Sherborne Wharf, Birmingham (football hero and bouncing bombs)

On Tuesday October 7th we woke to heavy rain and it continued all morning. I made the mistake of forgetting that to get to Birmingham via Netherton Tunnel there was one lock to negotiate at Parkhead before we branch off along the Dudley No. 2 Canal.

Heavily-laden Tench moored at Withymoor Island and flying the Black Country Flag

We left the modern area around the Waterfront at Merry Hill and once more travelled along the "post-industrial" landscape of the Black Country. When we arrived at Parkhead, not only did I discover the lock that I had forgotten about, but in coming to a halt just outside the lock we picked up a mass of tangled electrical cable around the propeller. A lengthy trip down the weed hatch with a pair of wire cutters ensued. Luckily the water was not too cold but it was raining. After about 3/4 hour the prop was free, we negotiated the lock and turned onto the Dudley No. 2 Canal. The bridge above the lock was appropriately named the Dudley and Lye Waste Bridge.

Approaching Bumble Hole with Cobb Engine Chimney

Junction with the Boshboil and Netherton Branches and the Dudley No.2 main line to Hawne Basin

The Dudley No. 2 has great views across the valley towards Brierley Hill and is really quite rural in places with the former industrial sites now long since covered in vegetation and a number of nature reserves. The interpretation boards placed along the canal by the Dudley Canal Trust were fascinating. I was particularly taken by the board describing the foundry that cast the enormous casings for the Barnes-Wallace bouncing bombs that destroyed the  Möhne and Edersee Dams  dams in Germany during World War II. At the time those working in the foundry would have had no idea of the function of the cylinders they were casting. There was also a plaque under Primrose Bridge commemorating Jeff Astle, the England and West Bromwich centre forward who scored the goal that won the 1968 FA Cup. As a Baggies fan who saw Jeff play several times I was quite excited to discover it.

Entering the Southern Portal of Netherton Tunnel
(Note the two towpaths and you can just see the far end)

All morning we only passed one boat on the move. By the time we got to Netherton the weather had brightened up. The passage through the tunnel was rapid with no boats in sight. We turned onto the Birmingham Main Line and headed for central Birmingham. 

Bromford Junction - Old Main Line to the left

Under the M5 with a large electronic advertising panel
The magnificent Galton Valley bridges 

A hire boat from Stone on the Main Line towards Wolverhampton

The wonderful neo-Gothic architecture of  Engine Arm Aqueduct

In late afternoon we reached the Oozells Street Loop and moored up at Sherborne Wharf. Because we had appointments at home, we moored up Albert for a couple of days and late afternoon we headed home on the train. The plan was to return and continue our homeward journey.