News and information for our Members, Moorers and Friends




Beyond The Stank
– a brief explanation, a glimpse of history and an up-date.

by Roy Burgess, non boating member

The Dudley No. 2 Canal is currently navigable from Parkhead, near Netherton, to the concrete dam or ‘stank' just past the slipway at Hawne Basin, Halesowen. ‘Beyond The Stank' is some five miles of abandoned waterway which, at one time, connected with the Worcester – Birmingham Canal at Selly Oak.

The chequered history of the No. 2 line:

Begun in 1793 when an Act of Parliament received the Royal Assent of George III “to make a navigable canal from the Dudley (No. 1 line) at Parkhead to the junction at Selly Oak “ – a distance of 10⅞ miles.

In 1798 the whole line was opened to through traffic.

On 19 th April 1803 Lord Lyttleton of Hagley Hall sold his land, now occupied by the ‘injurious canal', from Coombeswood to the West Portal of Lapal Tunnel- some 25 acres - to the proprietors of the Dudley Company for the sum of £1247.00.

1846 saw the Dudley Company amalgamated with the Birmingham Canal Navigations (BCN).

During 1948 many canals including the BCN were nationalised and placed under the control of the British Transport Commission (BTC).

A deed was signed on 15 th November 1954 and the Dudley Canal, from Heywood Bridge, Mucklow Hill, as far as the West Portal of Lapal Tunnel, was sold by the BTC to The Borough of Halesowen. The Borough opened this ‘rural section' for pleasure boating on 16 th August 1955.

1962 saw the British Waterways Board (BWB) set up, taking over from the BTC in 1963.

1963 : Dudley No. 2 Canal formally abandoned, under a British Transport Act, from Heywood Bridge, Halesowen to the Selly Oak Junction – a distance of some 5⅓ miles.

1964 : Presentation by BWB to the then Minister Of Transport – the Rt. Hon. Ernest Marples MP - of an interim report entitled The Future of the Waterways . At that time Mr Marples was involved with Marples-Ridgeway Construction, builders of motorways and developers of Industrial Units. In the Report the remaining section of the No.2 Canal, from Hawne Basin to Windmill End, was designated as a ‘water supply channel only'. 1964 also saw the closure of the Halesowen to Longbridge Railway, enabling the construction of the M5 motorway and the A456 Link Road to be completed without the need for rail and canal accommodation bridges.

On 5th June 1967 Stewarts & Lloyds ceased sending their steel tube products by narrow boat to the rail interchange at Hawne Basin. However, Walter Somers continued to use the railway for delivery of steel ingots until September 1969. The railway from Old Hill to Halesowen and the canal basin loop line was closed from 1 st October 1969.

These were now worrying and distraught times for the early canal restoration campaigners, who were faced with the probability that the canal would now be closed to navigation from Windmill End to Hawne Basin. Full credit must be given to the determined pioneering fledgling Committee of the Coombeswood Canal Trust, who prevented Hawne Basin from being filled in and built over with industrial units – note how wide the approach road is outside the gates of the Basin.

Of course we all live, hopefully, in more enlightened times and canal restoration is becoming more realistic and recognised for its advantages. With this in mind, to further the Objects of the Coombeswood Canal Trust, and as an innovative way forward, members of the present Governing Council have been in recent – and successful – discussions with CRT to lease some 100 linear metres of unused canal which lies Beyond The Stank.

The aims are to fully restore this section to navigable standard and then, at some time in the future, to connect up with the partially-restored section in Leasowes Park, some 220 metres further on.

The lease is currently (May 2015) being prepared by CRT's solicitors. However, even when this is signed and complete there will be vast amounts of preparatory work and fund-raising to be carried out before any work can commence on site.

As access is restricted at the moment you can view ‘beyond the stank' via these 1991 photographs, which were taken during a ‘clean up'. This was a joint work party between Coombeswood Canal Trust and the Halesowen Abbey Trust. A crane was provided by a local firm and skips by Dudley Council, all free of charge.



Coombeswood Canal Trust, a Company limited by Guarantee
Hawne Basin, Hereward Rise, Halesowen, West Midlands, B62 8AW.
Telephone: 0121 550 1355   
Skype Name: coombeswood
Registered Charity No. 1088978