Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Electric cables in Wast Hills Tunnel

Kew: Aston to Tardebigge, Wednesday 25th June 2014

After climbing the rest of the Aston locks, where some pounds were a little low, we headed straight up the Farmer's Bridge flight.

We stopped at Holliday Wharf for some shopping at the (Mailbox) Tesco Express, but found the range there severely limited owing to refurbishment of the store. We made use of the shower and continued down the Worcester and Birmingham Canal.

Wast Hills Tunnel has the remains of electricity cables hanging off brackets attached to the roof. According to Nicholson this is evidence of telegraph lines which used to run through the tunnel. They do have that feel about them, with the porcelain insulators, but is there an alternative theory which suggests that it was something to do with an electric tunnel tug?

I think the telegraph cables option is more likely; for an electric tug there would have had to be a means of picking up the power continuously as the tug made its progress. Here the insulators would have got in the way.

Being at the bow I was able to take a rare pic of the outside world as seen from the tunnel mouth as we emerged (on our boat I'm usually steering through tunnels).

We tied up for the night at Tardebigge, opposite the facilities point just above the locks. We went to the pub in the village, a "Fayre and Square" establishment where we ate reasonably well. The pub isn't marked on Nicholson's: it's half a mile south east, under the bypass. We took the footpath across a field by the church to get there.


Bill.S said...

The brackets in West Hill Tunnel were for telephone wires. Alan White in his comprehensive 'The Worcester and Brimingham Canal' (Brewin 2005) says they were installed from 1883 and used until the early 1930s.

Halfie said...

Thanks Bill. Was the phone line solely for communication between the tunnel keepers?

Bill.S said...

It's a bit complicated. Best read White's explanation. But it started with industrialists taking wayleaves to use the line of the canal for poles, then others including the Post Office came in. The Severn & Canal Co, who had bought the WBC, used it too. But eventually the canal co was the only user and it became a private network. It ran all the way along the canal.

Bill.S said...

For 'Severn & Canal' read 'Sharpness New Dock'.