Many canal societies celebrate their heritage with accessible art work, they take a pride in unique or original mile markers. Dudley 2 canal is no different. The iconic Cobb Engine House can be seen regularly along the canal.
I first noticed them at Blowers Green
But as always, canals are full of unexpected surprises, and by the time I’d realised we were being shown the history of this area I was too late to capture the whole trail. We did however see enough to whet our appetite. Why was there a man flushing the chain, not only was coal dug out of the ground in the Black country, but in the mid 1800’s Doulton took advantage of the ready supply of clay, good land to build a factory and a canal to transport the raw materials, fuel and finished goods.
Of course it wasn’t only toilets that were made in the Black country, and canals weren’t the only transport system. As the coopers sculpture shows, that a man could move a much heavier burden if it were encased in a barrel and rolled rather than carried.
Although much of the heavy industry of the area has gone, leaving a deprived community with high unemployment, some companies are still going, albeit as a more environmentally friendly concern.
Of course where there is industry, there’s a labour force, who will need somewhere to drink. I can only assume that the Fox and Goose bridge got it’s name from a local hostelry, although try as we might, we couldn’t find it.
And no canal is complete without a community around it. The people who built the Black Country have been celebrated through the sculptures. Eliza Tinsley was a widowed with 5 children, but she took on the management of her husband’s company and went on to employ 4000 people, making nails chains and anchors in her foundry. Although the company is no longer in British ownership, it is still manufacturing and it’s headquarters in nearby Wednesbury.
However Eliza wasn’t responsible for one of Netherton’s greatest claims to fame, as the Hingley Sole Works were commissioned to built the world’s largest anchor for the Titanic. It was so big that it required 20 horses to transport it to Dudley where it was taken by train to Belfast.
Of course not everyone appreciated the heritage of the buildings around the canal as this graffiti artist defaced the tollman’s house
Life wasn’t all hard work and no play because occasionally the circus would come to town, and the elephants were allowed to play in the canal
Once we had decided to stay put and explore the area we walked back along the canal looking for more of these intriguing pieces of art, but we were only able to go back as far as Primrose Hill
But we continued to meet some interesting local people. Unusually for such a built up area, even when we were on the streets as opposed to the Towpath, we were often greeted with a friendly “morning”. We were too late to say hello to Robert Wintour the Staffordshire man who also holed up around here, in Rowley Regis. However as he and his brother had been part of the gunpowder plot they didn’t leave the area quite so happily as they were hung drawn and quartered.
Whilst we were walking around the Bumble Hole we came across more evidence of gallows, this time in the form of a crane used by Harris’s boat yard. Sadly being made of wood, it rotted and collapsed a few years ago so we couldn’t see the original gallows crane.
The artist responsible for all these fascinating sculptures is a local man called Luke Perry. There are over 30 along the Dudley 2 canal, starting at Blowers green and ending at Hawne Basin, Halesowen. They celebrate the community and heritage of the Black country. Although we saw most of them, and I took a lot of photos, I have included some photos taken from the Dudley Public Art (DPA) website to help showcase how special they are.