Thursday 4 March 2010

Dunkirk Branch Canal BCN

Dunkirk Branch Canal
March 2010

Some lost canals offer masses of physical evidence on the ground, and some don't.

Dunkirk Branch Canal 1904

The Dunkirk Branch falls very strongly into the latter camp.

This diminutive stub was barely 1000 feet long, stretching back from the New Main Line in a north westerly direction, it's entrance being directly opposite the Gower Branch.

Today there is no evidence of it's entrance or it's bridge beneath what was the L&NWR railway, and little more beyond.

Dunkirk Branch Canal terminus

We approached this site fron the Sheepwash Park to the north west, branching out from the River Tame aqueducts into a maze of small pathways. These eventually led to a school playing field located, as ever, from Google Earth, my eye in the sky. The 1904 map clearly shows the line of the canal, and the land boundaries follow the direction perfectly. The problem is a lack of anything significant on the ground.

The old maps suggest that the area is all spoil, presumably excavated from Greets Green Colliery. However, at the turn of the century there appears to be no industrial activity in the area although the Dunkirk Forge was known to have operated in the area, together with a number of sand and gravel pits., This short line remained in water till the 1953, when it was eventually filled in and its entrance to the BCN Mainline sealed off.

The playing fields were probably laid out on levelled slag, obliterating the canal bed which ran along the eastern edge of the grass, trerminatng just before the enclosed play area.

"Boggy Hollow" beside the railway line.

We poked around in the wood and found a boggy depression just beside the railway embankment which will surely have been the canal bed, but any trace of the railway bridge with Dunkirk Stop beneath has long since been buried under numerous line widening schemes.

It's a good job that not all explorations offer so little end result, or I would certainly lose the company of Jeff, my faithful companion and assistant.

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