Tag Archives: Wyrley & Essington

Canal News – Events Sunday September 16th

Anglesey Branch,  Wyrley & Essington  Canal

Community bike ride along the Grand Union Canal

16 Sep 2012
10:00 am – 11:45 am

Join a Sky Ride local ride along the Chocolate Trail.

Covers the Grand Union Canal starting and finishing at Rowheath Pavillion, Bournville.

Sky Ride Local rides are fun, friendly and free community bike rides that help you get out and explore your local area. They’re led by a British Cycling trained ride leader who can provide support and give you a few tips, whatever your age or ability. To find a ride and book a place go to www.goskyride.com

Saul Junction cream tea cruise – Gloucester

Queen Boadicea

16 Sep 2012
14:00 pm – 17:30 pm

Relax and enjoy scones and cake on the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal

This longer afternoon cruise to Saul Junction on the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal provides an opportunity for you to enjoy scones and cake onboard while you look out for the abundance of wildlife on the canalside and spot beautiful narrowboats moored along the way. There will also be a short stop at Saul Junction for you to stretch your legs and explore on foot, all for £16 per person. To reserve a place on the cruise telephone 01452 318200.

Gloucester and Sharpness Canal at Saul Junction, Gloucestershire

Saul Junction Bridge has been swung aside and the light is green, allowing Uncle Albert passage towards Gloucester. This telephoto assisted image foreshortens the boat considerably compared to the other image which reveals the boat to be about 60 feet or more long. The Stroudwater Canal, not navigable at present, is off to the right by the house.  © Copyright Roger Kidd and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Canal News – Waterway Watch 21-8-2012

Canal News – Waterway Watch


Canal & River Trust Announces navigation advisory group

Maintaining canal and river navigations for use by boats is at the core of what the Trust does. We want to ensure that our managers’ decisions are well informed by those who navigate the waterways regularly.

The Navigation advisory group will comprise boaters with a variety of backgrounds to bring as broad a range of perspectives as possible to decision making.

There will be two sub groups:

Navigation Operations

Advice relating to safety standards, waterway operation, maintenance & repairs, and customer service standards.

Sue Cawson – Historic narrowboat owner and champion of navigation issues for the Historic Narrowboat Club. Current chair of (SUFBRS) the society responsible for the care and restoration of fly boat Saturn.

John Baylis – Extensive experience of national boating issues amassed through 45 years of boating. Ex-chairman of the IWA Navigation Committee, a post held for 12 years. Ran restoration of Frankton Locks on Montgomery Canal for Waterway Recovery Group (WRG). Now largely uses his metal and design work skills through work with WRG.

David Fletcher — Engineering consultant in the oil industry, boat owner and chairman of the National Association of Boat Owners.

Ian Harrison – Chartered civil engineer specialising in ground engineering. Experienced in local government and has a focus on regeneration and external funding. A boat owner for 38 years.

Mike Carter – Committee member of the Commercial Boat Operators Association (CBOA), owner of a mooring basin and more latterly owner and proprietor of a repair yard / dry dock. Currently operates as a marine surveyor and consultant. Owns two historic craft.

Malcolm Blundell – Lifelong boating enthusiast, boat owner and builder. Recently retired information and analysis professional, and now cruises the system extensively, reporting on travels through his website (www.wicked-game.co.uk)

Kevin East – Professional background in the telecoms industry on the civil and mechanical engineering side. Waterway and environment manager at Canoe England and a member of the Canoe Camping Club National Council.

Licensing & Mooring

Advice relating to boat licensing and moorings policies and the way in which they are implemented.

Paul Le Blique – A professional engineer and narrowboater of many years. Current national chairman of the Association of Waterways Cruising Clubs (AWCC).

Tim Parker– Currently chairman of Association of Pleasure Craft Operators (APCO). Retired recently from Black Prince Holidays Ltd – a major hire fleet – where he was managing director.

Beryl McDowall – Has lived on boats since late 1960s and has worked on commercial craft for many years particularly on the Grand Union Canal south and River Soar. An officer of the Residential Boat Owners’ Association (RBOA) since 1999. Owns small-scale mooring site on River Soar

Mark Walton – A residential boater without a home mooring who has been active in progressing discussion on mooring strategy – particularly around the London and South East regions. Currently a member of Defra’s Civil Society Advisory Board..

