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Canals of Birmingham

O

O.C.

Guest
A great interesting photo of the "docks" at Saltley which if you knew the area where at (coming from town)at Saltley Viaduct right over the canal heading to wards the Gasometer's and the docks were just before them (next stop was the gas works
The canal for Saltley docks was in between Nechells Place and Crawford St ....My Playground .....
Photo shows intensive work going on and the laying of a new keel for a narrow boat ( barge )
 
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Rupert

master brummie
I think that it was just a method of building a brick wall with stiiffening ribs. It seems quite a tall structure. The arches were a way of finishing the upper part and supporting the road walls above. The wall between the arches is set back reducing the bricks required. Just a guess.
Post 180# though seems different. I thought these little coves may have been storage for stove coal for barges. Especially the ones with barred gates and locks. Maybe for barges that did not go near a coal wharf. It's kind of sheltered from the elements.
 
O

O.C.

Guest
Rupert if the walls were to hold back something like an earthen bank ...Buttress walls would be use....and as for arches they have tremendous strength from pressure from above......during government test on the canal bridges in 1936 on a 150 year old brick bridge they put over 127 tons on it before it collapsed and that weight was on it for three quarters of an hour, I know that arches are built to save on the amount of bricks being used and like you said I wonder if the bridge in town was built with storage in ....which makes sense
 
O

O.C.

Guest
I have touched on this subject before on post 71, but I came across an article in an old Brum paper and found a couple of pics.
When the winters were bad canals froze over for sometimes over 6 weeks or more at a time so no matter where the boats where they were frozen in…and without money or food began to starve and things got pretty tough for them….they relied on the goodwill of the folks around were they were stranded and I suppose bonds were made and friendship were struck up (is this why they adopted villages or towns as their home? It only took the canals to freeze over 2 to 3 inches and the boat was well and truly frozen in ….and the canal companies began to loose money so in the maintenance yards metal clad narrow boats or iron made boats were bought out to smash their way through the ice just by the simple action of wildly rocking the boat backward and forwards towed by teams of horses …this action has been known to turn the boat over and pitch the men into the water or force the boat under or over the ice.
In Birmingham the canal boat folk had no job or income in the severe weather and so the Boatmen’s mission organized collections for the boatmen parading round town after putting a boat on wheels and filling it with ice ……..Then one of the boatmen got inside the boat after being suitably insulated from the ice and they paraded round town with their collection boxes trying to raise money
 
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W

Wendy

Guest
As allways brilliant pictures Cromwell. How did they survive! I have read about the hard times in the frozen winters when they could not work the boats. I have been told local families in Tamworth and I am sure elsewhere helped the boat people in these times, as much as they could and were repaid with coal later. We have no idea.
 
O

O.C.

Guest
Thanks John...as Rod knows my scanner is kapput but getting a new one next week .... I have a feeling those arches are on the opposite side as well so I must go and take a look to see what is going on ....
 

Oisin

gone but not forgotten
Post #229, photo #1 - See the body language of that horse in the background? I read it as, "''Bout time they learned what it's like to do the REAL graft". :he:
 
O

O.C.

Guest
Loading the barges at Sampson Road Wharf which was situated alongside Rugby Portland Cement Company depot above Camp hill Locks
Photo and Ad 1938
 
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O

O.C.

Guest
The Bridge Street Mission which was opened in 1885 by the Incorporated Seaman’s and Boatman’s Friend Society with the view of spreading the gospel to the boatmen. They published “The Waterman” magazine which they distributed freely (as well as Religious Books and tracts) which told them were they could spend a pleasant evening. The Mission at Bridge St. (photo 1) could accommodate nearly 300 people when the movable screen was removed which portioned off the Vestry, inside it had a large open timbered roof on the first floor which suffered slight damage in the Blitz in 1942, the incendiary bomb that fell though the roof started a serious fire which could have devastated the place, burning a large hole in the floor boards and destroying a few chairs but is was promptly dealt with by one of the firewatchers …the Mission caretaker.
Personal contact was well know by evangelical missionaries and they often visited the people on their boats to spread the gospel and help them write letters to stop them going to the Public Houses were they had to pay for this privilege at a cost of 1p a page…..All kinds of enticement was used to get them into the Mission from providing them use of the latest games like skittles and bagatelle, even airgun shooting (which I find strange as they would have used this to shoot game) Tea, coffee, books, papers and washrooms. Christmas parties were held and the children were given presents and if they could not get to the mission Father Christmas went out to them. For outings Manor Farm was used at Northfield (a magical place were I use to go as a kid, courtesy of The Daily Mail Christmas Tree Fund who also provided me with boots and shoes) Here they could paddle in the brooks and swim, as swimming in the canal was illegal, have picnics and have pop, tea and buns and be entertained in the great barn built their by Elizabeth Cadbury who cared greatly for the poor and worked as a missionary before she married.
Local businesses supported the Mission at Bridge St. and the people who attended also raised money in any way they could by collections and carol singing at Christmas time. Bridge St Mission was in use till 1950’s but in Kelly’s Directory 1956 it lists The Federation of Boys Clubs and when I went to Gas St a few weeks back on the spot where it once stood.. is a multi-story car park.
Their were other Missions belonging to the Seaman’s and Boatman’s Friend in Birmingham and not all of the were situated by canals.
Not only The Bridge Street Mission undertook missionary work for the boat people, the Salvation Army were involved from the 19th century. Fred and Ivy Fielding (photo 2) bought a motorised Butty “Cornwall” renamed it “Salvo” and toured the Midland canals in 1949 giving educational, social and spiritual support to the boat people.
Photo 3 is inside a floating classroom that toured the canals and taught the children for a day at a time as schooling was rare as the children moved with the boats and only got a chance to learn when their parents were either loading or unloading or at some other time when the boats were moored up such as a bad winter
 
