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The Tuesday Night Club on Tour


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

6 - Wednesday 5th July - Black Country Museum moorings. Old Main Line to Oldbury Junction. Oldbury Locks - ALL Titford Pools / Tat Bank Branch. Old Main Line to Bradeshall Junction. Gower Branch. Albion Junction - New Main Line to Dudley port Junction. Netherton Tunnel to Windmill End. 

Neil left the Black Country Museum visitor moorings at 8.30, with the rest of the crew (now minus Gavin) still awakening. Did yet another rattley turn at Tipton Junction (8.40, why is this bloody gauging point at the junction not dredged!), heading for the direction of Oldbury Boat Services and the (very) official de-ballasting ceremony. We crossed over the Netherton Tunnel Branch (9.08), Bradeshall Junction (9.25) and arrived at Oldbury Boat Services at 9.55.We were directed to the main wharf, where we just fitted. We were provided with a wheel barrow (somewhat worse for wear, we have seen better ones in the canal!) The pavoirs were to be stacked on pallets, so they could be moved with a fork lift. Members with gentler hands already had bought gardening loves in anticipation. We soon got into the swing of things and the bricks were flying every where. Colin was the stack master, trying out various patterns on each layer! Neil mainly linged the bricks up into the wheel barrow. It was soon noticed that the wheelbarrow was not so high. We finally shoved off at 11.20. 
Neil decided we would wind in Oldbury Junction, with the Titford Canal, so he could have a quick look to see how the gate replacement was doing at the top of The Crow (Oldbury Locks). It had been rumoured that the fitting off the new top gate was to be finished today. We were surprised to find another boat waiting at the bottom, we arrived at11.30. This turned out to be "Monday" off the Ashby (it was running incognito at the moment!) The crew off Monday were all about and Neil asked if BW were are work. The owner said that the work had just finished and that a BW bod was starting to fill / adjust the water levels in the flight. Neil said that it would of been nice to polish of the Titford Canal now and to have been the first one up. The owners of Monday insisted we went first, so off we went at 11.40.
We arrived at the top of The Crow at 12.15 and ploughed on in the direction of the "New Navigation" pub, just before the pools. The level was not that down. The water feed from Rotton Park reservoir, which enters the canal via the Tat Bank Branch, just at the top of The Crow, had been turned off during the burnt top gate incident. This is probably the reason that this extra new gate replacement was given priority over the similarly burnt Spon Lane gate. The new gate looks very fine, it has even been painted, this is something that does not seem to occur to new Grand Union gates for about a year! Earnest's ballast trim had not been sorted out after the de-ballasting and we made fairly heavy work of the last bit up to the pub. We arrived at the "New Navigation" at 13.05, to be welcomed by the friendly landlord and his wife. This turned out to be an excellent venue. It had just been given a very restrained makeover. The Green King Abbott ale was well kept (something not always done with this excellent ale, it does not seem to travel well!) and the "normal" bar food of excellent quality and very reasonably priced. Eventually we left at 15.00 after having chatted with the crew of "Monday" who were having a family reunion as relatives lived close by. 
We said goodbye to crew member Dan the man, Julian walking with him to the station as this was not his expected departure point. Then there were two! Colin and Neil then carried on in the direction of the M5 bridge and the Portway Branch pool. It was fairly heavy going up to the stop plank narrows under the M5. Predictably we ground to an absolute halt here. Colin pulled back Earnest and Neil investigated the hole with the boat hook. As was the case last time, the problem was mainly shopping trolleys. It was here that Peter pulled off one of the brass end knobs off the barge pole (our pole is the one off Beatty.) Two of the workers that seen to constantly work on the elevated bits of the M5 helped Neil pull out the two "Toys R Us" shopping trolleys, the one rusty and nameless totally triangulated trolley and the wheel barrow, that was better than Oldbury Boat services! We were denied the lower pool last time as it was stanked off and partially drained, with an amazing array of scaffold and tarpaulins- some of this is still here! It was still a struggle to get through the stop plank narrows hole, but afterwards it deepened out. Although the upper pool was deep, this mainly consisted of weed, plastic bags and silt! we made fair headway in the direction of the two corners, then retreated back to wind in the down stream bit, which actually contains more water than crud! 
