Saturday, 26 December 2009

Anson Branch Canal south of M6

Anson Branch Canal
Southern Section - Walsall Canal Junction to M6
December 2009

Index for Anson Branch posts:

1. Southern Section - this post
2. North of the M6
3. Reedswood

My exploration of the Bentley Canal led, inevitably, to the Anson Branch which was it's link into the Walsall Canal 'mainline'.

Reed filled bed of Anson Branch Canal

Whereas the Bentley is completely dry and largely obliterated, fate has treated the Anson more kindly. It can be argued that it remains in water throught although I use the phrase 'in water' somewhat guardedly. What that actually means is that the canal bed is wet, but filled with reeds.

Anson Branch Junction with Walsall Canal

The junction with the Walsall Canal is recognisable and the length up to the M6 remained navigable till at least the mid 1970's. The first 400 yards are now clogged with reeds, but not so choked that you can walk acress the canal bed, if you know what I mean.

Bentley Canal Junction with Anson Branch Canal

This short canal has two aqueducts along its length, one over a tributary of the River Rea and then a larger associated bore, which used to contain  a railway track but is now used as part of the Monarch's Way cycle track.

Bentley Mill Way bridge over Anson Branch Canal

The junction with the Bentley Canal is dignified by a stretch of open water with a pipe bridge behind, but this illusion of a living canal is short lived. The watered section comes to an abrupt end at Bentley Mill Way bridge, which has it's northern portal bricked up.

Beyond Bentley Mill Way the line of the canal enters the Junction 10 Retail Park, it's exact route visible by a line of trees and a stand of ventlation shafts. One can only assume the the canal bed and cutting was used for infill. This line is emphatically terminated by the towering embankment of the M6 but I was delighted to find a photo of Tony Clayton's boat Linton pressed up against this obstacle in 1974. It is believed that this was that last time any boat made it this far.

Anson Branch Canal track next to Showcase Cinema J10 of the M6

The Anson Branch does have more to offer beyond the M6, but time and light was against us, so we beat a hasty retreat back to Wednesfield Junstion. The remainder of the Anson Branch will still be there for another day's exploration.

I leave you with a photo of one of the last boats to reach the M6 Culvert sometime before 1977


Mark said...

(Belatedly) Happy Christmas. Do keep going with writing up the lost watery byways of the BCN. They are really enjoyable reading and have fired me up to do the same in the coming year.

- Mark

Captain Ahab said...

Thanks - I am glad you have found them of continued interest. I havnt got any more "in the can" and have been pondering the next outing. Maybe a return to the end of the Ridgeacre, but more likely a look at the lost section of the Cannock Extension.

Tony Clayton said...

I am not sure whether you meant to say Tony Clayton, as our boat reached the M6 in 1974, and there is a photo on my website at

- Tony Clayton

Captain Ahab said...

My apologies - I intended to go back and correct that, add the name of your boat ant make a link - but forgot. I love your website.