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The Tuesday Night Club on Tour

Index

Tours 2000, BCN, Severn Estuary, K&A and River Wey

4 - Monday 3rd July - Symphony Court Moorings - Main Line to Smethwick Junction.  Old Main Line. Engine Arm. Old Main Line to Black Country Museum Moorings.

Neil left Oozells St Loop at 7.30, with the rest of the crew just waking. Past other stanked off entrance to Oozells St loop at 7.40. Soon crew emerged. Dan was first, followed by Julian. Julian soon scurried back to galley to create a mega fry-up to get us all going. The first entrance to Icknield Port Loop was passed at 7.47. Icknield Port Loop / Soho Loop crossroads junction was passed at 7.51. The other entrance to the Soho Loop was passed at 08:05. At Smethwick Junction (08:30) we turned right up to the Wolverhampton Level (Old Main Line), using the three Smethwick Locks. Smethwick Top Lock was passed at 08:50. Just beyond here is the left hand turn into the Engine Arm. The new far wash wall would only just allow a 70ft boat into the arm and as it was so shallow at this point, a full length boat would have some trouble! Immediately after the towpath bridge the arm goes over the Birmingham Level (New Main Line) on the magnificent cast iron Engine Arm Aqueduct. Even with our temporary deep draught we made it fairly easily to the end of the arm (09.20), but with much stirring of the "black silt!" Here we had a 10 minute toxic de-weed.  It is only possible to turn a 40ftish boat at the end, so it was back (i.e. in reverse) to Engine Arm Junction. Colin and Gavin were on barge pole "steering" duty, as due to all the shit and our deep draught, Neil declared this a bowthruster free zone. Our new pristine, scrap handrail barge pole took a pasting. Any way it is nice to keep the old skills alive! At one point we missed a bit of floating rope, only to see the inevitable and unstoppable enwinding of blue rope (why always blue?), but kept on going to the main line. 
We got back to the junction at 10:00. We spent until 10:20 for blue rope de-weed. Just beyond the junction some BW bods were clearing a serious overspill weir down to the New Main Line. This was just as well as we did not want the Wolverhampton Level (same at Dudley Tunnel) up, did we! Neil then phoned up the Dudley Canal Trust El Supremo, Nick Fazey, to tell him we were on schedule. Spon Lane Junction was passed at 11:00. Neil spotted they were just locked up with a chain, but did not resort to the bolt croppers!  The junction with yob, fire damaged Oldbury Locks was passed at 11:20. We stopped at Oldbury Boat Services for diesel for 10 mins, departing 11:35. Here we also found a temporary home for the ballast pavoirs, after we had gone through the tunnel. There was no point attempting the rest of the BCN with this kind of draught! The diesel was much needed, but we hung out as we needed maximum ballast for the Dudley Tunnel! We were horrified at their "cheap" price of 21.4p/l, but the guy assured us it was around the same price as Turners Garage, Wheaton Aston. Bradeshall Junction was passed at 12:05, this, the Gower Branch is another three lock link down to the Birmingham Level. Another boat was just coming up and they followed us to The Black Country Museum. We crossed over Netherton Tunnel branch at 12:25, a boat could be seen just emerging from the tunnel. Tipton Junction was passed at12:55. Here we turned left into the Dudley Canal and the Black Country Museum visitor moorings (VERY silted, through old stop lock and beyond). We arrived at 13:00. Further preparations for the tunnel then continued; involving:
a) turning gas locker at bow into water locker (no gas!)
b) removing front doors, stopping off bottom half of door hole with tongue and groove planking, installing front cockpit swimming pool facility, filling with water, installing legging boards cover (more T&G)
c) redistributing pavoirs from front cockpit.
d) installing plastic liner in shower/hip bath (plug leaks!) and filling.
e) positioning four large plastic dustbins strategically to balance ballasting and filling them with water.
f) filling toilet tank with water
g) filling engine bilges with water (to safe level)
h) various members of crew visiting adjacent Bottle & Glass Black Country Museum pub to sample their excellent Holden's Bitter in order to maintain spirits.

..... at 17:00 the boat was gauged but it was an interference fit.  Mr Chief Tug Captain (Mike Reynolds) indicated this was not desirable/acceptable and we would re-gauge in the morning. He tells us horror stories, to scare us off, of boats that have got stuck and have had their cabins cut off with a chain saw.....   At this point we measured the water height, up to the towpath wash wall top (as there was no official water gauge level!!!!!!) and this was 17". Neil phoned up newsgroups members (Brian Dominic, Kevin Maslin, Peter Wright) to confirm likelihood of trip (given hope that water level would drop) and a few more extra tricks to reduce height of boat. Retired knackered to Mad O'Rourke's Pie factory and pie-ed / imbibed (not brilliant).


Our earlyish start from Brum. Main Line Symphony Court Moorings to right. BCN Main Line.

The Fiddle and Bone pub. Not visited on this occasion. By St Vincent St Moorings in Brum.

The other entrance to Oozells Street Loop, stanked off at the moment. BCN Main Line.

A basin we did not go in!

First entrance to Icknield Port Loop. BCN Main Line.

X-roads junction, with other entrance to Icknield Port Loop to left and first entrance to Soho loop to right. BCN Main Line.

Looking up Soho Loop. BCN Main Line.

Looking at Icknield Port Loop junction. BCN Main Line.

The other entrance to the Soho Loop. BCN Main Line.

