Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Lord Hay's Canal - part 3

Lord Hay's Canal - part 3
Newtown Bridge (Stafford Road) and beyond.
October 2011

The Stafford Road is very nearly the end of Lord Hay's Canal, nearly three miles after its junction with the Wyrley and Essington. 

Lake at Newtown - reservoir or subsidence?

After a long westward pull on the level it burrowed under the Stafford Road at Newtown Bridge before twisting to the north and finishing in a pair of parallel colliery basins.

Not surprisingly, the busy Stafford Road has been widened and flattened over the years and any trace of the original Newtown Bridge had been swept away but take a walk into the park opposite and its channel is immediately apparent. To the west is a large circular lake, either a reservoir or more likely the site of mining settlement and to the east of this is a wide saucer shaped trench the local kids use for their BMX bikes. 

Canal bed to the east of the lake

To the north of the park the canal is lost in piles of earth and drainage channels but knowing that more existed I cast around on each side. First I tried to the east near the road, walking through the grounds of an old folks home and could see some evidence of water in a trench behind the car park. With no obvious way down I returned to the park and explored the far side.

Lord Hay's Canal terminus behind the care home

To the west of the basins there is another lake and probably the site of another mine, but this one is well fenced in. With a bit of persistence I found a route in and bashed through the undergrowth into the bed of the basins. An old colliery wall is visible, supporting the care home's car park and the cutting to the north stretches on. I pressed on till the vegetation became too dense and I retreated with a rather unsatisfactory photo. Sadly there is now no good vantage point for the end of the Lord Hay's Canal. although the basins survive intact as far as I can tell.

Colliery Basins at the end of the Lord Hay's Canal - just add imagination!

By now I had been on the move for four hours at three different sites, and all without a drink. Just opposite the canal terminus the Ivy House Inn stands ready to slake the thirst of parched boaters and it would seem rude not to sample a pint of Pedigree. I could have returned the way I had come, but I had been fortunate to pass through unchallenged so I opted to walk round, passing through the outskirts of Bloxwich and so returning to my car in Fishley Lane about 40 mins later.

Ivy House Inn - boaters rest.

Unusually, the thirty years which have elapsed since Richard Chester-Browne surveyed this route as part of his degree thesis have been kind to the Lord Hay's canal. The condition of the structures appears to be very similar and if anything, access is a little easier. I certainly found more beyond the Stafford Road than his review suggest is possible.

Not an easy canal to explore, but worth the effort.


wellermj said...


Just wanted to say thanks for posting such interesting stuff about the canals, I don't have a narrow boat, well I guess my Kayak is quite narrow! I paddle up and down the Thames and Kennet in Reading.

I have thoroughly enjoyed your photos and comments and wanted to pass on my appreciation.



Captain Ahab said...

Thanks or your kind comments

Nick said...

It's ages after you posted this, but I thought you might be interested to know that there are plans to use this canal as the route to the W&E for the Hatherton branch as part of the Lichfield and Hatherton restoration.

has more details.

From what you've seen it doesn't sound too difficult by the standards of today's canal restorations.