Through most of this operation we had a conversation with two young urchins who appeared interested in our biscuit supply, but given the chance this would probably have switched to cameras etc. Eventually they worked out that we would never reach the bank and bu**ered off. During the upper pool de- weed session (this included a steel cable bicycle lock, that had predictably been cut through!), Julian E arrived, but he had to wait until we reached the narrows to get back on. Eventually we got back to the junction at 16.15. 
Now we had the fallen half dead willow tree to contend with which is about half way down the Causeway Arm. This has been tickled by many boaters, including us in the past, but each year it seems to fall down more and restrict the navigation to punts! Neil got out the saw, then thought bu**er this, let's get serious! We moored up to the tree and Neil got out the electric chain saw. Light work was made of many branches, including all he could reach below the water line. The large branches were dragged to the towpath side and into the brambles and smaller bits and were chucked to the side. Passage was now attempted in this deep channel, using a "robust" approach! We slid through, with a lot of under water twig breaking. This end of the arm is now open to even working boats. 
We easily reached the end, this is one of the only spots where we could get to the side. Finally the NEW BIT was attempted (17.10). We easily reversed back and started into the lower "M5" pool from this, the Causeway end. There have been reports of this pool being deep and indeed it was. Neil was on pole duty at the bow, checking for "M5" debris! This really is a pleasant spot, if you have your back to the M5! A flock of Canada Geese, the size of which would send terror into Kevin Maslin circled the far side of the pool, there must have been at least 100! The other exit from the pool was much shallower, you have to scrape the bushes on the island, as "M5" crud is on the M5 side. We had a similar rattle down the Portway side, then started back down the canal at 17.25.We chatted with the crew from "Monday" as we passed, insisting that they do the complete tour, now that is was all opened up. 
We made a more spirited departure and started the Tat Bank Branch at 18.05. The steel security fence panels round the burnt and sad remains of the pump house had been thrown about by yobs. There are a few in the canal, but we managed to skirt round them. Tat Bank bridge was soon in sight, or rather wasn't. It had been obscured by young trees since our last visit. We prodded our way forward, but could not get through the bridge hole to touch the stop planks and set off the factory alarm like last time. The reason for this was that there was long lengths of wood blocking it, that would be difficult to get out. Anyway were  getting knackered and still had the journey to Windmill End ahead. On the way out we created a major localised pollution hazard. Needless to say there was an oil storage depot next door! 
The Crow was started at 18.40 after a very extensive de-weed. We reached the bottom of The Crow at19.20, Bradeshall Junction, 20.05 (Gower Branch yet again!) at this point it started to fine rain, it had gone un-noticed up to now, that this was the first rain of the day. Albion Junction was passed at 20.35, onto the New Main Line and Dudley port junction, onto the Netherton Tunnel branch at 20.50. Julian E steered through the Netherton Tunnel for operational reasons, including everyone getting ready to go out / moor up. The tunnel took 40 minutes. At 21.50 we moored up on the rings outside the new visitor centre. Colin was too knackered to go to the pub, so just Neil and Julian E went. We got some fish and chips first, eating them in the rain, under a shop awning. Neil was phoned by Linda during this. We then made the mistake of going back to the "Dry Dock Inn" - this really is totally run down, since Usher's have taken it over, a total toilet.

The Start of the "official" de-ballasting ceremony. Dan thinks Colin the stack master is slacking!

Front bricks nearly gone!

More bricks hidden in front lockers.

Neil and Dan go brick mad and start singing the "Dudley Brick Song!"

Two bricks at a time. Note crap wheelbarrow that Dan is aiming for.

