Work Party December 2nd

Talk about ‘up with thee lark’ off down ‘Jimmy Crow; flight by 07.05am, into the dark grey raining morning, tunnel light picking out strange characters staring out of the shadows of trees and bushes, as they peruse use down the flight. Well not really, just my imagination after getting 5 hours sleep on and off attending the BCNS Christmas do the night before, its sound like a good proposition to sleep on board Phoenix, if not somewhat on chilled side.

Our mission for today was simply annual re-fuelling of  Phoenix, replenish our coal supply as our local supplier had ceased trading, and collect supplies for members from Hawne Basin while there, and while we where going through Gosty Tunnel, collect few logs that are in the undergrowth nicely drying out over the last two years for the stove in Phoenix.

Grey, turned to less grey, as vehicles passed above us in the cling mist come rain of the day, us smug with the Epping glowing, kettle  steaming away, as we passed Valencia Wharf, with a half look through their curtains, as we crushed ice and brought the shards of life into their awaking.

Brades arrived quickly, “Argh – bottom pound’s empty”, 30 min’s latter saw us suitable refreshed with tea while we dealt with the slight hold up, Gower Branch , “blimey its  ¾ inches of ice, may have to abandon thoughts of the trip to Hawne if the Main Line the same, we will be here all day & night.” 20 min’s latter saw us planning down the main line, Epping stove we load, frying pans sizzling, ovens looking after bacon, proper Yorkshire tea was in the pot as we plunged in to Netherton tunnel.

Netherton dispatched, bring on Gosty ‘I fear no one’ not even the Dracula’s painting!”

Coombeswood made us welcome, to see old friends as it turned out to be their Xmas luncheon, so nice to say hello to those you only occasional see and acknowledge on the system in passing bye.

Returning via our now out ice worn path, coming into the Crow saw our road ahead was set for us to be welcomed by Charlie (the dog and Phil), (not sure the physiotherapist would be happy), we let Phil take over at the helm whilst we ploughed up to the Pump House, and  distributed of our cargo for the day,

House keeping suitable sorted boat was left ready for the next adventure at its safe mooring.

So…..there was I on my own to undertake our work party de-brief at a suitable establishment.

Whilst enjoying dinner and a convivial pint, know member of staff enquired ‘Aye it, yum alright mate’ me. Quick quip ‘sound, just looking for a door way to see out the night’…. But then while spoil the illusion, when you have a large jumbo bag, with a sleep bag, blanket roll on top, rucksack by your side, two jacket’s draped over the chair, unshaven, smell of wood smoke, and are total mental and physical knackered……I’m bloody happy, just want me bath, and 12 hours sleep will resolve the problems of the world, and as I dream …..Let’s bring on the next adventure.

Work party re-secures Titford Pump House moorings

There had been some thoroughly unpleasant incidents with vandals coming under Tat Bank bridge, crossing the canal on the bridging pontoon and vandalising

The first navigation of the Tat Bank feeder in many years! Photo Wayne Attwood.

some of the boats moored there.

It became apparent that the end of the fence blocking the access under the bridge had been removed.

A work party moved the pontoon that provided the access to the moorings, and found the missing piece of fence in the canal.

A subsequent work party re-attached the fence, (using the bolts from the bridging pontoon, and bending the bolts so they could not be removed again.)

With a bit of luck, the moorings should be secure again.  Certainly there have been no more incidents.

With the bridging pontoon moved, there is no definite end to the Tat Bank feeder, so Phoenix navigated down the cut for a hundred yards or so – the first navigation in many years.  Definitely not for the faint hearted – Phoenix unloaded draws very little water, and she was definitely pushing through the silt.

 

Work party success

On a stunningly successful work party in November, 12 volunteers filled Crowe and Phoenix from only three bridge holes.

Hooked from the bottom of three bridge holes on the Tame Valley Canal

The job was far from finished – so they had another go.

(Due to a communications glitch – this was originally posted as a workparty on Jan 19th – there is not one then)

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Progress restoring the Dudley No 2

In 2016 Lapal Canal Trust made some big strides towards restoring the Dudley No 2 canal.

There was substantial excavation of Harborne Wharf by Careys, a WRG work camp to restore the canal wall.  (There is another WRG camp starting on 29 July – see the Diary or the WRG website.)

 

The ground was laser scanned, so that they can take sections to help estimate the material to moved to restore canal as far as California.  (Near Barnes Hill Asda rather than Mexico, for those who don’t know the area)

 

 

 

 

This was done by Ken Pearson  of Laser Scans Ltd.

In addition they got a further £30000 funding for further work from the Headley fund.

Well Done Lapal Canal Trust!

The Coal Man

“The Coal Man” – an artwork by local artist Luke Perry, funded by a generous donation from the estate of our late friend Marie Smith, has been installed and opened up by Titford Pools, where it can also be seen from the Wolverhampton Road.

Pictures to follow

“Stolen” mud hopper found

Jeff relaxing before bow hauling up Farmers BridgeHereford and Gloucester canal society’s hopper “Tow” – an ex River class butty converted in to a mud skip, had rested for a few years on Icknield Port Loop.  They had an offer to lift it out of the water at Alvechurch – but when they went to collect it, it wasn’t there!

