45. More West Midlands Meanderings.
26th April 2012. This must be one of the most-photographed ‘deserted railway stations’ in the U.K., to judge from the number of on-line shots. It is the old Tettenhall station, just north of Wolverhampton. It was apparently opened by the Great Western Railway in 1925 – and closed for passengers in 1931, as it just did not catch on. Nowadays, trackless, it is part of a long LNR, or Local Nature Reserve. We walked along a mile or so of it.
This girder bridge crosses the Staffordshire & Worcester canal, and also the Smestow Brook, a small river. As we have remarked before, the landscape that was left behind after the last Ice Age has shaped most of our own modern lines of communication too. At this point, the railway and the canal follow the line of the Smestow Brook; and the Smestow is, at this point, simply skirting the southern edge of a relatively large sandstone outcrop – the ‘Tettenhall Rock’.
Here they all are. The shot is taken from the railway bridge. Below is the canal, and off to the right, indicated by the arrow & lower down, is the Smestow Brook. It was convenient for the canal company that surplus water could be run off into the Smestow.
Here, at Compton, the Smestow runs under the Wolverhampton – Bridgnorth Road.
The Staffordshire & Worcestershire is characterized by these circular weirs (or whatever they are), which allow the water to flow downhill when a lock is emptied. We only had a short walk along the railway, and then went back along the canal.
Here is our old friend the girder bridge seen this time from the canal. The Smestow, of course, is lower down on the left.
This district of Wolverhampton is called Newbridge, for the reason explained on the plaque above, to be found on the 1939 bridge. The road is now the A41. About half a mile back towards Wolverhampton is a now-closed pub. called ‘The Half-way House’. I suspect that this was formerly an Inn, which claimed to be half way between London & Holyhead. Must check that out… So nearly 200 years ago, the Mail Coaches thundered across Telford’s bridge on this site.
Yet the original bridge over the canal, as the plaque states, is still there, as you can see.
Before Telford’s improvements in 1820, the Mail Coaches evidently followed a different route from London to Holyhead. Above is the route of the Mail Coaches to Chester & Holyhead, taken from a Post Office Directory of 1808.
14th May 2012. On a dull day, a quick re-visit to the National Trust property at Baddesley Clinton. A moated house dating back to the 15th century, in which the Ferrers family lived for 500 years.
The anomalous blue & orange thing is evidently a small mobile inspection platform propelled by paddle-wheels, and used to inspect the moat &c.
This face of the house must be a later extension, or else has been rebuilt. More information will readily be found on-line.
Towards the end of May 2012, we determined to visit the ruins of Much Wenlock Priory. The route led us past those of Buildwas Abbey, so we called in there first. This is an English Heritage site. There is nothing to give scale to this shot, but although most impressive, the abbey church is not enormous.
Here, we look from where the altar would have been…
…and from here, back towards the altar. Many other parts of the monastery survive in various states, and there is some lovely vaulted ceiling work, which our camera could not capture. Alas, the projected trip to Much Wenlock had to be abandoned, because it so happened that the Olympic Torch was due to travel through the town that day, which was early impassable, so we were forced to flee home via Bridgnorth. More on Much Wenlock Priory later, we hope.
13th June 2012. The weather has been very disappointing in recent weeks, but today was an exception, so we fared forth to a LNR (Local Nature Reserve) in Walsall called Haywood, where, 200 years ago, limestone was dug up for iron smelting. A canal branch was eventually built, and the whole place would have been quite industrial then. But now the canal has resolved itself into a long shallow pool, and the various holes where limestone was dug out also form a series of pools, all now heavily wooded. This shot seems devoid of interest, to be sure; but it was very nice to walk a couple of miles on a fine warm day, in virtual solitude – we met just one cyclist. And this area is only a mile or so from the vast West Midlands conurbation!
Page written 18th June 2012.