Journeys on the BCN

by Tony Clayton

5 - Stourbridge revisited, this time on Linton - May 1975

In April 1975 we took delivery of our new Dawncraft Dandy. As we had relicensed the old Linton, and the dimensions of the new boat were identical, we gave the new boat the same name, restored the name of the old boat to its original Muscat before we sold it, and transferred the licence. Bear in mind that registration numbers had not yet come into force, and the old Linton had not been in the water since we got the new licence.

During May we weekended the boat down to the Staffs & Worcs Canal Society's Annual Rally at Cookley, and on the way back took the opportunity to see if we could get her along the Stourbridge Arm to the end, as there had been a number of workparties by the S&WCS clearing the bed of rubbish and weed up to the first bridge.

We had left the boat near Whittington Horse Bridge after the rally, and when we went to collect her we found that the mooring pins (0.75 in diameter) had both been bent through 90 degrees by the traffic going past since the rally! After moving the boat to Kinver to load up from the car we headed up to Stourton Junction.

Next morning was bright and sunny but cold. We set off at about nine o'clock and headed up the Stourton locks. We were soon through the first three locks, but the pound below the top lock was extrememly low. I thought we would make it but we went aground just before the lock. However, Hazel was ashore and she soon let down enough water to get us in.

We passed one boat coming down the canal before Worsley Junction. This section from Stourton Top Lock to the Junction is amongst the most attractive lengths of canal in the country.

At the Junction we turned right into the Arm. As far as Junction Road Bridge the channel was clear and deep. It was slightly shallow just beyond, but deepened again until the first corner of the double bend before Coalbournbrook Bridge. A section there was sufficiently shallow for mud to be churned up by our propellor, and then immediately after the bridge we hit shallow mud and stuck. I lifted the engine (an advantage of an outboard) and we had just enough depth to pole the boat over the bank into the deeper water beyond.

The main hazard for the next 300 yards or so were dead elm branches which we snapped merrily as we progressed. Then there was a weedblock that stopped us - again I had to lift the engine and pole the boat clear, then de-weed the engine and set off again.

The water was now beautifully clear, with spectacular weedbanks which had thousands of tadpoles feeding around them. We continued round the last corner and found a weedblock just before the narrows. This was even more troublesome, and the water was getting distinctly oily.

After battling past we found a large crate and much other rubbish in the narrows. I couldn't move the crate, but by lifting the engine again I was just able to get Linton through. I had to pole the boat the rest of the way to the end, and turned by the willow tree that obscured the last bridge which used to lead into the Basin.

Stourbridge Arm

At the end of the Stourbridge Arm
The bridge to the former basin is just visible, and the Bonded Warehouse is at the right

Getting back was hardly less tiresome, but at least I knew where we had to lift the engine. At the shallow stretch by the bridge I didn't get the line quite correct and we ended up hard aground. Fortunately a passer-by took a rope and we pulled Linton through the bridge. We moored up, and Hazel took the children shopping while I re-assembled the engine.

Coalbournbrook Bridge

Moored by Coalbournbrook Bridge

Afterwards we headed back to Stourton and back onto the Staffs & Worcs on our way home to Norbury.

1 - On the way to Stratford and back, August 1973
2 - Stourbridge Arm & Dudley Tunnel, October 1973
3 - Return to Coombeswood, June 1974
4 - The Long Way Back from Leicester, August 1974

6 - An Autumnal Trip - The Body and the Tunnel, October 1975
7 - Exploring Unvisited Branches, June 1977

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Journeys on the BCN - 5
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v12 25th May 2015

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