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Saturday, 31 August 2013

Up and at 'em.

It was a lovely quiet night last night with one other boat on the mooring at Star City where there was room for about 4 boats I would say. A little way and we were in to the Garrison Locks on the Saltley Cut.

Saltley Gasometers. I'm not sure whether they are still in use. If not i hope they don't just pull them down as they make a great skyline.

The canal is definitely industrialised along here but it didn't look like too many of the buildings were still in use. Everything was fine for a while but as I  came into the second or third lock we  caught stuff on the propeller. It prevented me from going astern but once in the lock and penned up we stopped and quickly got it all off. Less than 5 minutes really.

An impressive pile of stuff of the prop!

At the top lock we came across another boat coming down. They said that we were the first boat they had seen moving since St. Catherine Barnes at 0700. They were certainly putting in the hours as they were on the way to Minworth!

Lock 4 on Garrison Flight. Bridges galore!

We approached Bordesley Junction and turned right on to the Digbeth Branch rather than go up the Camp Hill locks towards Braunston. The cut was still industrial and hardly anybody on the tow path. The first thing of note was the old Fellows, Morton and Clayton warehouses with covered berths. This had been nice used by Graphic artists and looked to be a good example of what to do with these old buildings.

Old Fellows, Morton and Clayton Warehouses.

Next to see was the Warwick Bar. This is very similar to that Worcester Bar at Gas Street basin but is not on the tourist trail. Warwick Bar has two locks to separate the water of the Birmingham and Fazeley and the Warwick and Birmingham Canal. Here however is a covered berth with cast Iron pillars. This is known as the Banana Warehouse as it was once leased to Geest.

Warwick Bar stop locks and the Banana Warehouse as it was once leased to Geest and before that it was run by Pickfords, the road transport company who used to have their own fleet of narrow boats.

A little further on is Digbeth Junction and we decided to explore the short branch to Typhoo Wharf. It seems that it was used by the tea people at some time. It would make a fantastic residential mooring near the centre of town. At present it is not used at all. There was a C&RT work boat moored under the b ridge but nothing else was there.

Typhoo Basin.

 After winding we made out way back out and continued towards the Ashted Locks.

Digbeth Junction, Birmingham.

Coming down from Wolverhampton was drop of 171 feet and with the climb of the lock yesterday and today we would be climbing back up 150 feet. The Ashted flight was quite nice, and would have been better if it was flattened around it. Still it seems as though big things are planned for the area.

Ashted Locks with side pounds to save water.

Once at the top of the six lock flight we soon came to the Science Park moorings. Once tied up we decided to go for a walk back down the last set of locks. We found the Gun Barrel Proof House and the Curzon Street railway terminus.

Birmingham Gun Barrel Proof House, 1813.

Curzon Street Railway Station where the first London Birmingham train arrived in 1838!

We walked into the city centre to see the new Central Libraray that has been moved from Chamberlain Square to Centenary Squrare. It looks fantastic and very different to the old one that was brutalist design. I thought the old one was to be demolished but is still there. Matbe as it is Grade II!

The flower building is the new Central Library in Centenary Square that opens this Monday.

We walked back to the boat and as we got close I went up on the road and found a couple of pubs that looked very nice so we we went for a couple. Lo and behold it was Woodcock Street and the back of Aston University. I lived near Birmingham for about 15 years and me and my two younger brothers came for swimming lessons at Woodcock Street Baths. And they are still there! We walked over and blagged out way in. They don't seem to have changed much except that they feel better kept, and much, much warmer. The little cafe where we had a proper size Wagon Wheel or Mint YoYo and a Chocolate Horlicks has been changed into a gym. The whole thing is now called the Doug Ellis Woodcock Street Centre. Doug Ellis was the long term Chairman of Aston Villa FC.

Woodcock Street small pool where me and my younger brothers learned to swim. It looks much warmer now, and it is!

This is what it looked like in 1925, and it wasn't much different when we frequented it. The area has changed now. And what a coincidence that we are moored almost next door.

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