The Wyrley and Essington Canal

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Warning! - The following access details were correct at the time of my walk - but may have now changed.

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Virtual Walks-8 From the Rumer Hill Junction on BCN Cannock Extension of the Wyrley and Essington Canal
Along
the Churchbridge Branch Canal of the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal
and
Onward along the lost section of the Hatherton Branch Canal of the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal
Visit the Lichfield & Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust web site to find out about the Trust that was formed in 1988 and is a registered charity. It campaigns for the restoration of the "Lichfield Canal" (as the closed section of the W&E between Ogley and Huddlesford is now called) and also the Hatherton Canal through the Cannock / A5 area. It promotes the restoration as public amenities for boating, angling, walking, cycling etc. and raises funds to carry out physical restoration work.
This virtual walk is an outline of the long lost link between the BCN Cannock Extension of the Wyrley and Essington Canal
see virtual walk6 -The Cannock Extension from Pelsall Junction

to ---------

the Hatherton Branch of the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal at Roman Way Bridge or Cherry Tree Bridge where it now becomes The Hatherton Canal (under restoration by the LHCRT)
see virtual walk 7 - Pelsall Junction to Lord Hayes Branch and Onward along the Hatherton Canal (under restoration) to its Junction of the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal

Warning! - This route has been long derelict. Remember that this route should not be thought of as a public right of way.
Most importantly,
note that breaking a leg in the middle of nowhere is hazardous to health.

Built to serve "King Coal" - crippled by coal - wiped of the face of the earth to find coal...............................

The Cannock Extension Canal was opened to the Rumer Hill Junction from Pelsall Junction in 1858. It was extended to Hednesford by 1863 when the Churchbridge Branch Canal opened a link to the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal via its Hatherton Branch Canal.

 By the early 1960s long term severe mining subsidence resulted closure of the majority of the Cannock Extension and the whole of the already defunct Churchbridge Branch.

For most redundant canals the lines were left to slowly fade away but coal ensured that this area was obliterated by opencast mining.

From "The Cannock Chase Coalfields and its coal mines"
Page 30 – Open cast --- Streetways and Poplars 1952-1972
Page 32 – Open cast --- Kingswood 1978-1987

Most of canals for this "virtual walk" were quite literally wiped off the face of the earth….. From the Churchbridge islands bounded by the A5 Watling Street and A460 Eastern Way.

Streetways - 90 acres 1951-3
Streetways Locks - 34 acres 1953-6
Poplars - ??? acres 1957-8
Poplars Extension (north and west) - 172 acres 1959-64
Poplars Extension (east) - 164 acres 1965-72
Poplars Extension (north-east) - 124 acres 1971-2

The later Kingswood opencast (1978-1987) wiped out a further section of the Cannock Extension.


This is the most Virtual of my "Virtual Walks" and has been greatly helped by the National Library of Scotland who offer "This application that allows a set of historical map overlays to be viewed (against current maps)". Without this impressive research tool identifying long lost routes is unreliable or almost impossible.

I have been able to check some of the pointers used below but there are many that are imposible to check and may be inacurate!

Churchbridge Branch Canal
CB20 Rumer Hill Junction
(https://www.google.co.uk/maps pointer ---- 52.6784, -2.0125)

The site of lock 5 is under the Finning CAT building.
Lock Bridge between locks 5 and 4 would have been level with the back wall of the building. The remaining locks running up to the Rumer Hill Junction on BCN Cannock Extension would have been under the landfill mound.

This photo taken from Orbital Way looking north - 22/2/2016.
------ (More Photos in my Flickr album - Churchbridge Branch Canal)

CB30 Churchbridge Flight - Lock 1
(https://www.google.co.uk/maps pointer ---- 52.6783, -2.0130)
CB40 Churchbridge Flight - Lock 2
(https://www.google.co.uk/maps pointer ---- 52.6779, -2.0136)
CB50 Churchbridge Flight - Lock 3
(https://www.google.co.uk/maps pointer ---- 52.6776, -2.0144)
CB60 Churchbridge Flight - Lock 4
(https://www.google.co.uk/maps pointer ---- 52.6770, -2.0152)
CB70 Lock Bridge
(https://www.google.co.uk/maps pointer ---- 52.6769, -2.0154)
CB80 Churchbridge Flight - Lock 5
(https://www.google.co.uk/maps pointer ---- 52.6766, -2.0160)

The site of lock 5 is under the Finning CAT building.
The site of lock 6 is under the Briggs Equipment car park.
The site of lock 7 is under the white Briggs Equipment building.

This photo taken of Orbital Way running south-east - 22/2/2016.
------ (More Photos in my Flickr album - Churchbridge Branch Canal)

CB90 Churchbridge Flight - Lock 6
(https://www.google.co.uk/maps pointer ---- 52.6762, -2.0168)
CB100 Churchbridge Flight - Lock 7
(https://www.google.co.uk/maps pointer ---- 52.6758, -2.0175)
CB110 Churchbridge Flight - Lock 8
(https://www.google.co.uk/maps pointer ---- 52.6753, -2.0182)

Lock 8 would have been under the access road Gemini Drive at the rear of the Orbital Retail Park.

