Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Walsall Canal, A CanalScape-BCN inspection cruise with Dean Davies from BW aboard.

Boat drafted to pull 3ft 3” underway.

The 21st of May saw 109 leave Walsall town wharf at 11.45AM, our destination was Birmingham.

Immediately entering the Pleck area the vast amount of household waste dumped in bin liners started to amaze us, it was next best to boating through a cess pit. Not only was this just rubbish, but also food waste deposited over walls, over bridges and even over the back wall of a mosque.
Worrying too was the sighting of 5 dead dogs in a short stretch as we headed towards James Bridge, the dog sizes would be a possible by product of dog fighting. Such were my concerns on this stretch that post the cruise I have made the knowledge of our finds available to Walsall council who are going to monitor this area and if necessary investigate the rubbish contents. Going down the weedhatch here was very unpleasant.

We continued onto Spinks bridge alongside the former copper works site, here we grounded and were halted for some 40 minutes on solid concrete laying in the bridgehole. Although we called the “hit squad” we managed to free ourselves and they stood down, this bridge must be cleared of debris for safe passage.

Darlaston and the environs through much more rubbish at us, numerous prop clearances and trips into the hatch. Whatever cleanups have achieved here in the recent past, nothings now shows any change. Moxley was a bumpy ride, again with much debris, however we managed a act of rescue at Moorcroft, where we untangled a duck from fishing line (see picture).

The depressing trip continued through the “revamped” section at Wednesbury, sadly here, every towpath light, fixture and fitting has been wrecked and there’s graffiti everywhere.

Ryders Green locks are neat and tidy and we thought well kept, everything was fine until we grounded under Asda’s footbridge, we were on a very solid object and we stayed that way for some hour or so, much flushing down the flight eventually freed the boat.

Leaving the top of the flight we proceeded through Greets Green to Pudding Green Jcn encountering on the way much debris and more weedhatch requirements, even on the main line we picked up badly just before Smethwick stop, in that case very thick wire requiring a hacksaw!

So what is a summary of the Walsall? It is a deep canal, however the debris and rubbish is the severe problem. There also seems to be a strong antisocial attitude to the navigation in the Pleck area of Walsall. Is there much to see today? To be frank, very little, the canal doesn’t have much to offer at all other than a through route. Spinks Bridge is a serious hazard and I would advise any deep drafted boat to be very aware of this location.

If Walsall basin is to be the new “Brindley Place” then its approaches need serious consideration as to the attitude of the local population, the same should be said for Sandwell’s section too, this IS a neglected and overlooked asset.

Sunday 30th May, CanalScape quick cruise round the city! Amazed to see a new resteraunt on the Oozels st loop, looking very inviting but with NO moorings!! Is this progress?