This week we are still in Birmingham,wondering,as the title says,will the canals freeze or wont they?The forecasters are predicting below freezing temperatures for the next few weeks and we don’t want to get caught out.Here in Birmingham we have everything we need so we are reluctant to move very far while there is a risk of getting stuck somewhere where there are fewer facilities.As well as boat facilities there are a couple of large markets selling fresh meat and fruit and vegetables at very modest prices.We only need to take a walk of about twenty minutes to get fresh food everyday.Part of the conditions of our licence though,tells us we should move after 14 days to somewhere else,but of course,we wouldn’t be expected to move if the canal is frozen,so,as a result,we are in a bit of a limbo waiting to see what is going to happen.
The view from our mooring this morning.We had snow overnight which had turned to sleet when I took the pic’.Some of the entertainment in Birmingham on the right.A band of Morris Dancers performing on New Street.
There are plenty of places to walk too around here as well as the shops and markets in the city centre.We’ve been down the Farmers Bridge Flight of locks to see how C&RT are getting along with the winter maintenance on a couple of the locks.They were replacing the top gate on lock 8 with one of the new gates that has a poetic quotation carved into the balance beam.This is one of the many projects being undertaken by C&RT to attract more interest in our canals from people who aren’t lucky enough to be on a boat and who would like to help with the upkeep of the canals.
The new gate and balance beam waiting in the lock and the gantry ready to lift the old gate out.
The above pictures were taken a few days after the first ones.On the left the stop planks are in place ready to access the new top gate from both sides and on the right is part of the inscription carved on the new balance beam.It does make sense if you can read it all but I was unable to get to photograph the rest at this stage.
Only a couple of miles from where we are moored is Winson Green Prison which is right alongside one of the canal loops that branch off the main canals here in Birmingham.The high walls of the prison tower above as you walk along the towpath of the Soho Loop.It was here,on this loop,that Matthew Boulton built his Soho Manufactory in 1776,Boulton was a member of the Lunar Society,a group of prominent individuals who could be said to be the fathers of the Industrial Revolution.He was also a business partner of James Watt and between them they installed hundreds of Boulton & Watt steam engines in factories,revolutionising manufacturing in the U.K.
The signpost at the junction of the Birmingham Main Line and the Icknield Port and Soho Loops.One of the bridges on the Soho Loop close to Winson Green Prison,don’t know why it’s called Asylum Bridge.
The left hand picture is close to where we are moored,it’s the Old Turn Junction of the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal and the Birmingham Main Line.To the left of the junction is Gas Street Basin and then the start of the Worcester & Birmingham Canal at Worcester Bar.Worcester Bar was a barrier to prevent the Worcester & Birmingham canal from having access to the water of the Birmingham Canal Navigations.This meant cargoes had to be manhandled between the two canals.The politics of the canals were positively eye watering by todays standards.On the right is Brindley Place,just round the corner from where we are moored,it’s a canalside development of shops,bars and restaurants,named after James Brindley the canal engineer.
These buildings are at the end of the B & F canal just before Old Turn Junction.On the left is the Malt House,a pub,where nearby,in the early nineteenth century,stood a brewery that sold some of it’s produce to the thirsty Bargees on the 100 or so barges that passed here each day.Alongside the Malt House,and part of the same building,built in 1803,is a former nail warehouse with the loading bays facing the canal.
That’s all for this week folks.Since our last blog we have done 0 locks and 0 miles,giving us the same grand total of 53 locks and 73 miles as last week Take care everyone,you just don’t know what’s round the corner.