This photo looking towards Gemini Drive - 22/2/2016.
------ (More Photos in my Flickr album - Churchbridge Branch Canal)

CB120 Churchbridge Flight - Lock 9
(https://www.google.co.uk/maps pointer ---- 52.6750, -2.0189)

Taken at the site of Lock 10 at the side of Argos (unit 8) of the Orbital Retail Park.

Ahead is the "long pound" leading to Lock 9 that would have been under Harveys (unit 5) of the Orbital Retail Park.

This photo looking north-east - 22/2/2016.
------ (More Photos in my Flickr album - Churchbridge Branch Canal)

CB130 long pound
CB140 Churchbridge Flight - Lock 10
(https://www.google.co.uk/maps pointer ---- 52.6740, -2.0208)

The site of Lock 10 at the rear corner of Argos (unit 8) of the Orbital Retail Park.

This photo taken from the entrance to Gateway Retail Park looking north-east - 22/2/2016.
------ (More Photos in my Flickr album - Churchbridge Branch Canal)

On the new (2015) Gateway Retail Park – outside Costa Coffee is an information board from the Bridgetown and District Local History Society – (www.bridgtownhistory.co.uk/)
and
“supported” by the site’s developers Hortons' Estate Limited www.hortons.co.uk/news/news.htm?view=222

These photos taken - 22/2/2016.------ (Larger Photos in my Flickr album - Churchbridge Branch Canal)

CB150 Churchbridge Flight - Lock 11
(https://www.google.co.uk/maps pointer ---- 52.6736, -2.0215)

On the new (2015) Gateway Retail Park looking north-east.

Locks 12 and 11 would have been in this car park.

Lock 10 would have been across the A460 and the corner of Argos, Unit 8, Voyager Drive, Orbital Retail Centre.

Taken looking north-east - 18/2/2016.
------ (More Photos in my Flickr album - Churchbridge Branch Canal)

CB160 Churchbridge Flight - Lock 12
(https://www.google.co.uk/maps pointer ---- 52.6732, -2.0222)
CB170 Churchbridge Flight - Lock 13
(https://www.google.co.uk/maps pointer ---- 52.6728, -2.0229)

Railway – canal – A5 – A34 – A460 – M6toll – opencast coal mining….. They have all been involved in obliterating the original canal route here.

The "Church Bridge" is lost under this major island.

Lock 13 at the start of the Churchbridge flight up to the Cannock Extension Canal would have straddled the island and roadway.

Taken looking south-west from the new (2015) Gateway Retail Park overlooking the "Churchbridge Interchange" - 18/2/2016.
------ (More Photos in my Flickr album - Churchbridge Branch Canal)

CB180 "Church Bridge" at A5 Watling Street / A34 Walsall Road junction - Also known as "Cannock Road Bridge"
(https://www.google.co.uk/maps pointer ---- 52.6724, -2.0235)

On the new (2015) Gateway Retail Park – outside Costa Coffee is an information board from the Bridgetown and District Local History Society
that includes this image looking south-west --- just after the lock the canal passed under the sharply forked junction of Watling Street and Walsall Road. The building on the right hand side of the photo is the White Lion Hotel public house (on the far side of Walsall Road at its junction with Watling Street). To the left of the White Lion and partly hidden by it are the three bridges that take Old Mill Stream, the canal and Watling Street under the railway embankment.

The WYRLEYBLOG (Local History for Great Wyrley and Surrounding Areas) web site has a detailed description of the White Lion Hotel public house and its immediate surroundings - a "must read" for those interested in canals, pubs, railways, roads, factories.............

photo taken at the Gateway Retail Park - 22/2/2016.
------ (More Photos in my Flickr album - Churchbridge Branch Canal)

CB190 Churchbridge Junction
(https://www.google.co.uk/maps pointer ---- 52.6722, -2.0242)
CB200 Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal (Hatherton Branch)
CB210 Churchbridge Railway Basin / The Churchbridge Edge Tool and Axle Works
(https://www.google.co.uk/maps pointer ---- 52.6722, -2.0242)
CB220 South Staffordshire Railway - Walsall to Cannock Branch Line
(https://www.google.co.uk/maps pointer ---- 52.6722, -2.0248)

Passing under the railway – from left to right….
The A5 - canal - Old Mill Stream - A460 - M6toll.

The canal and mill stream would have passed under the railway via a double arched bridge behind the pylon and followed the line of the current footpath and then along the border of the A460/M6toll (off to the right of the photo).

