We’d moored overnight at Brompton Junction, at the bottom of the three Spon Lane Locks, at West Bromwich. This junction is at the start of a kind of siding as it is possible to rejoins Brindley’s canal from Telford’s new line or carry straight on and through the three Smethick Locks and back onto the new line. As the Smethick Locks are closed as part of the winter stoppages we headed off on foot along Brindley’s canal and towards the Titford Canal.
Our walk took us under the M5. Two hundred years between the two different ‘motorways’. It was quite atmospheric under the enormous columns supporting the modern motorway above us.
After our walk, we cast off and headed for the Smethick Pumping Station and canal museum which was holding its bi-monthly open day today. This building sits in between the old and main line canals and was designed to pump water up to the old line to replenish water for boaters using the locks on Brindley’s canal.
Here we learnt that the average navvy could dig out enough soil in a day to fill a double decker bus and this was something they did day after day. Burke & Hare were apparently navvies who found it more lucrative to become body snatchers.
From the pump house we walked along the higher canal and walked along the Engine Arm which crosses the new line at high level and which provides a safe haven for a number of residential narrowboats. The aqueduct over the new line has a nice cast iron fence in which you can see the rope marks left from the horse drawn days of boating.
We left here after lunch and returned to Gas Street basin and this is the view out of our cabin window.