Wednesday, 19 May 2010

In Praise of.....Wednesfield

I was pleased to see that my post "Where's My Boat?" generated a flurry of interest, although it didn't take long before the mystery location was revealed  - as Wednesfield, on the Wyrley and Essington Canal.

I like Wednesfield, although I have to say that on the few occasions I have boated along the Wyrley I didn't realise I'd been there, so successfully does the town turn its back on the canal. The bus journey out from Wolverhampton isn't particularly inspiring either: two and a bit miles of high-rise flats, retail sheds, fast roads and general post-industrial tat, so it comes as a bit of a surprise when suddenly the bus turns off the by-pass and enters a perfectly-formed - although not particularly pretty - small town centre.

The history of the town goes back many years and like most Black Country towns it specialised in one particular trade - in this case the making of traps - anything from "mouse" to "man"! Major redevelopment took place in the 1960s although unlike in many places this has left Wednesfield with a relatively pleasant - and thriving - town centre with a refreshing absence of boarded-up shops, "pound" stores and charity shops. There are even food stores, despite the presence of an out-of-town Sainsbury's and the whole effect is completed by a large street market  - although this was not trading on the occasion of my Saturday evening visit.
The multi-cultural nature of the modern-day Black Country is shown by the Sikh temple (often mistaken for a mosque) that dominates the eastern approach to the town, situated opposite its Western equivalent place of worship - the aforementioned supermarket! The High Street even has a couple of good real-ale pubs such as the Pyle Cock (Banks's) and the superb 1920s "Vine Inn" (free house) and there's even a "Wetherspoons" for those that like that sort of thing. Sadly though, "The Boat" sells only keg beer. Throw in a safe-looking visitor mooring on the Wyrley and I think I can recommend Wednesfield as a stopping-off point on a tour of the Northern Reaches of the BCN - something that all boaters should do at least once!

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