Dan is the chief tosser!!!!!

My God! they have all gone from the front!

Still plenty of beer ballast left!

We start on the under bed brick piles.

The stacked pallets.

Mr BW man takes off the closure notice at the bottom of the Crow. Oldbury Locks to Titford Pools.

The crew of "Monday" kindly let us go first, or do they want us to find all the new crud! Oldbury Locks to Titford Pools.

We are off! Oldbury Locks to Titford Pools.

Oldbury Locks to Titford Pools.

Oldbury Locks to Titford Pools.

Oldbury Locks to Titford Pools. The bridge on the right used to go over the Jim Crow Branch.

Oldbury Locks to Titford Pools.

Oldbury Top Lock to Titford Pools.

Oldbury Locks to Titford Pools.

The brand new upper gate of Oldbury Top Locks. Titford Canal to Titford Pools beyond.

The sad semi burnt out remains of the pump house. Oldbury Locks to Titford Pools.

Langley Maltings. Titford Canal.

Langley Forge. Supergun anyone? Titford Canal

Uncle Bens Bridge. Titford Canal

Looking back at "Monday",  (also struggling!) and Uncle Bens Bridge. Titford Canal.

Colin is forced to remove the brick he placed in the departing Dan's bag! Boozer behind is the New Navigation. Titford Canal.

M5 workers or tree wardens? They are passing under Jarvis Bridge, the pools beyond. 

"Monday" moored out side the pub. Titford Canal.

Colin and Neil start off under Jarvis Bridge and into the pools.

We pass the Causeway Green Arm to the left. Titford Pools.

We approach the stop plank narrows under the M5. Titford Pools.

Upper Titford pool, beside the curtailed Portway Branch. Titford Pools.

Upper Titford pool, beside the curtailed Portway Branch. Titford Pools.

Looking back at the M5 from the Upper Titford pool, beside the curtailed Portway Branch. Titford Pools.

Some of the crud removed from the stop plank narrows under the M5. Titford Pools.

Coming back out from under the M5. Titford Pools.

Looking back at the stop plank narrows under the M5. Titford Pools.

The Portway Branch connection to the Lower Titford Pool.

We have just started up the Causeway Green Arm. Jarvis Bridge is at the extreme right. Titford Pools.

We have tied onto the fallen Willow tree and Neil has got serious with it! Causeway Green Arm. Titford Pools.

Timber! Causeway Green Arm. Titford Pools.

Half the branches gone on the fallen Willow tree. Causeway Green Arm. Titford Pools.

ALL the offending branches gone on the fallen Willow. Causeway Green Arm. Titford Pools.

The present end of the Causeway Green Arm is in sight. Titford Pools.

The present end of the Causeway Green. Titford Pools.

Herr Capitan directs Julian, while going astern to get into the Lower Pool. Causeway Green Arm. Titford Pools.

Entering Lower Titford Pool. 

Lower Titford Pool. Notice the huge flock of Canada Geese.

Neil checking for M5 debris and depth. Lower Titford Pool.

They are still playing with the M5. Lower Titford Pool.

Julian E has the com. Lower Titford Pool.

Leaving Lower Titford Pool.

Leaving Lower Titford Pool. Back into the Portway Branch.

Leaving Lower Titford Pool.

We have heard of coconuts, but this is new!

Neil gets sick of taking up the weed hatch, so we go topless for a while!

At the top of the Oldbury Locks we turn up the Tat Bank Branch. Titford Canal.

The end of the Tat Bank Branch. Tat Bank Bridge.

The end of the Tat Bank Branch. Tat Bank Bridge.

The plate attached to the new Oldbury Top Lock top gate.

Oldbury Bottom Lock.

Windmill End Junction BCN signpost,  to the south of the Netherton Tunnel.

Windmill End. Dudley No1 Canal.

Our moorings at Windmill End, outside the new visitor centre. You can see that the ballast is nearly returned to normal.

The Tour continues....

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