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News article created on 20 October 2015

Down the Stourbridge to home

In this final entry, John cruises with chief exec, Richard Parry, down to his winter mooring near Stourton.

Boat moored in front of bridge on Stourbridge Canal Stourbridge Canal, courtesy of Dennis Smith

My wife Pamela joined me last night  (Friday) and we went to The Hinksford Arms - which has a new manager who we found good.

This morning the Trust's Chief Executive Richard Parry joined us for the journey down the Staffs & Worcs, onto the Stourbridge Canal and into the Chief exec, Richard Parry and Pamela Dodwell taking HELEN through a lockStourbridge Arm. Richard did most of the steering and worked at all the locks, seeing for himself how easy (or not) it was to work them.

This is a lovely stretch especially around Prestwood (after Greensforge Lock) and also above the four Stourton Locks on the Stourbridge Canal - one waterways journalist has said the latter section rivals any in the country.

We joined in the Official Parade of boats to the Stourbridge Bonded Warehouse Open Weekend. This is organised by the Stourbridge Navigation Trust. The event organisation has been led by Chris Dyche - for a fantastic 33 years. This is his last. Well done, Chris! 

Like many canal festivals, it's not just about the canal and the boats. In this case, the Canal is used as the backdrop and there are traction engines, fairground organs and vintage and veteran cars, crafts stands and exhibitions etc., etc.

The weather was dry and the crowds were large. The Trust had a tent run by volunteers - seeking more volunteers. In this area they have expanded from a Towpath Taskforce to a Water-borne Taskforce. Not only has this resulted in the lock gates at every lock on the Staffs & Worcs being painted but moorings rings have been put in at Baswich (Stafford) and the offside trees cut back on the Dudley No 1 Canal.

There was also someone recruiting Friends and when I spoke to him he had recruited three Friends on the Saturday. I also met someone who had become a Friend after hearing me talk to a local IWA Branch. Hint - are you yet a Friend?

When passing through Audlem, I had bought the recently published biography about Jack Roberts who operated horse drawn boats about 100 years ago. Fascinating and well worth a read.

At Stourbridge, I got talking to Joe Hollinshead and his brother Henry, both of whom were born on boats and worked on them. Joe told me a lovely story about loading in Smethwick to go to London (his usual patch was the Black Country to the north west). I wished I'd got a tape-recorder. Maybe someone else will catch Joe and Henry's memories and also turn them into a book.

HELEN ascending Stourton LocksSUNDAY
On Sunday, we quietly worked HELEN back to her winter moorings a little distance about Stourton and took the bedding etc out for the winter. My final log entry shows we've travelled about 200 hours this year.

About this blog

John Dodwell

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!

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