Essington Branch Canal (or Vernon's Branch)
Wyrley Bank Branch Canal
7th November 2009
Essington Canal - the start, and the finish
A more careful investigation revealed that this is the line up to a Mr Vernons 'New Pit at Essington', and was the ultimate destination of the canal as it was originally built in 1795. This last length lifted that canal up through another five locks to a short top pound 536 feet above sea level. This height is remarkable as it represents the high point of the BCN system, beating Titford pools by 22 feet and holds the record as the 3rd highest canal in the UK - only 64 feet below the Rochdale Canal's heather fringed summit (The Huddersfield Narrow Canal is the highest).
Essington Colliery 2009
This waterway was very shortlived, closing in 1830 when the pit at Essington was economically played out.
I had trouble identifying the line of the canal from the Bloxwich end, so I drove round to the A462 near the M6, parking up in a gate opposite Rose Cottage. I could see immediately that I had the right place because:
1. To the west the remains of Essington Open Cast Mine were clearly visible, the site of Mr Vernons 17th Century mine.
2. Opposite this site two widely spaced hedges march off, arrow straight, towards Bloxwich, with a land drain at the centre.
The route had stiles and a reasonably clear footpath, so I explored on foot, initially following a farm track which reduced to a footpath at the site of the top lock. Now, it is very difficult to be sure about the exact location of the locks, and I could find no concrete evidence of their presence on the ground. However, for the most part the line of the canal was flat, except for five distinct but shallow rises.