The Big BCN Cleanup

This years BCN clean up will see us return to an area not visited for many years, based at Ocker Hill on the Walsall Canal the teams of Volunteers will clean the lower Walsall, Tame Valley Canals and Ryders Green Locks.

Day Volunteers can sign on at Ocker Hill Depot from 10am, or at the Malthouse Stables in Tipton at 9am, where you will be transported to Ocker Hill.

Safety foot wear should be worn as well as water proof clothing. Bring your lunch if you do not with to purchase the lunch provided by Waterway Recovery Group.

For further details please email or call Chris Morgan.

The big annual BCN Cleanup, with the BCN Society working alongside Coombeswood Canal TrustDudley Canal Trust, the Canal & River Trust and the IWA (Birmingham, Black Country and Worcester branch Waterways Recovery Group.)

Come along under the auspices of any of the groups.

If you want accommodation and food provided, book through the Waterways Recovery Group website.

If you are staying with them, accommodation is available from the night of 15th, at the malt house stables, Tipton.

You are welcome to come and join us – wear stout footwear and old clothes.  Waterproofs could be a good move.

Tea and coffee are provided for everyone but bring your own pack lunch, unless buying it through the WRG.  (If you are doing this, check with Chris for details first)

Chris Morgan will be leading the group, and can be contacted by email on the link.

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BCNS Marathon Challenge 2015

Great Marathon Challenge – Thanks to Roy Kenn and John Carrington for organising it.

Water levels a bit low, which made it more of a challenge! C&RT are looking at why, and will try to avoid the same happening next year.

A message from John Carrington
I have just had a meeting with Roy and initially we would like to sincerely thank all of you and your respective crews for entering the event and your support and understanding

The turnout was amazing with 36 boats finishing at Bradley workshops. Unfortunately so many arriving at 3.59pm did result in congestion but again your understanding and flexibility resulted in this becoming manageable albeit a little frustrating for some of you.

Secondly a really big thank you to the CRT staff at Bradley Workshops, in particular Dave Constable, who could not have been more helpful and accommodating. I understand he even arranged a tour of the workshops on Monday morning for those entrants who arrived too late for the scheduled Sunday tour. Similarly, a big thank you to the workshop manager, Janet Tynan, who traveled down from Wakefield specifically to welcome us all so warmly.

One aspect that many entrants commented on was rubbish in the canal. One entrant had to visit the weed hatch 17 times and another ‘recovered’ 6 shopping trolleys and assorted metal debris. You will recall from an earlier e mail that the local CRT management asked for photographs to be sent to them so they can assess the scale of the problem and focus their resources. Please send photographs to Ian Lane at .   (Please copy your email to John Carrington – if you were on the challenge you know his email address.)

Last year we asked for feedback concerning the arrangements for the Challenge and many entrants sent comments, all of which were useful and a number of which were incorporated into this year’s event. We would really welcome any comments and feedback and you can be assured Roy and I will review them and if appropriate incorporate them into next year’s event (there’s a clue to the future)

Similarly CRT Management is conducting a review about their oversight of the network during the Challenge and their response(s) to the problems at Titford and Factory Locks. Any feedback you make that has relevance to this CRT review will be forwarded to them.

Roy and I have already started to mark the cruise logs and this year we will be piloting a new database which has been written for us by a member of the BCNS. Because this is the first time we have used ‘technology’ we will be marking cruise logs both manually and technically so please bear with us if the results are not declared as quick as last year. We are confident the database will make the scoring more efficient both for this and future events but please bear with us.

A big thank you to Sue for her endeavors in devising this database and her calm understanding towards Roy and me who are truly IT technophobes.

Just a quick reminder, although a number of you have already submitted your photographs or had then checked at the finish, if you are yet to submit them please send them to me as soon as practicable. All submissions will be acknowledged and those checked at the finish will be confirmed.

Finally Roy and I would like to thank the other members of the BCNS for all their help with the arrangements; particularly the complimentary hot food which we know was most welcome.

Watch this space re 2016 Challenge”

If you want to send your comments to John and Roy from this page, please use the form below.

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Gas Street Basin stoppage (continued)

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Isn’t the water lovely!

Midnight last night (19/20 Feb), it was clear that the pump was not coping with the leakage in through the emergency stop gates.  I was told that the plan was to stanch off  the section from Worcester Bar almost to Salvage Turn.

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Assembling the staunch.


This morning, the work started on the coffer dam.

Though those guys are in decent dry suits, rather them than me.  


The stop gate that caused the problem - finally wedged shut.

The stop gate that caused the problem – finally wedged shut.


In addition to the pump in the workboat just behind the stop gate, there are now two larger pumps beside the footbridge, ready to start go.

