Sunday, 6 December 2015

Delph Locks

After reading a bit more about the re-location of Delph Locks I was even more intrigued, I read there was a lock keepers cottage but having done the flight a few times there was no evidence of it at all so yesterday I took Dudley back to the flight to have a good look. 

The original nine locks the Delph flight opened in June 1779, but they were little used until the Stourbridge Canal opened in December 1779 and linked the two. The Dudley No 1 Canal terminates at the bottom of the locks and that's where the Stourbridge Canal starts. Over the years as demand grew along with the effects of subsidence from coal mining and the quality of construction, work began on their replacement in 1856 which was completed in 1858. The top and bottom locks were retained and the remaining seven were replaced with six. 

The original line of the canal continued along under the bridge the end of the basin is the site of the second lock in the flight which is the only one still remaining today but if you continue down the original line of the canal you can see where the canal ran and the sites of some of the other locks, which have all been filled in now, you can also see the original Lock Keepers cottage, which is now in a row of other houses. 

I was surprised to see evidence of gates, bearing in mind the flight closed in 1858

Still has the winding mechanism

The Lock Keepers Cottage

I could easily make out the dip and shape of this one

The site of Lock 7

Looking back at where the original locks would have been

The original flight would have been to the right of the existing locks

Looking down the original flight, the new locks are over to the right
The bridge over the basin is dated 1858 so wouldn't have existed on the original line of the canal, I'm also guessing the stable block was a 1858 addition as it is on the line of the new locks and also fronts onto it, the original canal would have been behind it and a bit further away.

The locks and surrounding land now form the Delph 'Nine' Locks Conservation Area. The Lock Keepers Cottage built in 1779 is a Grade II listed building, it is one of only a few surviving houses of its type.

Friday, 4 December 2015

Stourton to Merry Hill

It certainly was another day of locks today.

We were off early again leaving our mooring spot at Stourton Top lock in the dark, I'm pleased we got these locks done yesterday as it meant it wasn't straight into locking this morning. It wasn't long before the sun rose and and it started getting chilly. We were soon at Wordsley Junction and the bottom of the Stourbridge locks. We made great time up the 16 locks, only a couple were against us, it did help having no other boats around. I had a bit of help on the last two from a CRT guy who was checking and clearing the locks.

New housing estate, they had just started work on these when we came by earlier in the year

Good to see the old Warehouse being converted

Looking down towards the Redhouse Glass Cone
At Leys Junction we turned right and continued on our twisty turny journey to the bottom of Delph Locks and where the Stourbridge Canal ends and the Dudley No 1 starts. The Delph flight was opened in 1779 and there were originally 9 locks but due to subsidence they had to be re-built, the top and bottom locks are the original ones but the 7 in the middle were re-located slightly and re-built as 6 so now there are 8 locks in the flight, but they are quite deep ones. The flight is now a designated conservation area and has unique high waterfall style overflows.

That's an old sign

Guess this is how stoppages were announced before the internet
It was then another short run and we had arrived at Merry Hill and moored up on the embankment overlooking the shopping centre. Our journey today took just over five hours a lot less than we thought, when we set off this morning we were expecting another full day boating.

5.5 miles and 24 locks

TOTAL 738 miles and 602 locks

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Autherley Junction to Stourton

Wow - yes really we did this all in one day, not unusual for some but unheard of for us.

We set off at 7:30 this morning and passed by Aldersley Junction just as the sun was rising, if only the Wolverhampton 21 were open it would have been an easy run into Birmingham, the |flight is closed for winter maintenance as the bottom gates of the top lock are being replaced, the flight is due to reopen on 11th December but unfortunately that's a few days too late for us as we are going to be trading at the Floating Christmas Market that starts on the 11th, so it's the long way round for us.

Aldersley Junction
Compton Lock, first one of the day
There was a lot of water at Wightwick Mill Lock

It was overflowing

We made it to Wightwick lock in good time, there is a broken balance beam there and assisted passage had to be book with CRT, which I had done as soon as we left Wheaton Aston yesterday. I was told to arrive at the lock between 9am and 12 noon and there would be someone to assist us through. We got there just before 9am and around 9:10am I made an apologetic nagging call to ask when someone would arrive. I was told 10am, what a shame we could have had an extra hour in bed. Just after 10am Tony arrived and explained there was a boat booked in at 10am and another at 11am so he was going to hang around and do them both. What I couldn't understand is that if the other two boats had been given specific times why was I give a 3 hour window? Never mind we got through that's all that matters.

Wightwick Lock
Bratch Locks

We've only done this section of the Staffs and Worcs once and that was three years ago, but it was surprising how much of it looked very familiar and in a way it was a shame to pass by all the lovely stopping places, but needs must. We were planning on stopping at Stourton Junction but as we were making good time, even with the hour delay at Wightwick, decided to turn left onto the Stourbridge Canal and straight into the 4 locks of Stourton, it was 4pm when we started and light was fading fast but someone must have been looking down on us as all four locks were in our favour and the bottom gates left open - result. We reached the top lock and managed to tie up before we completely lost the light. 

I took this one to show our lovely wood pile ready for splitting
We went down 18 locks today, including the locks at Bratch which are unusual as there is only around 10ft between them and Botterham Staircase and then back up the last four, we will continue our ascent into Birmingham tomorrow.

13.5 miles and 22 locks 

TOTAL 732.5 miles and 578

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

On the move again

The contractors eventually turned up yesterday at about mid-day to assess the tree, the verdict was 'it's a big one'!!

They did try to move it by chaining the trunk and pulling with a little tractor thing but it didn't budge an inch, by then it was 2pm and they said they would return in the morning with a boat and get it cut into smaller sections and clear a passage. Martin on fuel boat Halsall had joined us and then later on another boat came by not realising he couldn't get through.

Early morning and the three boats waiting

Dudley enjoying his walk

And the tree again

We were assured they would be here this morning at about 8/8:30am needless to say it was well gone 9am when they actually arrived, then they had to sort their equipment so time was getting on when work finally began. We were told they were expecting to have a clear passage for the boats at around midday, this was a bit optimistic, we finally got on our way around 2pm and one of the guys kindly chopped some wood into manageable pieces for us. The CRT area Manager was on hand and helped us load LJ with the wood along with one of the other waiting boaters. There were four guys clearing and once they were set up they worked continuously until enough was cleared to get the boats through. 


We went through first followed by Halsall and then I guess around four or five more boats after. We had a good run to the stop lock at the end of the Shroppie and turned right at Autherley Junction onto the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal and moored up just as it was getting dark. A quick trip to Morrison's about 10 minutes away and we even made it to the Post Office to send another pen on its way.

I just love these Highland Cows 

7.5 miles and 1 lock

TOTAL 719 miles and 556 locks

Monday, 30 November 2015

Oh Dear!!

As planned we were up and about early and left Wheaton Aston at just gone 8am, we stopped on one of the many water points to top up and were soon up the lock and on our way. Unfortunately we didn't get far.

Another boat had arrived the other side just before us and had already phoned CRT to report it. It wasn't long before an army of men appeared (well five actually) to assess and remove what they could. They told us they would clear the tow path but the main trunk in the canal would need contractors. Dave was soon on the phone arranging it all and he and the team then got to work doing what they could. By 11:30 the path was clear. I called CRT in the afternoon for an update but unfortunately they couldn't give me any idea when the contractors would be out. We're hoping they are going to be out early in the morning.

1 mile and 1 lock

TOTAL 711.5 miles and 555 locks