The Wyrley and Essington Canal

Books (and other media) on canals

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"The Other Sixty Miles - A survey of the abandoned canals of Birmingham and the Black Country" by Richard Chester-Browne - BCN Society 1981 & 1991

A survey of the Abandoned Canals of Birmingham and the Black Country by R Chester-Browne
This book is based on the result of a survey of the abandoned canals of Birmingham and the Black Country that I carried. out during my years as a student in 1974-7, with some later amendments. It does not set out to be a full history of the abandoned branches, though I have included a certain amount of historical and other information of general interest to set the remains in perspective. Further information can be obtained from some of the books listed in the bibliography. Destruction of the remains of these canals is continually taking place, and the BCN Society and I would be pleased to receive details of any changes and / or corrections to the book. In the years since the first edition of this book was published,
the loss to navigation of the Anson Branch has been counteracted by the restoration of the Ridgacre Branch. Hopefully in the next few years, the long term stoppages at Dudley Tunnel and Walsall Wharf will be concluded and these waterways will not need to be added to the next edition. Schemes are also underway, or have been proposed, to restore the Hatherton Branch, the Wyrley & Essington, Bradley Locks and, more optimistically, the Dudley No.2 Canal. The photographs in this book are my own, with the exception of that on the back cover by Kelvin Lake. My good friend Marcus Boudier, who drew the maps for this
book died in a boating accident in 1986. I would like to dedicate this edition to his memory. R. Chester-Browne. Culcheth, Cheshire July 1991"



Drowned Lives by Stephen Booth
Hardcover: 432 pages
Publisher: Sphere (15 Aug. 2019)
ISBN-13: 978-0751576283

Set in and around the dark, misty canals of Lichfield, Stephen Booth's incredible first standalone novel is awash with mystery.
When council officer Chris Buckley is approached by an odd old man demanding help in healing a decades-old family rift, he sends the stranger away.But then the old man is murdered, and the police arrive on Chris's doorstep asking questions to which he has no answers.As Chris begins to look into the circumstances of the murder, he uncovers a deadly secret in the silt and mud of the local canals that he‘ll realise was better kept buried.
Set in and around the dark, misty canals of Lichfield, Stephen Booth‘s incredible newnovel is awash with mystery.





Righteous Correction? - The Kingfisher Trilogy I by Simon J. Stephens
Paperback: 496 pages
Publisher: Matador (8 Aug. 2017)
ISBN-13: 978-1788033503

Zipoly is just an ordinary man, but after the tragic death of his family he has to take on a whole new role, avenging the wrongs his family have suffered. After reluctantly adapting to his new life circumstances, and with a shadowy organisation forcing him into even greater changes, Zip begins a new life living on a canal boat and travelling the waterways of England. With a new identity and now in a completely new life, Zip becomes the unlikeliest of crime fighters, working as an agent for an ancient secret order. Nobody knows who he is. To the people he meets as he cruises the canals of England, he's just another guy who's chosen to live a simple life on a narrow boat. To his handlers, he is `The Kingfisher'. He does their bidding and restores the balance of justice when official means have failed. Zip finds that he is very good at his new role and succeeds where many had failed. That is, until his handlers ask him to cross a line he can, once again, never come back from... Righteous Correction? is a gripping work of crime fiction that also raises questions about justice and vigilantism - and their relationship to the official justice system. Can one ever justify the other?




The Navvies are Coming by Frank Walker
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Sphere (15 Dec. 1977)
ISBN-13: 978-0722188804

In the 1790s a new breed of men were making their mark on the English countryside. Labouring gangs by the hundred were moving in to dig the new canals, terrifying towns and villages with their rampaging, hard- drinking and hard-fighting ways, and before long the North Country rang with the cry, “The Navvies are coming!”
Ion Ramsden, a young prizefighter, became a navvy by accident, when a scandal forced him to flee from his benefactor’s employment. And soon he was plunged into a world of violence, lust and skulduggery, where money was easy to earn and easier to spend, and a man was judged by the strength of his arm and the power of his fist.
Life was rough, rumbustious and dangerous, but though the navvies were hated-often with good reason-by the country people, Ion found among his fellows a raw brand of loyalty far stronger than mere comradeship, and a sense of purpose that was to change his fortune in ca spectacular way....




