Category Archives: Latest News

Tuesday Club – a Blur of Paint Brushes.

Tuesday Club volunteers are making the most of the dry weather by tackling jobs on the exhaustive list which are deemed as ‘outside’ jobs and done when it will remain dry – so out came the sandpaper, paintbrushes and a peak of enthusiasm. The volunteers organised themselves into two groups – one to deal with the large end door to the stable block (where the bar operates from at Open Weekend) and the other two man team to the railings near the entrance to the dry dock.

The first job was to re-fix the large door to the frame-post on the stable block and then prepare it for its first coat of grey primer – application of a second  coat was applied the following week and then finally to finish it off with a top coat of ‘plum’ gloss. It’s amazing really that this job started out as “we need to replace that door post because it’s rotten at the bottom” – as usual the task broadened in scope but at least we will have a finished job in a few weeks which will last for many years. The picture above shows the job after application of the first coat of undercoat with the end product in the photo gallery below.

The other job simply involved applying black gloss to the already prepared existing railings and gates – quite a tedious yet highly satisfying job, with many passers by giving encouraging remarks as the railings / gates took on a rejuvenated shiny state. Painting the gates is a time-consuming feature to tackle and also we knew that the top of the rails would soon be adorned with small knobs to match the new boundary fence with the Old Wharf Inn – it should look smashing when it is all completed.  The picture below shows the railings partly painted and in the gallery is the finished job which we think looks splendid.

Those achievements will naturally lead us to look at other items which would benefit from the proverbial ‘lick of paint’ – the crane, bollards, window sills on the Bonded Warehouse (which are in urgent need of attention), the lamp post and many other ‘bits and pieces’ that will look better for a bit of TLC.

Work will soon start (August we hope) to repair a large area of roofing on the office buildings and whilst the scaffolding is in place we hope to take the opportunity to paint the large windows in that building and also give the glass a good clean.

The work down at the Bonded Warehouse is endless actually and we really could do with a few more pairs of hands, so if you have some spare time and would like to get involved with a valuable community asset then do come along on Tuesdays to join the voluntary group – you will need a good sense of humour, the ability to glug coffee and be adaptable to take on repairs & maintenance tasks which you may not have done before – it’s a good opportunity to learn new skills, enjoy yourself, make friends and help the Trust look after this unique community building.


SNT Sponsorship ‘deal’ with Advanced Accountancy Sealed.

We were absolutely delighted that a generous local accountancy firm, Advanced Accountancy Midlands, a financial organisation based in Kingswinford, approached us a few weeks ago about potentially forging a sponsoring relationship. After openly discussing how this would work in benefitting both parties it soon became apparent that this somewhat pioneering strategy for the Trust was a sound proposition because we quickly felt a sense of great confidence and true generosity in our first ever sponsoring organisation.

And so last week the relationship became a reality and we were thrilled to receive a four-figure donation from their director Marina Parry. The photograph above shows the Trust’s Chairman David Caunt being presented with a cheque for £1000 by her whilst on-board The Blackcountry Man canal boat.

The Bonded Warehouse, as a volunteer-led venture which has been serving its community for over 60 years, will use the corporate sponsorship to help maintain its iconic 18th Century community building and to support a range of local events.

 Advanced Accountancy Midlands director Marina Parry was delighted the money was going to a worthy cause. “We have been looking for a new charity to sponsor for some time now and when the opportunity arose with The Bonded Warehouse, it was too good to pass up,” she enthused, “Everyone in Stourbridge is familiar with the vital work the group does preserving the region’s industrial heritage and building community spirit – we’re thrilled to support their efforts. We’ve enjoyed a period of rapid progression at Advanced Accountancy over recent years so this was our way of saying thank you to our valued clients as well as putting back into the community. We’re so pleased to be working alongside such an iconic organisation who work so hard to serve the local community. I look forward to a long and prosperous relationship with The Bonded Warehouse team in the future.

David Caunt the Chairman of Stourbridge Navigation Trust responded with equal enthusiasm:

Stourbridge Navigation Trust are very grateful to Advanced Accounting for taking this sponsorship step and is a very welcome initiative which we hope will be of mutual benefit.

The Trust is tasked by a number of national bodies to maintain the Grade 2 listed Bonded Warehouse and to have oversight of the Stourbridge Canal Town Arm. The maintenance of a listed building will always be costly and every year we have a programme of major works to keep the buildings and surrounds in first class order.

This sponsorship will help to relieve the financial pressures experienced by the Trustees in performing their duties and responsibilities”.

