Tag Archives: BCN

Canal News – Historic bridges restored along West Midlands canals

Canal News

Historic bridges restored along West Midlands canals

This week work has started work on a £500,000 project to repair and restore a number of historic cast iron bridges on the canals in the Black Country.


Boshboil Arm Bridge
Boshboil Arm Bridge

The bridges, some of which are Grade II Listed, date back to the mid-18th Century and are among the most iconic symbols of the Birmingham Canal Navigations in the West Midlands. Built by Horseley Iron Works in Tipton, the bridges, with their characteristic ‘webs of iron’ and gothic style designs have, over the years, suffered from wear and tear and now need some major restoration.

Each of the bridges will have the old paint removed, the metalwork carefully repaired and then several coats of specialist paint applied. Once finished they should look like they would have done when they were first constructed over 210 years ago.

The first three bridges to be repaired are the Boshboil Arm Bridge which is near Dudley, the Tame Valley No.1 Bridge and the Gower Branch Turnover Bridge both near Tipton.

Testament to the engineers

Audrey O’Connor, heritage advisor for the Canal & River Trust, said: “These bridges are typical of the canals in the West Midlands and really help to bring the history of the waterways alive for people. The fact that they are still working as they were intended after all this time is a testament to the engineers who built them, but they are showing their age. The work we are doing will ensure people will be able to enjoy them for many years to come.

“We have over 100 miles of canal in the West Midlands and it is teeming with clues as to its past. If you look closely at some of the stonework and handrails you will see that they are scored and marked with rope marks caused by generations of working boat people using horses to tow barges along the canals. These unique markings will be preserved, allowing people literally to run their fingers across the imprints made by our ancestors.”

Peter Mathews CMG, chair of the West Midlands Waterways Partnership for the Canal & River Trust, said: “The history of the canal is all around us, you just need to know where to look for it.  Most of the bridges are date stamped so if you will easily be able to spot when they were built and I would really encourage everyone to get out and explore your local canal and see what secret history you can uncover.”

Canal News – Hallowe’en – what’s on and coming soon

Halloween Nights

Halloween in Shankhill  After dark on October 31st

Creative Commons Licence [Some Rights Reserved] © Copyright Sarah777 and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

 26 October – 27 October 2012

This Halloween, visit the Museum’s eerie gas-lit village where little devils and mini ghosts and ghouls can trick or treat in SAFETY along the Museum’s cobbled streets, collecting sweets as they go.

6.30pm – 10.00pm

There is plenty for the family to see and do with activities including; street theatre performances, circus skill games, magic tricks, balloon animal making, face painting, fire juggling and meeting birds of prey.

Enjoy a sing along with the pianist in the Bottle & Glass Inn or for a more spiritual experience visit the mystics and psychics.

Come along in fancy dress and join the musical parade through the Museum’s village and you could win a prize for best dressed adult or child.

*This is a pre purchase only event.

Tickets are now on sale

Book your tickets online http://www.bclm.com/bookings or call 0121 520 8054


Adults £14.95

Senior £11.95

Young People £7.95

Carer £7.45

 Halloween children’s boat trips through Dudley Tunnel

The northern entrance to Dudley Tunnel on the Dudley No. 1 Canal, next to the Black Country Museum.  © Copyright Martin Clark and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

31 Oct 2012

16:30 pm – 20:30 pm

Have a Hallowen to remember with a spooky boat trip through Dudley’s spooktacular underground caverns.

You’ll meet the wonderful Groovy UV Entertainments Company and their amazing ‘glow in the dark’ Halloween puppets. There’ll be incredible lightshows, great family entertainment and the kids are guaranteed lots of fun.

Prizes for the best fancy dress.

Please book early to avoid disappoinment.

Shugborough October 2012 – Valerie Daft

Art and walking in Birmingham

28 Oct 2012

10:30 am – 14:00 pm

Celebrate the art of walking with a day of walks, talks and feasting in Birmingham.

This unique event has been organised in collaboration with the National Trust, the Canal & River Trust, IKON Gallery and The Barber Institute of Fine Arts.

It’s a unique and exciting opportunity for the public to experience a relaxed walk through Birmingham whilst appreciating great art.

The day starts at The Barber Institute of Fine Arts, where people can discover how walking inspired many Romantic artists including the enchanted wanderer Thomas Fearnley in the exhibition In Front of Nature: The European Landscapes of Thomas Fearnley. This will be followed by an autumnal stroll along a scenic stretch of the Birmingham canal to the popular cultural haven, Brindley Place.

The next stop is the Ikon Gallery (Birmingham’s leading contemporary art gallery) for Sunday lunch followed by a tour of the fascinating exhibitions, Yael Bartana: And Europe Will Be Stunned and Arefin & Arefin: The graphic design of Tony Arefin.

Date: Sunday 28th October 2012

Start times: 10.30am or 11.30am

Price: £20 per person includes lunch at Ikon Gallery’s award winning café/ £5 per person without lunch. Booking is essential.

Further Information/ Bookings:

Telephone: 0121 414 2261

E-mail: education@barber.org.uk

Brindley Wharf, Birmingham

Located between the rear of the International Convention Centre and Brindley Place. A beautifully restored section of the Birmingham Canal Navigations (BCN).  Creative Commons Licence [Some Rights Reserved] © Copyright Graham Taylor and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Canal News, Waterscape.com – March 3rd

Canal News – March 3rd 2012


Cannock Extension Canal and Woodland Walk

08 March 2012

The Turf Lodge,  Watling Street,  Norton Canes,  Cannock,  Staffordshire.