Taken looking east from Lakeside Boulevard - 2/12/2015.
------ (More Photos in my Flickr album - Churchbridge Branch Canal)

CB230 footbridge
(https://www.google.co.uk/maps pointer ---- 52.6723, -2.0251)

Left --- Footpath with the railway embankment to the right and the A5 straight ahead.

Right --- The canal and Old Mill Stream passed under the railway via a double arched bridge.
A foot bridge immediately passed over both.
The canal and mill stream would have passed to the right of the pylon and followed the line of the current footpath and then along the border of the A460/M6toll.

The current footpath runs from the A5 – alongside the A460/M6toll – over them – over the proposed route of the new section of the Hatherton Canal - joining on to Littlewood Lane.

At about (https://www.google.co.uk/maps pointer ---- 52.6716, -2.0302) the canal would have turned a little north, passing to the north of the current buildings at Lakeside Business Park / Lakeside Plaza, Walkmill Way.

Taken - 2/12/2015.
------ (More Photos in my Flickr album - Churchbridge Branch Canal)

CB240 Reservoir

The feeder from the Reservoir connected to the Hatherton Branch via the spur to Hawkins Basin.

Taken looking east from the Mill Lane / Hawkins Drive / Coppice Lane island - 2/12/2015.
------ (More Photos in my Flickr album - Churchbridge Branch Canal)

CB250 Walkmill Bridge
(https://www.google.co.uk/maps pointer ---- 52.6722, -2.0354)

The bridge over Mill Lane / Walkmill Lane was slightly to the left of the photo.
Further to the left were the spur to Hawkins Basin and the feeder from the Reservoir beyond the A460/M6toll.

The canal went forwards between Vine Lane and the large building on the left. Lock 8 – "Bridgetown Lock" would have been near the front of the building and Lock 7 – "Rosemary Lock" near the back of it.

Great Wyrley Basin would have straddled Vine Lane and extended into the yard to the right.

Taken looking west from the Mill Lane / Walkmill Lane - 2/12/2015.
------ (More Photos in my Flickr album - Churchbridge Branch Canal)

CB260 Great Wyrley Basin
CB270 Lift Bridge
CB280 feeder from Reservoir
CB290 Hawkins Basin
(https://www.google.co.uk/maps pointer ---- 52.6712, -2.0375)

Hawkins Drive was named in memory of the now lost Hawkins Basin.
The basin was actually alongside Mill Lane from the current A460 and the eastbound M6toll carriageway stretching on to the current waterway that will eventually become the line of the new Hatherton Canal.

Taken looking east from the Mill Lane / Hawkins Drive / Coppice Lane island - 2/12/2015.
------ (More Photos in my Flickr album - Churchbridge Branch Canal)

CB300 Lock 8 - Bridgetown Lock
(https://www.google.co.uk/maps pointer ---- 52.6726, -2.0361)
CB310 Lock 7 - Rosemary Lock
(https://www.google.co.uk/maps pointer ---- 52.6733, -2.0380)
CB320 Lock 6 - Brick Kiln Lock (or Bridgetown Bottom Lock)
(https://www.google.co.uk/maps pointer ---- 52.6750, -2.0405)
CB330 Bridge 10
(https://www.google.co.uk/maps pointer ---- 52.6751, -2.0408)
CB340 Lock 5 - Joveys Lock - 8ft. 10in. (2.7m)
(https://www.google.co.uk/maps pointer ---- 52.6766, -2.0450)
CB350 Lock 4 - Wedges Mill Lock - 8ft. 6in. (2.6m)
(https://www.google.co.uk/maps pointer ---- 52.6781, -2.0495)

At the site of Wedges Mill Bridge crossing the A4601 Wolverhampton Road.

Looking east at the back of the Linkway Retail Park.

Lock 4 - Wedges Mill Lock to take the canal down under the bridge would have been over the photographer's right shoulder.

The line of the canal back to Churchbridge would have followed the footprint of the building to the right.

Taken looking east from the A4601 Wolverhampton Road - 18/2/2016.
------ (More Photos in my Flickr album - Churchbridge Branch Canal)

CB360 Bridge 9 - Wedges Mill Bridge
(https://www.google.co.uk/maps pointer ---- 52.6781, -2.0498)

Wedges Mill Bridge under the A4601 Wolverhampton Road.

Taken looking north along the A4601 Wolverhampton Road towards the A5 - 18/2/2016.
------ (More Photos in my Flickr album - Churchbridge Branch Canal)

CB370 Bridge 8 - Roman Way Bridge or Cherry Tree Bridge
(https://www.google.co.uk/maps pointer ---- 52.6788, -2.0539)

From here the old route will be reused by the LHCRT "Hatherton Canal" ---- so hop over to http://www.thehodgkinsons.org.uk/wyrley-walk7.htm where the rest of the line to the Hatherton Junction on the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal is described.

 

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V1.3 - 8 April 2016 ---- recommended resolution (1366 x 768)

David Hodgkinson 2000-2016. All rights reserved.