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.