Monday, 18 November 2013

Tunnels and Trains.


This week our blog comes to you from the Windmill End Junction of the Birmingham Canal Navigations,Dudley No.2 Canal,quite a mouthful hey?,and,as our title suggests,we’ve spent quite a bit of time in tunnels and on trains since I last posted.The mooring here is just a few hundred yards from the South portal of the Netherton Tunnel in an area that was once the epitome of The Black Country.In the 19th Century,Coal,iron stone and clay were mined here,there were Blast Furnaces,Brick Kilns,Boilers and Coke Ovens,all adding to the smog and pollution that gave the area it’s name.Today it’s a Nature Reserve with pleasant walks and some thought provoking names like Bumble Hole,Fox & Goose Bridge,Boshboil Branch,Blow Cold Bank Colliery and of course,Windmill End.Boshboil,it seems,comes from the cooling of Coke,from the nearby Coke Ovens,in water filled Bosh Tubs.Bet you all knew that !!!

Ok,let’s get on.We left Bournville last Tuesday and made our way South on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal to Alvechurch and our journey took us through the Edgebaston Tunnel and the Wast Hills Tunnel,so,more tunnels.Our only reason for going to Alvechurch was because the Marina there sells fuel and oil filters cheaper than anywhere else on the system that I’ve come across so far.Also I needed a new Air Filter and,as I couldn’t find one anywhere else,I arranged with Beta Marine,the marinisers of our engine,to deliver one to Alvechurch Marina for us,which they did.While we were getting our bits at the Marina we asked about the possibility of a mooring for a few days and Cath,a member of the very pleasant staff there,was able to find us a berth.This meant we had an abundance of cheap electricity and access to unlimited amounts of water so there was no need to be sparing with either during our stay.There is also The Weighbridge,a pub at the marina that sells a number of Real Ales that are frequently changed and we managed to sample a few during our stay.

Alvechurch is a nice little village in Worcestershire and,as well as a couple of Butchers and a Co-op about ten minutes walk from the canal,it has a Railway station alongside the canal and so,we let the train take the strain,on the three days we were in the marina.We went back to Bournville to have a nose around where we missed out last Monday and,because we have the breaking strain of wet tissue,we nipped into Cadbury World for a few chocky things as well.Friday and Saturday though were the highlights of our week.Birmingham has a Frankfurt Christmas Market from mid November to just before Christmas and we love it,we try to get to it every year and have been successful for the last four years.This Year we had the added bonus of our Daughters,Sons in Law and Grandchildren meeting us on both days,and we all had a brilliant time.

Alvechurch 001 Alvechurch 002

A couple of Pic’s from on and around the Green in Bournville.Bournville Junior School on the left and the Rest House on the right

Alvechurch 005 Alvechurch 013

A couple of the stalls on Birmingham Christmas Market.One selling Chocolate Hardware,spanners,ball races,taps,cogs etc.and they were so realistic.The other is one of the bars selling German Beer and Gluhwein.I have the beer,Lisa the Gluhwein.Oh!!,I forgot,she likes the hot Cider too.

Alvechurch 037 Alvechurch 039

Some of the Christmas Lights in Birmingham.I’m still playing at trying to take some good pic’s.

We left Alvechurch on Sunday Morning to make our way to Merry Hill Shopping Centre,so it was back up the W&B and through the two tunnels to Worcester Bar in Birmingham.From there we cruised along the New Main Line canal,through the tunnel at Broad Street,a detour round the Icknield Port Loop,and finally moored up yesterday afternoon,after 15 miles,at the Smethwick Pumping Station.We left there this morning,cruising through two more tunnels,one at Galton and then finally,the Netherton,the one we’ve just passed through.

Birmingham 1 010 Birmingham 1 019

The Ross Barlow,a Hybrid Hydrogen Narrowboat,it’s a project of Birmingham University using Hydrogen to generate electricity to propel the boat.We passed it’s mooring on the W&B near the University.The approach to the Mailbox in Birmingham with the Cube dominating the area.

Birmingham 1 024 Birmingham 1 039

Approaching the NIA and Old Turn Junction on the New Main Line,the straight,less interesting canal of the two,which was constructed by Thomas Telford.The CRT workshops on the Icknield Port Loop which was part of the Old Main Line,the contour canal built by James Brindley.

Birmingham 1 059 Birmingham 1 058

One of the Toll Islands on the New Main Line.Tolls were charged for using the canal system.The Engine Arm Aqueduct,this carries the Engine Arm of the Old Main Line over the New Main Line and is a lovely ornate bit of engineering.

Birmingham 2 022 Lisa's Birmingham 015 

This picture always impresses me.It’s the M5 Motorway going over both Main Lines with the Stewart Aqueduct,which carries the Old Main Line,in the distance.There we are turning onto the Netherton Tunnel Branch.

Birmingham 2 035 Birmingham 2 056

In the Netherton and out of the far end just before our mooring for tonight.

That’s it again for another week folks,but before I go,the tunnels.All in all we’ve gone through 7 this week,some twice,with a total distance of 8,894 yards,or a tad over 5 miles,not bad hey?Since last week we have also done 0 Locks and 28 Miles,giving us a Grand Total of 531 Locks and 912 Miles since we set of last October.Take care everyone.

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