Wednesbury Oak Loop

The Wednesbury Oak Loop is the name given to what was once a long meandering loop of the Birmingham Canal Navigations (BCN) Main Line leaving the current Main Line at Deepfields Junction and re-joining at Bloomfield Junction, near Factory Junction.  This is sometimes known as the Bradley Arm.

The loop was severed many years ago with only the section between Deepfields Junction and Bradley Workshops remaining.  It was kept open to allow access to Bradley Workshops, where lock gates are manufactured, and to maintain the water supply from the pumps at Bradley to supply the rest of the BCN.

Route of the Bradley Canal
The Wednesbury Oak Loop links Deepfields Junction to Bradley Workshops

My previous blog post explained the proposals to turn this into a through navigation by reopening abandoned waterways under the name of Bradley Canal.

The Wednesbury Oak Loop can be cruised, and the towpath is in good condition and can be walked throughout, making a through walk including the route of the proposed Bradley Canal possible.  The whole route is shown in my Bradley Canal map and can be downloaded in both Acrobat (pdf) and Memory-Map (qct) formats and, like all the maps for restoration projects, the Bradley Canal maps are free to download.

Deepfields Junction Signpost
Deepfields Junction Signpost

I’ve made the photos from my recent walk into a virtual cruise, including the through route so you can click through the next buttons to complete your virtual cruise from the comfort of your chair.  Just choose your starting point

Deepfields Junction Signpost

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Deepfields Junction Signpost
Deepfields Junction Signpost

The signpost at Deepfields Junction indicating the route to Bradley and showing it is a terminus and not a through route any more.

Typical of many signs around the Birmingham Canal Navigations this has a circular top with the name of the junction around the outside and the letters BCNS across the centre, standing for the Birmingham Canal Navigations Society who funded and erected these signs.

Waterway and Kilometerage BCN-WOL 16.150.01
OS Grid Reference SO 93967 95009
Date and Time 151204 104336
Copyright © Paul Balmer

Deepfields Junction

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Deepfields Junction, looking from the BCN Main LIne into the BCN Wednesbury Oak Loop
Deepfields Junction, looking from the Main Line into the Wednesbury Oak Loop

The BCN Wednesbury Oak Loop is the remaining part of the BCN Old Main Line which was severed at Bradley Workshops many years ago. The photo is taken from the BCN Main Line, with Wolverhampton to the left and Birmingham to the right.

Waterway and Kilometerage BCN-WOL 16.150.02
OS Grid Reference SO 93967 95009
Date and Time 110425 104336
Copyright © Paul Balmer

Skirting around the houses

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Skirting around the houses on the right
Skirting around the houses on the right

The route appears to skirt around the housing estate, but the canal was simply following the contours through open countryside when it was built and it’s the modern housing estate that has been built up to the line of the canal.

Waterway and Kilometerage BCN-WOL 16.470
OS Grid Reference SO 94254 94879
Date and Time 110425 090926
Copyright © Paul Balmer

One of the arms is still just there

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One of the many arms is still just visible
One of the many arms is still just visible

There were many short arms along the canal, providing connections and moorings for local industries and a few, like this one, are still identifiable, although most have been filled in with nothing left to see.

This once provided a winding point, although it’s too silted up to be used now, and I’ve removed it from our downloadable Canal Maps which are kept up to date with monthly issues – but it will still appear in our rivals’ printed guides for some time.

Waterway and Kilometerage BCN-WOL 16.800
OS Grid Reference SO 94508 94979
Date and Time 151204 113228
Copyright © Paul Balmer

Modern Housing near the canal

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Modern Housing comes close to the canal in places
Modern Housing comes close to the canal in places

There’s still a lovely green corridor for the canal to pass through with most of the modern housing set back a little from the canal.

Waterway and Kilometerage BCN-WOL 16.900
OS Grid Reference SO 94576 95029
Date and Time 110425 103426
Copyright © Paul Balmer