Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Hatherton Canal at Calf Heath

Hatherton Canal at Calf Heath
February 2010

You could be forgiven for thinking that the Hatherton Canal is a living and breathing arm of the Staffs and Worcester, branching off the summit pound at Calf Heath, about three miles from Gailey top lock.

However, If you should venture into the first lock, which sits just off Hatherton Junction, you would soon discover the truth. This one decrepit lock is maintained solely to provide access to the small boatyard and moorings above, nothing more.

Hatherton lock no 2

Tecnically I guess you could say that the second lock remains operable as well, but only to lift boats into an improvised dry dock carved out of its side in the 1960's. The top gates are jammed, trapping the rotting remains of an old working day boat above them.

Lock No 2 Hatherton Canal, with sunk day boat

The Hatherton Canal remains in water above lock number two, but access is tricky on account of there being no towpath. However, the water can be glimpsed by walking to the back of therCalf Heath playing fields seeing the canal bend round to the north before it is culverted beneath the 'mile straight' road. Here Dog Bridge was removed for safetys sake, next to the Dog and Partridge pub, an old boaters inn. The canal line emerges on the far side but is promptly blocked by the huge M6 embankment, on which a ceaseless procession of traffic makes it's way north and south ensuring that, as the locals say, "it is never really quiet in Calf Heath".

The motorway embankment was built in the 1950's soon after the canal was abandoned, and about the time that the Churchbridge section was bulldozed away. As such it forms the single major obstacle to restoration at the western end. There are hopes that if the motorway is ever converted to four lanes, a culvert could be inserted to aid future restoration. There is no sight of this at the present time but, as we all know, canal restoration is a long game measured in decades, not years.


Halfie said...

You refer to "... This embankment..." Did you mean to put in another photo there?

Captain Ahab said...

No, I just failed to word the paragraph very well!
The motorway embankment is in no way photogenic, nor could I get a good view of the pipes carrying the canal under it.