Sunday, April 9

A Rocket Pool Rummage

The first of two Stephen trips in three days involves a bit of Black Country canal investigation near Bilston and Bradley as Mr Beardsmore and I examine the canal heritage to be found around the Rocket Pool estate...

- Rocket Pool -
Thursday 6th April 2017 sees Stephen and I boarding the 530 bus from Wolverhampton's Tower Street (just behind the Express & Star offices). The route is operated by Banga Travel and links Wolverhampton City Centre with Rocket Pool via Rough Hills (Hardy Square), Millfields Road and Bilston. Alighting on Rocket Pool Drive, we can immediately pitch into photographic action thanks to the Rocket Pools pub (a simple estate Banks's boozer), the local Children's Centre and of course Rocket Pool itself, a body of water seemingly popular with local anglers.

- Glasshouse Bridge -
Venturing through Lower Bradley, we negotiate an estate where the roads are named after royal personalities (Elizabeth Avenue, Edinburgh Road, Princess Anne Square) before emerging onto the towpath of the Bradley Canal Arm. As something of a Birmingham Canal Navigations (BCN) backwater, the arm has remained just about navigable due to the presence of the Bradley workshops; the manufacturing amongst other things of replacement lock gates here has justified keeping this part of the canal open. We follow the extant canal on towards Bilston, passing below Pothouse Bridge (near Loxdale Metro stop) and Glasshouse Bridge where we can witness some of the Bilston Urban Village construction works.

- Daisy Bank Schools -
The Urban Village is certainly taking shape with new housing and the proposed White Rabbit new-build pub set to join now-established landmarks such as the Bert Williams Leisure Centre and the South Wolverhampton and Bilston Academy school. A closer look at the building site is tempting but is put on hold in favour of a peek at Daisy Bank. The old Sedgley Board Schools building is still there on Ash Street along with the Golden Lion and Great Western public houses, while Hall Green Cemetery presents a modern lawn aspect unlikely to yield a certain Mr D9 with a vintage closet.

- Mr Beardsmore by the Bradley Locks Branch -
The final aspect of this short but sweet wander involves an earthworks examination from Bradley Lane back towards Rocket Pool Drive and Humphries Crescent. The open spaces flanking the estate were once the site of an extensive canal network involving the Wednesbury Oak loop canal and the Bradley Locks Branch. We do our best to decipher the course of the former waterways among the bumps and hollows, albeit aerial photos and a map would be required to assess things properly. There were certainly former bridges in the vicinity and the line of the old locks is quite clear where a public right of way undulates its way towards Moxley. We hope to explore the canal remains around Weddell Wynd and Princes End in more detail in the not-too-distant future, but for now we shall sign off for a couple of days and pick up the story in Codsall on Saturday...

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