Wednesday, 26 June 2013

The Originals!

Dudley No.2 and No1 and Stourbridge Canals

Summer Cruise 2013 – Tues 25th June
Day 21: Moored above Lock 17, Stourbridge Canal
              10 miles in all, with 25 locks in 9 engine hours

As this was always going to be a longish day, we set off by 9am in warm sunshine along the winding Dudley No.2 Canal. This was completed in 1792 as a link around Birmingham to the southern, Worcester and B'ham route to the River Severn.

It was a curly course with good water and mainly clear of 'grot'.

We last came this way about 20 years ago when we shared a hire boat with our Kiwi friends who wanted to see the lesser known side of England. From memory, it seems to be cleaner?

Originally built as Brewins Tunnel, but opened out 20 years later to avoid the need to 'leg' through boats

Blackbrook Junction -the disused entrance to the short cut – Two Lock Line (closed 1909 due to subsidence)

Park Head Junction – looking up at the route through the Dudley Tunnel
New tailgate bridge – with H & S safety rails

We now turned south west, along the original 1779 Dudley No.1 Canal – again a contour route, winding through its old industrial past. Suddenly, on the site of the old Round Oak Steel Works, it opens out to a new Office and Leisure Complex called, appropriately The Waterfront. There are moorings here which look OK for a future trip.

The permanent moorings at The Waterfront

Visitor moorings

Just little further on we started the main feature of the day – locks, and lots of them.

The first flight of Delph Nine Locks is now 8 after a new middle group of 6 were constructed in 1858. It was here we encountered a number of boats coming up (the fishermen also complained there had been 8 or so going down!), presumably as an alternative route into Birmingham as the more direct route of the Wolverhampton Locks is closed due to a severe lock wall crack.

Old sign!

Newer sign (though not yet the Canal and River Trust sign?)!

Looking down the Delph Lock Flight

Chris steers past the famous Delph cascade - the bypass weir in flow
A tight manoeuvre to pass in the short lock pound
Leaving Delph, cruising past a pleasant garden

On leaving Delph Locks, the canal becomes the Stourbridge Canal, also completed by 1779 and winds around to Leys Junction. This is the start of the drop through 16 locks, each about 9 foot deep, down to Stourbridge.

We again needed to wait at some locks to allow boats to pass – also gave time for an ice cream. Historically interesting, it has been well cared for in parts, though other bits are rough (eg fire damaged warehouse).

Looking down the Stourbridge Lock Flight

Passing the timber clad 'Dadford's Shed' – a former Warehouse where sounds of welding could be heard


The Red House cone (kiln) for the glass industry here

At the bottom of the locks, just near the arm into Stourbridge Town, we met live-aboard boater John Sloan. He had recently spent the day with Richard Parry, our new Chief Executive for the Canal Trust. I am pleased to report (as elsewhere in the canal press) that John is impressed with this initial experience which hopefully bodes well for the future.

We gently cruised on, looking for a mooring spot and were not disappointed to get into some newer metal edging, in the sun! A good day's boating!

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