About the BCN Society

Line drawing by Edward Paget-Tomlinson, 2000

Titford Pump House – a line drawing by Edward Paget-Tomlinson, 2000

The Birmingham Canal Navigations Society (BCNS) aims to conserve, improve and encourage a wide range of interests in the 100 mile network of the Birmingham and Black Country Waterways known as the BCN.
It was formed in 1968 and has been promoting the areas canal system for forty years. In the early days it fought campaigns against the closure of many canals, but now the emphasis is on restoration and promoting awareness.

The BCNS has its headquarters at the restored Pumphouse on the Titford Canal, in Oldbury.  At 511 ft above sea level the Pumphouse is at the highest part of the BCN. Complete with moorings and full facilities the Pumphouse is a fine illustration of the aims and achievements of the Society.

We meet monthly at the Pumphouse for talks by a wide variety of speakers on canals and subjects of related interest. See the Meetings and Social Events page for details.  A fair proportion of us are boaters, so we don’t have meetings across the summer – too many of us are off on our boats.

In the summer and autumn there are boating events and rallies.  See the Rallies page for information of those to come.

Our early rallies are the BCN Explorer Cruises and our annual Rally.  This years are now history, and the detail of next years are yet to be sorted.

The Explorer Cruises are a relaxed group of boaters exploring the lesser used parts of the BCN in company – though aimed at those who are not familiar with the BCN, all are welcome.  They are organised by Stuart and Marie Sherrat, who deservedly received the BCNS Presidents Award for their sterling service in running this event in recent years.

This year our annual rally was at Titford Pumphouse.  When the arrangements have been confirmed, next year’s rally will be put on the site.

Our other early event is the Marathon Challenge.  This is another “Explore the BCN” rally – but at the other extreme.  How much of the BCN can you explore in 24 hours.  Extra points are gained by cruising the more obscure parts of the BCN. Great fun, hard work, very competitive, but with the a real spirit of friendly competition. The winner is the boat who gets the most points, following Roy Kenn’s complex scoring system (the more out of the way the canal, the smaller the crew, and the more miles and more locks all contribute to more points.)  The ability to answer Roy’s mind bending questions brings in more points.

The Bonfire and Fireworks Rally at the top of Smethwick locks close the our rally season.

We also supports many other events and rallies throughout the Midlands canal network and within the local community.

We keep our members are kept up to date with news and events around the region with our quarterly magazine “Boundary Post”.  (Named after the posts that once lined the edges of the BCN marking the canal company boundary.)   We’ll also sell Boundary Post to non-members at the many events attended by The BCNS.

The Society works closely with the Canal & River Trust to ensure the ongoing maintenance of the local system.   The BCNS has C&RT recognised self supervising workparty status.   We hold regular workparties  throughout the year using the society’s purpose built 38ft workboat Phoenix paired with open butty Crow.  In September 2009, in recognition of its work, The BCNS was one of ten national recipients of British Waterways Volunteer Awards.

Since 2008 The BCNS, in partnership with Coombeswood Canal Trust  (CCT), has operated the historic British Waterways workboat Atlas and butty Malus.  Restoration and maintenance are ongoing, and we welcome anyone interested in historic boats to join us.

Why not join us and help us conserve this valuable labyrinth of canals and its heritage for the benefit of everyone.  Follow this link for details and an application form.

The BCNS was established as a Registered Charity (charity number: 1091760) in 1968.  In 2002 we reconstituted as a Company Limited by Guarantee (company number: 4306537).  info @ bcnsociety.co.uk

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