Ropes for tigers

Received quite an unusual email last week.
Click on the photo to zoom an, and open the link – very unusual!
Maybe you can help?

A tiger at Shepreth Wildlife Park eating a boat fender
A tiger munching a fender

Do you think some of the BCNS members would be interested in donating any unusable boat rope to a good cause?
We have recently approached by Shepreth Wildlife Park looking for old used rope for their Tigers to play with. They can make use of any natural rope used in marine applications.
Here are a few images and a bit more info about our own donation if you would like to take a look –
If you think this is something that members might want to help with I would be happy to put together the details for your blog if that is the best way to communicate?

Kind Regards

John T:0330 124 3556

Report: BCNS and National Citizen Service weekends

BCNS hosted an induction and a work party for eleven 16 year olds from the National Citizen Service over the last 2 weekends. They were all from the Smethwick area but had little or no knowledge of the canals around them.

The induction takes place at the Pump House and is an introduction for the teenagers about the canals and the Society. We use slides to introduce topics such as restoration, work boats, heritage and well being and this then leads into a question and answer session. The teenagers usually have some project they are working on and thus their questions tend to reflect whatever task they have been set. This year there was a particular emphasis on pollution and the impact upon wildlife.

The work party then takes place on the following weekend where we use our work boat Phoenix to take the teenagers out onto the canal to assist with a clean up using grappling hooks and litter pickers. Steve Lambert from CRT attends and gives the teenagers a quick safety talk and demonstration and supplies all the necessary equipment and personal protection (gloves). We had a very successful foray onto the Titford canal recovering about 8 trolleys and an old stacker trolley probably related to the Langley Maltings further along the canal. After lunch we took them down several locks giving them experience of steering and locking. It seems strange to us (as we live and breathe the canals) but the teenagers really have no idea how a lock works and their reaction when they understand what is happening is always a pleasure to see.

It was a very worthwhile event and we’re going to be doing it all again at the end of the month with another group from NCS. (Work Party 3rd August).

Brownshill Canalside Festival 2019

The BCN society has its first rally in Brownhills over the weekend of the 18/19th May 2019. The event was based along the extensive canal frontage to Silver Street with stalls and trading boats plus historic craft and over 40 visiting narrowboats.

The location was not without its challenges with double yellow lines and a new fence making access to the site difficult. This was the site of the former Brownhills Community canalised festival which ceased in about 2016 so BCNS were pleased to be able to recreate some of that magic albeit over a 2 day period than just the 1 day previously.

There was not enough room canalside for a refreshment marquee, so the Society hired Brownhills Community Association halls about 4 minutes walk away. The staff at the centre were amazing and went out of their way to make the event a success. The halls was used for the bar, teas and coffees and also for entertainment. 

Friday night saw Billy Spakemon and friends and Wild Irish entertained the boaters on Saturday evening. Railway historian Ian Pell gave a very well attended and received talk on the links between Canals and Railways on Saturday afternoon.

The weather stayed fine for us and the crowds came out and visited the stalls and colourful boats. This made the rally a success not only for the number of boats that attended and cruised the Wyrley and Essington, but also bringing the Brownhills Community out onto their towpath and appreciate their waterside location.

A big thank you to all those society members that volunteered to make this event happen and also to the stall holders, Brownhills Community Association and to CRT for providing the land and water.

Watch this space to see where the rally will be held in 2020.

From Brownhills Bob’s blog:
Pictures from the 2019 Brownhills BCNS Canalside Festival

From the Express & Star:
Canal festival back with bang

New webmaster

BCNS are delighted to announce that we have a new webmaster who has taken control of both the BCNS websites and now merged them into one – For a limited time only any search of will auto divert to the .com site and eventually the link will die and the site will cease to exist.

Work on the site is continuing but the webpages offer a full diary function plus archive and information about the BCN network. BCNS are keen for members to contribute and thus if anyone has relevant content that they would like to add then please send it to Please provide as much detail as you can, email address and phone number, any links and photos.

BCNS are indebted to Harald Joergens for giving up so much of his time and undertaking this work.

…and a word from the new chap:

It honour to be trusted with the BCNS website. I fell in love with the BCN in the 1980s, and have always admired the great work of the BCNS to keep as many canals navigable as possible, and to improve this incredible network from the rather sad state of the late 20th century to the welcoming and interesting environment it is now.

To anyone interested in the BCN: Please contribute to this website by sending information, articles, photos, anything that might be of interest, to

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.

National Citizen Service – The Challenge

National Citizen Service

The young people from “The Challenge” worked with us again this summer.

As usual, it was good fun – and hopefully and introduction to the canals for the young people.

Thank you guys for joining us for a work party.

(By the way – we don’t claim to be the Birmingham Canal Navigations – the certificate simply didn’t have the space to put “society” on the title line.)

BCN Society Spring Cruise 2018

on Saturday 7th April 2018 at 10am

from TIPTON to BUMBLE HOLE via locks & Netherton tunnel

We welcome boaters to join our cruise & to allow some passengers to join them.

This year we are taking our Spring Cruise from Tipton to Windmill End and back.

We will take either the Factory Locks or Brades to take us from the Old Main Line at Tipton to the New Main Line then through Netherton Tunnel to moor around Windmill End & Bumble Hole.

There we will have a bring your own lunch stop and take a short walk and visit the Bumble Hole Visitor Centre.

Then we shall return to Tipton via the tunnel & either Brades or Factory (take the other set of locks that you took on your way out).

Many of our passengers will leave us at Tipton, though those that wish may join us for the evening meal will be welcome.

We will start at Tipton at around 10am, returning to Tipton around 5pm.  There is no charge for this cruise but the whole point is to encourage non boaters to join us so please state how many passengers you are willing to take with you on your boat.

An evening meal will be arranged – details later.

If you need further details email email Brenda Ward at

Fast work by C&RT

C&RT team taking a well deserved lunch break after a very slick repair job.

I was heading down the Farmers Bridge flight with Brian and Brenda Ward on Colehurst, and we heard that the collar on the bottom of the Aston flight had failed.  C&RT had been informed, and were “on the case”

The new collar

By the time we got to Aston bottom lock, there was the C&RT team having a well deserved lunch break, and a new collar on the gate hinge.  Total closure time from collar failure to replacement being fitted was less than the time it took us to get down the Aston flight.  Pretty impressive – thank you!

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.