Mike Annan – A narrowboat owner and honorary secretary of the Dutch Barge Association. Over 30 years’ experience working in the voluntary sector, more recently (before retirement) as CEO of various housing associations.

News – A Chasewater Railway Museum visit by the Northamptonshire Industrial Archaeological Group

Northamptonshire Industrial Archaeological Group

 On Sunday May 27th the Chasewater Railway Museum played host to a visit from the Northamptonshire Industrial Archaeological Group.  This was always intended to be a Museum rather than a Railway visit as the group was more interested in what was around the Chasewater area before the Chasewater Railway, but they were interested to see the various items of rolling stock in the Heritage Centre and in the yard.

After coffee on arrival, the group was given a brief talk about Chasewater Railway and the reasons for its being here.  Next, a guided tour of the Heritage Centre, including the workshop, then out into the yard, where several items took their interest, including the steam crane and the boiler from S100. 

Moving on, the group next visited the engine shed to see the operational locomotives, and then back to the Sidings Café for lunch, in plenty of time to catch the 13.30 train to Chasetown Church Street.

From Church Street, it was on foot down to the wharf, where originally trains, boats and coal came together, and with the help of various items such as coal chutes, old brickwork and old photographs (a number of which came from Ron Bradbury of the Burntwood Chase Heritage Group – thanks Ron) it was possible to piece together the movement of coal from the pit to the canal boat and later to the railway (with more pictures, this time from Laurence Hodgkinson’s collection).

Along the canal tow-path, we were soon back at Chasewater, at the foot of the dam and up the only slope of the walk – fortunately, given the heat of the day –  to see the much more modern works at Chasewater Reservoir.  Back then along the edge of the Reservoir and back to the Railway for a much-needed cup of tea.

This was the first time that the Chasewater Railway Museum has done anything quite like this.  The Group had asked for a ‘Museum’ visit rather than ‘Railway’ and this added another dimension to it from the Museum’s point of view, and very enjoyable it was too.  It is a pity that the walk is quite as far as it is, but without going to the wharf the visit would not have been worth while. (But it’s not always that hot!).

I think that it is safe to say that we would love to do it again with any other interested groups.

A big thank you to the Northamptonshire Industrial Archaeological Group for being such good company and making our jobs as guides for the day so pleasurable

Finally, a day such as this would not be possible without someone to man the Museum; so many thanks go to Mick Doman (He also had the kettle on when we returned – what a star!).

 An e mail received from Terry Waterfield, Hon. Treasurer of the Northamptonshire Industrial Archaeological Group.


Dear David & John

Very many thanks for an interesting visit today.  Although one or two
arrived back from the walk a little tired, we all very much enjoyed our ride
and walk.  It was a very good idea, John, to bring along the photos so that
we could relate ‘then’ and ‘now’.  An interesting comment that every one
made was ‘we didn’t know this place existed!’.  Perhaps you’ll have to dig
out some stories from the archives to attract some of the industrial
heritage groups rather than the pure railway buffs or colliery ‘anoraks’.

Please pass on our grateful thanks to Godfrey – another very knowledgeable

It would be very interesting to see the line extended to the canal then you
really would have an integrated heritage site.  Pity about the Rugby Club
being in the way, though!

Once again very many thanks for a very interesting day.

Best Regards


Chasewater Dam News, The Dam Work is Finished

Chasewater Dam News

The Dam Work is Finished

Chasewater starting to fill up – still a long way to go!

Staffordshire County Council has announced that the major £5.5 million engineering project at Chasewater reservoir has now been completed.

The 200-year-old dam at the heart of Chasewater Country Park was drained of water in early 2010 amid concerns for the safety of the reservoir which dates back to 1797.

The plug went back in last October and water levels slowly started to rise once more, helping to restore Chasewater to its original position as a major regional leisure attraction, wildlife haven and key component of the Midlands’ canal network.

The last major milestone took place this February when 100 tonnes of concrete were pumped into the dam to create a weir which will control the flow of water when the reservoir is full.

County Councillor Mark Winnington, Cabinet member for Environment and Assets, said: “Chasewater is one of the Midlands’ most popular beauty spots so it was absolutely vital that the safety improvements were carried out and the site is now returning to its former glory.

“We appreciate the impact that this vital work has had on people who use the reservoir for activities ranging from sailing to angling and wildlife spotting. The county council’s expert engineers pulled out all the stops to get the work done as efficiently and effectively as possible so that local people as well as visitors from far and wide can enjoy the tourist attraction as we approach the summer months.

