Sunday, 3 May 2020

Old Mainline - Bloomfield to Bradley

Bloomfield to Bradley - 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.

Two hazy images of Tup St Bridge in Bradley

Bloomfield Junction in 1965 - Alan Price

Bloomfield Basin (Alan Price)

Bloomfield Basin (Alan Price)

Bloomfield Area 1937

Three Furnaces - Toll End Comms Canal (front)

Summer Hill line 1950

Central Avenue Aqueduct 1950


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

Footbridge near Central Avenue Aqueduct

Reverse view a few years later

Tibington area - Keith Hodgkins

Three Furnace Line with Wednesbury Oak Loop Behind - Keith Hodgkins

A great panorama shot extending from Bloomfield (left) to Weddel Wynd (right)

Weddel Wynd with Rotton Brunt shortening

Partridge Bridge on Rotton Brunt (P Weaver / HNBC)

Weddel Wynd as the area was being developed

Old Main Line from above Bradley Locks (bottom right)

Wednesbury Oak Road Bridge (next to ASDA) Keith Hodgkins

St Johns Church, Upper Church Lane

From Central Avenue Aqueduct

Princes End 1949

Princes End, south of Bradley Locks

Upper Church Lane at Princes End (P Weaver / HNBC)

Princes End

Abandoned day boats near Princes End

Summerhill Iron Works

Entrance to Upper Ocker Hill Branch (P Weaver / HNBC)

Old Mainline at Summerhill just south of Ocker Hill Junction (Bill Bawden)

Summerhill Lathes Foundry

Old and New Mainlines looking towards Bloomfield

Same view, zooming in with aqueduct to the right

Site of the Central Avenue Aqueduct

The following five images were taken in about 1958 in the Bloomfield area:

Bloomfield Road Bridge 1958

Near Bloomfield


Bloomfield Badsin -Vic Smallshire image 

Vic Smallshire 

Vic Smallshire

Vic Smallshire

Bloomfield Basin - Vic Smallshire

Vic Smallshire

Vic Smallshire

Vic Smallshire

Vic Smallshire

Bloomfield Basin - Vic Smallshire

Vic Smallshire

Bloomfield - Vic Smallshire

Vic Smallshire

Bloomfield Iron Works

Entrance to loop at Bloomfield

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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