Sunday, 22 March 2020

Cannock Extension Canal - Norton Canes area

Cannock Extension Canal - Norton Canes area
March 2020

As we cross the A5 (Watling Street) we enter the section of canal which was abandoned in 1962, a location where built remains are thin on the ground.

If the devastation of the NCB opencast coal mining in the 1960's and 70's wasn't enough, the M6 (Toll) was driven across the old line of the canal, taking Norton Green Bridge with it. The next length to New Road Bridge was at ground level, but a combination of mining subsidence and open cast extraction means what is left of the canal sits precariously on a high embankment with the ruined abutments of New Road Bridge rather improbably balanced on top of that.

From there you reach the site of the massive Conduit Colliery and its associated basins, also referred to as Norton Spring. This was once one of the busiest coal wharfs in the area and latterly, after mining had ceased, became a massive store for sunken day boats, retained in the faint hope of a return of trade or possibly some government compensation. In the event, neither came to pass and the old hulls were removed by British Waterways in the 1980's and the basin area found a new lease as a light industrial site.

It's interesting to note the varying air draft under the basin bridges in the images, which reveal just how fast the subsidence occurred.

A particular acknowledgement goes to Tony Jukes who took the photographs of the final 1962 cruise from a vantage point on the unpowered SUC/LMS/BR ‘Station’ boat towed by ex Noah Hingley’s tug Lion (was Crown).

View north from Pelsall Road Bridge towards the Watling St (A5) Bridge

Looking south from Watling St Bridge

The last cruise before setting off in October 1962, with the A5 bridge behind

Heading south under Watling Street Bridge (aka Turf Bridge)

End of navigation at Turf Bridge (A5)

Surplus day boats north of Turf Bridge with the chimney of Norton Green Colliery beyond

Abandoned boats north of Watling Street Bridge

Norton Green Bridge looking north after de watering 1971

Looking north from Norton Green Bridge

The final convoy heading south under New Road Bridge 

Remains of New Road Bridge, now on an embankment

Foredrove Bridge with Norton Springs Branch to right

Ice Breaking near Conduit in 1964

Railway Bridge from Foredrove Bridge

North of Railway Bridge at Conduit Basin (note subsided entrance to Conduit)

Main basin entrance before subsidence

Looking over the main Conduit Basin entrance in 1960

Stored day boats in Main Conduit Basin in 1960

View over Norton Spring Branch with railway bridge on left

Entrance to the northern Conduit Basin

Northern Conduit Basin in operation

Same scene in 1960, full of abandoned day boats

Approaching the 1st corner viewed from Railway Bridge at Conduit Basin

View west from Conduit Colliery spoil heap to Rumer Hill Junction

The above photos have been assembled from various sources, including those freely found on the internet. My thanks go to the many photographers alive and dead who have contributed to this collection and in so doing, are keeping the memory of these lost canals alive. These images are reproduced for ease of research are are not necessarily the property of this blog, and as such should not be used for commercial gain without the explicit permission of the owner (whoever that may be).