Saturday, 6 February 2010

Hatherton Branch Canal, Wedges Mill to Churchbridge

Hatherton Branch Canal
Wedges Mill to Churchbridge
February 2009

There are few stretches of canal that are so utterly lost that it is as if they never existed at all. This is one of them.

Whilst a short length of the old the line extends east from Wedges MIll, passing behind Halfords, it is quickly swamped by the mass of Finning's huge CAT factory. That is the last we see of the old Hatherton Branch Canal, buried beneath a couple of miles of industrial sprawl, with it's final passage under the railway embankment lost as part of the M6 Toll construction.

Just as I was dispairing of finding anything meaningful to post on the length ,I unearthed two facets which are both significant and interesting.

Map and photo of Hawkins Basin with its aqueduct.

Firstly, the canal used to have an arm which extended into the extensive Hawkins Basin, crossing Wyrley brook by means of a brick built aqueduct. 

Lift bridge at entrance to Hawkins Basin 1957

Hawkins Basin 1920 (2 acres)

Oddly, this was the last trace of the canal to be lost, and was briefly unearthed when the adjacent motorway was built.

Walkmill Lock - early 1970's

Canal path along VInes Road and beyond

And then when I followed the map of the modern industrial estates it became apparent that the access road had been built directly over the canal's path.

Not a lot to see, just a couple of fragments, but you take what you can get in this game.

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