Following my beloveds return to the boat from a home visit we left Kidderminster and set of continuing our journey down the Staffs and Worcester Canal.
Weavers Wharf shooping area. Slingfield Mill and Brinton's factory chimney. The old mill building is now home to a Debenhams. When the Staffs. and Worcester Canal was cut through joining the Trent and the Severn the weaving and carpet industry could really take off. There were 25 steam engine chimneys like this, but only this remains.
This bridge marks the entrance to Pratt's Wharf that was built in 1835 to carry timber to a saw mill via a lock down into the River Stour to Wilden. It also carried coal and and iron to the Wilden Iron works. It finally closed in 1950.
A little closer to Stourport is this transhipment wharf that had three railway lines to it from Stourport Station. The loads railway wagons would roll down from the station to the canal by gravity. There were substantial sets of buffers at the end. They largely carried 10ft lengths of iron and steel bars from South Wales. They would be loaded in canal boats that would then head to Pratt's Wharf and lower down on to the Stour to take them to the Wilden Iron Works.
There was no room for us on the visitor moorings above York Street Lock so we went down with our fingers crossed. Luckily there was a spot just passed the services so we filled up and settled for the day. It is surprising that there are so few moorings with so many basins. Just past the facilities is the Lichfield Basin. This used to be filled with canal boats bringing coal from Cannock Chsea to power the Stourport Power Station. The Power Station was opened in 1927 by Stanley Baldwin who was enjoying the second of three terms as the Conservative Prime Minister. He was born in Bewdley and served as the town's MP. He died in Stourport in 1947. The Baldwin family also owned the Wilden Iron Works. The power station was enlarged during WWII but was finally closed in 1984 and the basin filled in. Later is was excavated to form the centre piece of a housing scheme but now visiting boats are allowed in. In fact the place was completely empty which just seems a criminal waste.
These are the wide beam locks that were built to bring up Severn Trows up to the Upper Basin from the river. They were built in 1771 and ten years later the narrow beam to sets of two locks were built close by. The whole complex of basins and locks make for a great amble about on a nice day. Not so good on a cold windy and drizzly day but still a delight to see the old buildings and warehouses by the water too.
The basins and the river side make for such a nice walk that folk used to come out for day trips from the industrial towns of the West Midlands. For this reason the town has a bit of an air of a seaside town complete with fun fair, candy floss and ice cream!
It would be easy to get lost making your way to the river from the upper basin as there are all sorts of little arms and sheets of water so to save embarrassment they have a sign post for us boaters.
We popped into the chandlers for a couple of bits and then headed off on our tour. We stopped for a pork pie and then had a pint at the Black Star. The served beer from the Wye Valley Brewery and I tried the HPA and Butty Bach before further wanderings. Before finally heading back to the boat we stopped at the Holy Bush for a drink, and to warm up if the truth beknown. There were only a few in but as soon as we had our drink we were included in the conversation and made to feel right at home. A girl came in and they asked why she was there as she wasn't due to work until the following day. It turns out that she had just got back from her holiday and had missed folk so much she had just popped in to catch up! I reckon that is the sign of a good boozer. The beer is largely from Black Country Ales and at £2-35 they were good value. I tried the 'Pig on the Wall' that almost had the look of a mild it was so brown. There is a rich malty taste that gives it a touch of coffee and chocolate. I also tried the 'BFG' or 'Bradley's Finest Golden'. This pint had more of the hops taste and was a complete contrast as there was the citrus on the tongue. I enjoyed them both and will definitely be back when we pass through next time.
The Holy Bush, Stourport.