WS11 9ND

Join the IWA Lichfield Branch for a group walk along canal towpath and through woodland near Brownhills. About three miles. No stiles. Dogs on leads welcome.

Meet at 10.30 am for a 10.45 start at The Toby Carvery (The Turf Lodge).

Non-members welcome. No charge but donations of £1 to Branch funds appreciated, to support canal restoration projects. Further information from Margaret Beardsmore on 07581 794111 or margaret.beardsmore@waterways.org.uk.

The Wyrley & Essington Canal is aptly nicknamed the Curley Wyrley, due to its twisting course.

Constructed entirely on the level, this canal was once busy with boats carrying coal from the Cannock pits. Most of the main line has survived as a charming, part-rural waterway. It is not often cruised by pleasure boats, but is a deservedly popular waterway with walkers, cyclists and anglers.

It runs for almost 17 miles from Wolverhampton to Brownhills, skirting the northern Birmingham Canal Navigations. The canal runs close by many local attractions: Pelsall Common, once the site of Pelsall Iron Works but now popular with walkers and nature lovers; Chasewater Leisure Park, a popular tourist destination; Wolverhampton city centre, Walsall town centre, and many more.

Does Birmingham really have more miles of canal than Venice?

The exact numbers depend on where you draw the city boundaries, but the whole Birmingham Canal Navigations system extends for 100 miles in total. It is one of the most intricate canal networks in the world.

These waterways converge at the city centre bustle of Gas Street Basin, where historic boats and canal architecture mingle with modern-day restaurants, cafes and pubs. But elsewhere on the ‘BCN’, you can really get away from it all on winding suburban canals and a series of surprisingly rural branches.

Raised towpath, Birmingham and Fazeley Canal

The Birmingham and Fazeley Canal is part of the Birmingham Canal Navigations. It forms a link between the Coventry Canal and Birmingham and thereby connects Birmingham to London via the Oxford Canal.  John Smeaton was the builder and it was completed in 1789.   © Copyright Nigel Chadwick and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

The canals were the life-blood of Victorian Birmingham and the Black Country. At their height, they were so busy that gas lighting was installed beside the locks to permit round-the-clock operation. Boats were built without cabins for maximum carrying capacity, and a near-tidal effect was produced as swarms of narrowboats converged on the Black Country collieries at the same time every day.

The BCN has survived remarkably intact, with 100 miles still navigable from a peak of 160. The main lines and city centre canals are well patronised, but the waterways of the Northern BCN remain truly off the beaten track. But should you decide to tackle some of these rarely cruised waters, beware – boating the BCN can become addictive.

Bridge over the Birmingham Canal

The Birmingham Canal, was built from 1768 to 1772 by James Brindley from the, then, edge of Birmingham, at Paradise Wharf (also known as Old Wharf) near to Gas Street Basin to meet the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal at Aldersley, near Wolverhampton. The canal was upgraded and straightened by Thomas Telford between 1824-7.  The canal forms part of the Birmingham Canals Navigation, a network of canals in and around the city.  © Copyright Nigel Chadwick and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Weed love your help on the Wyrley & Essington Canal

Weed love your help on the Wyrley & Essington Canal

Posted by Waterway Watcher on May 25th, 2011

24th May 2011

British Waterways have put out an appeal for help to clear weeds on the Wyrley & Essington Canal part of the Birmingham Canal Navigations.

People who are passionate about helping their local environment can get involved in a major new two-year project to improve the biodiversity of a West Midlands canal.

British Waterways has secured a £100,000 grant from the SITA Trust to tackle the problem of aggressive invasive plant species on the Wyrley & Essington Canal and is now looking for local people to get involved.

Species such as Floating Pennywort need to be managed in order to promote the growth of native plant species such as Floating Water Plantain. It is anticipated that the works will also benefit species such as water voles, great crested newts, white clawed crayfish and red eyed damselflies.

British Waterways is working with the Black Country Living Landscape Community Involvement Programme funded by Natural England and the BIG Lottery Fund to recruit local community volunteers who will work alongside specialist contractors to carry out a number of works to limit the spread of invasive species. This will include physical removal and limiting run-off from adjacent land by installing natural filters such as reed beds.

Help your local waterway

The project will be led by British Waterways and supported by the Birmingham & Black Country Wildlife Trust, Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council, Wolverhampton City Council, the Environment Agency and the Birmingham and Black Country Biodiversity Partnership.

Volunteers are needed at various locations along the Wryley and Essington Canal between May and September this year and throughout 2012, working two to three days a month including weekends where necessary.

Volunteers need to be physically fit as they will be required to walk sections of the canal as part of the monitoring. In return they will enjoy the opportunity to gain skills and experience in ecological surveying and the satisfaction of helping their local canal.

Further training and volunteer opportunities may also be available to competent and enthusiastic volunteers.

British Waterways’ volunteer co-ordinator Steve Bicknell said: “This project provides a great opportunity for people to assist us in controlling invasive non-native plants, learn about the problems they cause and help us spread the message to others. For anyone who wants to help their local waterway this is a fantastic opportunity to get ‘hands-on’ right now and to also have a role in monitoring the canal in future years.”

If you would like to find out more, contact British Waterways’ Sarah French on 01827 252097 or email volunteer@britishwaterways.co.uk.