To clarify exactly where the aqueduct / tunnels are, I have taken a photo of the 1899 10 foot to the mile ordnance survey map, and marked out the two rail tunnels (the one to Midland Railway’s Worcester Wharf  goods yard, the MR Birmingham and West Suburban line (the current main line to the West Country) and Holliday Street tunnel.

Salvage Turn Tunnels


Isn’t the detail on maps of this scale amazing!  Click on the image to see it in more detail.




Exploring the part completed coffer dam!  (or you see why CRT put up barricades when the work was finished!)

Exploring the part completed coffer dam!
(or you see why CRT put up barricades when the work was finished!)


The frames were left in, to be completed on Saturday.


The tunnel that the aqueduct runs over - five ways end.

The tunnel that the aqueduct runs over – five ways end.







Inside the tunnel – you could hear but not see the water flowing from the leak.


Water flowing from the tunnel

Water flowing from the tunnel

Emergency stoppage at Gas Street

CRT tug moving a land rover

CRT tug moving a land rover


The buzz went round this afternoon that the Worcester Bar was being shut as an emergency measure, because of a leak in to the disused rail tunnel that used to carry the LMS line from what is now Five Ways station to the old goods yard.

Network Rail (who apparently own this aqueduct) were working on the tunnel, and when they returned to work decided that there was more water in the tunnel than there should have been.


CRT engineer and her assistants!

So the emergency gates at Worcester Bar and Granville Street Bridge will be closed as soon as they have moved all of the boats out of the W&B side of Gas Street Basin.

The water will be pumped out as soon as the gates are closed, though the pumping will not be completed today, to avoid the need for a fish rescue.  If this level of drainage does not reveal the problem, it will at reduce the risk, with a big drop in water pressure, (and I suppose a lot less water to get out, in the event of a failure occurring despite the reduced water pressure)


Frederick being moved from one side of the bar to the other.

Definitely high profile interest – Richard Parry was there within hours of the start of work (mind you he does get pretty much everywhere!) along with two of the senior engineers.  One of them even had her assistants!  Sod’s law that things like this happen over half term.  Despite being on leave, she had come in to help with the work.

As there is no feel at the moment what the scale of the problem is, there is clearly no indication of how long the emergency stoppage will last for.  An interesting possibility is that the water coming in to the tunnel is not necessarily from the canal but may be from a water main.  However with 38 miles of canal to drain in the event of a breach, they are not banking on that.

Bonfire Rally

I think the Bonfire Rally went really well.

Barry Johnson has organised them for the last 23 years – so he has decided to take a break.  Thank you Barry.  A job really well done.

The good news is that the rallies will continue – Paddy Grice, (who is a key player in the Black Country Boating Festival, as well as the man who sorts a lot of the infrastructure supporting our rallies) will take over.

The weather was kinder than last year – only a little rain, and the wind much lighter than last year.

Some “thank you”s – and to the many who I have missed out – sorry.

Geoff Winslow and his team of volunteers collecting pallets and  – the biggest bonfire that I have seen.  Everyone present who converted the pallets in to a bonfire – and a special mention for the team who were on Atlas and Malus as part of their Duke of Edinburgh award.  They worked hard, and gave the impression that they were thoroughly enjoying their introduction to the canals.

Dot and her team, who sorted out the burger bar, Elaine and her team with the tea and cakes, Paul Cooksey who brewed the excellent beer from Ma Pardoe’s (aka The Old Swan at Netherton)

And finally to the team who cleared up afterwards, led again by Barrie.

If anyone has any photos, I’d really like to put them on the site.

Bob Broomhall – 15 Sep 1941 — 23 Sep 2014

Bob the DuckLast night we lost Bob.

A full obituary by people who knew him better than I will follow, but you didn’t have to know Bob for long to realise what an amazing guy he was.

Bob “The Duck” was a larger than life character, – a big man despite his small stature.  The smiling face under the familiar hat (often adorned with an oversized plastic duck!) was usually an advance warning of a cry of “how many raffle tickets are you going to buy”.  The smile was still there at the last society meeting, though it was obvious that he was desperately ill.

Bob was your man, wherever work was needed, for the BCN Society, for Hawne Basin or for his many friends.  Bob was always there, getting stuck in, and getting other people to help as well.
He simply didn’t understand the word “No” when it came to getting things done.

After a background in the Building industry, Bob took the bold step of creating his own business in 1994 and was constantly surprised that the “thick Brummie builder” (as he called himself) became a highly respected and successful business man.

Bob was a devoted family man, and with Joan and their boat Valencia have been familiar sights around the Canal network for many years.

Our thoughts and sympathy are with Joan, Debbie and the other members of his family – we have all lost a treasured friend and colleague whose like we may not see again.

Marathon Challenge results!

Here they are! – the results, listed in order.

