BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

On a bike, riding somewhere. Every day, rain or shine.

Posts tagged ‘boat’

#365daysofbiking Lane’s end

Monday March 8th 2021 – I was discussing online the other day a local lost stub of a lane that used to be Bullmoor Lane. Bullmoor Lane ran from Raikes and Chesterfield, a mile or so north of Shenstone, shadowing the Watling Street, to a junction near Wall Butts at Hilton, where it met Cranebrook Lane and Boat Lane. As a kid it was one of my first local discoveries. I loved that quiet, undulating backway, and still do.

When the M6 Toll came through at the turn of the millennium, the last half a mile of Bullmoor Lane was diverted south, to meet Cranebrook Lane without building a second flyover, leaving the old stub abandoned.

It still exists, and is now gated, but when nostalgic one can push past the gate and ride the crumbling asphalt to the edge of the new motorway, echoing in my childhood tracks.

I always find these dead, divorced and orphaned lanes a bit sad: Dark Lane at Longdon is one, just closed as out of use, like School Lane at Norton. But other lanes were lost to the toll, especially around Hammerwich and and Shenstone Park.

It’s the feeling that they hold memories, which cannot be put back, I think.

A curious bit of melancholia on the exercise ride.

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#365daysofbiking Milling it over

November 7th – A better day than the previous, but only really for being shorter, sadly. I had business in Chasetown so left work while it was still light and headed up there on the canal passing through Brownhills on the way.

It rained lightly most of the time. This weather is getting beyond a joke now.

Approaching the old steam mill at Ogley Hay, Brownhills, the view is lovely at the moment, even for the very poor weather and light. With the bracken and leaves turning, the hedgerows and woods are a beautiful mixture of burnt yellows and reds, with a smattering of green to boot.

The mill, of course, is now private flats and rather splendid; and it of course gave it’s name to the nearby Millfield school, which also backs onto the canal. One mystery, though: The former narrowboat the school had as an outdoor classroom – Tucana – seems to have been missing two or three weeks now.

It has no engine, so it must have been towed somewhere, to do something…

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#365daysofbiking Ghost craft


January 9th – On the canal near the overflow at Clayhanger someone has tethered a fibreglass pleasure boat. I’m not sure if it’s being lived in or not, but seems to be. However, when I rode past in the dark this evening, one end had been untied and the craft had swung out into the water.

I don’t know who owns it or what it’s doping there, but someone clearly cares for it. I am becoming aware that waterways are currently hosting a number of unfortunate folk who would be homeless but for their often down at heel boats.

An odd one.

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April 19th – A tired commute and weary day at work as a result of the exertions of the previous day, and I had the camera stuck on some poncey ‘artistic’ mode so all the photos came out unusable, except this one: Passing the former Boat pub at Bentley Bridge, Darlaston green, I noted it was finally razed.

The demolition has been long and protracted as contractors stripped carefully anything of worth from the decaying building.

Good to see such care taken to reclaim the materials, but the overwhelming feeling of sadness at the loss of a one popular pub remains.

A small, encapsulated tragedy and tale for our times.

April 14th – Unexpectedly, I came upon a beautiful sight in Brownhills – over thirty moored narrowboats from the Historic Narrow Boat Club who’re on their Wyrley Wander tour and stopping here until Monday when they move on to Town Arm in Walsall.

This is a really great spectacle and worth a visit – even in the rain! Find out more on the main blog here.

April 3rd – Another job I thought would be well and truly over by now that wasn’t is the demolition of the former Boat pun in Darlaston Green. Derelict, burnt out and plagued by antisocial behaviour, it was measure for it’s coffin years ago, and last week when I saw demolition crew here I thought it would be only hours to go before the landmark was lost – but this is clearly a thoughtful, reclamation demolition where the material removed are salvaged for resale, and for a while at least, this sad husk of a building remains.

A sad but fascinating sight.

March 27th – Over at Bentley Bridge, near Darlaston Green, mixed feelings as the former Boat Inn pub is cleared for demolition.

Derelict for years, long-time site of a car wash, the building had been long since targeted by arsonists, flytippers and ne’er do wells. The Boat had outlived it’s useful life, and the last beer was supped here years ago. But it’s very sad to see a pub lost, and in an industrial area with loads of vacant land already, it’s hard to see what, if anything, might replace this building.

October 5th – This is an odd one. Drifting for a while on the canal around the Black Cock Bridge in Walsall Wood, this abandoned pleasure craft does seem to have been someone’s home for a while, with boards tied at a broken side window, and signs of recent life inside. There’s no boat registration visible, no apparent engine and the craft is just drifting.

I had thought the boat had originated locally, but I think that assumption is wrong, having studied previous photos.

I guess, if abandoned this can be considered flytipping, and I suppose the Canal and River Trust, the people responsible for the canals, have a procedure for this sort of eventuality, but it must be a real pain hauling it out of the water and disposing of it.

A curious thing indeed.

July 2nd – The day was also characterised by the animals met along the way. I’ve always loved canal animals, and these were all spotted nearby; the border collie waiting for his mistress outside the canalside farm shop at Haywood, the cat living at the canal cottage near Cowlick, and the two boater dogs watching silently as I passed.

I loved the terrier and venerable old collie on the boats particularly. They were clearly doing their job and looked happy and content with life.

Sometimes, it’s the animals you meet who make for a good ride, not the humans…

June 19th – I note that the long expected narrowboat rebuilt for Millfield School in Brownhills – the Tucana – has finally arrived at Millfield school, looking rather splendid.

The mooring jetty has been here and largely unused for a few years, and rumours of the boat have ebbed and flowed, but it’s finally here and presumably now, schoolchildren will be using it, which will be great – after all, canals, canal freight and boats are a large part of local history.

I note the boat is now part of a partnership involving Shire Oak School too – I love the logos.

It’s a lovely thing indeed, but I do wonder at the cost…