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!

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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Stanley Holland’s books for sale

Charles Hadfield - British Canals

Charles Hadfield – British Canals

Stanley Holland has given his many of his books for us to sell, (with the proceeds being split between the BCNS & Stan)

A full list of the books available are on this link.  The prices are as researched by Brenda – though if you feel they are worth more, more would be appreciated.  Contact Brenda, either via the form below, or by emailing her her directly.

[contact-form-7 404 "Not Found"] – though if you feel they are worth more, more would be appreciated.

Brenda can either bring the books to a BCNS meeting, or post them to you.  (Though we will ask you to pay for postage)


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.



Marathon Challenge – was Noah the winner?

Was it something I said?   Mike Powell on the joey being towed by Joanna, heading down the Old Main Line.

Was it something I said?
Mike Powell on the joey being towed by Joanna, heading down the Old Main Line.

A great time was had by all – despite the weather!  If the original Ark had been entered, it had to be in with a good chance of winning, helped by its experience of dealing with rain!

I will post the results as soon as I get them, likewise more photos and links.

There were all sorts of boats, from small glass fibre cruisers to full length working boats and joeys in tow.

There are photos and comments on our Facebook page.

I’ll link to as many sites and blogs of participants as I can find.

Indigo Dream


Joanna and her joey at the top of Brades Locks.

Joanna and her joey at the top of Brades Locks.

Thanks to Mike and Jo on Anson for the photos on this page.

There were loads of photos taken by Harald Jorgens on Felonious Mongoose – I’ll put in a link to them on his website as soon as he sorts them out.  (he has trooping of the colour to do first)

In the meantime here is here ar some 360 degree panorama shots of Salford Junction (where we started) and Hawne Basin (the finish), with Sherborne Wharf and Ladywood Junction added for good measure.

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 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.