Sunday 3 May 2020

Old Mainline - Bloomfield to Summer Hill

Bloomfield to Summer Hill - The "Old Mainline"

Back when the original Birmingham Canal was constructed in 1769 to connect Birmingham with Wolverhampton the line north from Tipton followed the contours of the land, and this meant that the canal had to take a huge loop around Summer Hill. Not that this was seen as much of a problem at the time because by making this detour the canal opened up a significant area of easily accessible coal in the Bradley area, and this spawned a large iron industry led by John "Iron Mad" Wilkinson.

In time these loops became an obstacle to growth so first the loop at Weddell Wynd was cut off by the Rotton Brunt Shortening, which also served at the launch point for the Bradley Locks, and then later after a few abortive attempts, the Coseley Tunnel was built with its approach cuttings which offered a much more direct line north.  That said, the old main line route remained very active serving the industries with had grown up along its banks.

This blog post attempts to capture this old canal route, which has been dry since the 1960's.

Due to the length of this section and the number of photos which have emerged the post has been split into two, which this one covering the southern end, Bradley to Summer Hill (Parker Bridge) which is now better known as the Moat Farm Estate, named after the colliery which used to occupy the area.

The continuation though to Bradley can be found by clicking on this link.

Bloomfield Junction with BCN cottages beyond


Bloomfield Basins (Top Centre)

Zoomed in version

Bow hauling into Bloomfield Basin - DCT Archive

Entering Bloomfield Basin - DCT Archive

Into Bloomfield Basin from the railway

Bloomfield Ironworks. This is an engraving and therefore probably subject to some artistic license. I believe it is looking from the back of the basin complex towards the railway entrance on the right with Bloomfield Road Bridge on the left. The railway (Stour Valley Line) on the horizon was built in 1946 but the engraving dosn't include the Wolverhampton Low Level Line which was built in 1854 - placing the scene between these two book ends.
Central Bridge 1968 (Alan Price)

Bloomfield Basin bridge made by Horsley Ironworks - Photo Sept 1968 (Alan Price) Sandwell Archive

Vic Smallshire

Vic Smallshire

Vic Smallshire

Bloomfield Basin Bridge - Ian Huselbee

Beyond the mid basin bridge - DCT Archive

Bloomfield Ian Huselbee

Vic Smallshire

Vic Smallshire

Bloomfield Basin from the tracks

Vic Smallshire

Vic Smallshire

Into the basins looking north from Bloomfield Road Bridge

Bloomfield Road Bridge 1958

Bloomfield Road Bridge

Bloomfield Railway Bridge

Brymill 1959 Aerofilm / Keith Hodgins

Brymill and Bloomfield - Keith Hodgkins

Brymill 1956 Aerofilm / Keith Hodgkins

Brymill 1954 Aerofilm / Keith Hodgkins

Brymill C1970 Aerofilm / Keith Hodgkins

Brymill 1950 Aerofilm / Keith Hodgkins

Bloomfield to Tibbington 1949

Context Photo of Tibbington

Three Furnace Line (Front) with Old Main Line at Tibbington beyond

Tibbington Footbridge - Source Ian Huselbee

Tibbington Footbridge - Source Ian Huselbee

Tibbington Footbridge 1966 (Ian Husslebee)

Three Furnaces (Left) and Central Avenue Aqueduct 1950 (Built 1935)


Central Avenue Aqueduct - Source Ian Huselbee

Central Avenue Aqueduct - late 1960's (Ian Husselbee)

Central Avenue from Aqueduct

Tibbington 1966 (Three Furnaces site under sports ground)

Tibbington 1949

Upper Church Lane Bridge looking west - Philip Weaver

Upper Church Lane and Summerhill 1950

Old Main Line from Three Furnaces (top) to Princes End (right)

East from Summer Hill Bridge with Ocker Hill in background (Bill Bawden)

Closer view of Ocker Hill (Pumping Engine smoking)
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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