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O

O.C.

Guest
The Kings Norton or Brandwood Tunnel which I find rather strange as it has twin niches in the brickwork which look as though they were made for a pair of statues.
The horses pulling the butties had to go over the top and a motor narrow boat had to fire up and tow the boats through.....filling the tunnel with smoke which could not have been very pleasant
The First photo was taken in the 1900's and shows the entrance to the West portal of the 352 yd long tunnel ....notice how dramatic it has changed over the years compared with the four I took

PS Just found out that their was a bust of William Shakespeare in one of the niches many years ago
 
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O

O.C.

Guest
The other end of the tunnel up to 1975 had a portrait of William Shakespeare............
It was a circular stone plaque bearing Shakespeare's head between laurel sprays ..
As the brickwork was redone at a later date the head was enclosed in a square design
 
O

O.C.

Guest
Rupert, Going back to page 16 post 157 on the tunnel puzzle, I think the next 3 pics explains a bit more
The First photo I got (courtesy of Birmingham Central Library Services)
shows a narrow boat going down the Farmers Flight at Newhall St in 1984
(Boat is last surviving steam powered narrow boat built at Saltley 1909 by F.M.C.) take note of the yellow arrow and another arch and the small tunnels without the roof on.........so where all the small chambers connected ?
The second pic I took from about the same spot
 

Rupert

master brummie
Cromwell, I don't know but can only surmise that the need for coal supplies for the barge stoves for barges that did not go near a coal wharf. meant that it was delivered to lock up spots locally. Steam barges would need more coal. It would have been time consuming to go up a long flight of locks to get coal at the Old Wharf. Maybe supplies could be delivered to these compartments via a passage way behind.
 
O

O.C.

Guest
Rupert watch this space as I have a few people intrested and have come to help and are intrested in the "cuts" but I have noted the arches in the above photo all lead into the same building so why not have one door or opening ?
 
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O

O.C.

Guest
The Canal tunnels presented many problems for the men and their families before the canal companies realized that some tunnels were quite dangerous.
If they had a stove burning away entering a long tunnel as the men legged the boat (first pic) through it been know that the fumes rendered the men unconscious.
The canal companies had strict rules for the tunnels and cooking fires had to be nearly out before the towing boats would tow a buttie through while the horse and family went over the top to the other side.(second pic)
Just like a house chimney the tunnels became covered in soot and the first method to sweep them was to cut a tree down and tie it on the boat and drive through the tunnel
Then came the Brusher Boat fitted with brushes like brooms which could alter to fit the shape of the tunnel (third pic)
Ashted Tunnel on the Digbeth Branch canal (fourth pic.)
 
H

hmld

Guest
Decoration And Public Works

It seems like an aeon, though I'm thrilled and delighted to report abrupt recovery from pestilence. Anyone who endured, whether younger child or elderfolk, the vile fogs where people hugged walls to make to their abodes, or sought refuge in taverns, when omnibuses either crawled, often with a pointman (the conductor) in front [!], or were stilled, and one could often not see your own hand extended full arm before, will know what a hacking cough is. It is astonishing how so many of the workforce, of what ever description, made it to and fro. Of course the domestic consumption grade coal was the lowest. Tip top being for export. Next tier for industry (incl. commerce). So in a chill, damp maritime climate it is hardly surprising the dense thick acrid stuff hung, clung so one was sort of drowning in air like a fish out of water. I recall, as an infant, a most dense wafting gamboge murky limish green thick blanket. I remember viewing as a young lad a "Teddy Boy's" bright yellow socks across a narrow lane, and as well some yellow pieces set in the preposterous suede thick sole lace ups.
The fire up operation through the tunnel was of course a relief for the horse and I dare say a chance for snooze by the towed party. The operator of the combustion contraption was likely puffing his pipe as the smoke wafted behind.

Following my recent bout of infirmity of no mean import, mayhap stout would have proved roburant, there is a wealth of contemplative material herewith and I am as well as being able to breathe unfettered, on that account notwithstanding, ditto with breadth and depth of illustrations. Some are so close up is so that it is 'somewhat' difficult to fix presactly where. But that is a kind of digression.

I've some contribution further, though I will print the photos &c so that I might mull with big magnifying glass.

The Mission building is a handsome job and unfortunately the old BCN complex was obliterated as well. The Salvation Army and it appears the Methodist contingent were prominent pastoral and 3 Rs outreach.