1     Clover                                  Micheal Pinnock       454.14

2    Tawny Owl                          Richard Powell         421  (Last year’s winners)

3    Indigo Dream                     Sue Cook                    409.14

4    Diesel And Dust                 Tom Murkin              409

5    Hampstead                          Barnaby Ball             400

6    Dove                                     Andrew Hoyle           383.47

7    Firefly                                   John Mosley              371.14

8    Albion                                   Martin Catterall       354.84

9    Panatha                                Ann Bell                     347.14

10  Peckham Poppy                  Nicky Harvey            345.26

11   Bogwoppit                           Lewys Morgan          340.43 (I think Lewys is the youngest skipper)

12   Chalis                                  Alan Fincher              330

13   Beau                                     Dave Payne               321.71

14   Telematchus                       Nick Norman           319.27

15   Felonious Mongoose        Charley Johnston    316.43

16   Goosander                          Steve Green              304.63

17   Red Wharf                           Stuart Makemson  296.56

18   Denry                                   Paul Callender        296.5

19   Joanna & dayboat  37        Mick Anson            285.14   (The only pair entered)

20   Golden Boyz                       Sandra Willis         280.31

21   Our Little Nightmare        Paul Roe                 253.86

22   More-Jam                           Ian Hartley            251.26

23   Stronghold                         Ray Oakhill             241.29

24  Notos                                    John Kelly              225

25   Nun                                      Benedict Todd        222.14

26   Iona                                     David Laws              220.5

27   Moments                            Doug Swain             220.43

28   Ryland                                 Richard Lacey         215.03

29   Alchemy                              Jill Reynolds           214.64

30  Mvcl                                     Piotr Kukfk              212.57

31   Crane                                   Jeff Bailey                208.47

32  The Cat Who Walks          Ian Hindle               189.09
By Himself

33  Carpe Vinum                       Darren Matthews   177.29

34  Balabor                                  Chris Clegg             163.71

35  Reginald                                Mike Bryant           144.25

36  Muskrat                                John Hammond     112

37 Noga Louise                          Lynne Robinson    106.25

38  Cobbitt                                  Jill Shepherd           67.77

39  Clarie                                     Laurie Booth            45

Congratulations to everyone who took part despite the dreadful weather!!

Thanks to Roy and John for organising the event, and for working out the results.

Also thanks to the  team at Hawne Basin for a great welcome at the finish line.



Restoration of Titford Canal – 40 years on!

Forty years after a Rally that was held to celebrate the restoration of the Titford Canal around 50 invited guests along with The Mayor of Sandwell Councilor Linda Horton and her consort Councilor Roger Horton and Richard Parry Chief Executive of Canal & River Trust attended an event the BCN Society’s HQ Titford Pump House.

Linda Horton, Richard Parry and Brenda Ward at Titford Pumphouse

Linda Horton, Richard Parry and Brenda Ward at Titford Pumphouse

Guests started arriving at 10.30am and were greeted and offered tea, coffee and cake or biscuits and an opportunity to chat to old friends as they arrived.

Some guests had travelled as far ar Tor Bay in Devon in the south, Lincoln in the east and Darlington in the north.  All thought it well worth the effort.

The day continued with a show of a variety of photos taken by various people displaying views of Oldbury Locks and the Titford Canal up to and including Titford Pools.  Some photos showed organised campaign cruises in 1963, 1971 and 1972 showing how difficult it was to navigate the canal and by 1972 it was becoming almost impassible.  It was explained that the BCN Society along with financial and practical help from Warley Council, which the day after the rally was changed to Sandwell, much work took place on the locks and canal during 1973.  Photos of this work by the Society were also in evidence.  Finally on the weekend of 30th & 31st March 1974 the Restoration Rally took place and some fine photos of the event were shown.

Many of our guests remarked on people who were there and during the show reminisced and explained what was happening in the photos.  Not only did our guests from the 1974 event recognise people in the photos but our Mayor of Sandwell could name a few including the Mayor of Warley, who coincidentally was also a Lady Mayor and others including the Headmaster of her children’s school who had been the secretary of the event.

Linda Horton cutting the anniversary cake

Linda Horton cutting the anniversary cake

This was followed by a buffet lunch for half our guests while the other half travelled on SLOW BOAT, (also known as the trip boat Aaron Manby which is leased by the Ikon Youth Project for the next 3 years.  More time to reminisce both on the boat and while eating lunch.  Then the second boat trip to the Pools took place while the first trippers had lunch and there was plenty left so nobody went hungry.  This was followed by the official cutting of a celebratory cake along with more teas and coffees and a piece of the cake.

Guests started to leave at about quarter to four with the last leaving at 5pm saying what a lovely day they had had and were looking forward to the 50th Anniversary!!