Thursday, 31 October 2019

Union Arm, BCN

Union Arm, BCN

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.




Click here to return to the Birmingham to Smethwick index page

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).

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

Halford Branch Canal

The Halford and Jesson Branch Canals

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 in the early 1970's, there are some absolute gems which show built remains on some of the "other 60 miles' and represent the very first ground level photos I have found of these lost miles, and in particular there are a couple of images from the elusive Halford Branch near West Bromwich.


For some reason this particular area of the BCN has been particularly well covered by aerial photographs, so it is possible to cover every angle of this backwater. The area has been totally transformed in the 70 years since these aerial photographs were taken, so this intense focus on a small area gives good sense of how the Black Country looked. You can almost smell the smoke from all those chimneys!


The entire Halford Branch Canal seen from above the Ridgacre Branch

The junction of the Halford Branch with the Ridgacre Branch

BCN Tug entering the Halford Branch in 1948

A wider view of the same panorama



The end of the Ridgacre Branch



Another view from 1948 (note the same tug coming up the arm)

The junction from another angle







Sunken boat on the Halford Branch in 1974

 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!)


Halford Branch crossed in two places by Church Lane

The first Church Lane Bridge in 1974

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


Junction into the Jesson Branch 


A wider view of the Jesson Branch


Line of the complete Jesson Branch



The terminus used to be beyond Church Lane (bottom right)


The scene today

Click here to return to the Ridgacre Area index page

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).