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. 

This remote fragment of the lost BCN proved elusive for many years but 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. Then, like busses - a whole collection of archive images crop up and hey presto we have photos of the entire line except the ultimate terminus beyond Halford Bridge.

It has been an absolute delight to work through the images, 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

Halford Junction with Davies Colliery Bridge at bottom left

The end of the Ridgacre Branch and the entrance to the Halford Branch

The junction from another angle with adjacent chemical works

Halford Branch looking towards the Ridgacre Branch in 1970 - Hugh Potter

The complete Halford Branch Canal 

Ridgeacre Bridge with Jesson Junction

Sunken boat on the Halford Branch in 1974 - Hugh Potter

 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 (Ridgacre Bridge in foreground and Halford Bridge in distance)

Ridgeacre Bridge on Halford Branch Canal 1956 (non towpath side) - Sandwell Archive

Halford Branch 1956 towards Ridgacre Bridge (towpath side) - Sandwell Archive RPS

The first Church Lane (Ridgacre) Bridge in 1974

Ridgacre Bridge Paraper from Church Lane 1956 - Sandwell Archive RPS

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

Lower Church Road Bridge (Jesson Branch to left) Source Ian Huselbee

Junction into the Jesson Branch (left)

Halford Branch towards Jesson Branch looking west 1956 - Revision Point Survey Sandwell Archive

Halford Branch from Gladstone Road 1956 - Revision Point Survey Sandwell Archive

A wider view of the Jesson Branch

Line of the complete Jesson Branch reading to a lost colliery

View west along Church Lane 1956 - Revision Point Survey Sandwell Archive

Halford Branch 1956 - Sandwell Archive

Halford Broach 1956 - Sandwell Archive

The terminus used to be beyond Church Lane (Halford Bridge 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).


Michael said...

From Michael, Liam's Dad. The aerial image titled Halford Branch where Church Lane crosses the branch over 2 bridges. A bus is shown. This is probably the West Bromwich Corporation No 29. I used this bus to go to school in the late '50's/early '60's. The bridge was next to Johnson's Iron & Steel, the red hot ingots & girders rolled were visible from the bus as they rolled off the mill.

Andy Tidy said...

Hi Michael - what a lovely recollection. I think you can guess what I have been up to during the lockdown....Hope you are well.