Thursday, 18 May 2017

(Not) waiting in Wolverhampton

It all happens in Wolverhampton
Well there's only so long you can wait in Wolverhampton. It's not the most inspiring of places and in the rain it's even worse. So after three days there in the rain we've turned tail and headed a different way. To be honest, we wouldn't have stayed that long but the lock repair was a case of, as Shakespeare put it, "Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow." Finally it became clear that tomorrow was actually likely to be the end of Friday so we gave up.
Poor old Wolverhampton, you really are a charmless and sad place of shabby shops or empty ones. We did find a spark of light in the Art Gallery, though its highly spoken of pop art collection had been shunted out to make room for a special, extra charge Lego art display, a much needed money spinner I guess. Still there was other good stuff: entertaining automata, plus Georgian and Victorian collections. And a decent cafe too.
Speaking of Victorian, Queen Victoria visited the town to unveil a statue of her late husband Albert - her first trip in public after a long spell mourning. But she kept the train blinds down on the way there so not to see the grime of the industrial Black Country. Sensible lady.
Mrs B has her particulars taken down by a policeman
On our final day Mrs B became embroiled in a police incident: as we walked into town incident tape had cordoned off part of the street outside a fast food outlet where, seemingly, a lad had been seriously injured in an early hours fight. A couple of streets away we spotted an evil little knife fashioned from a Stanley blade dropped on the pavement, Mrs B handed it in at the scene of the fight and spent the next half hour sitting in a police car making a statement of where, when and how she found it, just in case it was part of the fight. So we really weren't sorry to leave the town.
We headed back to Tipton , stopped there last night (unshipping a large polythene sheet and a mans jumper from the prop after mooring) and moved on south today through the nearly two mile long Netherton Tunnel to reach Windmill End.
The Bumblehole, once bustling now a quiet backwater
In the heyday of the working canals this was a noisy, stinking, smoky, black mix of coal mining, blast furnaces and workshops - as well as working narrow boats. Nothing remains, save the shell of the pumping house that kept the mine clear of water and a couple of short canal arms. Now it's a large green oasis used by dog walkers, bird watchers and anglers as well as leisure boaters like us. Though just to remind us of what things used to be like the historic tug Bittel that used to serve nearby Stewarts & Lloyds steelworks came past.
A reminder of the past, the tug Bittell

n the 18th and 19th centuries this open space was a noisy and dirty workshop, lined with a heady mix of factories, boatyards, sawmills, blast furnaces and collieries. - See more at:

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