kathy bull [cooper]brownhills]cornwall
i remember the chemi hill leading to the cut all the old factorys ,we had some great times growing up in brownhills walking the canal bank from lichfield road round to ogley then onto the anchor bridge blackberry picking and the old locks it was great and i will never forget it keep up the good work.
I come from South Wales to the BCN every March / April to join in the annual clean up, its a fascinating area, all the old industry and that. Well done to Phil and the BCNS.
I remember playing in the cut down Spon Lane and Bromford Lane in the 40's.Me and a mate pinched a barge one day and our parents and the police found us poling it towards Bromford Lane bridge.We swam and jumped the locks, we'd climb into the steel bridges that carried the railway alongside the cut, we also did this near the Albion Gas Works where we could cross the canal in between the girders and drop incendiary bombs,[ duds] that we had pinched from the Army Dump behind Bromford Lane.I remember also pinching the aeroplane wing fuel tanks from the dump and used them as rafts on the Sinkings [Segs] the outer cover of these tanks was made from a special type of rubber to help prevent fires on the plane, this made fantastic catapult rubber. I'm here in Tasmania now all teary and nostalgic about the cuts, also heard today that the Baggies have been knocked out of the cup by Portsmouth.Ah well.
I am 86 and I remember as a youngster swimming in the canal at Cinder Road Gornal Wood. The land on the righthand side was used by my grandfather to provide hay and fodder for his cattle kept on a field in Himley Road and I used to help in the gathering at haymaking time.
I love the canals and have run them from old hill to stourbridge and never get tired of them, nice to see parts of them are getting decent footpaths to encourage others, The abundance of wildlife and the people along the canals are a pleasure, even some of the young lads playing on makeshift rafts and fishing bring back old memories of may days in Bilston on the Sankey cut
As a kid we played by Lane Head and Bentley sections of the canal with visits to Darlaston section from time to time. Since then I have boated most of the canals in the north of England. A great resource that should be protected. Great to think it will survive.
'TIN CAN COLLEGE' - our friend Philip Corbett from Australia. Here in Darby End we lovingly referred to it as 'THE WATERCRESS UNIVERSITY' - great to hear from someone who remembers the grand old school. The site has an Aldi stores on it now but I have still got a reasonably good photograph of the school in one of the Black Country Bugles, plus some photographs of the late 1940's senior staff. Hard disciplines in those days but we learned well.
Just a suggestion for Ken Douglas, try the Canal Museum Birchills Walsall.
I moved to Springfield when i was four. The nature reserve Warrens Hall Park was 5 minutes from my door. I was never aload over there to play as a child as my parents didn't understand nature. I moved from there when I was four. Then at the age of 38 I moved back here to where I grew up. Now every morning I wake up and from my window The park is what I see. I love every part of it and most people would think me sad by saying on a hot summers day sitting besides one of the 6 pools and many canals with my 3 collie dogs is my favourite place on earth. From not being aload there when i was young i go there every day now and watch it change through the seasons.
Netherton Tunnel pic on this page looks more like Coseley tunnel to me...??
Just a thought.
Gary, Devon (formerly Willenhall)
Not only an important part on industry but great fun too. As kids we used to play around the cut at Lane Head, Willenhall. We would jump in, swim and catch sticklebacks. Never thought twice about what was in there. How times have changed. I'd never let my boy swim in a canal. How times have changed!
Paul Connop (Nr Seattle USA)
I now live in the Pacific Northwest not far from Seattle but come originally from The Lye and its so nice to see things that I remember from my days working in Narrowboat Way Dudley. I used to sit on the side of the cut with my lunch and watch the birds and wildlife go by as just over my shoulder you could hear industry at full force just make you proud to be from the Black Country.
Thanks for the pic's...
I am in the process of building a canal horse drawn boat. The type that moved cargo from the larger boats along the midland smaller canals, and was the home of the boatman and his family. I am having problems finding the various dimensions and I'm reduced to scaling from old photographs in the very few books available at our local library. All I need is a plane and side view, with a few dimensions, can you assist me.
Andy Tilley Australia
Windmill End, Dudley
I use to live in that street and play on the fields raft down the canal when i was a kid thanks for the memories
Philip Corbett Australia
Thanks for a trip down memory drain. l grew up in Old Hill Went to school at the Tin Can College, spent many a hour on my bike around Windmill End, biking on to the 9 locks.. Thanks for the Pic's..
Any one else remember ?
If I recall correctly, the Black Country Museum originally began when a group ran "legging barges" (you could leg yourself if you wanted) through the canal tunnel and back, starting from the end where the old British Federal was, on a Sunday morning at a cost of 6d. (old money of course)
These 'trips' may not have been anything to do with the museum, but it was certainly before the museum was built.
I have many happy memories of the canal especially the Stewart aquaduct. Back in the 70s we used a tarzan swing on many of the bridges along that stretch even out to the motorway pontoon in the middle of the canal. The highest of these swings being off the Spon Lane bridge, one reckless (brave)lad from Dawes Avenue estate climbed the 60 odd feet to fasten the rope. We also managed to get into the old coal building by climbing out over the cut under the coal chutes and then up the chutes inside. Another favourite was to wait on the canal bank under Spring Lane for the footballs kicked over by the Albion players training, after sending them back for a little while we would then make off with the ball and be at Chances before they got down the bank, not quite as fit as we were.
Rob Osborne (31yoa)
i live in dudley all my life,iv walked threw lots of tunnels in my time,with a light.and not got wet..But if u go in2 Netherton tunnel.its like a bowl of water.ppl say its dry,,but i know its not,and its not safe at all.the waterways want 2 do sumthing about it ,,but thay say we got no cash.so i wont be use,ing it agen.
i used to enjoy fishing in baileys lane near ocker hill tipton.
i now live in neath south wales
my main interest is the fazeley canel around castle vale - minworth and am looking for history of the "night soil" boats to minworth operated by Tame & rea. and the boats operated by hardy-spicers to the rover tyburn road and back
Thank you for a splendid pice on the wonders of BCN. I am especially glad to see I'm not the only one who thinks the layers of motorway-railway-canal (and glass factory) are especially interesting. Thanks also for not mentioning a certain Italian city, as the comparison will never be apt. Regional canals have their own strong identity and don't need others for comparison!
I look forward to the day when the entire network is a linear park with pageants, parades, and the participation of people all along their routes.
how things change - no one with any 'class' went near gas sgtreet basin when it was a working canal era. now there's brick paved towpaths all the money is spent there by those who are fashionably wealthy.
I think this is a galant job and wish you all the best.
Phil failed to mention that he edited the BCNS magazine, Boundary Post, for ten years. As Editor of the Inland Waterways Association's Midlands magazine, Navigation, I have always used Boundary Post as a valuable source of knowledge about all things BCN. Phil seemed to have a bottomless pit of information and along with author, Ray Shill, presented it every quarter without the need for repetition.
Well done, BBC! Far too few people realise what a wonderful linear park the Birmingham Canal Navigataions provide to the people of the Black Country and Birmingham
J Eric Wood
I must add my name to those who have already congratulated you on this excellent article and superb photos of the BCN. There is no doubt that we should shout its praises from the roof tops. No one has such a wonderful canal system apart from Venice. We must do our best to ensure it is there for future generations and must supprt the Restoration of the Lichfield and Hatherton which will bring much need boat and tourism to the BCN. Well done.
I was one of the early members who dug out Oldbury Locks in the 70's and have been a member of the BCNS ever since. We could never have imagined in our wildest dreams then that one day we would have our own headquarters in the Pump House at the top of the locks. It makes us feel that our hard work actually achieved something after all!