Right down the line: Mapping the BCN

Here’s a treat for canal enthusiasts and other people interested in local waterway history. For Christmas a good pal acquired and gave to me a book of photos, published in 1982 by the Birmingham Canal Navigations Society and called ‘The BCN in Pictures’.

The caption from the book records:
‘Not all trains travelled on rails! Grand Union narrowboat PRINCESS ANNE, and shortened by 10′ for tugging, is shown pulling four empty wharf boats through broken ice near Anglesey Basin [Near Chasewater – Bob]. The canal was originally a feeder channel from the Chasewater reservoir to the Wyrley & Essington Canal, which was made navigable in the mid 19th century’ – Click for a larger version.

The work is a remarkable black and white booklet covering many then current and historical pictures of the Birmingham and Black Country canal system, characters found upon it, boats that traversed it and people who were working hard to restore it. I’ll feature a gallery of images from the book tomorrow, but the book as a whole contains a huge amount of material so it’s worth bagging a copy if you can find one.

The BCN – From the BCN in Pictures. Click for a larger version, or click on the link in the text for a clearer version.

The book features a great map of the BCN network as it stood on publication and I feature it above in low resolution and here in 600dpi high quality by clicking here – that’s a 32 meg file so will take a while to download but it’s clear and includes the minutest detail close up. It’s a great map.

The Birmingham Canal Navigations Society still exist of course, and in 2019 are to take on the organisation of Brownhills Canal Festival – more on that to come soon.

You can visit the BCN website here. They have some great history.

I include a couple of local images as tasters of the book. If you have any comments to make, please do – either here on the post or mail me – BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. You can of course, find me on social media too.

The caption from the book records:
‘Leonard Leigh’s butties [unpowered vessels designed to be like ‘trailers’ – Bob] are shown at Pelsall Common during the winter of 1940. An icebreaker and crew (shown behind the forward butty) are shown attempting to keep a vital transport link, the canal, open.’ – Click for a larger version.
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9 Responses to Right down the line: Mapping the BCN

  1. stymaster says:

    That’s rather a wonderful thing. Quite sad to see the number of pubs mentioned there that are either closed or gone completely.

  2. andkindred says:

    Looks like this was taken from Anglesey Bridge.

  3. Brenda Ward says:

    The BCN Society are presenting a festival at the side of the canal in Brownhills on 18th & 19th May

    • BrownhillsBob says:

      Yes! No problem. I’m going to plug right after new year; little point until then as it gets lost in the Christmas rush.


  4. Reg Fullelove says:

    the photographs of the canal boats have bruoght back memories of when i was a lad in the winter when the canal was frozen i recall going down the chemi to watch the ice breaking boat in action there was a wooden beam down the centre men stood either side of it creating a rocking motion and the poor old horse gently trod with strenth pulled the barge along its w ay bless him happy new year to all who have put up with my one finger prose GOD BLESS

  5. Pingback: The many, changing faces of the Birmingham Canal Network | BrownhillsBob's Brownhills Blog

  6. Reg Fullelove says:


    • Martin says:

      Thank you Reg for all the memories you have brought to us over many years,Happy New Year to you

    • BrownhillsBob says:

      Happy new year Reg, thanks for all your lovely and very valuable contributions.

      Thanks for following, and all you do Reg. Your spirit is what this is all about.

      Cheers and happy new year to you too

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