Saturday 25 April 2020

Hatherton Branch Canal

Hatherton Branch Canal
April 2020

Now let's be clear, the Hatherton Branch Canal never was part of the BCN although the Churchbridge Locks (and branch) were.

The Hatherton Branch Canal with the Churchbridge Locks

Whilst it is not part of the BCN, its operation was so embedded into the northern section of the BCN I think it's fair to say they share a common DNA. And for that reason I have chosen to include it in this record of old lost BCN canal photos.

It was the one and only significant branch canal built by the Staffs and Worcester Canal Company, built in 1841 to reach the collieries and brickworks in and around Churchbridge. 
The 'Hatherton' moniker is attributable to Lord Hatherton, director of the Staffs and Worcs and  the entire 3.5 mile branch canal ran through his land, which meant no approvals were needed from Parliament.

The canal operated as a branch canal for 22 years with its terminal basin being close to the Hatherton Reservoir, but in 1863 a through route was added via 13 new locks at Churchbridge (now the Cannock Orbital Retail Park) to the extensive coalfields served by the BCN's Cannock Extension Canal.

The Churchbridge Locks were something of an interface between the Staffs and Worcs and the BCN, with the BCN buying the land but the Staffs and Worcs paying for the construction of the locks. This link into the BCN proved very successful for the Staffs and Worcs and even in 1902, 12,000 tons of coal came onto the Churchbridge Branch via the locks.

Trade continued as long as the coal reserves existed, but it officially closed in 1949 with the last commercial boat making a passage in 1951 and (there is always one) a private hire  boat forced an agonising last passage in 1952.

There are long term plans to restore this back door into the BCN using the original Hatherton line as far as its old terminus, before breaking off on a new route to the south.

I have ordered the photos as we go down the canal from the foot of the Churchbridge Locks.

Watling Street Bridge (A5) over canal (now a roundabout)

White Lion Pub and A5 bridge over the canal

Watling Street Bridge (left), Gilpin's Edge Tool Works and Churchbridge Locks

White Lion Pub and Churchbridge Junction below Churchbridge Locks in 1926

Early view of Gilpin's Basin and Edge Tool Works

Gilpins Basin - Ian Huselbee

Gilpin's Edge Tool Works and Basin

Gilpin's Basin Bridge at the foot of the Churchbridge Locks

Gilpins Basin in 1982 - Alan Smith

 Rail and Bridge 13 - Ian Huselbee

Rail Bridge with Bridge 13 beyond

Canal Feeder with Navigation Channel beyond plus Bridge 13 at Churchbridge

The footbridge (Bridge 13) and railway bridge at Bridgtown Arthur Watts (CRT Archive)

Churchbridge Viaduct 1892 - Alan Smith

Under Churchbridge Viaduct 1982 - Alan Smith

The same twin arches when the M6 Toll was built (Bridge 13)

Canal extension to Churchbridge Locks

The Razza -  AKA the Walkmill Reservoir above Hawkin's Basin

Churchbridge towards Walkmill 1982 - Alan Smith

Appoaching Walkmill from Churchbridge 1982 - Alan Smith

Canal track east from Walkmill Bridge 1982 Alan Smith

Canal Bed east from Walkmill Bridge 1982 Alan Smith

Walkmill Lane Culvert 1982 - Alan Smith

Inside the Walkmill Culvert 1982 - Alan Smith

Hawkin's Basin and Cannock Old Coppice Colliery - the original canal terminus in1920
Cannock old Coppice Colliery (Hawkins Basin) - Jim Evans

Lift bridge into Hawkin's Basin by A Muir White 1957

Lift Bridge at entrance to Hawkin's Basin

Lift Bridge entrance to Hawkin's Basin (CRT Archive) with Walkmill Bridge (No 12) beyond

Remains of Walkmill Bridge 2001 - Bob Williams
Walkmill Bridge 2001 - Bob Williams

Aqueduct into Hawkin's Basin revealed during M6 Toll construction

Hawkins Aqueduct detal 2001 - Bob Williams

Hawkins Basin Aqueduct 2001 - Bob Williams

Hawkins Aqueduct 2001 - Bob Williams

Hawkins Aqueduct 2001 - Bob Williams

Bob May / BCNS Archive

Bridgtown Top (Number Eight) and Rosemary (Number Seven) Locks from bridge 12
Bob May / BCNS Archive

Top Lock 1982 - Alan Smith

Walkmill or Bridgtown Top Tock  (Number Eight) 1971 - Barrie Hurley

Hatherton Top Lock 1982 Alan Smith

Top Lock Sluice 1982 - Alan Smith

Hawkins Works with Hawkins and Bridgtown Locks beyond

Walkmill lock Keeper's Cottage (Lock Eight) late 1950's

Looking uphill to Top Lock in 1982 - Alan Smith

Concrete lining between locks seven and eight at Bridgtown (A Muir White CRT Archive)

Concrete Lining above Rosemary Lock (Number Seven) at Bridgtown (A Muir White CRT Archive)

Lock Seven in 1982 - Alan Smith

Lock 7 in 1982 - Source Alan Smith

Lock Seven detail 1982 - Alan Smith

Above Lock Six (site currently inaccessible)

