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Thursday, 6 April 2017

A Chance meeting.

Something I forgot to mention in yesterday's blog was that while we were in the Woodman who should pop in, very randomly as the pub is not really 'next' to anything, but Craig Charles the comedian, author, poet, TV presenter of Robot Wars and actor who has appeared as Dave Lister in Red Dwarf and in Coronation Street. He was on his own, had a couple glasses of white wine (with ice) and was gone! All very strange.

Before we set off this morning we popped into the bank as Helen had tried to use her bank card a couple of time yesterday but it hadn't been recognised. However it worked with just a tap and it worked in an ATM. They suggested that it may be slightly damaged so ordered another one.

Once back we were soon underway and winding in the entrance to the Oozells Loop. It is the Royal Cannine Small animals conference today. A covered walkway has been built on the towpath to connect the conference centre with the Barclaycard arena. It appeared to be very busy.

They are continuing the upgrade of the tow path on the way out of Brum. However the 'towpath closed' sign was along way from the point that you could actually change over to the other side! The towpath seems to be well used by walkers and runners as well as cyclists.

We were soon at Smethwick Junction and passing under the impressive turn over bridges built at Horseley Ironworks at Tipton.

At the bottom lock I love the grooves from the tow ropes worn in the sandstone on the lock wing. All the locks were our way and we were soon up.

By the bottom lock there is a large plot of land that is being developed for housing. There will be quite a few too. I wonder if this will mean less, or more trouble at the canal?

The original canal used to run nearly 20 feet higher up, rising up another three locks. As the canal got very busy they became a bottleneck and there was also a shortage of water. In 1789 John Smeaton built this lower canal, so losing the three extra locks at each end. At the same time he duplicated the locks to speed things up. You can see to the left of the lock and toll house the reeds marking the site of the duplicate lock. They remained in use until the 1960's. The roving bridge to the right crosses the Engine Arm that brought water from the Rotton Park Reservoir in Edgbaston.

Since we last passed this way this interpretive board has been erected at the site of the Sandwell Park Colliery that started in 1870 and closed in the 1950's

More of thre chutes etc could be seen but there isn't much to pass witness these days other than the extensive brick work.

On the way into Birmingham the other day, on the New Main Line, I wondered about a bridge that looked like an aqueduct. As we approached on the Old Main Line I wondered whether any trace would have been obliterated by the M5. However it seems that there are two bricked up canal sized openings in the boundary wall. This was the second of them. The large seven story building has long had scaffolding and a roof protecting it, but this time there was information on it telling me that it was the Chance Glassworks Heritage Trust.

The Chance Glass works started in 1824 when the Chance Brothers took over an earlier glass factory. Within a decade they became the largest glass manufacturers in the country. They were also top producers of specialty glass and supplied the glass for the Crystal Palace in 1857 and for ornamental windows for the Washington White House. They were most famous for the design and production of lanterns for modern lighthouses, and the development of the Fresnel lens systems. They lit hundreds of dangerous places around the world for the safety of mariners. The site extended to 30 acres, the King and Queen visited in 1940. The Trust, that was set up in 2015,wants too preserve/conserve the buildings and use them  for education and let them to the community and business for offices and recreation etc.

It wasn't too long later that we turned into the Black Country Arm to the Dudley Tunnel at Tipton Junction. There was only one boat moored up so we had a choice of spots for the night.

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