Monday, 5 October 2015

Merry Hell

On checking the camera I discovered one photo from last night’s walk along the Fens Branch.
Brockmoor Junction
We turned right at Leys Junction and continued along the Stourbridge Canal to Delph Junction where there is no longer a canal junction and instead the boater faces the eight locks of the Delph Flight.  I noticed the pub at the base of the flight is named The Tenth Lock which I thought was rather amusing given the flight only had eight.  However I’ve since had a second look at the Waterway Routes map and now realise the current flight is slightly to the west of the original flight which had nine locks!   So the pub is correctly named.
Almost every lock was in our favour and a couple even had the lower gates open.  This latter situation proved to be more of a hindrance than help as they would re-open after Jan had closed them.  Three locks from the top we met a single handed boater going down.  He had his work cut out although he must have been grateful that all those behind us were full.
IMG_8297There is a long brick building beside lock 6 and we assumed from the colour of the paintwork it belongs to CRT.
eIMG_8295I did a very quick online search and couldn’t find anything about the history of the building.  My guess is it was used for lock maintenance or perhaps stables?
From the top of the flight it was a short cruise to the excellent moorings on The Embankment at Merry Hill.  Although one boater referred to it as Merry Hell.  He’s not a fan of huge retail complexes!
merry hill Photo from the Express & Star website.  Actually it only shows a portion of the retail park.
For 125 years this was the site of the Round Oaks Steelworks.  During the Industrial Revolution the majority of the world’s steel manufacturing was conducted within 32km of Merry Hill and at its peak the works employed thousands of local people.  Obviously why it’s call The Black Country.
By the 1970’s the plant was obsolete and expensive to operate.  It was demolished in 1984 with several thousand locals being made unemployed.  However the new owners redeveloped the site into a major retail park converting the local economy from manufacturing to services.
Here we are moored on the embankment overlooking the retail park.  Both of us have been puzzled by the flag being flown on a number of the local boats.  It’s red, black and white with a three link chain.  Not your usual pirate flag.  Jan did some searching and discovered it’s the flag of The Black Country.
This boat had the flags as bunting.  More boats arrived flying the flag and during the evening they were all illuminated.
Sunday lunch was the roast at the Brewers Wharf (3/10). 
Our evening view of Merry Hill.

1 comment :

Paul (from Waterway Routes) said...

A typo - it's "Delph" Junction and Flight not "Delphi" and it is still an end on junction as it always has been.

It's only the middle locks that are on a new alignment with the top and bottom locks being original. If you look at the steps coming down from each lock on the non-towpath side they seem to have re-used steps form the original locks which are the wrong height.

You may have also noted the bridge at the top of the flight is "Ninelocks" Bridge.