“The team has improved the overflow to safeguard nearby residents in the event of severe flooding, which will enable us to monitor the condition of the dam much more closely in the future.The drawdown culvert – the equivalent of the plughole in a bath – was located and inspected for the first time in over 200 years.”

A mystery brick-built chamber that does not appear on any plans was also discovered inside the dam, and will now be used as part of the monitoring procedures.

The original role of the reservoir was to regulate water in the Midlands canal network – in times of drought water would be drawn from the reservoir to ensure the economically vital canals were still deep enough to navigate.

Fears had grown that the earth dam was no longer safe to withstand major floods, was leaking, and could pose a danger to nearby homes.

Water does naturally seep through the dam. This is perfectly normal and acceptable as long as it is carefully monitored to spot potential safety concerns. It has also created a mini-ecosystem that has become a Site of Special Scientific Interest. The work has ensured this is safeguarded.

British Waterways is pumping water into the canal system from other sites and will continue to do this while the reservoir refills.

Apr 23rd, 2012 by Lizzie Thatcher

Thanks to everyone who has contributed to this blog over the last few years. It’s been a great way to tell you all about the work that’s taken place at Chasewater, and we’ve been bowled over the amount of public interest, involvement and support for the blog.

Now the works are complete we are no longer going to be using the blog to communicate news about the dam or reservoir. News updates will be issued by the press office at Staffordshire County Council. To keep up to date on any news visit http://www.staffordshire.gov.uk

Thanks again to everyone who has commented, given their support (their moans or their groans) on this blog. We very much hope that the blog helped you to understand the works in hand and that you felt more informed as a result.

Kind regards

Lizzie & Neil


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.

Canal News – The Latest on Chasewater Dam

Chasewater Dam News

A hard task!

Feb 15th, 2012 by lizziethatcher

More than 100 tonnes of concrete is to be poured into Chasewater Reservoir to help support the 200-year-old dam.

The concrete will help control the flow of water when the reservoir is full. Repairs to the reservoir’s drawdown culvert (or plughole), have also been carried out.

County councillor Mark Winnington said: “This is the last major milestone in what has been a hugely successful and high profile project to restore one of the most popular country parks in the Midlands to its former glory.

“The county council has carried out vital safety improvements to the overflow to safeguard nearby residents in the event of severe flooding, which will enable us to monitor the condition of the dam much more closely in the future.

“The drawdown culvert – the equivalent of the plughole in a bath – was located and inspected for the first time in over 200 years. Vital improvements have now been made and the project is expected to be complete in the spring.”

Water levels have begun to rise again after the plug was replaced last October. It is expected to be refilled fully by spring 2013.A view from the train.

Canal News – Parliamentary Waterways Group on Future Of The Inland Waterways

Canal News

Posted by Waterway Watcher on January 20th, 2012

Caldon Canal – David Jackson

 Parliamentary Waterways Group on Future Of The Inland Waterways


The All Party Parliamentary Waterways Group held a hearing on 8 December to provide the Waterways Minister, Richard Benyon MP, with the opportunity to respond to the Group’s Memorandum – “The Future of the Waterways”.

This was published and submitted to the Government in July, focussing on appropriate governance and financing for the Canal & River Trust which is planned to come fully into being in April 2012, inheriting responsibility for British Waterways’ inland waterways network.

The Memorandum was prepared after two hearings into these issues in order to provide a Parliamentary response to Defra’s consultation “A New Era for the Waterways” on the Government’s proposals for moving inland waterways into a new charity in England & Wales.

The hearing also gave the Minister and the charity’s Transition Trustees the opportunity to provide a broader report on progress to deliver a fully operational charity in 2012.

The hearing was chaired by the Rt Hon Alun Michael MP and attended by a number of MPs and representatives of a wide range of organisations which play important roles in relation to our canals and other waterways.

This communiqué has been approved by the All Party Group as an accurate summary of the discussion and the Group also approves its publication and distribution to waterways stakeholders and other interested parties.

Anglesey Basin, Chasewater – Wyrley & Essington Canal

Government Statement

Key issues covered in Richard Benyon’s statement, as a response to the All Party Group Memorandum, were Canal & River Trust governance and financing, and waterways classification.

Governance: the Minister reported that progress had been made on what both Government and the Trust’s Transition Trustees believed was the right model on governance for the Trust to begin life.