Abandoned factory arm. BCN Main Line.

The speeding Anglo Welsh boat has only just seen the obstruction under the  new Rabone Lane Bridge!

Neil surveys Smethwick junction. We are going left, up Smethwick Locks to the Old Main Line (Wolverhampton Level). BCN Main Line.

The BCN signpost at Smethwick Junction. BCN Main Line.

Smethwick Bottom Lock. Old Main Line.

Smethwick Bottom Lock. It is rush hour (on the road!) Old Main Line.

Smethwick Middle Lock. Old Main Line.

Smethwick Middle Lock. Old Main Line.

Smethwick Top Lock. Old Main Line.

Turning into Engine Arm. Old Main Line.

Turning into Engine Arm. Note new ugly retaining wall opposite, ready for more social housing / slums of the future. Old Main Line.

Looking back at junction from aqueduct. Engine Arm. Old Main Line.

The New Main Line, looking east, viewed from Engine Arm Aqueduct. Old Main Line.

The New Main Line, looking west, viewed from Engine Arm Aqueduct. Old Main Line.

The sharp turn, just after the aqueduct. Galton Valley Centre beyond. Engine Arm. Old Main Line.

Looking back at Galton Valley Centre. Engine Arm. Old Main Line.

Engine Arm. Old Main Line.

Looking up at the end. Engine Arm. Old Main Line.

Looking up at the end. Engine Arm. Old Main Line.

Looking back from the end. Engine Arm. Old Main Line.

Neil shows Gavin the pole technique. The end of Engine Arm. Old Main Line.

Gavin can't wait to pole boat out! Engine Arm. Old Main Line.

Gavin and Dan seem to be pushing as well as course correcting! Gavin now looks somewhat sombre faced! Note cups of tea kindly provided to keep their spirits up. Engine Arm. Old Main Line.

Looking back at the towpath bridge over the entrance to the Engine arm. Old Main Line.

Smethwick Pumping station. Now experiencing a renaissance, with its magnificent new chimney. Old Main Line.

Smethwick Pumping station. Now experiencing a renaissance, with its magnificent new chimney. Note very large Indian restaurant on opposite side of New Main Line cutting! Old Main Line.

The Upper Galton Valley tunnel. There is a similar, lower, construct and cover one to the left, taking the New Main Line. These now look quite leafy, a difference from when we first saw them in the 70's. Old Main Line.

Coming out of the Upper Galton Valley tunnel. Old Main Line. 

Gavin seems somewhat pleased at the change in the weather! Old Main Line

Coming up to Spon Lane. Here the M5 viaduct is in a real state. It is at this point that the Old Main Line will be closed for a long period next year. (2001)

The typical state of one of the concrete beams holding up the M5 at Spon Lane. Old Main Line.

The sad state of the M5 at Spon Lane. These "works" have been going on for around twenty years! Old Main Line.

The sad state of the M5 at Spon Lane. These "works" have been going on for around twenty years! Old Main Line.

Spon Lane Top Lock. Another three lock line down to the New Main Line. Barred to us at the moment. Old Main Line.

Spon Lane Top Lock. Another three lock line down to the New Main Line. Barred to us at the moment. Old Main Line.

Spon Lane Junction BCN signpost. Old Main Line.

Spon Lane Top Lock. Barred to us at the moment. (Julian, pass me the bolt croppers!) Old Main Line.

Continuation of the M5 Viaduct at Spon Lane. Old Main Line.

The Old Main Line passes over the New on Stewart Aqueduct. Looking west. In the distance is Bromford Junction, where the Spon Lane Locks come down to the New Main Line.

Stewart Aqueduct. Looking east. Old Main Line.

Coming up to Oldbury, the M5 still haunts us. Old Main Line.

Oldbury Junction. The six Oldbury Locks in the distance take the BCN to it's highest level (at the moment) at Titford Pools. This was to remain closed for a few more days, due to vandal lock beam burning. old Main Line.

Looking back at Oldbury Junction, to the right. Old Main Line.

Pulling up at Oldbury Boat Services for diesel. Old Main Line

Well, that is what it is at the moment! Oldbury Boat Services. Old Main Line.

Approaching Bradeshall Junction. Here the Gower Branch three lock line joins the Old Main Line to the New.

Bradeshall Junction BCN signpost. Old Main Line.

Looking down the junction to Brades Locks on the Gower Branch. The top two locks are a staircase. We are soon going to have company! Old Main Line.

Passing over the Birmingham Level Netherton Tunnel Branch. Old Main Line.

Looking down at the entrance to the Netherton Tunnel, from the Old Main Line. Boat about to come out.

Looking down at the entrance to the Netherton Tunnel, from the Old Main Line. 

Looking down on the Netherton Tunnel Branch, towards the new main Line. Old Main Line.

Housing development, with NO boats at Dudley Port. Old Main Line.

Dudley Port. Old Main Line.

This part of the Old Main Line is as clear as ever!

Approach to Tipton Junction. Old Main Line.

Approach to Tipton Junction. Old Main Line

Looking back at Tipton Junction. We have turned up the Dudley Canal, to the Black Country Museum / Tipton portal of the Dudley Tunnel.

Dudley Canal. Approaching Black Country Museum / Tipton portal of the Dudley Tunnel.

Black Country Museum / Tipton portal of Dudley Tunnel. We have had the gauging and are ready for the tunnel passage the next day.

The tour continues....

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