded to bring the boat across to where Christine waited.

We continued on then into Birmingham but paused as soon as we rea ched the water point at Granville Street. Our tank was quite low it took a while to fill. As we set off again, a chap on a boat moored two along said that there was very little room, if any, to moor - he had just  walked along to check it out. However, we found there was a long space, room for two, around the corner. As we were tying up, another boat - with a very newbie steering - arrived and was determined to fit in.  To manage this Mike had to move up to share a ring with the nearest boat. In the meantime, Christine walked along to outmore normal mooring spot outside the Arena and 'summoned' Mike by mobile phone to bring the boat along while she chatted up one of the musicians supporting the Jethro Tull event tonight.

Mike came through Worcester Bar and under Broad Street. What is usually called Broad Street Tunnel as it is so wide and under various buildings now has an alternate name of Black Sabbath Bridge. In 2019 a bench was installed on the bridge to honour this band which has its roots in a nearby part of the city.

The famous junction where the Birmingham and Fazeley joins the BCN Main Line followed . . . 

. . .  and just after, Old Turn junction. Here the original Brindley line followed what is now called Ouzells Loop. Just after we pulled onto the almost empty moorings opposite Legoland Discovery Centre.

A father and small boy walked passed, the latter clutching his Lego bag. On asking him if he had enjoyed his visit - yes - the father remarked somewhat ruefully that it cost a fortune!

Mid afternoon - around 4 o'clock - Christine suggested that we still had time to get to the Body Shop and M and S before they closed. We quickly shut up the boat and walked through ICC and across Centenary Square to the start of New Street. First up was Body Shop where Christine had very friendly service to assist in her choices. Very different was M and S where it feels almost as if it is an automated warehouse. Very few staff to assist and even the checkouts are now largely self service. But then, one chain is hanging on by the skin of its teeth and the other is still surviving. There is a real danger that we might just whisper "Not like it used to be in the old days!" Best keep quiet . . .

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