So next time you are in Canal Street by the Bonded Warehouse or attending one of the many events taking place over the year do look out for the Advanced Accountancy banners/posters/cards proudly displayed around the building and the Stourbridge Arm canal – we think they look great ! The photo gallery below shows a record of the sponsorship event, describes our new sponsor and also includes a lovely picture of Marina the director and Rohan the practice manager.

If you are looking to engage a local and reputable Accountancy firm for services from payroll, book-keeping to accounts then take a look at their website: or give them a call on 01384 271858.

Brand New Carpet Fitted to Brindley Room

As part of the “major expenditure” projects agreed by the Trust’s Committee earlier in the year some of the work has been commissioned and indeed completed!

One of the projects was to replace the carpet tiles in the Brindley Room as those in place could be described as “past their best” having served the room well over the years by enduring huge footfall, subject to various spillages along with everyday ‘wear and tear’. In order to keep costs down it fell to the Tuesday Club volunteers to lift up the outgoing tiles – quite good fun actually as they were removed from the upper floor by gentling dropping them out of the end of building window (honest!) where others collected them into neat piles for onward disposal – some to garden sheds !

It was left to the professionals to lay the new carpet tiles though the Tuesday Club were once again on hand to unload the order from the delivery vehicle and carry them to the top floor – quite a heavy load but it got the cardio-vascular systems going and some thought it was better than going to the gym !

Once laid the we felt the room looked much lighter and brighter due to the fundamental change in colour from brown to grey and indeed the room looks very smart. The Pilates Group were amongst the first to use the room and were delighted with the clean flooring.

The photo gallery below shows the transition brought about by this investment and we hope you all like it as much as we do – it will certainly have to last for a good few years.

Amongst the other major projects scheduled for 2019 are significant roof repairs to the front of the office building, total refurbishment of the upstairs ladies toilets and a new railed wall adjoining the soon to be opened Old Wharf Pub.



More Shambolics at the Bonded Warehouse !

We were delighted to receive an email from The Shambolics sharing with us their show reel which was filmed at the Bonded Warehouse.  The band stepped into the breach at last year’s Open Weekend and proved a great success by entertaining the crowds with their wide range of music in their own inimitable style.

Based in the Black Country, the Shambolics were formed when a group of friends started an open mic night. Through this they met lots of talented musicians who bit by bit joined the band, creating a supergroup with 2 rhythm guitarists, 1 lead guitarist, a harmonica player, a drummer and a bass guitarist. With three part harmonies as standard and four different vocalists, they’ve become the professional function band they are today, well known all over the Black Country for their energetic live shows.

We look forward to welcoming them to future events but if you want a “taster” the following Shambolics Showreel will I’m sure impress and entertain you – look out for the well-known features of the Bonded Warehouse too !

SNT Thanks its Volunteers and Celebrates Achievements

On Friday 1st March SNT hosted a “Thank You” celebration for all of the Trustees and Volunteers who have worked tirelessly to ensure that the Bonded Warehouse and its associated buildings / assets are not just well maintained but gradually and continuously improved for the benefit of the Community.

The Chairman, David Caunt, spoke passionately and most sincerely in acknowledging the many significant achievements that the Trust has delivered since it was formed in 1985 to resurrect a derelict estate – this all being down to the commitment and endeavour of a volunteer workforce who give up their time freely to help in many ways by application of their specialist or general skills. David strongly emphasised that “every little helps” and that every single volunteer who had contributed in just a small way to the success of the Trust was valued and appreciated. The Trust is now stable and financially self-sustaining – a pre-requisite for looking after a listed building for which repairs are inevitably expensive. He outlined the plans for the immediate future of the building with roofing repairs to the offices, replacement carpet in the Brindley room and a refurbishment of the ladies toilets all earmarked for attention in 2019, as well as the routine matters needing attention which arise on a regular basis.

Before closing his speech David gave a presentation of a number of wooden hand-crafted rifles to the Stourbridge Army Cadet Force who have aligned with SNT on a “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” basis to mutually benefit each other – half of the promised 40 rifles have now been produced and these are being used enthusiastically by the young cadets.

At the end of David’s inspiring speech he invited all to partake of a splendid buffet supper and drinks  from an open bar – this was a good opportunity for volunteers to chat and consolidate friendships whilst considering the future work required to maintain the site.

Mayor of Dudley Unveils New Life-Saving Defibrillator.

The Mayor of Dudley has officially unveiled a new potentially life-saving canal side Public Access Defibrillator (PAD) near Stourbridge’s historic Bonded Warehouse.

