Thursday, 31 October 2019

Union Arm, BCN

Union Arm, BCN
October 2019

The Union Arm is an elusive little canal, a twisting arm which came off the original Birmingham Canal near what became Pudding Green Junction. 

Its course was complicated when the New Main Line was built in the 1840's, cutting across its line with both its start and terminus on the eastern side but the meat of the waterway on the west.

The little network of canals and basins are long gone, but I recently found a photograph in the Hugh Potter collection taken in the early 1970's which shows the entrance the the end basin, and the factory backdrop still exists providing an accurate location.

If I find any more images of the Union Arm I will add them to the post.

Wednesday, 30 October 2019

Hednesford photos on the Cannock Extension Canal

Hednesford Basin, Cannock Extension Canal
October 2019

Exploring the northern extremities of the BCN represents something of a challenge.

The problem is the Cannock coalfields they were built to serve. The most northerly tendril of the BCN empire was the Cannock Extension Canal, a thin ribbon of water which extended north from Pelsall Common and ended at a basin in Hednesford, near Cannock.

Today just over a mile of the Cannock Extension exists, terminating abruptly at the A5 trunk road. With a bit of perseverance it's possible to track its course for another mile or so north to the site of Conduit Colliery, but there the trail goes cold. 

When traditional coal mining was over the NCB decided to open cast the area, which essentially means scraping off all the surface layers and exposing the remaining coal measures to the open air, and the onslaught of bulldozers. All very efficient but a nightmare for the canals. They were already subsiding into the underground mines, but now they were swept away in their entirety. When Humpty Dumpy was put back together again the re-profiling was nothing like it was previously, and not only are the lines of the canals gone, the land is now markedly lower.

Fortunately, Hugh Potter, a keen canal enthusiast, spent time in the area in the early 1970s and took some cracking photos just before the remaining structures were lost forever.

The following are some images of the Hednesford end of the canal.

BCN cottages at Hednesford Basin, Cannock Extension Canal

Last Bridge on the Cannock Extension Canal at Hednesford

Stable block at Hednesford, BCN

The original blog post for this section is linked here.

Tuesday, 29 October 2019

Images of the Halford Branch Canal, BCN

The Halford Branch Canal, BCN
October 2019

OK BCN enthusiasts, you are in for a bit of a treat.

Hugh Potter has very kindly given me access to his extensive collection of black and white photos taken around the BCN in the early 1970s.

It has been an absolute delight to work through them, adding dates and places to the scanned images plus sorting them into my slightly idiosyncratic sub divisions of the BCN.

Among the wealth of images which show the BCN as I first encountered it, there are some absolute gems which show built remains on some of the "other 60 miles' and represent the very first photos if have found of these lost miles.

The first corner I want to bring to life is the Halford Branch, itself a branch off the disconnected Ridgacre Branch, near West Bromwich.

 I am not sure exactly where this photo was taken, but I suspect it was on the section to the north of Church Lane.... unless you know differently (leave a comment!)

This is the bridge over Church Lane with the foreground now sunken hard standing.  Its location is apparent from the hump in the road.

The following link takes you to my original posts in my search for the Halford Branch.