Thursday, 30 April 2020

Ridgacre Area homepage

Ridgacre Area homepage

The Ridgacre is an obscure corner of the BCN branching off towards West Bromwich from the top of the Ryders Green Locks,  and seems to have died a death of a thousand cuts.



Originally it formed the far end of Brindley's 1769 Birmingham Canal, penetrating the coal fields of Golds Hill and powering the surrounding industry. With the extension of the Birmingham Canal to Wolverhampton it became the Wednesbury Old Canal and over time its identity has become blurred with the Walsall Canal and the Ridgacre Banch.

The Halford Branch in 1974

As the local coal measures were played out the various branches in the area were left to dry out, and the final nail in the coffin came in the 1980's when the Black Country Route was driven over it at water level. This cut off several miles of backwaters and the resulting lack of  boat traffic caused the final mile to become reeded up and is no longer navigable.

The loss of these old waterways is a shame and the following links will take you to a collection of photos capturing what used to be:







7. Haines Branch

8. Ryders Green Interchange Basin

9. Ryders Green Tar Works Branch

Click here to return to the index page

A Canal Hunter video exploring the Ridgacre area can be fund by clicking here

A Canal Hunter video exploring the Balls Hill and Danks Branches can e fund by clicking here


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).

Titford Area homepage

Titford Area Homepage

The Titford canal is the current high point of the BCN network, sitting 511ft above sea level and nestles in a saddle of high land between Oldbury and Rowley Regis.


The lost Canals around Titford and Oldbury

The Titford is approached via the six Oldbury Locks, better known to generations of boaters as "The Crow", referring to Jim Crow who operated a chemical works on a short arm near the top of the flight. It is also home to the Birmingham Canal Navigations Society who use the Titford Pumphouse for their base of operations.


These days the Titford Canal extends as far as Titford Pools and has been navigable since 1837, but before that the pools served as a reservoir to the summit level of the Birmingham Canal, also feeding Rotton Park Reservoir.

There are many lost branches in this area and the following links will take you to pages containing old photographs of these abandoned waterways:

Links to individual canals in this area:

1. Portway Branch

2. Causeway Green Branch

3. Tat Bank Branch

4. Chemical Arm

5. Oldbury Loop

6. Oldbury follow on loops

7. Jim Crow Branch

8. Churchbridge Branch


Click here to return to the 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).

Toll End Communication Canal lower (Walsall Canal)

Toll End Communication Canal - lower (Walsall Canal)
Locks Nine and Ten


This post covers the lower half of the lost Toll End Communication Canal, which was effectively the old Toll End Branch before a connection was made with the older Tipton Green Canal. This connection involved the construction of a couple of new locks, including lock Seven and its lock keepers house on the "twist".

The tail end of the Tipton Green Canal, original home to the Horsley Ironworks, can be seen in pale blue in the following map. 

The combined canal then became the Toll End Communication Canal stretching down the hill from Watery Lane Junction on Telford's New Mainline Canal to Brindley's Broadwaters Branch below, which became the BCN's Walsall Canal.


Combined Tipton Green and Toll End Communication Canals in 1945

Upstream to Church Lane Bridge with Lock Eight beyond by Alan Price 1969

Church Lane Bridge in 1966 - Ian Husslebee

Below Church Lane Bridge 1966 (HNBC - P Weaver Collection)

Canal bed below Church Lane Bridge by Alan Price 1969

Approaching Lock Nine by Alan Price in 1969

Toll End Locks Nine and Ten with Toll End Bridge beyond


Lock Nine in 1966 - Ian Husslebee


Lock Nine  in 1966 (HNBC - P Weaver Collection)

Below Toll End Lock Nine in 1966 (HNBC P Weaver Collection)

Lock Ten in 1965 - Alf Perks (Keith Hodgkins)

Colourised version of 1965 image of Lock 19 by Alf Perks

Original below 1965 image of Lock Ten by Alf Perks

Colourised version of Lock Ten in 1965 - Alf Perks (Keith Hodgkins)

Lock Ten 


Remains of Lock Ten 1974 (Hugh Potter)

Lock Ten 1974 (Hugh Potter)

Toll End Bridge from Lock Ten in1966 - Ian Husslebee

Lock Ten and Toll End Bridge

Toll End Bridge 1966 (HNBC P Weaver Collection)

Bridge Road with Toll End Bridge by Alan Price 1969

Lock Ten and Toll End /Bridge Road Bridge 1961

Lock Ten by Alan Price 1968

Lock 10 and Toll End Bridge 1975 (Hugh Potter)

Toll End Bridge by Alan Price 1968

Under Toll End Bridge looking east by Alan Price 1969

Upper Church Lane Bridge 1975 (Hugh Potter)

Toll End Bridge looking west by Alan Price 1969

Toll End Bridge 1966 - Ian Husslebee

Canal bed at Toll End by Alan Price 1968

Brookhouse Bridge 1966 - Ian Husslebee

Brookhouse Bridge by Alan Price 1969

Brookhouse Bridge 1966 (HNBC - P Weaver Collection)

Brookhouse Bridge Sign by  Alan Price 1969

Brookhouse Bridge looking west by Ian Husslebee 1966


Brookhouse Bridge looking west By Alan Price 1969

East from Brookhouse Bridge 1966 - Ian Husslebee

Toll End Junction Bridge 1966 - Ian Husslebee

Toll End Junction and Ocker Hill Power Station 1966 - Ian Husslebee

Arthur Watts 1957

Arthur Watts 1957


Toll End Junction Today

Moors Mill Lane Bridge on Walsall Canal near TECC junction by Alan Price 1969


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).

