Wednesday 17 April 2024

Tardebigge Bottom

Today's Canal - Worcester and Birmingham

Today was somewhat colder but still mostly sunny. In the sunshine there was warmth but this was lost when exposed to the biting wind. There was no point in making an early start as we do not have enough time (and probably energy!) to do both the Stoke flight of six locks in the same day as Tardebigge with its 30 locks. The pounds in the latter flight are all too short for mooring, apart from the one next to the top.

Firstly we cruised the slightly longer pound before the first of the Stoke locks. This area was once heavily involved in the production of salt from brine pumped from underground. In between some older buildings,  modern housing has now taken over, even losing the previously only surviving building from the salt works. (See our blog from 2014)

This now unused bridge once formed part of a short branch from the main railway line (to the right of the picture) into Stoke Works on the opposite side of the canal. Another example of how the railways undermined the once- profitable canal traffic.

We stopped for a short top up to the water tank before starting the first lock in the Stoke flight. Once the lock was filled we paused long enough to empty the elsan and dispose of some rubbish. Alas, the plastic bottle containing new elsan blue sprang a leak - we will have to clean out the bow locker later! The wharf here was once important but seems to pre-date the industrial developments which are about a mile to the south. Many of the wharf buildings are now used as the hire base for part of the Black Prince fleet.

We were now into the main part of the flight. At this stage we had not seen any other moving traffic but a little later we did see another boat following behind. They did not catch us up until well after we had moored. 

Christine was now on the towpath, wielding a windlass - she went ahead to open the bottom gates as the locks were already empty.

We keep an eye on the bricks in the locks to see it we can spot ones we have not seen before. Not sure about this one but a lot of interesting detail about Joseph Hamblet can be found here. After declaring his business insolvent on two occasions he later took on a side trade of running a pub. What we had not realised before is that in the mid 19C, brick making was seasonal and so it was often necessary for small brick makers to have another source of income. Joseph Hamblet specialised in blue engineering bricks, known especially for their extra strength. He eventually became quite successful with Hamblet's Blue Brick Works showing on the OS maps at the turn of the 20C. They later merged with another brick company.

Eventually we arrived at the top of the flight and it was only a short distance to the moorings at the bottom of the Tardebigge flight. We had hoped that our timing would mean that we could moor as far away from the pub as possible - we know from previous visits that this is 'a good idea' as the smell of catering can be a tad oppressive. Indeed we were able to moor in exactly the same spot as two occasions last year!

We were also in time for lunch and a slow afternoon - apart from laundry and cleaning the bow locker. We now have a tastefully blue shaded mop!

2.0 Miles - 6 Locks

1 comment:

  1. Hi Mike and Christine, we are a day behind you - moored below Astwood locks tonight. We are headed for the Shroppie - we had hoped to go via the Severn, but obviously not now!