Monday, 3 March 2014

Walsall Basin.


Just a short blog this week I’m afraid as we haven’t done much since last week,in fact,we’ve mostly been going over old ground until today.Last Wednesday we left the mooring near the Manor Arms on the Daw End Branch Canal and made our way back to Brownhills.On the way we stopped short of the junction at Catshill where we got the chainsaw out and cut up a fallen tree that was on the towpath.Free wood to supplement the coal.The tree had been blown down on the stormy night 10 days previous,we had seen it as we went past,and it was still there when we went back.

We stayed at Brownhills till the lunchtime on Friday having replenished our supplies in the local shops,and we’d also nipped over to Cannock on the bus to the market there before we left.On Saturday and Sunday we moored a hundred yards or so past Fishley Junction on the W&E,that was where Lord Hayes Branch used to be.A couple of weeks ago we had moored there,it’s one of those out of the way moorings that we like so much.Having spent a relaxing weekend there,we set off this morning to do the 8 Locks and 6 Miles to Walsall.

Walsall Locks 001  Walsall Locks 005

Birchills Junction where we stopped to nip to the scrapyard,it looks better when the sun is shining,honestly.Moored above Walsall Top lock waiting our turn at the Water point.You now have to moor in the lock itself to get at the water tap.

It was a good cruise too and we had a couple of stops on the way here.The first was for Andy to dispose of his old leisure batteries at a scrapyard near Birchills Junction where we left the “Curly Wyrely” and joined the Walsall Junction Canal.His original ones had finally died after four years and though I knew they had a value,I was quite surprised to discover how much scrap batteries are worth.The scrapyard was paying £460 per tonne which made the dead batteries roughly £12 each.From the junction we went the few hundred yards to the top of the Walsall Locks,and the services that are situated by the side of the top lock,to top up with water.

Walsall Locks 003  Walsall Locks 006

The Former Canal Museum next to the Walsall top Lock.It was originally built as a Boatman’s Rest at the beginning of the 20th Century by the Seamen and Boatmen’s Friend Society.Washing facilities were provided to those waiting to pass through the locks.The crews of the narrowboats were also encouraged not to drink alcohol in the nearby public house so tea, coffee, food and tobacco were offered and a helper would write a letter as most of the boatmen could not read or write.Andy and Di getting ready to go down the lock after getting water.

The trip down the locks was excellent,they must be some of the easiest locks on the system,and we were moored here in the basin in no time at all.OK,Andy and Di went ahead of us while we got water and they filled the locks when they left them so they would be set for us,that meant all the locks were then in our favour,which is always a bonus.This was the first time down the Walsall Locks for Lisa and I,we’d moored on the single secure mooring at the top lock back in November 2011,on a hire boat from Norbury Wharf.At that time we decided not to take the boat down and then back up again,so we just took a walk down to the basin.

Walsall Locks 008  Walsall Locks 011

The Albion Flour Mill,part way down Walsall Locks,it’s now called Smiths Flour Mill and converted to apartments.It was a Steam Mill,built in 1848 with the entrance to the covered canal wharf clearly visible on the lower right of the mill.It was still milling flour in 1973.There we are,moored in the basin at Walsall,not as quiet as Fishley Junction so we will see how long we will stay.

Well,that’s it for this week.Since our last blog we have done 8 Locks and 14 Miles.That now gives us the Grand Total of 590 Locks and 1041 Miles since October 2012.Take care everyone.

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