2nd September 2016
Well, we obviously survived the night as we are back blogging. Awoke to a very overcast and drizzling day, just as the forecasters had predicted. We knew that only about 200 meters away was the 3027 yard long Netherton Tunnel so it was no hardship to cruise in the drizzle for a little way.
We mentioned in our blog yesterday about the wrought iron bridges and here we have a plethora of them.
We really are in a very interesting part of the canal system around here. It is rather hard to impress upon people just how important the canals were. We have found a wonderful analogy in that what the canals did for the industrial revolution is what the smart phone has done for communication today. Maybe that might help some of you to understand their important.
We are now in amongst the Birmingham Canal Navigations which is the most intensive canalised region of England. The original canal from Birmingham to Wolverhampton became so congested in its day that it had to be twinned – does this sound familiar?? It was twinned by a new canal that was built by Telford and like all new things that canal was dead straight as opposed to Brindley’s winding canals that followed the contours. It is like old windy roads becoming replaced by straight expressways.
So now, after that little history lesson it is back to the blog. The entrance to the Netherton tunnel which takes us to Dudley Port.
As soon as we came out of the tunnel it became a lot more heavily industrial. In the picture below the bridge that you can see as we are coming out of the tunnel is actually an aqueduct. It is carrying the old Brindley canal and we are heading straight ahead to the New Main Line canal which was the one that Telford built. We also came smack bang into a dual railway with high speed intercity trains whizzing backwards and forwards.
We cruised for two hours to the Black Country Museum where once again we have become museum pieces in more ways than one. This region is known for its incredible amount of underground coal, iron ore and limestone mines. There are many photos showing this area during the hey days of manufacturing of it being a black sooty hell hole and to be honest it was. The soot from the coal turned everything black including the buildings, footpaths and clothes on the washing lines. There are no longer any coal mines left in England courtesy of old Maggie Thatcher and the greedy unions – oops, excuse the politics here.
So back to the museum. We cruised right into the middle of it and moored up. Part of the history of the museum depicts the relevance of the canals to the region so of course there is a large section on canals. NB Lucy fits right in amongst her brethren.
Our first task was to head out to the museum to go for a tour through the old underground coal workings. They actually take you on a boat underground as this is how they use to get the coal out.
Don`t know what it is about selfies but this particular trip was encouraging everyone to take selfies and then they would post it on their site – why!! We did oblige though. Here is a good joke for you all. What does the Queen call a selfie – a Onsie of course…………
This particular mine was finished in the late 1900`s and the caverns were turned into a tourist attraction and with the largest cavern they will often have opera`s, concerts, plays and even weddings there. They were getting the cavern ready for a wedding tomorrow. At least if it rains it will not be a bother. The boat loaded with tommy tourists including ourselves.
You can just make out the tunnel opening.
The other cool thing about this cavern is that they projected a video right on to the rock wall. Our picture doesn`t do it real justice but you get the idea.
This is the Black Country flag – specific mention for our friend Ian the pomme who lives in Calgary. Ian also wants us to try another local delicacy called pork scratchings. We did oblige and buy a packet but when we opened it and still saw the pigs hair on it we politely binned it.
The Black Country Museum is a living museum and very much the same as Heritage Village in Calgary but with a different theme. Below was one of the main streets. Once again, a lot of volunteers.
Fras couldn`t help himself in the tool shop.
A couple of other street scenes.
Radio repair shop.
Fras feeling like he needs to get reconnected to work….
There was also an underground mine which Di declined to go into but which Fras found fascinating. Boys started work there at the age of 9 whilst girls were 12. Nothing like a little child labour to keep industry ticking over.
They had some great old trucks and buses and this one brought back some good old memories.
One thing we missed out on seeing was the foundry that made the links of chain and also anchors. The anchor for the Titanic was made in this region and taken out by canal boat to then go by ship to Belfast where it was being built. The chain foundry`s were staffed by women. Why, not sure and can`t find any history on google about it. The other interesting information supplied was about the pit ponies that worked underground. Often they were born down in the mines and never saw light their whole lives – thank goodness that would never happen today. Like humans they also died of silicosis. We will go back tomorrow morning and finish a little more of the museum off and hopefully the foundry will be working.
Now what is wrong with this picture.
Yeap, there are no people around. At the time we thought, WOW this is really nice and great to be able to get a photo. One problem, the museum had closed and all the gates were locked and we were still in it but not able to get back to nb Lucy. We had totally lost track of time, but pokemon saved our bacon. We found a lady leaning against a lamp post who was looking for a pokemon and she just happened to work there and had a set of keys to let us back out. Phew, thought we would have to sleep on the streets there for a while.