Danks Branch Canal (south), BCN
The Danks Branch Canal came as something of a surprise. It's wasn't on my list of lost canals and it wasn't mentioned by Eric Richardson in his explorations 20 years ago.
Danks Branch Canal 1904
Sorry about the state of it! - lesson - copy it before you take it into the field!
There I was, quietly casting my eyes over the Great Bridge and Toll End section of The Godfrey Edition of the 1902 OS map as part of my research into the line of the Balls Hill Branch when I spotted it, almost obscured beneath the L&NWR South Staffordshire Line.
This was no small arm, as it extended for nearly three quarters of a mile from it's junction beneath the Ryders Green Locks at Hempole Lane Bridge.
Railway Interchange at the foot of Ryders Green Locks
Horse Drawn Traffic at Danks Branch Junction (BCC / P Collins)
Southern railway bridge beneath the Spine Road
Today the entrance appears as no more than a reeded up winding hole, but close inspection of Hempole Lane Bridge reveals a towpath descending beneath the mighty colossus of the Black Country Spine Road which roars ceaselessly above.
Litter clogged towpath to the Danks Branch
This mammoth 1990's construction has predicatably obliterated the line of the canal but, with a bit of investigation, the bridge hole carrying the canal beneath the disused railway line remains in place. The western portal is nearly choked with rubbish, but a small gap remains on the eastern side through which we gained access and discovered an intact towpath.
The canal channel beneath the southern railway bridge
This sort of substantial discovery is rare on lost canal hunts, causing Jeff observe wryly that it's about as exciting as it gets!
No sooner had we found the line than it was lost again, submerged beneath a sea of tarmac and hardstanding.
Chimney Road, laid along the line of the southern arm of the Danks Branch Canal
We had a look for the southern end of the arm, concluding that it's line now resides beneath the modern Chimney Road.
I will take a look at the northern end in a future post.