Sunday, 21 March 2010

Danks Branch BCN - Genetic Distribution

Genetic Distribution
Danks Branch, BCN
March 2010

The spot where the two arms of the Danks Branch met may not be much to look at today, but the spirit of transport infrastructure hangs heavily on the place.

Site of the Danks Branch Canal Junction

This is a peculiar and special spot which goes beyond the almost common juxtaposition of canal / railway / motorway. This location not only bears the scars of the three distribution systems, it has also been used repeatedly for transhipment and storage.

Firstly there is the Walsall Canal, now a little used backwater of the northern BCN, but still just alive none the less.

Secondly you have the infilled Danks Branch giving access to mines, factories and waterhouses, all now lost and obliterated.

Thirdly you have a major twin track railway with associated marshalling yards, now also lost and abandoned.

Fourthly you have the original road system serving the communities and industries of the area, now blocked, torn up or overlaid.

Finally you have the huge Black Country Spine Road system and associated industrial and retail parks, mounted high on its elevated embankment.

Maybe it's fitting that the site of the old Danks Branch hosts a distribution warehouse, and the canal wharfs and have now become home to a huge lorry park. The scene may be very different but the song remains the same. It's as if the area has transport and distribution in it's DNA, which re-occurs afresh with each passing generation.

At the time of our visit a fully laden articulated lorry had arrived from the continent, it's driver hunkering down for a chilly night waiting till he could unload on the Monday. Little did he know that he had 'moored' his lorry on the exact spot where narrowboats used to tie up, or that he was following a 200 year old commercial pilgrimage to this particular spot in the Black Counrty.

Like I said, not a lot to see on the ground, but plenty to ponder.

This post hasn't moved my exploration of the Danks Branch forward one inch, but I will complete my account tomorrow.


Halfie said...

Great post, Andy.

Mark said...

Yes, great post (as always). Good to see you got some coverage in the Express & Star - which I only get when I am at Molineux!

We passed the Danks Branch entrance after last year's BCN Challenge and was planning on exploring after this year's...but alas, it is cancelled now. Will have to find some other time to explore!

My boat is in for refit right now, but hope to get to the Walsall again in late May. Trying to persuade my better half that spending the May Bank Holiday (+ kids half term) in Wednesbury, West Bromwich and Walsall is fashionable!

- Mark