It’s all water under the bridge

Hopwas is a wonderful little village on the A51 out of Tamworth centred around two bridges – one over the canal, and another over the River Tame, and also two rather good pubs. Imagery from Google Earth.

I’ve had some interesting responses (particularly on Facebook) to the odd enquiry I made yesterday from reader Graham about Hopwas Canal Bridge on the A51 near Tamworth.

In the post (which you can read here), reader Graham asks about a curious metal structure on the south side of the bridge. I posted the link in a number of groups concerned with history, and interestingly, quite a conversation developed in the Old photos from Hednesford, Chadsmore and Cannock’ group – you can see the conversation here.

In it, Julian Woodward Clarke observes:

I kayak under this bridge regularly and I can confirm that the pipework is routed out the side of the bridge, over hanging the canal. Is this ironwork possibly a hangover from WW2 when there was a lot of tank traffic from Whittington barracks and the bridge would need protecting from wayward tracks?

All the other canal bridges in the locality have road signs prohibiting ‘track laying vehicles’. This bridge formed part of the ‘Western command defensive stops line no:5’ during the war. There were mine chambers under the adjacent river bridge to demolish it in case of invasion, so maybe this was an old linear mine chamber.

In connection with this, quiz whizz and internet research ferret old pal Tony Jakeman found a couple of PDF documents in the Invasion Defence Database relating to the bridges and civil defence structures around Hopwas in World War Two. I’ve made a couple of galleries below, or you can get the PDFs from the links underneath each one. These are fascinating.

Click on any thumbnail to see a larger version. Original PDF version can be seen here.

Click on any thumbnail to see a larger version. Original PDF version can be seen here.

There was also an interesting discussion on this occurring on my own timeline, started by canal expert and friend of the blog Andy Matthews:

I still personally favour this theory, but it’s a fascinating debate.

Finally, this comment, also on the Cannock Group, pulled me up short with an audible ‘Wait, what?’

John Tierney added:

Read rest of the post on Brownhills Bob, When my kids were younger we took them for a day out to Snibston, Coalville, they had a big beam engine pump working, the guide said it came from a pumping station at Hopwas and was used to pump water to local reservoir for the canal system, he thought Chasewater …

Now I’m still none the wiser, but some great talking points for a Sunday there, I think. What can you add? Join the conversation by commenting here or mailing me: BrownhillsBob at googlemmil dot com.

Thanks to all who have made observations and suggestions so far!

Wat’s this curious metal structure about, then? Image from reader Graham.

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One Response to It’s all water under the bridge

  1. Chris Pattison says:

    Just to add to John Tierney’s comment, the pumping station at Hopwas is still operational, it supplies Hopwas Reservoir which is on the hill behind the station. The supply is supplemented with water from Lichfield which comes via mains along the A51. The reservoir is for potable water, not for the canal, it supplies Tamworth. The building which has been converted to a house did contain two Gimson beam pumping engines which were removed around 1986, although they had not been used for many years. The engines were named “Woody and Spruce”. One of them went to Snibson, which of course closed a couple of years ago and the other went to the Forncett Museum in Norfolk and I believe it’s still there.

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