Canal Hunter YouTube Videos

Canal Hunter YouTube Videos

My passion for the lost corners of the BCN started in about 2010 when, having cruised all the navigable sections, I started to wonder what used to be behind all those old bricked up bridges.

In the main the answer was "another canal basin" but here and there they led to abandoned branches and so I gradually started to explore them, guided by Richard Chester-Browne's book "The Other 60 Miles". The results of these explorations, now over a decade old, can be found in the Blog Tab called "The Other 60 Miles".

As time went by I accumulated more and more photographs of the lost elements of the BCN network and rather than squirrel them away, I thought I would like to share them, but the question was how? I stared to think about wall displays but that was rather limited in scope and if I am honest, rather old fashioned. And then along came YouTube! I saw lots of YouTube based Vlogs and could see potential to revisit these lost waterways and integrate the exploration with archive images, almost recreating the long lost lines.

Of course, this was always going to be a time consuming endeavour so it was parked till I retired (somewhat early). I invested in some basic video making kit and made the momentous switch from PC to Mac - because Mac's are best for image processing.

The end result has been a rolling programme of videos which I have called Canal Hunter - because thats what they are all about!

The production of these videos is a labour of love and it is all about sharing my passion for the rich industrial heritage of the region. To illustrate how the area used to look I have collated thousands of archive images from around the internet, but I don't claim to own any of them! The assembled work is therefore a team effort and my thanks go to the hundreds of unknown photographers (alive and dead) whose images make this whole endeavour come to life.

Each episode is made using the information and images I have to hand at the time, and naturally this resource deepens over time. My understanding is often enhanced by the additional comments viewers leave, recording first hand memories for the benefit of others. 

All the images used in the videos can be found in the tab "Old Photos of the lost BCN" ordered by area, canal and zone, with links to help you jump to what you are looking for. They are, by and large, ordered in the sequence found on the ground, but it's an organic process and things get moved around as new information comes to light.

My thanks to everyone who has supplied information, images, time and enthusiasm.

Series One - finds the lost sections of Brindley's original canal from Birmingham to West Bromwich.

Series Two - explores the abandoned sections around the extended Birmingham Canal to Wolverhampton

Series Three - hunts down the lost arms of the Wyrley and Essington Canal to the north

Series Four - traces the old coal route from Cannock to East Birmingham

Series Five - follows a proposed inclined plane route between Walsall and Titford

Series Six - Yet to come, but will feature the lost sections of the Dudley canals

Photostreams - an ad hoc playlist which showcases the of archive images in sequences 

The Canal Hunter videos are ordered within my "Life at 2.3 mph" YouTube Channel in separate playlists, one for each series. Each episode follows on on sequence so you can track a canal line from end to end. Many people have found that watching them with the National Library of Scotland's side by side maps open at the same time enhances the experience.

The following is a link to my Life at 2.3 miles an hour YouTube channel, which includes all my Canal Hunter videos.

Canal Hunter YouTube Videos


Michael said...

Hi Andy
Just watched your latest Longwood to P. Barr toplock.
Must have walked this so often, & boated same many times. As a kid I lived much of my life near the Tame Valley, up to teenage not far from the Wednesbury section, near Balls Hill & then near Green Lane bridge. My recollection of commercial use was near the latter, both tug & a few horsedrawn. That all stopped in 1963 winter, I was 17, we were snowed in for months, the cut froze end of......
Hamstead Colliery was nearby, went past on the bus to school. An overhead coal transport system using cablecars ran over the road at Hamstead village taking coal up towards a wharf & truck transport exchange not far from where Perry Barr top lock is located. The National Coal Board in about 1960 spent a lot of money revamping Hamstead Colliery. Included relocating a considerable number of mining families from the worked out Durham coalfield. They built flats & maisonettes closeby adjacent to Spoutehouse Lane aqueduct to house these families which became known as the "Geordie Estate" As a teenager at that time you soon learned to avoid that area, these were tough guys & it was tribal, you crossed them at peril. The pit closed by the late 60's & of course the Geordies, fine people, were assimilated by then.
Not far away as the crow flies was Jubilee Colliery. This was across the valley of the Tame & geographically not far from the Hawthorns, the home ground of West Bromwich Albion. A truck cabledrawn railway went from this colliery over to a wharf near the football ground, I think in Smethwick, where there was access to both road, rail & canal, again pit closed in the eary 60's. Our school cross-country run course was near & when we were daring we'd hitch a ride on the trucks.
Finally, I mention Balls Hill above, the is a bridge named for that on the Wednesbury section of the Tame Valley Canal.
The bare-knuckle heavyweight champion William Perry, The Tipton Slasher, wno started in life on the canals freighting "night soil" to the River Severn, fought one of his bouts at Balls Hill Bridge on his way to the title. They were of course illegal, like cock fights, dog fights etc, so they'd start early & hope to get the fight declared over by the time the constabulary wised up.

Unknown said...

Hi Andy
Just watched your engine maintenance videos. Perfect for me as I also have a eastern caravans and narrowboats boat - same as yours.
For topping up your batteries, get one of these
They are brilliant, and make the topping up process very quick, and you don't have to try to see inside the cells.
Best regards
Stan King

Andy Tidy said...

Thats looks a handy tool - better than a water bottle and listen to the tinkle approach!

Gill said...

Hello Andy
I'm a volunteer at Topsham Museum in Devon and coordinate temporary exhibitions there. I'm currently researching the history of the Exeter Ship Canal for our main exhibition in 2022. When the canal was first built, it was only a metre deep and wooden tub boats were used. There are no remaining examples but I found a photo of tub boats on the Shropshire Canal in a 2011 blogpost by you. I was wondering where you got it from, if you have a jpg version, and who I'd have to ask for permission to use it as part of the exhibition and in an accompanying booklet.
With thanks for reading this,

Gill McLean

Andy Tidy said...

Thats a long time ago! Let me have a look on my reference materials and see if I can find them. I fear they came from a poor quality booklet I borrowed at the time but I will get back to you.

Paul Bridges said...

Hello Andy
I have recently found this blog, having thoroughly enjoyed your canal hunter series of YouTubes. I wish I'd found it earlier, since during the lockdowns I have been indulging myself by digitising the BCN from the 1910 OS map, (as polygons, not lines), and your listing of the open / closing dates of the lost canals is rather more accessible than trawling through Hadfield etc. Woe is me.
Anyway, I have now reached the point of being able to overlay this on Google maps which looks OK on my phone and is perfectly 'zoomable'.

I have also scanned and OCR'd the 'Blue Book' and combined that with referenced extracts from the 1910 map to provide a geographic link to the strip maps in pdf format.

If you are interested in having a look at either of these drop me a note at

Thanks for your time and keep up the good work.