Trustee John Dodwell has been cruising about in the midlands - this time off to Titford Boat Rally and news of a project to turn a once neglected part of the waterways into an attraction.
I took HELEN from her Stourton moorings to the Titford Boat Rally at the weekend. At 511 feet above sea level, the Titford Canal is the highest existing part of the Birmingham Canal Navigations. Forty years ago - or less - the BCN had a reputation for grime and dilapidated old industry: a super place for those into industrial archaeology.
Much has changed and I'd recommend everyone to go there. True, there are still some old buildings awaiting their future but much renovation and rebuilding has taken place and greenery has taken over in many places. See the photos of the Delph Locks (above) near Merry Hill; the Dudley No 2 Canal below Netherton Church (right); and the Gower Branch in the midst of Oldbury (below right).
My particular reason for going was to lend support to the organising BCN Society whose HQ is in the old pump house, thus helping to conserve it (as, indeed, the Dudley Canal Trust does with Blowers Green Pump House). After last year's Rally, the BCNS decided to do something about Titford Pools and together with the Trust an embryonic plan is emerging.
Titford Pools (there are two of them) must have been built as reservoirs but they are on the same level as the Canal - but originally a lot deeper. For some years, rumour had it that the approach canals (for indeed there are two) had become impassable. But both last year and this year this was proved to be wrong. HELEN with her 3ft draft and about 20 other boats all travelled up and down.
The BCNS idea is to turn a much neglected spot into a renovated area for all to enjoy - canoeing, angling, boating and nature, each in their way giving towpath strollers something to watch. In fact, there's a fair amount of nature already - see the photo of a coot's nest (one of many).
This would be a very good example of canal improvements benefitting the local community in an initiative led jointly by a local canal group and the Trust.
John Dodwell was formerly one of our 10 trustees. He owns Helen, a 51ft old BCN tug/icebreaker which draws 3ft and is based near Stourbridge, West Midlands. His waterways interest goes back to the early 1960s.
John’s been involved in the waterways since the early 1960s and he enjoys all aspects of the waterways. To pick out one oddity, he was pleased and surprised to see about a dozen herons this June around the BCN Main Line, including two under the M6 motorway!See more blogs from this author