Saturday, 20 March 2010

Danks Branch Canal (south) BCN

Danks Branch Canal (south), BCN
March 2010

Index of posts in this series:
1. Southern Section - this post
2. Mid Section
3. Northern Section

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.

Entrance to Danks Branch from the Walsall Canal
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.


Anonymous said...

I can remember about 35 years ago or more that, when the gates were down at Eagle Lane level crossing, you could take a short cut down the towpath of Danks Branch at Hempole Bridge and pass underneath the railway. I can clearly remember the canal at this point (after the tunnel).

There used to be a low wall with curbed topstones. This separated the canal from Bagnall Street/Eagle Lane. This road was realigned and straightened in the early 1970's, leaving the canal and its wall further back from the road. However, both canal and wall were intact until at least the early 80's. The wall rose higher at the point marked Moor's Mill Bridge on the map.

Congratulations to Captain Ahab's great site.

Dave ex. Harvills Hawthorn.

Anonymous said...

Hi Andy, well I had a productive day on bike,yesterday exploring the Danks and Toll End Communication canals. I followed the mothballed railway from Golds Hill Crossing, really interesting...not sure exactly where the Danks Branch went under the line though. Were you able to clamber down? Also at the Hempole Bridge end I found the rubbish strewn towpath to Danks, but the semi buried bridge eluded me...think it was probably beyond a mound of earth a few,dozen yards beyond, under the spine rd? Thanks for the inspiration for these trips! Cheers Craig

Anonymous said...

The photo titled 'Horse Drawn Traffic at Danks Branch Junction shows a lock gate in the foreground. As far as I am aware and can remember from playing along that stretch during the 1960's, there is no lock at that location. I think the bottom lock of the Ryders Green flight is just up from the Haines Brach.

Steve Poynton ex Ocker Hill

Andrew Tidy said...

You are quite right, it is Ryders Green Bottom lock with the junction to The Danks Branch beyond the bridge.

Anonymous said...

Hi again Andy. Re your comment, if that is indeed Ryders Green bottom lock, as there is only towpath on one side of the canal, the photographer is actually looking up towards the lock flight. The bridge in the distance would be, I assume the railway bridge to Great Bridge South Station. Hence the view of the Ryders Green exchange would be behind the photographer along with Hempole Bridge (behind the railway bridge) and Danks Branch entrance.

Steve Poynton

Anonymous said...

Hi again. After some thought, I think the bridge in the distance is Brickhouse Lane not the rail bridge.

Steve Poynton