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In 1977 we hired our first narrowboat from Anglo Welsh at Market Harborough.From that moment our destiny was set. In 2006 we finally purchased our own brand new 57' narrowboat which we named 'Free Spirit'. Our aim is to travel the length and breadth of all the navigable rivers and canals of the UK. This will be our story as it unfolds.

Monday, 4 April 2016

And for the third time!!! Spring cruise part 2

So.....  to continue where I left off yesterday. We all followed Dave, over a busy road and onto the Common. Here he told us that in days gone by 7 short canals leading to various foundry's all branched off the Bradley Arm.

All gathered eager to here the facts.
Dave's talk was very informative but my memory not being what it once was, I've forgotten some of what he said so I found several articles on internet from the IWA and BCNS

When the The Bradley Canal is restored it will recreate a 1.5 mile link on the BCN between the Walsall Canal and the New Main Line.

 Other than dealing with a road bridge at the top, there are no major obstacles to restoration.
The restoration will not just be a navigation route, but also (and more importantly for users other than boaters) be a wildlife corridor and part of the regeneration of the area.

 The lower locks will be particularly easy to restore – they were refurbished before being filled in to protect the chambers.  All that is needed is to dig them out, and fit gates.

Looking down the yet to be restored Bradley Flight

This is part of one of the locks. They are sure that most of the stonework in the chamber is still intact and could easily be restored.

Filled in bridge 'ole. Bridge will need to be replaced and the road straightened.

Even in this flight the compulsory shopping trolley

One lock has already been restored but then filled in to protect the walls and to stop people from falling in! It was here that Brenda (organiser of the trip) had phoned in desperation to ask why no one had returned. Boaters were waiting to leave!
 Arriving back we found the boats next to us had already claimed their passengers and were on their way to Tipton. Just us, a hire boat and 4 working boats left. Dove was first away and struggled to wind. Using poles and a massive amount of forward and reverse, he made it followed by Swallow who also had a bit of trouble.  It was our turn next and although we are only 57foot, the wind did it's best to stop us. By the time we got round  Saltaire, the longest working boat at a tad over 72ft, was ready and showed us all how it was done. Last came Hadar. Jo told me later that typically they did the perfect manoeuvrer and no one around to to see how well it had been done. So with us all finally on our way we were then held up at every bridge 'ole on the Wednesbury Arm due to Swallow collecting no end of rubbish round the prop.

And again

And yet again.
Time was by now marching on. Our guests were happy enough enjoying the passage back sitting in the well deck enjoying the late afternoon sun. For us though, with a meal at the Gongoozler booked for 7pm and knowing we had at least a 20 minute walk to the place once back at Tipton, we were getting concerned. Then one of the boats in front stopped to allow an oncoming boat through the tunnel. Not sure why as it was a two way passage but yet another hold up.

By 6.10pm we made it back to Tipton. Having dropped off our passengers it was then a hasty wash and change and a march to the Black Country Museum to the new Dudley Canal Trust visitor centre and restaurant. Here we met up with Jo and Keith who also had  to get a wiggle on being one of the last to arrive back at Tipton.

Black Country Museum with the new Dudley Trust visitor centre on the left.

Thanks to Brian (Nb Harnser) for taking the photo. From L to R Me, Ian, Jo and Keith. (Nb Hadar)

The sunny and warm weather brought out some early caterpillars.

Horses on the common
And the warm weather also brought out the ladybirds and spiders

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