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.

Return to main site

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.

[contact-form-7 404 "Not Found"]

Smethwick Pump House – open days in 2015.

Smethwick Pump House with the Aaron Manby moored alongside

Smethwick Pump House with the Aaron Manby moored alongside

The Galton Valley Canal Museum will again be open on the second Saturday of the month from March to October this year, from 10:00 to 15:00.
These dates are:-
14th March
11th April
9th May
13th June
11th July
8th August
12th September
10th October
The Museum will also be open alongside the BCNS Bonfire Rally.

Learn more about it on The Friends of Galton Valley Museum Facebook page.

Worcester Bar aqueduct leakage

Having put the coffer dams in, C&RT set about pumping out the water.

Pumping the water out.

Pumping the water out.



Fish Rescue - and loads of film crews.

Fish Rescue – and loads of film crews.






Come Sunday morning and the fish rescue started.  There was an amazing number of film crews and photographers about (including me).

The weather was definitely damp.  I think the guys in the canal were probably the driest people there!

Fish rescued, pumps off, more work tomorrow.

Fish rescued, pumps off, more work tomorrow.


Fish rescue complete, the pumps turned off, waiting for work to start on Monday.

Gas Street Basin stoppage (continued)

CGJ_7853 - Version 3

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.

CGJ_7851 - Version 2

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 – continued

Will only take a moment to close the gate

Will only take a moment to close the gate

Having moved the boats that wished to go out of the Worcester & Birmingham side of the basin, the next thing was to shut the emergency gates, in preparation for pumping out the cut.

The tug came up from Granville Street bridge, and closing the emergency gate would only take a moment.

Snag – though the gate in the Worcester Bar had been checked this morning, it certainly wasn’t moving now.

When I nod my head, hit it!

When I nod my head, hit it!

Get a bigger hammer!

Across several hours, from about 16:30 to 21:30 and continuing – the gate has been moved about a foot!

At least the gate has moved a few inches - maybe even a foot!

At least the gate has moved a few inches – maybe even a foot!





Still, the pump is ready to go as soon as the gate is shut.  It looks like being a long night for some.

Pump all ready to go.

Pump all ready to go.

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.