Pelsall Canal Festival – the beer arrives!

Paul & Craig from the Old Swan at Netherton delivering the beer.

Craig & Paul from the Old Swan delivering the beer.

Paul and Craig from the Old Swan at Netherton – crucial contributors to the success of the rally.  Not only did they deliver the beer to the original plan on Thursday, so that it was settled and ready for Saturday, when a problem developed with the beer (it kept disappearing – at a staggering rate) they provided a second batch of firkins on Saturday, and delivered a third batch on Sunday.

For those real ale aficionados who question having drinkable beer so shortly after delivery, it is because the Saturday and Sunday deliveries were “Bright beer” – firkins filled with beer tapped from the pubs own barrels – so each firkin was as clear as the pint you would get in the pub.

For those of you who enjoyed the beer (and that seems to be a lot – 1728 pints were sold over the weekend) – it comes from the Old Swan, at 168 Halesowen Road, Netherton, DY2 9PY.  Paul is the head brewer.

Pelsall – a great success

Pelsall this year was an outstanding success.

While the weather made its gesture (30 seconds after the opening at 12:00 on Saturday, the heavens opened up) – but though heavy while it lasted, it didn’t last for long.

After a few subsequent minor attempts at a little rain, the weather stayed gorgeous for the rest of the weekend.  I believe there was a record 126 boats!

I hope that people with a better signal than I have can post some photos.

Many thanks to all the hard work put in by so many.

Muskrat – the tail (?) of a Challenge

(Posted as a comment by John of Muskrat, and converted in to a post by the webslave)

We add our congratulations to Richard and his crew on Tawny Owl, a fine competitor for the past three challenges and a worthy winner this time. And congratulations too to all the other competitors and to the organisers and helpers at Longwood.   It was a great weekend.   Charley has invited contributions so here is ours.

When we saw the scoring system for the 2013 challenge we knew our run of good luck and a fair wind towards winning was over but we decided we’d give it our best and have a relaxed and enjoyable cruise.  At only 35 feet long, as compared to the 70 foot boats, we started with a deficit of 35 points and also needed to travel twice the miles to stay level – a non-starter as our top speed in deep water (not known on the BCN) is well under 4mph; our 2-cylinder Lister is over 40 years old, and since adding a new bottom plate to cover the abraded original and replacing the old leaky fibreglass cabin with a steel one a few years ago we now draw 28 inches and are rather underpowered.   So our route planning focused on where it would be nice to go combined with the stretches carrying higher bonus factors, and with a bias for locks where there was no penalty for being short.  We did briefly toy with the idea of building a 35 foot prow or bowsprit, perhaps with a seat at the front, but decided this was not in the spirit of the challenge!

I was on my own for Saturday morning and started from Wolverhampton top lock a bit after Sarah and crew on Canis Major who had arrived and got in position on the starting line while I was asleep.   When I caught up a little later at an unusually wide and straight bit of the Curly Whirly she gracefully waved me past – thanks.   First stop was Sneyd Junction, to find the blue bricks (with blue canoes and blue police signs as distractions), then on to Grove Colliery Basin and the birch tree with a yellow ribbon before returning to the Walsall locks where two of my sons joined me; 22 miles of very attractive canal but no locks so far.

Down the locks we went and into the deserted Town Basin, with its new Premier Inn, then along the Walsall Canal with a late lunch on the move, up the Ryder’s Green flight passing Charlene and Panatha and to the Brades Hall locks via Caparo precision steel strippers and a close encounter with Felonious Mongoose at Albion Junction.   There was a mini-gathering at these locks, with Spartan, Phoebe and Diesel & Dust all going the other way.

Once up and heading towards Oldbury we passed Tawny Owl again (the first time had been at Goscote) and then headed up to Titford Pools; the last half mile or so is in serious need of debris clearing and dredging.  Keeper’s Cottage beside The Navigation was found, then we turned back, down the attractive Spon Lane locks, along Telford’s magnificent New Main Line below his aqueducts and astonishing Galton Bridge – what a genius!

After a well-earned stop for supper with the full moon for company, Edward got some sleep while Henry and I continued via the Soho Loop.  Exploration at the bridges soon solved the Centre of the Earth riddle – it’s the name of the park across Asylum Bridge – and then we crossed the Main Line into Icknield Port Loop where the excessively bright lights made counting the chimneys on the old building quite a challenge (we thought there were three). It was 11.30pm at Old Turn but we decided to press on for a bit longer so went down the Farmer’s Bridge locks (all set against, several with the bottom gate open – ugh!) before mooring above the Ashted locks at about 1.00am.

Up again – at least Edward and me – at 5.15 on a glorious morning to continue our cruise down to Salford Junction, via the patch where Cornerstone AC has an interest, and then up the Perry Barr locks where we had our third, and worst, encounter with propeller entanglements, a sari this time which of course turns into a tightly wound rope requiring serious and prolonged attack down the weed hatch with a serrated knife to get rid of. The quantity of floating rubbish at the top lock was unprecedented and we extracted about a skip-full onto the bank before making use of the very welcome CRT shower there. As we left, a CRT team turned up to remove the rubbish, but as we cruised along the splendid high-level stretch past Hamstead we could see there would be plenty more drifting their way.

With Henry up to lend a hand, we joined the procession up the Rushall locks to join the fun at Longwood. After about 22 hours of cruising to complete our planned route in lovely weather (what a contrast to last year, and even to the previous Friday), 55.5 miles and 80 locks, and all the questions on our route dealt with, we’d had a really enjoyable time. And it was excellent to see so many others enjoying the fascinating and varied BCN system and to find almost all the parts we cruised in good condition. Many thanks to Roy, John and Brenda for all they do to make this event such a success. We hope to be there again next year.