'Redeeming Choices? - The Kingfisher Trilogy II by Simon J. Stephens
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Troubador Publishing (10 April 2018)
ISBN-13: 978-1789013511

They watched him and helped him evade capture. They gave him a new name and a new life. They trained him and changed him. They created Steve Barratt, The Kingfisher, and they let him loose to correct injustice wherever it was found. But then, they asked him to cross a line and he turned against them.
Now, freed from the forces that made him what he is, Steve Barratt seeks to find his place in a world where justice continues to need a helping hand. He knows his calling and he has the team to support and guide him. And yet, the doubts remain.
Continuing to live a life away from the mainstream, cruising the canals of England in his floating home, he resigns himself to duty and once-again embraces his role as the vigilante `Righteous Corrector'. The latest advances in technology are at his hand, honed and developed by the team that guide him, but it his creativity in delivering justice that makes the difference.
A long-lost love returns to offer him the freedom of a brighter future. The tragedy of loss turns that freedom into a life destroyed. That is, until the country needs The Kingfisher again, and Steve Barratt, reluctantly, steps up to the plate. Will he ever be set free?
Redeeming Choices? is a uniquely English sci-fi thriller, set in a uniquely English landscape. A story of one man's fight against injustice, that will set the heart racing, the tears flowing and the mind thinking.


"Tom Foxon – No 1" by Tom Foxon
Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: J.M.Pearson & Son (Publishers) Ltd; First edition edition (1 Nov. 1991)
ISBN-13: 978-0907864585

Tom Foxon, in his book “No 1” tells of a 1954 voyage from Anglesey Basin to Worcester, he does also claim that, at this time, it was the only regular trade using “cabin” i.e. long distance, boats.






'Reinhart's Continuum' - The Kingfisher Trilogy III by Simon J. Stephens
Paperback: 476 pages
Publisher: Independently published (8 Feb. 2019)
ISBN-13: 978-1796403244

The concluding volume of The Kingfisher Trilogy, 'Reinhart's Continuum' follows on from 'Righteous Correction?' and 'Redeeming Choices?' in a dramatic, hard-hitting and thoroughly compelling novel that is as human as it is thrilling.Zipoly Hardacre, AKA Steve Barratt, AKA 'The Kingfisher' may have thought that his past was behind him, but events that threaten the nation find him recalled to service as European forces seek to steal the heart and soul of the British nation.






The First Cut: A Comic Farce set on the Canals of England by Simon J. Stephens
Independently published (2018)
ISBN 13: 9781726613958

Four Counties ...Three Families ...Two Weeks ...One Unforgettable Holiday!
When three families decide to take a relaxing holiday on a hire boat, cruising the Four Counties Ring, little do they suspect how events will unfold.
In this darkly comic tale from canal-based author Simon J. Stephens, the reader accompanies the Roberts and the Williams families as their dreams of a peaceful escape from it all slowly unravel. Family tensions and rivalries, secrets from the past, hidden talents that will change the future and a smattering of death, injury plus an obligatory vicar add up to a create a wonderfully English comic farce.
The locations are real and the experience may be familiar to those who have ventured forth on a canal cruise, but none (I hope) will have endured the life-changing events that unfold in 'The First Cut'.





Philian Gregory by Simon J. Stephens
Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Troubador Publishing (10 April 2018)
ISBN-13: 978-1789013658

Philian Gregory is a struggling City trader. Nathan Carrington, an alcoholic beggar. When a random act of kindness draws them into an unlikely friendship, they embark on a journey that will change their lives forever. Threatened by forces that seek to conceal an unimaginable past, they escape to the solitude of the English canals, until one death too many turns the pursued into the pursuers.
They work off the radar, but even they can't avoid what is happening around them in a nation where the moral are few, the immoral are in the ascendant, but the power is held by the amoral. As millions of innocents die, they begin to understand that the past is merely a clue to the future and only they can stop what is happening. In doing so, only one of them will survive.
This latest work of fiction from canal-based author Simon J. Stephens is an action-packed, contemporary thriller in which unthinkable solutions become more than just a fantasy nightmare: they could just happen. They might even be happening.




The Bargee (The Casanova of the Canals)
Director – Duncan Wood
Screenplay – Ray Galton & Alan Simpson
Re-issued 2002 by DD Video
Running time: 102 mins. Colour

Hemel Pike (Harry H. Corbett) is the Casanova of the canals, with a girl at every lock. As he and his cousin Ronnie ply their trade in a narrow boat up and down England’s beautiful waterways, Hemel breaks hearts wherever he goes. Then he meets Christine, the lovely daughter of a lock-keeper. But even Christine’s obvious charms can’t hold Hemel for long and he’s off again...



Painted Boats
Actors: Jenny Laird, Bill Blewett, Robert Griffith, May Hallatt
Directors: Charles Crichton
Writers: Louis MacNeice, Michael McCarthy, Stephen Black
Producers: Michael Balcon
DVD Release Date: 11 Jan. 2010
Run Time: 57 minutes

For generations the Stoner and Smith families have lived and worked on the canals. But now this idyllic way of life is threatened - the younger generation long to break away and discover life outside the barges. Ted Stoner (Robert Griffith) dreams of living in a big town but his girlfriend, Mary Smith (Jenny Laird), is more of a traditionalist - will their very different dreams tear them apart?




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