Monday, 10 March 2014

Windmill End.


If you’ve been keeping up at the back,you will realise that we are moored this week at a spot that I mentioned in one of our blogs last November.We are back on the moorings,just past the junction of the Netherton Tunnel Branch and the Dudley No.1 Canal,on the Dudley No.2 canal.Sounds a bit confusing,but it’s quite simple really,Windmill End Junction is a hundred yards behind us.We got here yesterday,in glorious sunshine and on the warmest day of the year so far.I took advantage of the lovely weather and gave Chyandour a good wash and brush up ready for the spring which doesn’t feel that far away now.

Last week we stayed in Walsall Basin till Thursday afternoon then we moved outside the Basin and onto the Pontoon just before the junction.The Police had advised us that things could get a bit noisy from the bar next to our mooring and,after getting caught on Monday night,we didn’t want a repeat.Don’t get me wrong,we had no problems in Walsall,in fact we had a good time as I shall reveal later.The bar near the moorings though has a disco for students on Monday nights till 3 in the morning,we weren’t aware of this till late on Monday night and as a result I didn’t get to sleep till the early hours.There were no problems and Lisa said that the disco stopped at dead on 3 o’clock,but we didn’t fancy it all again.Tuesday Night was quiet and Wednesday night was like a morgue,all we heard was the buses going past.

On Tuesday we spent the day visiting the museums that Walsall has to offer and as a result I was quite surprised.Walsall had the largest concentration of Leather producers in the World and became the home of English Saddle making.Walsall still provides Saddles for the Royal Family and Handbags for the Queen and the local football club is called…………………. you guessed it,The Saddlers.After our day visiting the museums we all went to eat in one of the local ‘Spoons,the St.Mathews Hall,Tuesday Night being Steak Night,and had a very enjoyable meal.From there we went to the Black Country Arms where they have a dozen Real Ales on traditional hand pumps.We managed to sample 11 of them I’ve been told,I wasn’t counting,just enjoying.The Landlady,Kim and her Daughter run a lovely pub and it’s well worth a visit if you like your Real Ales.

Walsall Town 001  Walsall Town 004

A couple of pic’s inside the Leather Museum.Working with leather is still labour intensive but nothing like how it was a hundred years ago.Some of the leathers were like satin to touch,soft and pliable and Ron,one of the Museum staff,showed us a couple of genuine snake skins and a crocodile skin.Such skins are illegal now but he had his from before they were outlawed,having been in the trade for over 70 years.

Walsall Town 002  Walsall Town 007

Sue in her part of the museum,she showed us a machine that stuck Gold Leaf to leather and some of the sewing machines,Singers,believe it or not.The bar of The Black Country Arms in Walsall,look at all those lovely beer pumps.

On Wednesday Lisa and I set off to have a look at what was left of a couple of abandoned canals near Walsall,the Anson Branch and it’s junction with the Bentley Canal.Some bits are still visible as you can see from the photo’s.

Walsall 002  Walsall 003

The junction of the abandoned Anson Branch and the Walsall Junction Canal.Looking back along the Anson Branch.The canal bed has a little water but it’s all filled with reeds.

Walsall 004  Walsall 008

The aqueduct that carries the Anson Canal over the River Tame according to the maps,but the river actually flows through a culvert 20 yards to the right of this photo.Could this have been for a Tramway? The junction of the Anson Branch and the Bentley Canal.The Anson Branch was a little over a mile long with no locks and was opened in 1830 to serve the Coalmines and Quarries owned by the Earl of Lichfield.It was all abandoned by the early 1960’s.The Bentley Canal was five and a half miles long with 10 locks,opened in the 1840’s and also abandoned in the 1960’s.Not a good decade for our canals.

After a quiet Thursday night we left the pontoon outside Walsall when the rain stopped on Friday morning.We cruised the 8 Miles and 8 Locks up the Walsall Junction Canal,onto the Wednesbury Old Canal and then to our mooring on the New Main Line at Albion Junction.This was the mooring where we had our Christmas and we spent Saturday there before leaving yesterday morning.Our day at Albion Junction was another of those days when Lisa and I go off to have a look at the abandoned canals nearby,this time it was the Wednesbury Old Canal which is sometimes referred to as the Balls Hill Branch or the Ridgeacre Branch.Sadly,both the Balls Hill and Ridgeacre Branches are no longer navigable,only the bit of the Wednesbury Old Canal from Ryders Green Junction to short of Swan Bridge is navigable and now there’s no where to turn round if you go up in a boat,there’s too much weed blocking the canal.We had planned to take the boat but I’m glad we put it off “till next time”.

Walsall 038Walsall 036 

Pudding Green Junction with the New Main line to the left and Wednesbury Old Canal to the right.Lisa is posing on the bridge with Roxy the dog.Ryders Green Junction with Walsall Junction Canal and the 8 Ryders green locks to the left and Wednesbury Old Canal to the right.

Walsall 035  Walsall 026

This is as far as you can get with a boat up the Wednesbury Old Canal and there isn’t enough room to wind a boat above about 40 foot long.Walk on a bit farther and this is the sight that greets you,the Ridgeacre Branch started here and the canal to Balls Hill Basin was straight on for another couple of miles or so.There are stretches of the canal in water beyond here but it flows through culverts,similar to this one,under the next couple of roads so it’s not navigable.

Windmill End 002  Windmill End 004

There I am ,hard at work,giving Chyandour a bit of a wash and brush up.It was a glorious day here yesterday so I made the most of it.

Well that’s it again for this week,we’re off out to a nearby pub this evening to sample some of their real ales.Since our last blog we have covered 17 Miles and gone through 8 Locks.That now gives us a Grand Total of 598 Locks and 1058 Miles since October 2012.Take care everyone.

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