Jeff Carter ducks while Paul Smith looks on.It was found at the top of Camp Hill locks – it had probably been assumed by CRT contractors that it was one of their hoppers.  The problem was to get it down to Alvechurch.  A team from H&G, supplemented by BCN society stalwarts bow hauled it down Camp Hill, and up Digbeth and Farmers Bridge flight, with the assistance of Muskrat.  (Muskrat is well known to Marathon Challenge afficionados – owned by John Hammond of H&G)

 

 

 

Brought to Farmers Bridge, then towed down to Alvechurch.  Mudhopper Tow about to be craned out

Well done all for retrieving Tow.

 

Albion Foundation Workparty – A sleep(er) on the job

We had a great workparty with the some of the Albion Foundation staff.

Clearing the narrows above the railway bridge, in addition to the usual motorbikes and supermarket trolleys, we hauled in this railway sleeper, complete with chairs.

I’m not sure what is the heaviest lump we have got from the canal –  the (empty) safe we got last year or this sleeper – but we definitely needed the muscle that the team provided !

For the railway buffs, it was it was clearly an old GWR sleeper – classic GWR two bolt chairs.  How it got from the railway bridge, which is twenty yards or so away, to these narrows is far from clear.

It was interesting to learn more about some of the things the Albion Foundation does – working with young people on the margins of the education system, or excluded from school, and using sport – not just football – to encourage them to learn.  Seriously impressive stuff.  Find out more on the link.

Staff from the Albion Foundation joining us on a workparty clearing rubbish from Titford Canal

Staff from the Albion Foundation joining us on a workparty clearing rubbish from Titford Canal

The team. (A big bunch – Jon, the “short” one at the front – is over 6 feet tall)

The Albion Foundation team work party at Titford Pumphouse

The Albion Foundation team work party at Titford Pumphouse

Thank you very much guys!

Many hands make dirty work?

 

Phoenix, Crow and crew earning their keep!

Phoenix, Crow and crew earning their keep!

The Society was delighted to be invited to join in the annual BCN Clean-up – with some Grand Union thrown in. This year’s event took place in the Digbeth area and included the Garrison, Ashtead and Camp Hill lock flights. As usual the clean up was also attended by DCT, IWA, WRG, CCT AND CRT. Boats attending were Phoenix, Crow, Bittel plus butty and a CRT work boat, all based at the former Sampson Road depot at the top of Camp Hill locks.

The Phoenix crew started Saturday morning on the Ashtead flight, followed by a voyage into Typhoo basin, accompanied by “Moose” and the WRGies. All the usual rubbish was found here including Bikes, Trolleys and Fencing. This was unloaded by Tony and Baz from CRT back at Sampson Road. Another CRT person who made an appearance was Chief Executive Richard Parry, who gladly helped out and got his clothes dirty. He seems a very friendly and approachable person. On Saturday night we were made welcome in the WRGies camp – and the Ale was very good!

Rubbish heading to the skip.

Rubbish heading to the skip.

Sunday saw us heading down the GU towards the Ackers Trust before winding and grappling the adjacent footbridge which produced a pile of “Heras” fencing. We then left Crow with “Moose” and his gang and went to unload another full load of scrap metal from Phoenix onto the BCNS truck for weighing in – the second of the weekend. After final unloading of Crow at Sampson Road we locked back up to the Birmingham level and went out for a meal – another BCN Clean-up was over.

Thanks to Stuart, Jeff, Phil, John, Dave, Michael, Adrian, Bob, Barrie, Jim, Paul and Lewyn for their help over the weekend – and not forgetting Chris Morgan, “Moose” from WRG and the CRT crew.

2014 Programme – out now.

Next years programme is out.

The monthly meetings start on the 9th of January with Tony Gregory telling us about the Wolverhampton canals over 60 years.

(NOTE – this meeting is on the SECOND Thursday, rather than the the usual First Thursday of the month, to keep it clear of the New Year / Christmas goings on)

The rest of the meeting are, as usual, on the first Thursday of the month.  Follow the link to the Meetings tab for the full programme.

Next years rallies (and the like) start with the first of this years BCNS Explorer Cruises – 9th May – 16th May, finishing at Titford Pumphouse, in time for the BCN Society Summer Rally at Titford Pump House on the 16th-18th May. May – 26th May, followed by the BCN Society Marathon Challenge, on the 24 – 25th May.  Two very different ways of exploring the BCN!  The explorer cruises are a delightfully relaxed way of exploring the BCN in company.  The Marathon Challenge does what it says on the tin – challenges you to see how much of the BCN you can do in 24 hours!  Both are great fun, but in very different ways.  (I know – I have done both)  Stuart and Marie (the organisers of the Explorer Cruises) have organised the second cruise so that they will not interfere with those on the Marathon Challenge going through locks.

Details and contacts for these events are on the Rallies tab of the diary.
This year, waterway photographer Kevin Maslin is running the first BCN Society Photography Workshop at Titford Pumphouse on 24 May.  Places on this are limited – contact Kevin on workshop@kevinmaslin.co.uk for details.  (The clash with the Marathon Challenge is deliberate – so that boats on the challenge can be photographed coming up the Crow)
The last rally is the Bonfire Rally, on 1st November.

Soho Loop Workparty – 16 Feb 2013

The tug “Joanna” with the BCNS joey “Crow” full of rubbish from the Soho Loop, along with some of those often found guilty of helping out.

The work party on the Soho Loop was a major success – much rubbish and scrap metal retrieved from the canal bed.

Some of it needed serious effort to get it off the canal bed – Mike Powell’s “Anson” provided a good test of the breaking strain of synthetic line hauling a shopping trolley buried deep in the mud.  (The slave gang on the bank were completely unable to move it!)

Some idea of the quantity and nature can be seen from the contents of the joey “Crow” .