Urban Oasis. 2nd March

Lane Head Bridge to Urban Moorings, Lycetts Basin Bridge

A day full of sunshine. We soon passed where Vernon (Production Manager in Vienna) used to play as a child on the Short Heath Branch. His grandmothers cottage apparently was demolished and replaced by the current houses in the 1930’s and she moved to a council house. His Grandfather was night watchman on the arm and his uncles were day boat men delivering coal to Wolverhampton till the early 1960s.

Short Heath Branch

Today NB Senior Moment was occupied both by humans and several Pekineses. Maybe they’d just come back from a cruise or were preparing for one.

Mini Woofers and woofer gang plank

We pootled onwards, the canal seeming far cleaner than it had done a month ago. In the bottom of someones garden I spied a curled up mass of fur, could it be alive? It opened it’s eyes to check us out as we passed. A couple of hundred yards later another battered and torn fox walked along the canal edge. They both looked like they’d been in a fight and had seen better days.

Foxy fox

Approaching Rockery Bridge I got ready to hop off and see if this Sainsburys might have some arrowroot. I wizzed round the store and found some with baking powder and baking soda, I just hope my starter perks itself up in the next day or two!

Stop for a cuppa

Mick carried on and moored up on the first set of bollards, lunchtime. As we ate a boat came past, the first boat we’ve seen moving since we left Brindley Place! yes we did see some heads on Tividale Aqueduct, but not the actual boat.

Boat!!!!

Onwards, picking up a big branch which necessitated reversing and changing course before we continued much further. Our original plan had been to head for the offside moorings in Wolverhampton, hopefully stopping at Urban Moorings for some coal on the way.

Urban Moorings

As we came under Swan Garden Bridge we could see the end of the arm where Urban Moorings sits. A bench looks down the canal with Fender Fred watching for boats.

Fred with his cuppa and pipe

Could we see anyone? We slowed and crept our way along. Towards the end was a mooring, by some new looking sheds. A lady was stood by a door and said hello. We asked if they had any coal and if so, what variety. ‘Excell 20kg bags, £10 a bag’. Yes please. We pulled in as more and more people appeared from the sheds all wearing high-vis.

What a welcome, help to moor up too. Conversations about where we were heading turned to them saying that they had a visitors mooring £8 including electric a night. Mick and I were having a similar conversation at different ends of the boat, him saying we’d have a chat about it, me saying ‘We’ll be staying the night then’ images of the washing machine going round round in both our heads.

The gardens made from anything and everything that floats on by

Once tied up we were given guided tours of the moorings. Neither of us had realised just how big the site was. Originally Commercial Wharf the arm and land around it, there were Lime Kilns a wharf and slipway where boats were maintained. The boats, Ampton boats, were used for transporting coal along the flat Wolverhampton level and Wyrely and Essington Canal, no need to descend any locks so they were built longer and a touch wider, their holds could carry 45 to 50 tons of coal.

The site was used as a boat yard until 1992 when the last boat left the dock. Several boats had been restored here including NB Tench.

Miss Scotland had been down to help with the weeding today

Urban Moorings CIC are a group of boaters who are wanting to create mooring sites that boaters actually want, integrating history, ecology, art and volunteering. They redevelop moorings very slowly ‘Slow Regeneration’ without having to spend millions of pounds doing so. The moorers live on site, their aim is to turn derelict and unprofitable sites owned by C&RT into self managed boater run moorings.

These very friendly ladies have been here for three years, built moorings, brought electric and water onto site, made gardens for nature to inhabit where lime kilns used to be. They must have spent years clearing away buddleia and now sheds seem to be taking over. An office, a workshop, a bits and bobs exchange, more moorings planned. Recently they advertised on facebook that they were now selling coal and gas. Today they received 100 bags of Excell and moved their gas cage into position. There had also been a volunteer day to kick start the creation of a community garden. What an Oasis.

Four/five dogs inhabit the area, but they offered to put them all away if Tilly wanted some shore leave. We both looked around. She would absolutely love it here if the scent of woofers wasn’t too much for her. But we decided that the look of underneath the decking on our mooring would be far too interesting and it would be a very soggy and painful extrication for both her and us. Another day kept inside, Saturday isn’t that far off!

Work in progress, coal cage and recycling next to one of the sheds

After all the chatting, oh Kate Saffin was also here having volunteered for the day, we eventually managed to get hooked up, washing machine on, yellow water disposed of. If our solids container had been more advanced it could have been emptied here too. That is something we’ll think about, if we can store our solids during the first stage of composting and deposit it when next we pass then we’ll be using our toilet as fully intended.

They do seem to have thought of everything one could want and have plans for even more here. All profits go back into the project, so any support either through volunteering or purchases will be used to improve what they have to offer. Good luck to them, we’ll certainly be putting them on our map as a good stopping place. More information here Urban Moorings CIC

0 locks, 4.44 miles, 90grams arrowroot, 2 foxes, 5 footballs, 2 coconuts, 1 moving boat, 1 unexpected mooring, 4 bags coal, 3 loads washing, 1 Kate, 0 shore leave, 1 Miss Scotland, 2 possible openings, 1 offer, 1 oasis in Wolverhampton.

Day 4.

Not much to show today, two feeds and no bubbles, no rise. I’ll keep going for a few more days to see if it comes back. 😦

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