CanalCuttings.co.uk are now supporters of the The Lapal Canal Project through the Lapal Canal Trust - Striving towards the incremental restoration of the decommissioned half of the Dudley No. 2 Canal, between Selly Oak in Birmingham and Halesowen in Dudley, eventually to full navigation via the Woodgate Valley.
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Dudley No. 2 Canal - Part Of The BCN
Our Trip From Windmill End Junction to Hawne Basin Terminus as part of our 2010 Summer Cruise.
Strictly speaking the Dudley No.2 Canal route runs from Park Head Junction with Dudley No1 Canal and the Grazebrook Arm (linking to the Dudley Tunnel) currently to the Hawne Basin Terminus but used to continue to Selly Oak, where it would have joined the Worcester & Birmingham Canal at Selly Oak Junction.
This article covers the cruise from Windmill End Junction (MAP) under the skeleton of Cobb's Engine House through Gosty Hill Tunnel (MAP) to Hawne Basin (MAP) a distance of about 2.75 miles, presently the current end of navigation, based upon information supplied by the Coombswood Canal Trust and observed by ourselves.
Coming under the Windmill End Junction bridge, where you can obtain a copy of the Coombswood Canal Trust pamphlet form a small metal box (accessed via a BW key), there is a small arm in water on the right. This arm served Windmill End Colliery just before before the old toll island. After the toll island there is another basin on off side still in water which served the Warrens Hall Colliery pits number one and two by way of a small tramway.
Bullfield Bridge is next, which has lovely cast iron girders under it, unfortunately covered in graffiti. A plate dated 1857 is visible nonetheless. This bridge has the cast iron rope wearing plates and raised brick work on the tow path still in place, which date back to the time when the canal barges used horses.
There is plenty of evidence of small canal arms and basins along the canal but to spot them you have to cruise slowly and take note of the relatively modern concrete addition that hide old entrances.
As you approach Gosty Hill Tunnel the signage reminds you there are no passing places or towpath inside the tunnel, so it's worth a quick check that there is no other traffic coming the other way through the tunnel. This tunnel was extensively rebuilt in 1881.
As we approach Gosty Hill Tunnel a road runs right next to the tow path and a railway bridge still in use crosses the canal.
Gosty Hill Tunnel is 557 yards long and just before the portal you will see the small basin beside the approach channel, shown here on the right, which is all that remains of the tunnel tug house where the tug was stored. The tug was used to pull open work boats through the tunnel from 1913 through to the late 30s.
Before 1913 boats were legged through. Boaters beware the tunnel drips water here and there and height varies inside with two very low sections and one air ventilator shaft which is in the front garden of a house in Station Road.
On coming out of the tunnel you are in the site of Stewart's and Lloyds Tube Works. This section of the works had numerous bridges and pipes crossing the canal linking the two parts of the works together. On the off side are the pale blue painted remains of the cast iron and steel supports of the coal unloading system.
The canal opens out into a large basin, where boats were loaded with non-ferrous materials and winded. The very observant person will see the remains of an old wooden narrowboat sunk on the offside of the canal just before the three pairs of iron and wood ramps from the bank into the water.
These were used to slide canal boats in and out of the water and are the only reminder to mark the site of the large open boat dock that operated from here for the maintenance of the Stewart's and Lloyds fleet of open boats and tugs.
The canal now swings slightly to the right, past a simple yet functionally designed overflow weir followed by Coombeswood Foot Bridge, a relatively new bridge. The original was scavenged for iron during the war years. After the bridge there is a slight bend in the canal marks where Coombeswood Colliery basin went off, then you come into the moorings of Coombeswood Canal Trust at Burton Bridge.
The current limit of navigation at the moment on the Dudley Number Two, boats should now wind here unless entering the basin to use the extensive services which are available to the boater. Burton Bridge is unusual has having dovetail interlocking iron plates on the parapets.
The canal originally carried on for a further five miles to Selly Oak Junction to join with the Worcester Birmingham Canal. For the Lapal Canal Project (Dudley No2 from Hawne Basin to Selly Oak Junction) See: The Lapal Canal Project .
Hawne Basin was a GWR railway interchange basin used for the trans shipment of tubes only closing when the railway and the tube works closed in 1967.
We thank the Coombeswood Canal Trust for helping us to understand this short but interesting, seldom cruised section of the BCN.
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