Strictly speaking the Anson Branch Canal forms part of the Walsall Canal rather than the Bentley Canal, but as the through route for the Bentley Canal ran along its southern end, I have taken the liberty of attaching it to the Bentley Canal homepage.
The Anson Branch was something of a slow burn, being approved by Parliament in 1768, but not actually built till 1830, after having been surveyed by Telford.
It was built to reach limestone workings at Pouk, and an extension was planned at the far end beyond Reedswood, but only a short stub was built supplemented by a tramway. The minerals were not very extensive and by 1890 the waterway had fallen into a decline. Its. fortunes were revived when the Birchills Power Station was built in 1922, supplying up to 10m gallons of cooling water each day.
The section north of the Bentley Canal was abandoned to navigation in 1956, and the route was barred by the construction of the M6 in 1970. Whilst the lower section below the Bentley was closed in 1961, small craft were able to reach the M6 till the mid 1970's.
Anson Branch from above Birchills Power Station 1948
Reedswood end of the Anson Branch
The Anson Branch Canal where Walsall Showcase Cinema now stands
A more distant view of Birchills Power Station with the above bridge in the middle distance
An older Bentley Mill Bridge
A Jack Haddock image of the same stretch of canal
The entrance to the Bentley Canal
Anson Junction on the Walsall Canal
Anson Junction 1957
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).