32. Kingswood Canal Junction.




30th October 2010. The diary is still lagging, I fear; but on an Autumnal day, we fared forth to look again at Kingswood Junction. Where is it? Well, south of Birmingham (near Lapworth) the Birmingham to Stratford-on Avon Canal approaches very near the Grand Union Canal. Or perhaps that should be the other way around? In any event, a junction between them resulted – doubtless after protracted argument & dispute, which was the normal thing between rival canal companies! (As you know, I know virtually nothing of canal history. But (a) I know they are a most precious wild-life & leisure resource which have been saved for us of the 21st century by the work of devoted people over many decades, and (b) you can look up their history on-line, to your heart’s content). There is convenient access to the B’hamStratford just above the junction, from ‘The Boot’, a good pub. And if you (as I did), first partake of refreshment at that same hostelry, why then, there can be little objection if you leave your car in their car park and take a turn down the canal to Kingswood Junction? The shot on the left looks back to The Boot, and the one on the right down to Kingswood – that’s probably Lock 15, but I can’t be sure.




Left: looking back towards The Boot. Right: the top of the junction. The left branch leads to the Grand Union, via a lock. The right branch, under the little bridge, is the continuation of the B’hamStratford canal, also via a lock.




Left: the pound & some of the moorings. A weir from the large pound above (I think it’s a pound?) is in the centre of the shot. Right: the branch to the Grand Union, via Lock 20.




Left: the little bridge on the B’hamStratford, is a ‘split bridge’, to allow the tow-rope to be slipped through, when the tow-path changes sides, as it does here, and the horse crosses the bridge. Right: The lower pound on the Stratford side, which is now on the same level as the Grand Union.




Left: lower level view of bridge 37-A (recently built, hence the suffix), situated at the bottom on Lock 22 on the Stratford. Right: the upper gate of that lock.




Left: we’re back in the lower pound on the Stratford side, looking south-east. An unassuming little cut nestles there. What is it? Simply the ‘direct route’ to the Grand Union, for only in this lower pound are they are on the same level. Right: to me, this is a most magical canal spot! Where are we? Is it a Japanese Temple Garden? No; we’re just walking along the tow-path of the previous shot. Bearing in mind this is a damp and dull October day, we wonder how much more enchanting this place must be in spring and summer? The branch from the upper pound enters, via Lock 20, just past the bridge.




Alas, the scenery rapidly becomes more prosaic. Left: the link heads directly towards the Grand Union, under the railway bridge. Railways, of course, were – and still are – the close companions of canals, just as canals tended to be the companions of rivers. All three hate gradients! Nature ordained, millennia ago (after the last Ice Age) that the rivers would search out and define the fundamental ‘corridors of communication’ across our countryside. And we still, largely, follow them to this day. Right: the Grand Union comes into sight.




Left: the colour distorted by a zoom shot, you see the Grand Union signpost pointing to Birmingham (north), and Warwick (south). Right: the rather uninteresting view towards Birmingham. This is not to say that the Grand Union is inherently uninteresting; far from it. But as yet we know little of it. Still, as an eminent politician once remarked in the House of Commons: ‘The future is yet to come’; and who are we to argue with that profound observation?




Left: the equally uninteresting view of the Grand Union towards Warwick. Right: the signpost located at the point where the exit of lock 20 joins the Grand Union level – six shots previously. It is pleasant to walk along canals at any time of year. And actually (though I don’t know why) I generally prefer my ham-fisted photos. not to have any people in them. On this day, I need hardly have worried, for there was almost nobody about! Come to that, it was rather agreeable to get back home into the warmth, and get some hot food. There’s nothing like a contrast, is there? A couple of hours walking around in the damp, lonely times of Autumn; put against the welcome return home at dusk, with the anticipation of preparing a nice meal. The poignant savour of the garlic beginning to fry gently in the pan! The slicing of the onion; the preparation of the herbs… And shall it be with rice? Or shall we go for a pasta meal? Do we have the tomatoes? Yes, though they be tinned… No matter! Let’s get on with it. Which reminds me, it’s nearly half-past seven, and I haven’t had a real bite to eat since last night. Pray forgive me; I have been overtaken by an irresistible urge to prepare hot food! Fare Well…





Page written 2nd January 2011.