Monday, 11 November 2013

5 canals,40 locks & the smell of chocolate.


This week we are moored on the visitor moorings at Bournville,the home of the famous chocolate.We’re not visiting the factory itself because,we’ve “been there,done that” already.We were hoping to take the opportunity to have a look at the village of Bournville that was created by the Cadbury family at the end of the 19th Century.George and John Cadbury needed to move their business out of Birmingham to expand,and because the canal and railway were here and vital to their business,this was the place they chose.Sadly though,it didn’t stop raining here till late today,so that’s another place to have a look at another time,we don’t get wet unless we have to.

As the title says,we have been on five canals since our last blog,we’ve been on the Coventry,the Birmingham & Fazeley,the Grand Union,the Digbeth Branch of the B&F and we’re now on the Worcester & Birmingham.We left Tamworth last Tuesday and made our way to Fazeley Junction where we turned left,off the Coventry and onto the B&F where we made our first stop at Fazeley Mill Marina and filled up with diesel.This marina is described by it’s owners as a “ Friendly Marina “ and I can assure you the reception we received was as friendly as we’ve encountered anywhere.From there we continued up the B&F to Lock 9  and the Dog & Doublet where,again ‘cos of the rain,we stayed a couple of nights.The fact that the pub has a friendly Landlord and Landlady,as well as nice ale,has no bearing whatsoever on the length of our stay,thankyou Jim and Patricia.

Garrison Locks 002 Garrison Locks 003

A view down the Curdworth Flight on the B&F,a bit of a murky day but not raining.There’s us moored on the pontoon outside Star City,a nice mooring.

From Lock 9 on the B&F we made our way through 11 Locks and 8 Miles to Star City on the Grand Union Canal near the famous Gravelly Hill interchange,better known as Spaghetti Junction.You actually cruise alongside the motorway before turning under it and surprisingly,though you can see the motorway from Star City moorings,you don’t hear it.We moored on the pontoon at Star City,which is on the offside,and it was lit up like daylight all night long.The next day we set off on what to us was new territory,we had been up the Aston flight of locks on the B&F back in January so,out of curiosity,we decided to have a look at the Garrison flight on the Grand Union canal.It’s different,I can say that,and I will certainly do it again,we did actually meet a couple of boats coming down the locks too.At Bordesley Junction we turned right and headed to the Digbeth Branch at the Digbeth,or,Proof House Junction.

Garrison Locks 005 Garrison Locks 009

Our first lock on the Garrison Flight on the Grand Union and a look back at the industrial scene from lock 2.

Garrison Locks 011 Garrison Locks 021

A couple of pic’s of our voyage up the Garrison Locks on Friday.

Garrison Locks 016 Garrison Locks 026

Another boat leaving the lock ahead of us,this was one of the couple of boats we saw on our way.The difference as we continued along the GU,so much more urban in appearance than at the start.

I love Birmingham,it has so much canal history it’s amazing how the short trip between Bordesley and Digbeth Junctions demonstrates that.We passed the Bond,a Fellows Morton and Clayton warehouse,an Ice House and the Banana Warehouse at Warwick Bar Stop Lock.Ahead of us was the Proof House where gun barrels were proofed,that is tested for safety,and to the left was Typhoo Basin,famous for the tea.

Digbeth Branch 009 Digbeth Branch 010

The Banana Warehouse and Warwick Bar Stop Lock.Water was precious so stop locks were used to prevent one canal company stealing another company’s water while allowing passage for boats.The Bond,situated a little way back from Warwick Bar.

Lisa's Digbeth Branch 037 Lisa's Digbeth Branch 042

Approaching Digbeth or Proof House Junction,we’re just about to enter Warwick Bar Stop Lock.We did turn left at the junction and go into Typhoo Basin for a quick look before winding.Typhoo Basin after we had winded,not sure which was the tea factory.I have a recollection of delivering tea to Typhoo when I worked for BRS.It was a load of Tea Chests from London Docks and they even swept the floor of the trailer so nothing was wasted.Typhoo blended their own tea here from before the second world war.

From Typhoo Basin we continued our journey along the Digbeth Branch,through the two tunnels and 6 locks,to where we moored opposite the Aston Science Park.It was interesting going through the Ashted Tunnel and the top lock of the Ashted flight,there was so much water in the canal that it was flowing over the top gates.Because this canal was new to us we weren’t aware that high water through the tunnel makes it difficult to avoid hitting the walls and we had a couple of close calls,though fortunately no damage.

Garrison Locks 032 Garrison Locks 035

Looking back from Lock 5 on the Ashted flight,the water is almost to the top of the bottom gates.The end of the 103 yard long Ashted Tunnel as we entered the final lock of the day,and yes,it was raining.we left a little paint from the flue on the walls but no damage really,we were lucky.

Digbeth Branch 006 Digbeth Branch 002

Curzon Street tunnel,it’s a couple of rail bridges really.The west Coast Main Line runs above and Curzon Street Station was also up there before it was demolished.Our mooring opposite Aston Science Park.Directly to the left of us was a Manure Factory at the turn of the Century,imagine that.

We spent a couple of nights opposite the Science Park before setting off yesterday to go up the 13 locks on the Famers Bridge flight and onto the plateau that Birmingham sits on.The Farmers bridge flight is familiar territory so,as all the locks were in our favour,or almost in our favour, we did them in an hour and a half.The trip was made more interesting by the number of friendly people,of many nationalities,who helped with the gates,took photo’s and asked questions.One Irish lad,who hadn’t realised the canals were used,was most impressed,so much so that I gave him a ride out of one lock and into the next.From the top of the Farmers Bridge flight we turned left at Old Turn Junction,where the island sits in the middle of the canal,this is a ventilation shaft for the railway beneath.We made our way through Worcester Bar and past Gas Street Basin onto our fifth canal,the Worcester & Birmingham,and cruised the four miles down to our present mooring opposite the Cadbury Works and the smell of Chocolate.

That’s all again for this week folks.Since our last blog we have done the amazing sum of 40 Locks and 23 Miles,giving a Grand Total of 531 Locks and 884 Miles since October 2012.A virtual wave and have a good trip to the captain of the good ship NB Centurion ( I think that was the name ) that passed us this afternoon.I got what you said so I hope you enjoy this.Take care everyone.

1 comment:

  1. It looked like you where blogging Fred, sensibly you where dryer than me!