Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Birmingham here we come– Tuesday 24th September 2013

This morning we had a leisurely start and filled up with water at thetwo fast taps outside the Canal Cottage which seems to be taking an age to renovate but is now starting to look quite good.
1 Canal Cottage
We filled up with diesel at Lyons Boatyard and had a pump out having to queue to get served as there was a boat already on the service point. Diesel was 96p/ltr. self declare and the pump out was £15. We tried to moor opposite the boatyard whilst we waited for Autumn Years to be serviced but the canal was too shallow to get into the bank. So we gently motored on through the Brandwood Tunnel and waited at the junction for the to catch us up.
2 Brandwood Tunnel
To reach the Junction with the Birmingham Worcester Canal it is necessary to go through the King’s Norton Stop Lock which is unusual in having two wooden guillotine gates at either end. It was recently restored but has already been vandalised which is a great pity and reflects badly on the area it is in.
4 Guilletine Lock
The junction is quite wide and the signpost gives the distances to Worcester, Birmingham, Stratford, and Warwick, all requiring a lot of locking.
5 Kings Norton Junction
On the wall of the old Toll House opposite the Junction is a list of Mileages and Tolls to be paid per mile, eg Lime was 1/2d per mile per Ton.
6 Junction Tolls
The next stretch of canal is blighted by the graffiti artists work along great lengths of wall, but there are some lovely areas such as this winding hole and Bournville Garden Village and Cadbury’s Factory.
7 Bournevullie
What a place to sit whilst on the phone, it looks as though Carolann is doing something else.
7a On the phone
At Selly Oak is the filled in entrance to the old Lapal or Dudley No.2 Canal. The Restoration Group are having a few problems with Sainsbury’s who are developing the Battery Park site and seem reluctant to make suitable provision for the canal to be restored through the area.
9a Lapal Junction
Soon the Old and new buildings of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital come into view. This is famous for treating our wounded soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and has a wonderful reputation as a hospital.
8 QE Hospitals
Almost opposite is the campus of Birmingham University with it famous Clock Tower and moored outside is Nb Ross Barlow. This is a unique boat in that it is Hydrogen powered.
9 Bhaam Uni and boat
The railway line follows the canal to the Edgbaston Tunnel where the two separate to reach the city centre. It is quite a busy line with expresses and commuter trains whizzing by.
9b Edgebaston tunnel
On route we passed the C&RT Dredger fishing out all sorts of materials including bicycles and shopping trolleys and the even lamp posts. On the other hand we passed Nb Vistoria with a party enjoying the sunshine and a picnic lunch on board.
9c Dredger and victoria
Soon the well known land mark of the Post Office Tower (or BT Tower as they like to call) it came into view followed by the Cube and Mailbox before we turned sharp left into Gas Street basin and another Stop Lock which divided the BCN from the Birmingham and Worcester Canal
9d Gas street basin
To get out of Gas Street the canal goes under Broad Street which now with Brindley Place is the hub of Birmingham’s night life. The Symphony Hall is on the right and ahead lies the NIA which appears to under going some major structural changes.
A Floating market is due to take place on Saturday and Sunday and much of the Oozell Loop and the Main Line had notices stating that the Trading boats would be arriving tomorrow and therefore we would be restricted to only one nights mooring. In fairness the Organiser was very helpful and said we would be able to breast up with any of the trading boats if we wished to stay longer.
We moored up on the main line for the night and went off to explore Birmingham’s new Library and Repertory Theatre. I was a bit sceptical at the city spending some £189m on the project but having made the visit I think it will be a major tourist attraction for the city as well as providing it with a superb library embracing both hard copy and digital media. Here are some views of the library and views of the city from its two viewing level gardens. Our boats could clearly be seen on the main line as well as those moored in Cambrian Wharf.
9f Library views
Some more views of the below ground Amphitheatre, the roof top gardens with herbs and fruit trees growing as well as the golden statues of famous city fathers Bolton, Watt, and Murdoch.
9g library views
In the Golden Cylinder on the top of the Library is housed the Shakespeare Memorial Room which was created in 1882 as a Shakespeare Library and was saved when the old library was demolished in 1979. It has been  rebuilt like a giant jigsaw and is a delightful place to visit. Down in the Amphitheatre are some fabulous acoustic chairs which we could not resist trying out. They certainly work and will enable people to read quietly whilst enjoying the sun which streams into this sunken area.
9h Shakespear room and aucustic chairs

9K library details
After our visit we had a coffee in the cafe on the ground floor and like the rest of the Library is designed on an eco friendly basis. They even have wooden spoons as they don’t have to waste energy on putting through a dish washer and they are resourced from renewable sources.
On our way back to the boats we walked by Cambrian Wharf and noticed that there were 2 spaces still available. A quick chat to one of the residents confirmed this and we were off to fetch the boats and moor up in the wharf where we could remain for up to 14 days, so we would not have to move again until we wished to leave Birmingham.


  1. Great to see the library is now open, it looks a good place. We have been watching its progress over the past 2 years on our trips in and out of Brum, maybe we'll get to see it on our way back south.

  2. Hi Ian and Karen
    The Library is well worth a visit to B'ham and I must say it is creating a stir with visitors from all over the world and was very busy when we were there.
    Have to try and meet up when get to B'ham.