Monday, 22 March 2010

Danks Branch Canal (north) BCN


Danks Branch Canal
Northern Section - BCN
March 2010

The northern section of the Danks Branch Canal was by far the longest, extending for just under half a mile from the junction with it's shorter southern arm.

Line of the Danks Branch Canal - heading for the grey building in the distance

In addition to the coal workings along it's route, there were also a number of brick and tile works. As a result the landscape 100 years ago would have been very different to that seen today. The old maps show great water filled quarries where clay was extracted, slag heaps from the mining and esoterically named "Slag Works", which made us of the industrial residue. It seems that one man's industrial waste was another's raw material, and it was all moved by boat.

I can't see that the line of the Danks Branch was ever anything more than utilitarian, surrounded by mines and industry, flanked by the railway and infused with the heady aroma arising from the Tipton Sewage Works.

Access to the line is difficult as it heads straight into a vehicle park after the southern railway bridge, then skirting a major industrial warehouse, before heading due north to recross the railway line further on. As the railway is abandoned, and sporting a good collection of maturing trees between its rusting rails, we used the line to provide a means of access.

Northern railway crossing

The canal was picked up again about half way along, as it passed beneath the railway at an angle before curling round what is now an open meadow occupied by a number of horses and a couple of electricity pylons. The end of the canal is within a stones throw of the Tame Valley Canal at a place called Danksbranch Wharf.

Danksbranch Wharf

This flat and exposed site was home to a small community of modest houses, probably miners cottages now all demolished and swept away. The outline of the wharf is just visible as a depresion in the ground but there are few other clues that the site was ever home to man or industry.

For the canal hunter, there is no need to retrace your steps, as a footpath exists up the hillside through the old mines to Shaw Street, and the northern end of the Wednesbury Old Canal / Balls Hill Branch.

One would assume that the canal was named after a Mr Danks who owned a mine or a brick works along its route. However, having surveyed the damp and dismal location I would prefer to think that it reflects the nature of its surroundings!

2 comments:

canalwalker said...

Hi Andy, I think your site is great, however I have a query on the second canal crossing you have shown as I believe it to be the remains of a lane down to the Danks Branch Wharf area.I have known the Danks Branch for some 50 years and have yet to identify the Golds Green crossing and the north canal crossing as I think they were both removed back before my time by the railway company and an embankment replaced them. I look forward to being proved wrong as I would love to find them.
Keep up the good work.

Captain Ahab said...

Canalwalker - do you mean the second railway crossing? If so it still exists if you scramble down the embankment and you will find a towpath and channel very similar to the one nearer the junct. Feel free to contact me on andrew.tidy@sky.com