It’s not possible to walk through Bradley Workshops and the towpath becomes a separate footpath passing behind the workshops so it’s still possible to walk between the main towpath and the main road, and onto the Bradley Canal.
Bradley Workshops, where lock gates are made, are near the end of the Wednesbury Oak Loop. This once formed a complete loop of the Birmingham Canal Navigations (BCN) Old Main Line until it fell into decline and was severed.
There are proposals to re-open the canal ahead, linking through the Rotton Brunt Line and the Bradley Branch to reach the Walsall Canal at Moorcroft Junction. Those waterways are becoming known as the Bradley Canal.
This winding mechanism once allowed a chain to be pulled taught across the canal outside Bradley Workshops to stop boat movements. Possibly more of a deterrent to stop mischievous youths than real theft.
When closed by the chain the space to wind boats is severely limited and full length boats may no be able to wind which is why signs at the previous winding point say this location is only available during workshop opening hours.
The Birmingham Canal Navigations (BCN) are at a higher level than all the joining canals so water must be supplied from reservoirs or by pumping. A pumping station near Bradley Workshops lifts water from underground springs to supply the Wednesbury Oak Canal and, through that canal, the Wolverhampton Level of the BCN.
The fresh water from the springs combined with the limited boat traffic along the canal make for exceptionally clear water where the bottom is visible for most of the length.
As well as the many short arms we have passed only the canal there was once a complete loop near Bradley Workshops. Looking back towards Deepfields Junction we can see the raised brickwork which once formed the side of the bridge over the entrance to the loop which passed behind the tree and around to our right – rejoining the main canal behind us.
Where houses replace old industries which came close to the canal there is nothing to separate the houses from the canal. Where houses are built on what was green space the hedge lines have mostly been retained to separate the building from the canal.