Tipton, West Midlands

Thursday 3rd November 2016

We woke up to a bright sunny morning, albeit very chilly so now its time to head up the Shropshire Canal, find a suitable marina, get Foggy serviced, secure her, clean her then pack up and leave.  Dave and Leisha will then collect Foggy’s Notion after their return from Spain later in November.

After an early breakfast we set off, heading up the “Birmingham Level, Main Line Canal” this is quite a canal, the widest we had been on, the straightest we had been on, the most weed free we had been on and strangest of all, the loneliest we had been on.  This canal was presumably the main “highway” heading north/south in and out of Birmingham.   There were a number of smaller canal junctions heading off in various directions from this mainline, no doubt in their heyday these canals went into factory wharfs collecting and delivering goods.  The other strange sight we thought was though this is a very wide canal, every mile or so the canal narrowed to just the width of a narrow boat.  Presumably the canal operators of long ago were scared somebody would use a wide beam boats rather than two narrow boats and therefore half their dues!!!

We left the Gas Street Basin and luckily today we only had 3 locks to do, these locks were a flight just before we arrived at the junction of the Dudley canal running through Tipton, so an easy day at last!!!

We turned off the Birmingham Level canal at the junction and headed into Tipton, as we wanted to visit the Black Country Museum.   However, we were getting a little nervous as we were cruising towards the Museum because there is a rather long tunnel ahead and we didn’t want to go through it, so at the first turning opportunity we came to we turned and moored.  This turned out to be a very pleasant mooring next to a park where there were mooring rings; excellent.

We had a quick lunch, then we were off to the museum, about 1½ mile further along the canal, but we walked along the roads as they went straight.

When we arrived we were shocked how many coaches there were in the car park, we thought the museum would have been very quiet at this time of the year, obviously not!!!

The Black Country Living Museum is an open-air museum of rebuilt historic buildings in Dudley (West Midlands).  It is located in the centre of the Black Country, 10 miles from Birmingham. The museum boarders the Dudley Canal and it occupies 26 acres of former industrial land, partly reclaimed from a former railway goods yard, disused lime kilns and former coal pits.   The Museum opened to the public in 1978, and has since added numerous period shops, houses and other industrial buildings from around the local area, these buildings were relocated to the Museum from their original sites, and demonstrators portray industrial life spanning over 200 years of history.

Apart from the houses and shops etc., they had a car and motorbike museum with some interesting models not normally seen in National Museums, all manufactured in the West Midlands.  The most interesting car to me was a “Clyno”, I remember my Mother telling me about their Clyno and how reliable it was and in her opinion they went out of business because they were so reliable, not true; they got into a price war with Morris and lost out!!!  They also had a trolley bus service running around the site; funnily we were only talking about bringing Trolley Buses back earlier in the week, maybe they will be back, surely they are greener than normal buses, after all they have re-introduced trams again!!  Whilst we in the Museum we visited their cinema and watched a silent Charlie Chaplin film, I suppose in those early days this would have been entertaining but now, I’m not so sure.  There was also a “Spit and Sawdust” pub where we managed to find time to have a pint!!

We had a quick look around most things to get a feel of the museum knowing that our ticket will last for a year; so perhaps we can re-visit sometime in the future.

We walked back to the boat, locked out the cold weather and enjoyed our dinner followed by TV, yes we had good TV tonight so watched the Apprentice and what turned out to be a very controversial “Question Time”

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