Lock Six

Lock Six 1982 - Alan Smith

Existing Lock Chamber Six

Lock Six 1982 - Alan Smith

Lock Six

Below Lock Six 1982 - Alan Smith

Lost Bridge at Lock Six - Bob May / BCNS Archive

Bridge Footings at Lock Six

Below Lock six

Remains of Jovey's Lock (Number five) behind Finnings

Lock 5 (Joveys) in 2012

Jovey's Lock Chamber (Number five)

Bridgtown / Brick Kiln Lock (Number six) to Jovey's Shallow Lock  (Number five) including Bridge 10

Wedges Mill Bridge (No 9)

Wedges Mill

Wedges Mill by Ian Dawson

Wedge's Mill Lock (Number four)

Wedge's Mill Lock (Number four) looking upstream

Swimming at Wedge's Mill

Looking upstream to Wedges Mill 1982 - Alan Smith

The last passage 1952  (John Liley)

The Boat Museum Society November 2017

Hatherton Branch 1952 by John Liley

Bob May / BCNS Archive

Aerial views of the Hatherton Branch

Cherry Tree Bridge - Bob May / BCNS Archive

Cherry Tree Bridge (No 8) with towpath ramp added - Andy Tidy

Meadow Lock (number three) today

Meadow Lock (number three) Carol Cooper

Meadow Lock (number three) Carol Cooper

Meadow Lock (Number Three) Carol Cooper

Meadow Lock (Number Three) Carol Cooper

Remains of Bridge Number 7 below Meadow Lock - Andy Tidy

Bridge Number 7 below Meadow Lock - Carol Cooper

Upstream from Catch Bridge Duncan Moore

 Catch Catch Bridge (No 6) after mining subsidence
Bob May / BCNS Archive

Catch Bridge (No 6) during demolition - Eric Wood

Catch bridge launch site (No 6) for the Dingy Dawdle - Duncan Moore

Duncan Moore at Catch (or Cat's) Bridge (No 6)

Site of Catch Bridge (No 6) - Duncan Moore

 Site of Catch (or Cat's) Bridge (No 6) 1986 - Trevor Littlewood

East towards Catch (Or Cat's) Bridge (No 6) - Duncan Moore

Looking west from Catch or Cat's Bridge (No 6) - Duncan Moore

Cross Bridge (5) looking east in 1970 - Barrie Harley

Cross Bridge by Bob May / BCNS Archive

Upstream from Cross Bridge (No 5) - 1970 - Barrie Harley

Dropped Cross Bridge (No 5) and Dinghy Dawdle - Duncan Moore

Original Cross Bridge (No 5) looking west - Barrie Harley

Downstream from Cross Bridge (No 5)

Same scene decades later by Duncan Moore

East from Cross Bridge (No 5) 1986 - Trevor Littlewood

East from Cross Bridge (No 5)

Saredon Mill Bridge (No 4) looking east

Saredon Mill Bridge (No4)

Saredon Mill Bridge (No 4) by Duncan Moore

Saredon Mill Bridge (No 4) 1971 Barrie Harley

 Scrawper's End Bridge (No 3) by D Benson

 Scrawper's End Bridge (No3) by D Benson

 Scrawper's End Bridge (No3) by D Benson

 Gailey Reservoir feeder channel in1986 - Trevor Littlewood

Feeder to Gailey Reservoir - Barrie Harley

Between Scrawper's and Saredon Mill Bridges by Duncan Moore

Upstream view of Scrawper's End Bridge (No3) by Duncan Moore

 Scrawper's End Bridge (No3) by Barrie Harley 1971

Lowered Scrawper's End (No 3) today

Reduced headroom at Scrawper's End Bridge (No3) by Duncan Moore

M6 Culvert Barrie Harley

M6 obstruction 1991 - Duncan Moore

M6 crossing by Barrie Harley

Negotiating the M6 by Duncan Moore

Dog Bridge in the 1930's (Parapet) and after the M6 was built 

Launch at the Straight Mile at site of Dog Bridge - Duncan Moore


 Dingy Dawdle  in 1991 from site of Dog Bridge on the Straight Mile

Duncan Moore

Decaying boats above Lock two

Decaying day boats above Lock Two - Duncan Moore

 Lock Two - Duncan Moore

Lock two with Dry Dock by Duncan Moore

Lock two at Calf Heath adapted to dry dock

Boatyard Basin between Locks one and two - Duncan Moore

Calf Heath bottom lock (Lock one) - Athur Watts CRT Archive

Lock Eight in use - Duncan Moore

Duncan Moore

Lock one - Arthur Watts - CRT Archive

Lock One by Barrie Harley 1971 - Cannock Library

Lock One at calf Heath by Graham Moore

Portaging the Dinghy Dawdle at Hatherton Bottom Lock (Lock One)

Calf Heath Bridge No 1 and bottom lock (Lock Eight) - Arthur Watts CRT Archive

Hatherton Junction with the Staffs and Worcester Canal (Tom Manning)

Hatherton Junction at Calf Heath - Barrie Harley

Hatherton Junction Bridge - Bob May / BCNS Archive

Site of Hatherton Marina - Bob May /BCNS Archive

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).

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