This week finds us at the End of the Anglesey Branch of the Wyrley & Essington Canal.This canal was built in 1800 as a feeder from the Cannock Chase Reservoir,now called Chasewater,for the W&E canal.It was made navigable,and called the Anglesey Branch in 1850,to connect to the Marquis of Anglesey’s coal mines which were situated near the reservoir.There were a total of ten pits near here over the years,with the last one closing around the 1950’s,and coal was still carried along the canal from the nearby Anglesey Basin until 1967.
Freeth Bridge that carries the A5 over the Anglesey Branch,see the original arched bridge between the concrete bits where the road has been widened.Anglesey Basin and the Coal Staithes which were used to load coal into Narrowboats.There was a railway track alongside the basin which was used to bring the coal from the mines when the nearer mines became exhausted.
First thing in the morning here at our mooring and there we are breasted up in the entrance to the feeder.Sadly,not all mornings have been like this one was.
We left Brownhills last Tuesday and made our way here to the very end of the Anglesey Branch where it’s wide enough to Wind,or turn,and then reverse into the mouth of the feeder from the reservoir.There are mooring rings on both sides but it’s not deep enough to moor on one side so we have breasted up with Fenakapan.Chasetown and Burntwood aren’t too far from here so there are plenty of shops and a few pubs within a reasonable walking distance.There is also a Micro Brewery on the side of the Reservoir called Beowulf that does an excellent selection of bottled beers which also helps to make this quite an attractive mooring.
The Valve House on top of the Chasewater dam,in here are the controls to adjust the feed of water down to the canal.Looking down from the top of the dam onto our mooring at the end of the canal.
Most of our days here have been spent walking around the surrounding area and we’ve covered quite a few miles in total.On Wednesday we took a stroll around the reservoir and also had a look at the the Chasewater Railway which runs around the reservoir,as well as over it at one point.On Thursday Lisa and I walked over the M6 Toll road and then across Brownhills Common,to what used to be The Slough Arm.This was an arm off the W&E that went to the coalmines on Brownhills Common.The arm is closed now though there are still some short stretches of shallow water.From there we walked along the towpath to Ogley Junction where the W&E used to continue for just over 7 miles,and through 30 locks,to Huddlesford Junction on the Coventry Canal.This part of the W&E was abandoned,drained and filled in in the 1960’s but the Lichfield Canal Trust are very active in the restoration of what is set to become the Lichfield Canal.Lisa and I only saw the old Lock Cottage that stood at the head of the original eight lock Ogley flight,the rest is on private land and inaccessible.Restoration is very much in progress on other stretches of the canal though.
The remains of the Slough Arm branch,not much to see,but behind the reeds there are the remains of an old wharf.Slough Railway Bridge that carried the former L&NW Railway alongside the arm and Brownhills Common.
Ogley Junction,the W&E went under the bridge and through to Huddlesford Junction on the Coventry Canal from here.The only bit of the W&E East of Ogley Junction,though it is proposed to reopen it in the future as the Litchfield Canal.
On Saturday the four of us took a walk up to Castle Ring,an Iron Age Hill Fort, high up on the southern edge of Cannock Chase,which was thought to have been occupied around AD 50.We called into the Uxbridge Arms in Chasetown on the way back and had a couple of pints of some very nice Real Ale,purely for medicinal purposes of course.On Sunday we had booked Lunch at the Chasewater Railway where we enjoyed a very nice Carvery for £4.95 before visiting the railway museum.None of the trains are running this early in the year but it was still a pleasant day in spite of the squally wind and torrential rain outside.
The Mining Memorial at nearby Chase Terrace,dedicated to Burntwoods mining hereitage,the pit pony has been christened Scamp,after Sankey’s Corner Arts Miner Project.The remains of an old Windmill we saw in the grounds of the 400 year old,Ye Olde Windmill Inn at Gentleshaw,on our way back from Castle Ring.
A couple of pic’s taken outside the Chasewater Railway,not on Sunday I must add.
The 0-4-0 saddle tank locomotive built by Hawthorn & Leslie of Newcastle on Tyne, in 1909 and called Asbestos,not a name that would be used today I think.She was owned and named by a company in Manchester that produced Asbestos Sheeting.Lisa and Di with a miniature goat called Zues,only six months old and not likely to grow any bigger,he’s tame and the young lady takes him out on a lead.
Well that’s all again for this week.Since our last blog we have done 0 Locks again and only 3 Miles,giving us a Grand Total of 582 Locks and 997 Miles since October 2012.Take care everyone.