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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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

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.

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.

BCN Explorer Cruise

Walsall Town Basin

The second of this year’s BCN Explorer Cruises – at Walsall Town Basin

This year’s second BCN Explorer Cruise started in Wolverhampton, and finished at the BCN Society clubhouse at Titford Pumphouse, taking a relaxed and leisurely trip via Pelsall Common, Anglesey Basin, Longwood Boat Club (at the top of the Rushall locks), Ocker Hill junction, Walsall Town Arm, and Tipton Green.

Aside from a great time being had by all, there were a series of highlights.

At Ocker Hill,  Andy Tidy  took us for a walk around the now defunct Ridgeacre Branch,showing us the remains of the dead canal.  Fascinating meeting someone else fascinated by this aspect of the history of the BCN – especially someone who knows so much more about it than I do.  (I think Felonious Mongoose must have been one of the last boats down the Ridgeacre – and the difficulty and pollution were such that I think that British Waterways (as was) request that boats do not attempt to navigate it is entirely reasonable.)  To dredge it would be a toxic waste nightmare.

Thence on to Walsall Town Arm, with its outstanding New Art Gallery from where this photo was taken.

From Walsall most of us went up the Walsall locks to Tipton Green. There most, if not all of us did a quality control check of the beer and pies at Tipton’s historic Pie Factory. The link takes you to see the historic place this renowned factory has in British military history !! (??)

The cruise finished at Titford Pump House, where the Old Swan brewery / pub provided yet more beer to provide quality control on.  Passed with flying colours.

Thanks to Stuart and Marie Sherrat for organising an outstanding event.

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!!)