Thursday, 15 October 2015

Typhoo Basin and the Warwick Bar

A need to burn off two cream buns resulted in a circular walk to Typhoo Basin. We have cruised this way on two previous occasions and I have been interested by the Warwick Bar.  Today I walked along the towpath to Digbeth Junction and then directly back to Cambrian Wharf.  The route of the canal is almost a semi-circle.

Typhoo Walk

Left arrow – mooring and right arrow – Digbeth Junction.

Unlike Digbeth the area adjacent to the Farmers Bridge flight of locks has been redeveloped.  It Is now either light commercial or residential.  It Is interesting to note how the developers had to ensure the lock side ponds were retained.  Without these ponds the locks might run out of water.


On first glance I assumed the area under the building was car parking.  Then I realised it was the side pond.

P1010940 In the above situation the building has been constructed over the lock and supporting columns placed in the side pond.

Wandering along I happened to notice the bridge beams on Barker Bridge (1842).


It was the curve in the bridge beam where it joined and brick abutments.  They are cast iron.


Actually they are very large cast iron beams. The beams are probably from Horseley Ironworks as are many of the canal bridges. The deck is made of iron plates.

There are three interesting things to see at Digbeth Junction

  • The Warwick Bar & old Banana Warehouse
  • Typhoo Basin
  • The Gun Barrel Proof house

Typhoo History

Digbeth Junction

The Warwick Bar is a stop lock.  It was built to prevent the lose of water from one canal company to another.  Beside the bar is the veranda and rear of the former Banana Warehouse.


I had wondered what the old wharf had been used for and now I know.  Both the Bar and warehouse are Grade II listed.

On the opposite side of the junction is the Gun Barrel Proof House.  The proof house was established in 1813 at the request of the thriving Birmingham small arms industry.  I remember having a BSA bike as a boy.  Only later when I had an air rifle did I discover BSA were the initials of Birmingham Small Arms.  Testing of small arms ammunition is still conducted here.

Typhoo Basin is at right angles to the Warwick Bar.  Initially I thought it was Typhoon Basin and mentioned my error to Jan.  She promptly mentioned Typhoo Tea.  There is a connection.  Typhoo Tea established their blending factory here.  At the beginning of the 20th century Birmingham had more than 60 tea merchants mostly selling broad leaf tea.  The founder of Typhoo Tea was John Sumner (b1856) who was born into a local grocery family.  His sister suffered from indigestion and had discovered drinking tea made from fine particles rather than the more prevalent broad leaf avoided this.  She convinced John to specialise in fine particle blended tea made from the edge of the leaf.  Typhoo Tea was the first to be sold pre-packaged rather than loose.  Today Typhoo Tea is owned by Apeejay Surrendra Group, one of India’s largest tea producers.

P1010944 Digbeth Junction looking towards Typhoo Basin


The remains of Typhoo Basin

The area around Digbeth Junction is a designated conservation area. Developers have proposed building a large cassino here utilising the existing historic buildings.

Before leaving this area I must mention one other fact.  Digbeth is where Brylcreem was invented in 1928.  It is an emulsion of water and mineral oil stabilised with beeswax.  Not that I use it!


Richard said...

Hi Tom
as always enjoy your posts!!
Slightly off topic but knowing your technical abilities etc how far do you reckon you have to walk to take care of a cream bun?!!

This is from a cream cake addict!!

Hope all well with you and Jan

NB Pendle Warter

Lisa said...

Bet you used to use it though!

Tom and Jan said...

Richard, The answer is to your question is easy..... Too far!

Lisa, Never..... I was an Alpha wild man who never touched any of that sissy smelly stuff. (until tamed by the lioness) I'll admit to the occasional use of soap!