Welcome to your starting point of your leisurely and scenic stroll, the Grade 2 listed Bonded Warehouse, renovated from a near derelict structure, now lovingly maintained and managed by Stourbridge Navigation Trust for the benefit of the community.
Leaving the front of the building, public access to the canal is along Canal Street, a private road, with the canal to your right and the River Stour to your left. On your right is the only remaining part of Stourbridge Rolling Mills, the de-coiling works. Now virtually derelict and hopefully to be removed soon. On your left is a “bomb” site, the remains of the rest of the Rolling Mills, which has had residential planning approval for the last 10 years…but no building has materialised.
As you join the newly tarmac’d tow path by Joyner’s Wharf the land to your left, behind the old wall and fence, is to become Public Open Space as a planning condition for development further on.
The two bridges that you next traverse were constructed over canal access arms into the Foster and Rastrick foundry works. Just before you start down the slope look to your left and you will see the back of the Lion Medical Centre. The development of this facility saved and restored the Grade 2 listed foundry building.
The canal now turns sharply to the right and the wharf and loading area used to load boats with the products of the foundry. The original crane base remains visible.
The most notable product from the foundry were the two steam engines, Agenoria and Stourbridge Lion. These were loaded onto canal boats with the Lion taken by canal to Liverpool and then onto the USA to become the first steam locomotive to run on rails in the USA. The remains of this locomotive are on display in the Smithsonian Museum in New York. The Agenoria was delivered to Lord Ward and spent its life on the Shutt End Railway between Kingswinford and Ashwood Basin and is preserved in the National Railway Museum at York.
The next small bridge was the access to the Stourbridge Canal Company dry dock.
The weir that follows is one of two on the canal arm where surplus canal water is discharged into the River Stour.
Now you will be walking alongside a new housing development, built on the site of the BSR factory where automatic record players were manufactured and exported world-wide. When BSR closed the building was taken over by Sunrise Medical who primarily manufactured wheel chairs including those used by British Paralympians. As this manufacturing on site reduced, part of the building was taken over by an aluminium casting manufacturer who produced, among other castings, the engine blocks for Formula 1 racing cars.
Before walking under Coalbourne Brook Bridge (or Wollaston Road Bridge) on the right at the top of the bank is the Ruskin Mill site, now a training and local craft centre. Light refreshments are available here.
As you walk under the bridge you will see that it has been extensively extended with newer concrete beams but the original brick arch still forms part of the bridge. This old bridge carried the Kinver Light Railway on its way from Dudley to Kinver.
Just beyond the bridge on the right was a wharf owned by the builders, Guests. Following World War 2 this was the place where concrete narrow boats were made. Only two are known still to exist, one sunk and is spouting trees close to the new Glass Museum and the second is on display at the Gloucester Waterways Museum.
On your left is the Richardson Drive residential development built on the site of the Stourbridge Waterworks Company and further along Roberts Bros boiler makers who used the next bridge, Chubb’s Bridge, as their main access. Just before this bridge on your right across the canal is a conglomeration of buildings, including a tunnel entrance to a loading bay under the building, which once housed a glass works. Specialist medical glass ware is still made on this site.
Chubb’s Bridge was extensively repaired by the Trust in 1979 and the parapet walls totally re-built.
You will now pass on the left an original row of canal cottages, except for one obvious replacement bungalow. Look at the window above the front door of the last cottage.
The next bridge, the last on the canal arm, is of 1970’s construction and its name, Longboat Lane Bridge, is a sad reflection on canal knowledge of that time – Vikings rowed Long Boats and never travelled on the canals!
You now arrive at Wordsley Junction where the Town Arm joins the Stourbridge Canal. Turning right the canal climbs 24 locks to Merry Hill and then onto Birmingham. Turning left the canal continues for about 2 miles to Stourton Junction where it joins the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal giving access to Wolverhampton to the right or Stourport to the left, all indicated by the direction sign post erected by volunteers. You will notice the change of tow path surface as you leave Dudley and enter Staffordshire shortly after the aqueduct over the River Stour.
We hope that you enjoy your stroll, taking in the natural beauty of the Stourbridge Town arm, absorbing and reflecting on the great historical importance of this stretch of our local canal.