Sunday 27 November 2011

Birmingham Heath Branch (Hockley Port)

Birmingham Heath Branch
(Hockley Port)
October 2011

Ask a group of BCN fans the whereabouts of Birmingham Heath Branch and you will find most are soon scratching their heads. 

Hockley Port 2011

The reality is that everyone knows it by its modern name of Hockley Port, an arm off the Winson Green loop which used to stretch for about half a mile. 

Map from Richard Chester- Browne's 'The Other 60 Miles'

These days it has been truncated just beyond the two fingers of the old Great Western Railway Interchange basins, but it both survives and is home to a sizeable residential community.

The arm was built in 1801 to Matthew Bolton's Soho Works, which made fine jewellery till it closed in 1863. 

Hockley Port interchange basin

Whilst the interchange section is in good repair, the line remains evident to Lodge Road where the bridge parapet, complete with blocked off fire doors, still stands. This means that the arm was in water to this point at least up till the second world war.

Beyond Lodge Road the line has been lost to new housing which fills the plot right up to the edge of the railway. The scale of redevelopment is such that not even the levels can be identified.

Lodge Road Bridge - with fire doors.

Well, that should be that - but it isn't. The maps show the canal continuing over a long gone railway aqueduct and into a basin at Soho Wharf. A quick drive round brings you to Wharf Street. The basin itself has been built over, but the canal still leaves its fingerprint on the area, even if is more by inference than hard remains.


Ian and Karen said...

Hi Cap'n
As you may have noticed we are discovering the BCN just now on Tacet. At the moment we are at the BCLM going tomorrow to Sneyd Junction. Any recommendations for safe overnight moorings gratefully received. We want to see as much as we sensibly can.

Andy Tidy said...

Karen _ I have replied direct to your blog.

Ian and Karen said...

Thanks. That's a great list.

Unknown said...

Hi Andy. I've a small but growing collection of photos and videos of old Hockey Port. Nag me to share. The Warwickshire Railways site has a lot of the goods yard complex the basins served. This photo of what is now Basin 2 is from 1967

Andy Tidy said...

I have also been accumulating a collection of the Interchange photos and the ones withe the covers on are pay dirt! The more the merrier! I am planning to "do something" on the subject of the basins - maybe a video or an article. Its a really interesting dimension of the canal story.