Friday, 9 October 2015

Another great day

What a contrast to yesterday.  One of us awoke to a clear blue sky (the other had risen before dawn!).  The question was “Do we make the most of the day and cruise or do we relax in the sunshine beside the boat?”  Cruising won the day and we prepared Waiouru to move across the canal to the water point adjacent to the Bumble Hole tea rooms.

P1010889Jan started conversing with one of the friendly ladies from the tea rooms and during the conversation was informed the grassed area on the opposite side of the canal (where we had moored the night) had been cut up and left a mess several weeks ago when “Travellers” smashed through the park gate and set up a community.  Apparently they refused to move on when requested by the police and only left after the council obtained a court order.  It was only then that they left, but not before cutting up the grass with their vehicles and leaving all their rubbish behind.  It has cost the council several thousands to restore the area.

Good water pressure here and we filled the tank yesterday so we weren’t delayed very long. It was only a short cruise to the entrance to Netherton Tunnel. 

P1010891 This was the last English canal tunnel built during the age of canals.  It’s obvious that canal builders had improved their methods since their first tunnels.  It’s wide, high and as straight as an arrow.  It also has a towpath on both sides.  It took almost 3 years to complete and was finished in 1858.  The tunnel is almost 3km long and was constructed to reduce the congestion created by the adjacent older and very narrow Dudley Tunnel.  Netherton Tunnel is higher than the Dudley Tunnel.  It links to the New Main Line whilst the Dudley links to the lower Old Main Line.  I have to continually remind myself the area of park and woodland around and over the tunnel wouldn’t have existed back in 1858.  The area would have been riddled with mines.  Horse drawn boats would have been conveying the extracted coal and other products around an extensive local canal network.  Obviously why it is known as “The Black Country”.

We counted six air shafts whilst passing through the tunnel.  Only two of them were dry and that wasn’t surprising seeing the area is known for water seepage.  Remember that steam pump at Cobbs Engine House!  Jan was going to take a photo up one of the air shafts but decided a face full of water wasn’t worth the effort.


Last time we came this way we passed two cyclists in the tunnel.  Today we had it all to ourselves.

Shortly after exiting the tunnel the canal passes under the Old Main Line.  There is a wide island around the central pier of the aqueduct which I assume would have been one of the many gauging stations on the Birmingham Canal Navigations (BCN).  No doubt there was a significant volume of short haul canal traffic between various canal arms and the canal company would have constructed numerous gauging stations to ensure there was no revenue leakage.

The Netherton Tunnel Branch joins the New Main Line at Dudley Port Junction.  We needed to make a decision.  Left to Tipton and Wolverhampton or right to Birmingham.  We decided to turn right!   Along the way we couldn’t but help it be amused by the clothing two fishermen were wearing.


All it needed was green paint on their faces and the fish would never have seen them! Smile


Halfie said...

Tom, "... whilst the Dudley links to the lower Old Main Line." (should be "higher") A little later in your post you get it the right way round.

(Purely in the interest of accuracy and to avoid confusion ...!)

Pip and Mick said...

You've got a bit confused there Tom, the Netherton Tunnel is at a lower height than the Dudley no 1. The Dudley connects to the Old Main Line which you passed under when you exited Netherton.
If you have made it to Birmingham city centre say hello to Lizzie on NB Panda from us.

Tom and Jan said...

Oops... yes I meant to write under the Old Main Line. I'm claiming it's an age error!