Query:
On Adderley Street [Adderly] there was a huge expanse of public works yardage, including coal and coke stockpiling for distribution. That was off the canal before Bordesley - Camp Hill reach from the Digbeth cut alongside the massive railway freitage yard at Vauxhall, by the Rea culvert and immense Birmingham municipal refuge disposal plant (incidentally: what has become of that astonishing edifice?). I am gazing with my back to Watery Lane facing the Duddeston (loop) railway viaduct and the construct as warehouse-yardage my left. (The Wagon and Horses same side beyond)

Canal to Camp Hill at Coventry Road: W side off said was another public works yard stockpiling such as grit, salt and other items. It was evident to myself that at one time this big yard was served by canal boats. Thence south to the massive high fire blue engineering brick viaducts the Camp Hill locale.

(Cromwell: what are the foundations on those arches? The fact the pillars are all laid brick is astounding, of course: how far down and are they set on concrete blocks? Considering the immensity of weight thundering the length and breadth non-stop they have have remained true.)

This might be olden hat; viz.: Gas Street basin, past the Opposite Lock recreation club, was another such large public works yard with the same stocks. Presumably nearby was The Mission.
The length of canal pictured 1966 with the railway cut alongside I recall. The photo is snapped from an interesting vantage point!
The brick arches are immense load bearing as retaining wall inner urban. Otherwise there would be no need. I recall about that time, mayhap further along toward the right angle bend alongside UoB campus, the railway in use and a lone elevated signal box still ago.
Must have been a marvellous assignment any time of year. But that picture I am a touch puzzled by: I see the center of the city as Civic Center yonder so I've my bearings but I don't understand the absence of tracks. Of course given monumental incompetence then and now as a constant common denominator then I suppose that is hardly surprising.


Regarding iron bridge spans: the Smethwick construction is of course a wonder. First occasion I traversed as a lad I might have as well have been awestruck at the wonders of ancient works such as Rome and so on and so forth.

Afore I go, during my secluded infirmity quite miserable, self immunizing from rambling, I was fascinated at the photographs of the narrow boat residential cabins for, for the most part, a family. It does not get more cozy than that. The frozen winter boatman lug about the streets is a searing index germane as to the extent of brutalization which industrialization entails.

;)
 
H

hmld

Guest
Decoration

I forgot in great haste: was the painted decoration of flowers and castles (apparently roses and castles) done by women or jointly with menfolk, or with women and children?
Did they carry the floral into their embroidery such as aprons?

It is noteworthy their stalwarts. The castle representing indomitable man made security and the rose of what is natural regenerative; both being aspirant crowns of creation. There is a Romany flair. Though of course no sensible person would seriously suggest such illustration was originated and monopolized by one ethnic group.
There's clearly a collective consciousness at hand. The castle is masculine family specific and the rose feminine principle.

Did they have folk music? Any evidence of such as clog dancing, spoon playing? What sport such as skittles?
 
O

O.C.

Guest
Hmld If the Viaduct you are talking about is the one running from Bordesley Goods Station to Curzon St Wharf it was the biggest white elephant the railways ever made and was in disuse as soon as it went into service as it became a pointless railway track (but thats another story for another thread) the viaduct was built just like a normal bridge with no special foundations as the weight was spread over half a mile (like a stick lying down instead of standing upright)
The Painting on the boats were done I should imagine in their spare time and all as they had to do was paint over the old design so it could be done with very little skill just like tracing with paint.
The favorite instrument was the old squeeze box,and I did find out most of the boats carried bicycles so they could race ahead and open lock gates...
I spent a weekend down at the Waterways Museum at Stoke Bruerne on the Grand Union to check a few facts out, and find out what I did not know......what an amazing place and if you like the 'cut' it is a must to visit and I recommend the full breakfast at the Boat inn washed down with a few pints of real ale
They have a Narrow boat weighing machine over 100 years old which I took a few pics of and will post later
The weighing of the cargo on the Narrow boats baffles a few people but it was a very easy and pretty accurate method.... the empty boat was Gauged and the toll keeper had a gauging rod to measure each boat.
He was issued with a set of books with all the weight and measures of all the different boats and each cargo had a different rate, and if you got caught fiddling like hiding a load of pipes under sand or gravel the fines were heavy.
Going back to the drawing on page 16 post 152 on walking the towpaths of the Grand Union I came across the wood used to make a dam across the cut, so all they had to do was drop the wood in the slots and open the lock gates further down and the water level would drop dramatical as the canal is a flowing body of water
The pewter horn was used by the boatmen to warn other boats going round a blind turn or entering a tunnel.
The pic of the two narrow boat is quite good as it shows the toll keeper gauging the boat
 
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O

O.C.

Guest
When I was in the Boat Pub on the side of Grand Union enjoying a few beers I spotted a great painting hanging on the wall of a Fly boat traveling through the night which really bought home what words could not, so the barman allowed me to take a pic of it to put on the forum.
Also A poster I found in Brum of a B'ham man who was fined for trying to evade the proper toll charge on his boat and was fined.
 
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