Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Oldbury Junction, the way it was - Birmingham Canal Navigations

Oldbury Junction then and now - BCN

18th November 2009

As you wander around the near silent BCN it is impossible not to wonder what it all looked like when it was still a living and breathing entity. And its not just the canals, the courses of which are the least changing part of the landscape. It's even harder to imagine the industry which once lined the canal banks.

I remember mile after mile of factory walls, hissing and spitting noxious (and probably highly toxic) chemicals back in the late 1960's. Yes it's much cleaner now, but all we are left with is the empty husk of what went before, with an occasional historic building preserved for postrerity. Things certainly arn't wot they woz.

Take the bottom end of the Titford Canal at Oldbury, once home to the huge Midland Tar Distillers. With the end of coal fired power stations came the end of the industries which used the by-products, and the end of the canal carrying companies that moved the stuff from place to place.

I found this photo of Soar, Thomas Claytons first motor boat tied up alongside the storage tanks, probably taken sometime in the early 1940's.

And this is the same sight today, with the industry long gone, and only a tarry odour as you stir the sediment to remind you that it was ever there at all.

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