There was now a target for 50% of the Council to be elected over time. On membership, the Trustees had decided that the charity should not have a membership for fund-raising purposes, believing that other means of raising funds and stimulating voluntary giving were more effective for fundraising than a formal membership.

Funding: Richard Benyon could not say what government funding was going to be for the Trust since negotiations had not yet concluded. But he acknowledged that the negotiations were complex, including the issues of adequate maintenance of the canal network, mitigation of possible future liabilities arising from environmental or other legislative requirements and the staff’s pension arrangements.

He stressed that the Government was committed to a sustainable and prosperous future for the waterways, and that it wanted to give the Trust the best possible start that it could. He expected to be able to make announcements in the New Year.

Waterways classification: this had become an issue. The Inland Waterways Association had raised concerns about the proposed amendments to the system for classifying waterways in the Transport Act 1968 because it was concerned that the Trust would seek to reclassify “cruising” waterways to “remainder” waterways.

He gave an assurance that any application from the Trust to reclassify a waterway would be subject to a full cost benefit analysis and wide consultation with those likely to be affected as required by the Transport Act. In addition, he was sure that the Trustees would consult the charity’s Council and the relevant Waterways Partnership before embarking on such a significant course of action that would impact on a large number of its users. These mechanisms would help to ensure a robust and transparent process on a re-classification of any of the charity’s waterways.

In answer to specific questions from Members of the All Party Group present, Richard Benyon added:

  • He did not want or expect to see closures of any waterways, as that would not be constructive. The Government wanted to ensure that in the medium term there was scope for a reduction in the percentage of assets that were in poor and very poor condition. He added that the Government wanted the existing network to be both maintained and enhanced.
  • On ownership, in response to the suggestion that part ownership of a charity under for example, co-operative arrangements, delivered local ownership and commitment, Richard Benyon commented that he could see that possibility, locally and as a part of natural evolution.

CRT Transition Trustees

Some Transition Trustees were present, including the chairman, Tony Hales and Lynne Berry who chairs the governance committee of the Shadow Board.  The Chief Executive of British Waterways, Robin Evans, was also present. The All Party Group invited them to comment.

Tony Hales said that that the Trust would be reviewing it’s governance in 3 years and that would be the time to reflect on the suggestions made with regard to ownership.

On finance, he said that commercial activity would be the most significant contributor, and that the Trustees were comfortable about the future prospects for this commercial activity.

The Trustees were also confident about the forecasts for the contribution for voluntary income and donations, which were expected to reach £6-8m after 10 years. There were also potential contributions to be made by other government departments, local government and bodies such as Transport for London and the Olympic Delivery Authority.

It was a question of determining the benefits they receive from the network so that they recognised that a contribution was justified.

However, he reiterated the view of the Trustees that the £39m per annum offered initially by central government was not enough. The finance package overall needed to be enough to secure the network’s assets in the long term and ensure that day to day maintenance was carried out together with network dredging; and to ensure that pensions were safeguarded.

He recognised the duty of  Trustees to be in a position to satisfy the Charity Commission that the Trust was sustainable.

Lynne Berry reported on public benefit. It had been evaluated at around £500 million but that didn’t fully reflect issues such as the social return and the well being benefit etc. Trustees were currently developing the public benefit model to embrace these wider issues.

Specific issues raised were:

  • What mechanism there was to secure heritage with the new charity? The Heritage Lottery Fund needed to become engaged so that grants could be explored for heritage issues. There were serious challenges for the museum’s archives which were under pressure from both users and historians whose needs might be different.
  •  Had potential new income streams been identified for the Trust?
  • Was the valuation of the British Waterways property portfolio [£450 million] realistic?
  • What incentive was there for the Trust to change its governance in the future?

Gloucester Museum

The responses were as follows.

Heritage: there was a museums representative on the Council, who would report on developments for museums and visitor attractions. The archives were regarded as a serious issue. They represented a major cost and storage and accessibility of paper archives was a problem but no less so for electronic archives which were still a significant cost. The Trust would continue to aim to make the archives available and it was an issue that needed to be settled for the future.

Income: at this stage the Trust’s long term commercial plans had to be subject to an element of confidentiality. But there was future potential for water cooling for buildings sited near the network, especially as many now had to make a 20% renewable energy contribution. In addition there were opportunities from micro power generation at weirs and locks.

