Gower Branch and the Black Country Museum

Having spent the night below the Tividale Aqueduct on the Netherton Tunnel Arm, our objective of the day (Sunday) was the Black Country Living Museum which is, of course served by the Dudley Tunnel section of the Dudley No.1 Canal. First we had to turn the boat around and the only way to do this easily was to navigate through Netherton Tunnel, wind the boat at Windmill End, and then return through the tunnel.
(The header picture on the main page shows the approach to Windmill End from just inside the Tunnel).

Our arrival co-incided with the annual gathering of boats but there was still room to turn even if we did have an audience.

Returning to the Birmingham Main Line, we turned right then right again to gain the Gower Branch Canal which is a short cut joining the Birmingham line to the Wolverhapton level. At its southern end it climbs the three Brades Locks, the top two of which are a staircase pair, which means that the two locks share the middle set of gates. Care is needed in negotiating staircases so that the surrounding canalside is not flooded. OK we've all done it once, I'm sure, but not this time!

This angle shows the staircase locks with the top of the boat just visible passing from one to the other. The height of the centre gates can be quite daunting from the steerer's position in the bottom of the lock.

Water Admiral soon appeared in the top lock. All the locks so far had filled very quickly and the well maintained condition of the canal in general were a stark contrast to what could be found, particularly on some of the lesser used sections, even ten years ago.
BWB seem to have pulled out all the stops.

We turned back towards Wolverhampton, and then into the Dudley No.1 Canal to moor up at the Black Country Museum.

Visitors arriving by boat can get in without going through the main Museum entrance but are honour-bound to pay their entrance fee in the Bottle and Glass pub which serves a good pint of ale (Holden's Best Bitter and Holden's Dark Mild) in typical Black Country pub atmosphere. And, of course, being a Museum recreating the past they have never heard of lager (good thing too!! Yuck!)

More Black Country Museum pictures here.

Gerry Cork - October 2001
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