Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Back on old ground

We began our day with a couple of minor disasters, both more embarrassing than anything else. Shortly after setting off I decided to mop down the cabin roof. I dipped the mop into the cut as we sped along and the new mop head promptly fell off the handle and sank without trace! Then, just as we were approaching our friends from yesterday on "Wild Cherry" a rare lapse of concentration on Duncan's part had us stemmed up on the inside of a bend. I was busy using the spare mop on the still-dirty roof at the time and at least "Wild Cherry's" steerer had the grace to comment on my balancing ability as we ran aground rather than anything else.
For the first eighteen months I kept Starcross moored at Lowsonford, just down the Southern Stratford from Kingswood Junction, so the Lapworth flight and the northern Stratford thence to Kings Norton were familiar ground. Although both fans of the BCN, Duncan and I had decided to go via the Northern Stratford rather than the Grand Union as we anticipated another long day (it was actually 11 hours) and wanted to get the lock work done at the start rather than the end.
Lock 8, Lapworth flight
The northern end of the Lapworth flight is a joy to work (unlike the locks south of Kingswood) and I particularly like lock 8 with its old lock-keeper's cottage overlooking the rise, although judging by the car parked outside the lock-keeper doesn't live there any more!
In previous trips along this canal I've never encountered any trouble, but today, just before bridge 9 at Shirley we were the victim of some stone throwing by a group of young lads on the towpath who transferred their attention from attempting to hit floating bottles in the cut to Starcross as we passed. No real harm was done however and we were soon out of sight and therefore out of mind as far as they were concerned.
Kings Norton Junction
We reached Kings Norton Junction by late afternoon and made the awkward right turn (it's much sharper than it looks) on to the Worcester & Birmingham Canal. Shortly afterwards we were at Selly Oak, where extensive engineering work is underway in connection with a commercial development that will require a new swing bridge over the cut and, as a by-product, will see the first few metres of the Lappal Tunnel line of the Dudley Canal re-opened and some moorings provided.
Negotiating the "roadworks" at Selly Oak
The canal here parallels the main line into New Street Station and we were entertained by a constant stream of London Midland electric commuter trains, London Midland diesel units (some heading for Hereford) and Cross-Country "Voyagers" almost all the way in to town. We reached central Birmingham by 19.00 and tied up on the New Main Line, co-incidentally next to a boat with an almost identical livery to Starcross!
Then we went to the pub. Or rather, several pubs, although we did take pay a professional visit to see the new Digbeth Coach Station (we are both ex-busmen) on the way! It was meant to be a "quiet night" but as Duncan and I were both brought up in the restrictive years of eleven o' clock closing (or even half-past-ten in places like Birmingham) when the Old Fox in Hurst Street was still serving at 11.30 we just had to have another (and could have had more) so it wasn't such an early night after all!


Tom said...

The engineering works at Selly Oak are more to do with the creation of a new section of the A38 to bypass Bournbrook high street and to link to the new Queen Elizabeth Hospital. As a result of this, a new viaduct for the railway, and a new aquaduct are being created for the canal as the road passes through the large embankment.

Captain Ahab said...

Hi Jim
Are you trying for a new blog format each day! It must be your affinity for busses - you keep the same style for years and then the new layouts all come in a glut!
As you will have seen - I changed mine recently and couldnt resist the watery window pane background. The snag with it is that the preview function dosnt work properly - it comes up and then disappears when the "preview" corner is added. Frustrating. Hey ho - at leasy I have max width for photos and a spellchecker which works - which is mere than the pold format enjoyed.
I am anjoying your trip report a lot.

Starcross said...

Thanks for your comment. I think the new road and the canal reinstatement are all part of the Sainsbury's development and are at least partly funded by it.

Blogger gives you too much choice of templates but sometimes not enough choice in customising them! I'm still not entirely satisfied with the format, so expect more tinkering - or even another complete change! At least it detracts from the content...