Property Valuation: the property values were assessed annually according to the “Red Book” and this assessment is reviewed by Grant Thornton (the British Waterways auditors). It was regarded as a robust valuation.

Trust Governance: it was thought that the volunteer-led Trust would lend itself open to future evolution as necessary.


The hearing closed with an offer from Richard Benyon to return to the Group to give a further report when the financial negotiations were concluded.

The offer was welcomed by the Group and it was thought that this future hearing was likely to take place early in the New Year.

Alun Michael closed the proceedings commenting that it was not unheard of for charities to go wrong, volunteer led or otherwise. It would not be an easy transition. It was going to be very challenging and there was profound interest from MPs on all sides of the House, and there was general support for the proposed model. The transition would be scrutinised with great interest.

The latest Chasewater Dam News – including, Inside the Dam

To thoroughly investigate the pipe/culvert that runs through the dam, the engineering team sent a camerabot into the pipe and took what we believe is the first even film footage of the inside of the dam!

The footage reveals a hidden chamber the team was unaware of before, a working penstock and a broken penstock. Enjoy!

Lots of you have been asking (including Brownhills Bob) about whether Pool Road which runs across the top of the dam will now be open.

As I said to Stefan (a regular commenter on the blog), I need to refer to colleagues at the county council for answers to your questions, so sometimes they take a little longer to answer – thanks for your patience!

The county team has now come back to me and explained that whilst the plug has gone back in, the road won’t be open til the works are complete (early/mid next year), and said to thank you for your patience.

The team at the county are also pulling together some information about the next steps in the project to keep you all up to date on what to expect next.

Cheers and have a lovely weekend!


For more news go to the link in the blogroll – ‘Chasewater Dam News’

Canal News – Wyrley & Essington and Birmingham & Fazeley

Canal News – Waterscape

  Restriction on the Wyrley & EssingtonCanal

 Anchor Bridge, Brownhills

Anchor Bridge and Inn – 

Wyrley & Essington CanalAngleseyBranch

A452 Chester Road, Brownhills

  © Copyright Adrian Rothery and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Monday 19 September 2011 – Monday 10 October 2011
Due to circumstances beyond our control, works which were due to be carried out by contractors on behalf of National Grid have had to be rescheduled until 19th September.

Works will be carried out to the gas pipe adjacent to Anchor Bridge, Brownhills from pontoons and as a result the width of the navigation will be restricted.  There will be men on site to instruct boats through the works and the pontoons will be moved as and when necessary to allow boats to pass through.

British Waterways apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.

Enquiries: 01827 252000

Stoppage – Birmingham & FazeleyCanal

 Aston Road Bridge

Winding hole on the Birmingham and Fazeley canal

Winding holes are used by canal boats to turn around on the narrow canal.

  © Copyright Keith Williams and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Tuesday 8 November 2011 – Thursday 10 November 2011

Contractors working on behalf of Birmingham City council are due to carry out repairs and maintenance works to Aston Road Bridge between 8pm and 7am from Tuesday 8th November to Thursday 10th November.
British Waterways apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.

Enquiries: 01827 252000

Chasewater Dam News – August 2nd

Chasewater Dam News

A round up

Aug 3rd, 2011 by lizziethatcher

The main reason that Chasewater Reservoir exists is to provide a water supply into the canal system.

This water travels from the reservoir through a brickwork culvert which runs on the bed of the reservoir, under the eastern dam to the valve chamber and then out into the canal.

While we have the reservoir drawn down we are taking the opportunity to inspect the culvert and, if necessary, carry out any repairs.

However, the culvert is still under two metres of water, so to get access to it, we are building a sheet piled wall, or coffer dam, around the mouth of it, so that we can pump out this water and then clean out and repair the culvert. This dam is now almost complete as the photographs show. We will shortly start to pump out the water to see what we have got to deal with.The work at the toe of the northern end of the eastern dam involves installing what is in effect a very big gravel filter drain, which will help to draw down and collect the water that seeps through the dam. This will allow dam engineers to monitor what is happening.

This part of the work is also now nearing completion and will be followed by the regrading of the lower slopes of the embankment because they are too steep in some places.

The works at the railway causeway (which are now complete) and at the Nine Foot Pool (which are now underway) are required because the original structures were not big enough to cope with the water that could be expected to flow through them during peak floods conditions, and which could have caused water to breach the dams.

The new structures will have much greater capacity to deal with high flood flows in the future.

More updates soon.
Staffs CC Team