Saturday, 18 December 2010

Gospel Oak Branch (BCN)- the upper reaches with the Dumaresq Branch

Gospel Oak Branch (BCN) featuring the Dumaresq Branch
The upper reaches
December 2010

Yesterday I made a start on this branch canal, but never really commented on it's history.

Gospel Oak Branch Canal, BCN 2010

This branch was opened in 1800, nine years after Parliamentary approval in 1791 and 15 years after the canal arrived from Ryders Green. The link to Walsall had not been completed so wasn't called the Walsall Canal as it is today. 

Map of the canal network around Wednesbury 1812 - before the connections were completed.

The branch extended for 3 furlongs, or just under half a mile in today's money - no, if it were today's money it would be kilometres, but K's have no place on our canals, any more than metres and centimetres. The plan was to connect it to The Wednesbury Oak Loop through a series of locks but the later (1849) Bradley Locks extension rendered this unnecessary.

Gospel Oak Branch Canal - Terminus Basin 2010

In truth, the terminus of the canal in the basin at Gospel Oak is a mere stones throw from the colliery basin which for a time formed the summit of the 1798 Bradley Hall Arm (later the Bradley Locks Branch).

This dead end was abandoned in 1954 but remained as a feeder for a few years before being filled in and converted into a winding grassy corridor.

This is a classic abandoned BCN line. Most structures have been lost save the junction itself, but the route has been incorporated into the local leisure landscape as public open space and continues to serve a useful, if somewhat different, purpose. Easy to follow but with limited interest from an industrial heritage perspective.

Update 30.11.12 My thanks go to Ray Shill who advised me that there was a further short lived extension to this canal: "One of the more obscure BCN private branches was the Dumaresq Branch that linked with the end of the Gospel Oak Branch and ascended through two locks to Gospel Oak Ironworks. It appears to have had a short period of existence, and I have only found it on one map at Birmingham Library Archives".

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