The Wyrley and Essington and Walsall Canals

The following morning, we set off from our mooring in a surprisingly rural section of the W&E, and soon reached Sneyd Junction BWB Yard. The scene which presented itself caused some surprise since when we passing this way in 1992, the yard had been closed and was derelict. Not even a water tap remained.

In 2001, there are residential boats, with their on-shore gardens, the old workshop buildings are now a shop catering for canoeists, and toilet and elsan facilities, as well as a tap, have been installed. We spent sometime here watering up and chatting to the BWB man .........

...... before continuing on our way to Walsall

Having never been through Walsall by boat before (been here several times by trolleybus!) we were pleasantly surprised by the clean and well maintained state of the whole canal environment. BWB at their best again. Next to the top lock is the Birchills Canal Museum (closed - things like this always seem to be when we get there!) and the rather quaint lock-keeper's cottage. The Museum building used to be The Boatman's Rest.

Descending from the top lock, although in town, with backs of neighbouring houses visible, we found the canal still posessed a remote atmosphere. The banks were well kept and the whole area clean. Here is Water admiral just below the top lock.

Further down, there is an arch bridge giving access to some forgotten basin.

The Walsall Town Arm was closed for some time during the early 1990s due to subsidence but it has now reopened. Unfortunately, apart from a few old buildings, warehouses etc, along part of it, the basin itself is situated among stark, modern office blocks and buildings of no character. No doubt, the basin is ideally situated for the Town Centre, but apart from this it is a bleak place which is not very inviting to the visitor and probably not a place to moor overnight.

The rest of the Walsall canal passes through an untidy mixture of rural and industrial landscapes but is not partcularly inspiring - might be something to do with the lack of locks. We stopped briefly at The Bush at Leamore Bridge for lunch - a good plateful of well cooked traditional English fare for a very reasonable price; ale not up to much though - probably the worst pint of Ruddles County I've ever tasted. Certainly not as full bodied as I remember it.

Gerry Cork - October 2001
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