Our visit to the Black Country Living Museum was excellent, the shops & exhibits were on a 1930s theme, and the staff, in period costume were very knowledgeable and played their parts ‘in character’. We chatted with several of the ‘demonstrators’ including the motorbike shop man and the boatman on a Fellows, Morton & Clayton ‘motor’ who explained the mystery of the clean canal water hereabouts, apparently whilst the Chasewater reservoir is under repair, water is being pumped from a disused coal mine; this water is rich in nutrients and encourages plant growth, so I watered our herb pot with it! We were fascinated with what looked like lovely piece of lace work which was actually made of samples of steel tube.
We had a pint of mild & a glass of scrumpy in the Glass & Bottle pub and roe & chips at Hobb’s chippy, not at 1930s prices though!
We spent a good five hours in the museum and there was still more to see so we can thoroughly recommend it. We just had time to take the electric trip boat into the Dudley Tunnel and were entertained by our guide whose stories were not always quite believable but very amusing none-the-less. There was a big screen video inside the first cavern which told some of the history of the place, they even used to have musical recitals down there and we were treated to a rendition of an example. Apparently you can even get married in there nowadays! We were shown the entrance to the Wren’s Nest Tunnel, where they were doing some work which involved taking in several loads of scalpings [stone] which were loaded opposite our mooring at about 7.30am then towed in by an electric tug. If they reopen Wren’s Nest Tunnel we will have to go again given our boat’s name, which although purely co-incidental doesn’t stop us being asked ‘Am yow from Dudley?’
Today we made our way back to Birmingham and I continue to be fascinated by the way that canal crosses canal which is in turn crossed by railway and all of it crossed by the elevated section of the M5 whose supports straddle the canal and here are actually in the middle of the New Main Line.
Valencia Wharf (sounds so much more romantic than it’s old name of Chemical Arm) was found to be an excellent breakfast stop; Full English for £3.95. Mooring was available on pontoons although the pedestrian entrance was blocked by some of the garden centre’s goods.
As we were going into Gas Street Basin I noticed a guy I kind of recognised outside a pub, now although I don’t know many people with red Mohicans and face studs I thought I was maybe mistaken but as I passed he yelled ‘Hey! Chris!’ It was Lee Carter who used to have the tattoo shop back home in Dursley, small place this world we boaters inhabit!
We bought diesel at Sherborne Wharf and used their launderette, then moored nearby at the end of Oozel Street loop but soon the aircon plant for the adjacent Brindey Place started up and was so annoying we moved off to Cambrian Wharf again where the revelry at the Flapper pub was preferable. It’s a testament to the strength of Birmingham’s TV signal that Joy was able to continue watching Eastenders all that short journey