Thursday, 22 December 2016

Titford Canal

The feet are feeling slightly better which allowed me to do some further exploring.  This time I decided to walk the Titford Canal.  The canal joins the Old Main Line at Oldbury Junction which is now under the busy M5 Motorway.  Whilst walking the towpath to the junction I noticed the numerous signs of former canal arms.  It’s interesting how you see them once you know to look.


You can see more of the former local canals and arms in this next map extract from Waterway Routes.  I’ve highlighted the end of each in red.


Our current mooring and the location of the floating pontoons from yesterday’s incident are marked with the red arrows.

My only human contact during the walk was the policeman on his bike.  Was he on patrol or heading home?  We passed each other again on my return so it was obviously a patrol.


Oldbury Junction and the start of the Titford Canal is located underneath the busy M5 Motorway


I had anticipated going down the six locks of the Oldbury Flight and it came as a surprise to find they go UP.  The old boatmen call this flight The Crow after the adjacent chemical works owned by Jim Crow.


Looking back.

This canal started it’s life as a narrow feeder drawing waters from Titford Pools, Smethwick and Edgbaston Reservoir.  Much of the feeder between Smethwick and Edgbaston was a tunnel.  The water was collected from the surrounding area and stored in the man made reservoirs.

I’ve highlighted the route of the original feeder in green from the Waterway Routes map extract below.


Towards the top of the flight was an interesting sign (for boaters) adjacent to the canal.  I wonder what their ppl is?  It’s the Fast Fuel outlet. <link here>


There’s an unusual looking device immediately below the top lock on the off side.  I think it’s an electrically operated valve connected to the adjacent pump house?


In 1835 it was decided to widen and canalize much of the feeder.  This also resulted in additional canals being constructed at Titford Pools to service local collieries and chemical works.  This resulted in a shortage of water.  If the Old Man Line is higher than the New Main Line and the Titford Canal is even higher then it’s logical that the Titford Canal is the highest point on the BCN.  Actually it’s the second highest canal on the inland waterways after the Rochdale Canal.

I couldn’t find the construction date of Titford Pumphouse which stands beside the top lock. Originally there was one steam powered single beam engine bringing water back up the flight.  However the growth in canal traffic soon resulted in the expansion of the pump house and installation of a second pump.  The lean-to building on the left was the blacksmith shop.  The pump house is now the main office of the BCN Society.  


The arm to the right is the former feeder to Smethwick and Edgbaston.  It’s now long term CRT moorings.

As I headed down (up) the canal the first object of note was what appeared to be a former Malting.  I recognised the unique top to the kilns from our time on the River Lea.


This is Langley Malting.  The buildings are listed and were damaged in an arson attack in 2006.  The council refused permission for them to be demolished. Apparently there is now a plan to convert the buildings into residential properties.


The stretch of canal from here to Titford Pools is rather attractive with little sign of rubbish in the canal.


The Pools are actually very noisy with busy main roads on two sides.  Not a place to moor.  Moreover I’ve read they area also very shallow


I think this fellow is a symbol of the site “feeder” heritage?


Titford Pools were created etween 1773 and 1774 a dam was raised to enclose a 9-acre site, collecting rain that fell on the Rowley Hills.
IMG_1253IMG_1254The Pools can’t always have been shallow as the BCNS website states during the 70's and 80's, a series rallies were held in the pools and scaffold based pontoons were built to accommodate the boats. 


Halfie said...

We have ventured into the Titford Pools, very gingerly so as not to get stuck. I believe the BCNS says it's navigable, but recommends going with another boat in case you do encounter shallows. As we were on our own we didn't go far before reversing out again.

Tom and Jan said...

That's interesting. The BCNS website states they are silted up and too shallow.

Andrew Tidy said...

BCNS regularly organise trips into the pools, but like Halfie says - its not wise to do this alone. The mus is incredibly deep and there is no way to pole yourself off if you get stuck.
Beyond the pool there was the Portway Branch which was alonely stretch of water heading towards Portway Hill (the one with the mast on top).
Interestingly, the first version of the Titford reservoir was built to feed the original Brindley summit at Smethwick, supplemented by a shallow reservoir in Smethwick. When the summit was lowered the feeder was expanded to the two pools you see today and a feeded extended into the new Rotton Park reservoir.