I am regularly invited to comment, offer advice or answer questions from various organisations and individuals so this seems an appropriate repository for a resource that may be of help or interest to others.
I aim to be impartial, objective and apolitical and any opinions expressed are purely my own unless stated otherwise. I also acknowledge my fallibility so do feel free to offer comment or suggested corrections and modifications via the Contact facility directly below.
Scroll down for (in order of appearance):
* Historical introduction to Britain's waterways
* The Crystal Canal - a guided walk through history
* School visit: Gigmill Primary School, Norton (Stourbridge) Qs & As
* School visit: Westfield Community Primary School, Wombourne Qs & As
* The canals of Birmingham. A few titivating facts and fancies
Around the time of the new millennium I embarked on ambitious proposals to document the nation's lost and abandoned waterways infrastructure. The A-Z gazetteer of Lost Lines and Neglected Navigations is yet to be completed but the introduction was. So here it is. It offers an overview of the development of waterways from pre-Biblical times through to the 'canal mania' of the 18th Century and their renaissance as a leisure and heritage asset.
Please note this was written in 2004 and there has much happened since, not least the launch of the 'third sector' Canal & River Trust in 2012 that has transformed the role and perception of our inland waterways beyond recognition. Indeed, I flatter myself insomuch that some of the comments made at the time may have since proved prescient; hence I have left the piece as written. (Please beware if you intend to print this off it extends to 11 pages)
This online guide examines the glassworks and other industries along the Stourbridge Branch and part of the Main Line. It was produced by The Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) as part of their Discovering Britain series (see Links) and is based on my book Jewels on the Cut.
For many years I have been invited to address the youngsters at this school and have always been impressed by the depth of their engagement. My visit in 2021 was curtailed by Covid-19 lockdown restrictions so they instead asked me to answer a list of questions by email and here are my responses to them. These enthusiasts of the future are just 11 years old (Year 6) so take a look at the searching maturity of their questioning and see if you are not equally impressed.
In October 2012 I was kindly invited by the late Mike Perkins of Amblecote History Society to provide a history of the Stourbridge Canal Branch and surrounding area. In March 2018 I was asked to provide an update as to what had occurred in the interim - which was quite a lot actually, not least the impact of the newly-formed Canal & River Trust and British Glass Foundation. (see elsewhere this site). To my great delight both articles are still lodged on the Amblecote History website http://www.amblecote.org
Click here and here to access both. And while you're at it, take a browse around the rest of their site; it is a fascinating examination of a former village that is now part of the greater Stourbridge conurbation.
This address in the classroom was allied with a visit to Bratch Locks, a short walk down the road on the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal. I was Chairman of the eponymous society 2005-2008 so happen to know it well. (see Out of The Chair, Books)
It was most fortunate that just as the pupils arrived at this unique flight of 3 locks - James Brindley's masterpiece - a narrowboat was heading upstream and so they had the opportunity to see for themselves how it all works.
Here are their Ten Key Facts and five questions to ponder ...
Requested by Canal & River Trust during the author's tenure of its Regional Advisory Board as part of CRT's campaign to promote the waterways of Birmingham and the Black Country, this is a potpourri of facts about the canals around the Birmingham Canal Navigations (BCN).
Accompanying image: journalist and broadcaster John Sergeant at Worcester Bar, Birmingham during filming of ITV's 'Barging Round Britain' series first aired in 2015.