Friday 17 June 2016


Last night I felt Erin Mae was listing more than would indicate a full poo tank, so I checked the mooring lines. Sure enough, the canal level had risen and the lines had tightened, holding down one side of the boat. Slackening them off restored equilibrium, and we had a good night. The purpose of coming up the Stourbridge Canal was to cruise the arm that goes into the town centre – a section we'd omitted three years ago. So we set off, and found ourselves behind a boat belonging to a local college, giving students an experience of something or other.

Like ourselves it turned right at Wordsley Junction, where the Town Arm leaves between the bridge and the first lock of the Stourbridge flight. We followed it slowly down a section that didn't really match Nicholson's description. There was indeed a mooring by the Tudor crystal glass works, but it was decrepit and uncared for, and there was little sign of life in the dilapidated buildings backing onto the canal. Perhaps the fronts are more inviting, but the whole place reminded me of pre-renovation Stoke and did nothing to inspire a visit. So we pushed on to the town centre.

We passed a couple picking up litter as they walked and, near the centre, found a volunteer team out doing some serious clearing.

Once we reached the basin, the reason for their activity became clear. With all the rain, the Stour had burst its banks yesterday, cascading into the canal basin and flooding it to a depth of several feet. Although the water level was now back to normal, its colour was muddy yellow, and it was not a pretty sight. A number of people were in clean-up mode.

Only one boat appeared to have suffered from flooding – it was unfortunate that it was moored on the left at the point where there is triple parking on the right. We were asked to go very carefully past it – they feared that a bit more movement might sink it completely. We did so, and went on down to the winding hole by the building that Nicholson's did get right – the bonded warehouse that is now the headquarters of the Stourbridge Navigation Trust.

On another day we might have explored the canal shop there, but we think they may have been under water last night and there was naturally little sign of them wanting visitors. We felt for them, but there was nothing we ourselves could do, so we winded and retraced our steps to the Staffs and Worcs.


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