John, Henry and Edward of Muskrat

Questions on the BCNS Challenge

 In addition to how many locks and miles can you cover in 24 hours, there are a series of questions to answer, with additional points gained for correct answers.  The questions did not all carry the same points.

For those (like me!) who did not get all of the questions that I tried, here are the questions and answers.

Birmingham & Fazeley / Grand Union
Curdworth Village: In which road will you find the Post?      COLESHILL ROAD
Garrison Locks: A vital foundation for fishermen?      CORNERSTONE ANGLING CLUB

Dudley Canals
Merry Hill: Who crossed the marina but not the house ?      MICHAEL PORTILLO
Dudley Tunnel: How many limestone blocks form the portal of Dudley Tunnel?         23
Near Coombes Bridge: How many gullies feed the overflow weir?       6

Main Line and Loops
Icknield Port Loop :How many chimneys are on the old stable block?      3
Soho Loop :This bridge is at the centre of the earth?          ASYLUM BRIDGE
I didn’t understand this one even when I got the answer – from Roy Kenn (the organiser) “near the bridge is a parkland / educational facility known as the centre of the earth.  There is an information plaque on the bridge giving these details and the name

Wolverhampton Top Lock:  The Romans would know but how many years ago was it founded?   195
Bradley Arm What colour are the railings outside the dry dock?  (on the workshop)     YELLOW
Near Pudding Green Junction : It’s not the calendar girls but who will do a precision strip?   CAPARO  (precision strip steel makers)

Engine Arm: Name the junction where you can buy food and drink?        GLASSI JUNCTION

Titford Canals – Name the cottage beside the Navigation?   KEEPERS COTTAGE

Walsall Canal

Walsall Town Arm : Is this a first for the basin?     PREMIER INN

Wyrley and Essington

Cannock Extension – Tie a yellow ribbon round the old ??? Tree – What type of tree (sorry could not find an oak tree)?   BIRCH
Anglesey Basin – It has 6 sides but how many windows DID it have?    2  (The control building on the dam wall)

Who made them blue at Sneyd Junction?   DOULTON  (this one was a **** – there are a lot of blue things around Sneyd from graffiti – my guess – to motorway signs.   However the question was fair – the blue bricks on the bridge have the makers name stamped on them!!)

BCN Marathon Challenge results

Hot off the press, here are the Marathon Challenge results.

Congratulations to Richard and his team on Tawny Owl for an outstanding result!

1         Richard Powell on Tawny Owl with 635.2  points
2         Tom Murkin on Diesel And Dust with 609.8  points
3         Sarah Edgson on Canis Major with 554.6  points
4         John Mosley on Firefly with 513  points
5         Charley Johnston on Felonious Mongoose with 501  points
6         Thomas Loos on Charlene with 495.04  points
7         Ivor Chambers on Atlas with 479.56  points
8         John Hammond on Muskrat with 472.4  points
9          David Bell on Panatha with 467.6  points
10         Jill Shepherd on Cobbett with 424.52  points
11         Paul Roe on Our Little Nightmare with 422.5  points
12         Steve Green on Goosander with 404.72  points
13         Brian Spooner on Wild Rose with 380.84  points
14         M Rose on Goliath with 343.64  points
15         Stuart Makenson on Red Wharf with 328.5  points
16         D Guttridge on Hannah Rose with 303.4  points
17         Damien Campbell on Spartan & Pheobe with 300  points
18         Tug Wilson on Golden Eagle with 261.76  points
19         Peter Scott on Copperkins II with 259.4  points
20         Ian Hindle on The Cat Who Walks By Himself with 241.76  points
21         G Wallbank on Yardley with 186.4  points
22         Laurie Booth on Carrie with 131.2  points

Harald Joergens  was the professional photographer on Felonious Mongoose, and the he is in the process of putting the marathon photographs on his website.   Take a look – follow the link.

As a personal comment, not only is Harald an outstanding photographer, but he was also great to have as crew.
If there was a prize for the best photographic record of the marathon, we would undoubtedly have won it!!

The Allen Register joins the BCNSociety at the Pelsall Rally

Alan Stevens “Les Allen” boat Caggy at “Caggies Boatyard”, Tipton.
I’m not sure of the copyright of this photo.
If the owner is unhappy, let me know & I will remove it.

The BCN Society continued its long standing association with the Allen Register at the Pelsall Canal Festival taking place from June 14-16.

The weekend saw the latest gathering of owners and friends of boats built by Les Allen and Sons (Bob and John) at Oldbury.

For further details on the Allen Register contact Annie Jenner via this link.

Pelsall Festival 2011

Gary Perry and his town crier open the festival

Gary Perry and his town crier open the festival

Gary Perry, Mayor of Walsall opened the Canal Festival organised by the Society at Pelsall Common on 11th & 12th June 2011.

After more than 10 years absence the Pelsall Canal festival was a great success.  Around 160 boats, including over a dozen heritage craft, lined the Wyrley and Essington Canal and the Cannock Extension. There were over 60 stalls, displays and entertainments.  Many letters of congratulation have been received including the following from Maureen Payton, Chair of Friends of Pelsall Commons:

“To see the narrowboats  moored along the canal is a sight to delight those of us who would love to see the canals in our area used on a more regular basis and we realise that it is through the hard work, dedication and vision which comes from your Society this dream may become a reality.”

Thanks to all those who made this event possible for their hard work and enthusiasm.

Meanwhile Pelsall 2013 is nearly here – join in the fun – download an entry form here!