Toll End Communication Canal - Tipton

Toll End Communication Canal - Tipton (upper) half
Locks Four to Eight


My search for obscure waterways draws me back to the Tipton area time and time again.

This is not because the area has any particular scenic beauty, far from it. In fact, much of it can best described as a post industrial wasteland, but nowhere else in the UK contains so many canals in such a small area. Of course, many of these waterways were abandoned in the middle of the last century, but the desolate nature of the area means that, with a bit of poking around, telltale remains are still visible on the ground.

The Toll End Communication Canal is a waterway with a confusing history, a hybrid never really knowing what it was. Soon after Brindley completed what we now refer to as the Old Main Line, a short 1/4 mile branch was dug to the east of Tipton Green in 1805, dropping down through three locks, known as the Tipton Green Branch. This initially terminated somewhere near the line of today's New Main Line at Watery Lane Junction. There is not a lot to see of this canal today, save the chamber of the middle lock which has been incorporated into a path.

The following year the Tipton Green Branch was extended for a further mile, descending through four more locks and following the line of what is now an open land drain to the side of Tipton Cemetry.

Starting at the other end, a side arm of the Broadwaters Canal (now the Walsall Canal) was built in 1801, rising up through two locks to reach a new coal mine. Eight  years later, in 1809, the Toll End Branch was extended westwards, linking into the mid point of the Tipton Green Branch, with the addition of two more locks. There is little to see of the Toll End section today, apart from a raised water pipe spanning an infilled entrance, and a bricked up archway under Toll End Road.

Further west the canal path can be detected passing under Bridge Road before it is completely lost under industrial wasteland, but continued on up the hill next to Tipton Cemetry, kinking round to the right to join the mid point of the older Tipton Green Branch. The line of this sharp twist  is  still visible from the air in the form of a stand of trees and the line has been studiously avoided by subsequent development projects.

The area between the eastern end of the old Tipton Green Branch and the western end of the Toll End Branch became home to the Horsley Ironworks until 1865, which supplied many of the fine canal bridges we see in the area today.The recent construction of a new road to replace the old railway level crossing has revealed an archway in the embankment behind Caggy's yard, which was probably the canal bridge. Sadly, the construction team were not enthusiastic about my request for a hands on investigation, hence no photo!

The construction of the New Main Line in 1829 cut through the Tipton Green Branch creating  Watery Lane Junction, which is now the site of Caggy's Boatyard.

So, this short 1 3/4 mile canal with its 9 locks was built in four stages over eight years to service the local mines and industry, until it was abandoned in 1966 and filled in in the 1970's. For ease of reference the locks re numbered one to ten including the Tipton Green and Toll End Communication Canals combined running top to bottom.

Given the number of archive photos we have discovered the total line has been divided into three:

2. TECC - Watery Lane to Lock Eight, junction with the Toll End Branch (this post)





Toll End Communication Canal (foreground) with the old line to Bradley beyond

Toll End Junction 1975 (Hugh Potter)

Watery Lane Bridge by Alan Price 1969

Entrance to Toll End Communication Canal (right) - John Whitehouse

Looking north from the entrance to the Toll End Communication Canal

Entrance to Toll End Comms Canal 1966 (HNBC - P Weaver Collection)

Toll End Stub 1975 (Hugh Potter)

Entrance to Toll End - November 1973

Tipton Green (left) and Toll End (right) - there The New Main Line crosses

Entering the Toll End Communication Canal

Unidentified boatyard in Toll End

Unknown location at Toll End

Toll End Lock 4 1975 (Hugh Potter)

Toll End Lock Four


Lock Four


Lock Four (site of)


1973



Toll End Junction 1975 looking back to Tipton (Hugh Potter)

 Toll End Lock Five and Workhouse Lane Bridge (formerly Moat Bridge)

Workhouse Lane Bridge and Lock Five (HNBC - P Weaver collection)

Lock Five and Workhouse Lane Bridge by Ian Husslebee

Workhouse Lane Bridge sign by Alan Price 1969

Toll End Lock Five beneath Workhouse Lane (Moat) Bridge 1975 (Hugh Potter)

Workhouse Bridge and Lock Five 1966 - Ian Husslebee


Note the "Bridgeguard" reinforcement underneath Workhouse Lane Bridge


Toll End Lock Five 1975 (Hugh Potter)




 Below Toll End Lock Five (Hugh Potter)

Workhouse Bridge and Lock Five in 1966 - Ian Husslebee

Below Workhouse Lane Bridge by Alan Price 1969

Toll End Locks Five and Six by Alan Price 1969

Locks dive and six by Ian Husslebee 1966




Line of Toll End Communication Canal between locks five and six in 1975 (Hugh Potter)


 Toll End Locks six and five with Workhouse Lane Bridge beyond

Below Lock Six by Alan Price 1969

The 'kinked" join between the old Tipton Green Canal and the Toll End Branch
Lock Six in 1966 - Ian Husslebee


Approaching Lock Seven

Locks seven and eight - the junction between Tipton Green Canal and the Toll End Branch

Lock  Seven (HNBC Weaver Collection)

Lock Seven on the twist onto the older Toll End Branch below by Alan Price 1969

Lock Seven - "The Tipton Lido"

Lock Seven by Ian Husslebee

Stable at Lock Seven

Lock Seven from above

Toll End Locks Seven and Eight

Lock Eight by Ian Husselbee

Lock Eight detail by Alan Price 1969

Click here to move to the lower half of the Toll End Communication Canal

Click here to return to the Tipton 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).