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Tom Manning, the President of the Shrewsbury & Newport restoration, recently loaned us some photographs he had take of the Hatherton Branch many years ago, including some particularly unusual ones of the Churchbridge Locks during demolition.

Within a year or two of the canal closing in 1955 the impressive flight of 13 locks, except for the bottom one near the A5, had all been excavated away by opencast coal mining, first by the Locks opencast site and later by the Poplars site.

The photos reproduced here show both how well constructed were the locks, a late addition to the system in 1859, and how dramatic was their demise.

The captions are mine, based on comparison with other photos and maps. The site is now occupied by the Orbital Centre and crossed by the M6 Toll, and our protected alternative route to the east will need to stay close to the A5 before making a more gradual ascent across the fields north of Little Wyrley.

Phil Sharpe

Canals in use

Tug and train of boats on Cannock Extension Canal

Rumer Hill Junction with Joey boat
Canals in water

Churchbridge Locks 10 & 11, with hut at Lock 10

Churchbridge Bottom Lock and White Lion Hotel

Saredon Mill Bridge

Hatherton Junction
Churchbridge Locks Derelict - 1955/56?

Bottom end of a lock chamber cut through by opencast coal mining

A drained pound and gateless lock on the Churchbridge flight

Remains of Lock 9, looking down towards the White Lion Hotel

Looking down the drained flight from the bridge above Lock 5

We are most grateful to Mr Manning for the loan of these photographs and for allowing us to copy them.

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