Tuesday, 3 November 2009

The Bright Lights of er,.....Merry Hill.

Slowly to Stourport Part V
The pot of gold at Merry Hill
When the Richardson Brothers transformed the site of Round Oak Steelworks into one of the first large out-of-town shopping centres in the UK they made themselves a small (or even a large) fortune. Arriving at Merry Hill after our excursions to Bumblehole and Dudley Tunnel I think we discovered where they buried it!
Last time I was here I tied up in the basin in the area known as the Waterfront. Nicholson's guide warns you that one of the waterside pubs can be noisy "until midnight" - but that was obviously written before the licensing laws were relaxed as on that occasion the noise went on until at least 02.00 and it was only the fact that I'd spent the evening in the "Bull and Bladder" and had consumed more than enough Batham's Mild and Bitter that meant I got any sleep at all. This time, therefore, we stopped on the embankment overlooking the shopping centre which is much much quieter and especially suitable for those with a liking for security lighting. Fortunately, another visit to the "Bull and Bladder" ensured we got some sleep!

The bright lights of Merry Hill
In the morning we were blessed with the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to watch the sun rise over Merry Hill,
Sunrise over Merry Hill
before continuing down the Delph "nine" and the Stourbridge 16 eventually calling it a day at Cookley, on the Staffs & Worcester, where we stopped just outside the "tunnel" - all 65 yards of it!

Cookley Tunnel
Cookley has two pubs near the canal. The Bulls Head fell foul of my second rule of pub-going which is never to enter a pub in which the music is too loud from the pavement outside, whilst the Eagle & Spur, although quieter, is now described in my annotated Nicholson's as "boring" - although at the end of the evening we did discover that the local folk club had been meeting in the function room hidden away at the back.

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