Stourbridge Navigation Trust has bought and installed the equipment, which can re-start a heart in the event of cardiac arrest. A defibrillator is a device that gives a high energy electric shock to the heart through the chest wall to someone who is in cardiac arrest. This high energy shock is called defibrillation, and it’s an essential lifesaving step in the chain of survival.

The group, which looks after the Bonded Warehouse and Stourbridge Canal Arm, secured nearly £2,000 funding from the Norton, Pedmore and Stourbridge East, and Wollaston and Stourbridge Town Community Forum.

The defibrillator was officially unveiled on 27th February by Councillor Alan Taylor as trustees, volunteers and local business representatives watched on.

Lance Cartwright, Trustee for Stourbridge Navigation Trust, said:

“The area along the canal is very popular with walkers, runners, cyclists and visitors to the Bonded Warehouse itself so we felt it was very much in the interests of everyone in the local community to invest in a defibrillator which could potentially save lives in the event of a medical emergency.

We were delighted that the Mayor was able to attend to officially unveil it.”

Councillor Alan Taylor, Mayor of Dudley, said:

“It is a medical fact that having defibrillators in close proximity can literally be the difference between life and death for people who suffer a heart attack.

This defibrillator will be available to anyone who needs it, and trustees and volunteers of the trust will be trained in how to use it should an emergency arise. Local businesses will also be able to take advantage of training too.

It is an excellent example of how organisations can use the Council’s Community Forums to secure funding for projects to benefit everyone.”

Training in how to perform Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and when / how to use the Defibrillator was given to over 40 local people who live , work or use community facilities based at the Bonded Warehouse later in the day by Paul Grove from Blackcountry Fast Aid.

Access to and use of the Bonded Warehouse PAD

The PAD is retained in a secure cabinet located on the outside wall of the office building, near to the weighbridge – it’s easy to spot the bright yellow box ! Access is via a key coded lock that SNT and the West Midlands Ambulance Service  have custody of.  In the case of a public 999 emergency call being made, the ambulance service will instruct the caller that this is their nearest PAD and tell them the code to open the security case. Once used the PAD is returned and a person responsible for it at SNT will be contacted about the incident.

Defibrillators are used as briefly described below by the British Heart Foundation:

  • If you come across someone who is not breathing or breathing erratically, the most important thing is to call 999 and start CPR to keep the blood flowing around the body. After a cardiac arrest, every minute without CPR and defibrillation reduces someone’s chance of survival by 10 per cent.
  • If you’re on your own, don’t interrupt the CPR to go and get a defibrillator. If it’s possible, send someone else to find one. When you call 999, the operator can tell you if there’s a public access defibrillator nearby and the code to open the cabinet.
  • Once the defibrillator is open and in position, all you have to do is follow the spoken instructions. The PAD installed by SNT is “fully automatic” and will give verbal instructions of how to use it. The defibrillator detects the heart’s rhythm, it won’t deliver a shock unless one is needed. You should resume CPR as soon as instructed by the defibrillator.

We hope that the defibrillator is never used but also feel that if a heart-related emergency does occur then it might just help to save someone’s life.

Leisure Mooring Available

Due to changes in boat ownership and re-siting of some existing boats a Leisure Mooring space has become available on the secure mooring area near the Bonded Warehouse.

If you are a boat owner and want to secure a permanent, non-residential  mooring at the end of the Stourbridge Canal Arm then please contact the Trust Manager on 01384 395216 to further your enquiry.

2018 Santa Trip Boat Success

It’s amazing what a great team of volunteers can achieve and after working on Santa’s Grotto from the end of October right up until the first scheduled Santa Boat Trip the grotto was finally completed – featuring new lights both inside and outside the building, a new “snowy” façade for the display area, new red ‘sparkly’ carpet, a festive display in the weighbridge window (courtesy of Della and Kate) and a host of extras we were ready to commence the busy Christmas schedule of around 40 trips over the 2 weekends leading up to Christmas, a Friday and a session for local schools.

It is a great testimony to the volunteers that Santa’s grotto was modified and improved from previous years despite seasonal colds hitting quite a few of us and Malcolm, a key member of the team, in severe pain from a trapped nerve which limited his physical capability, not that he didn’t try hard despite the pain he endured – well done to him for his commitment to the cause. Ann Pollard had taken responsibility for capably organising people to undertake the various duties required to run the Santa Trips – manning the wharf, steering the Blackcountry Man as well as face-painting, playing the elf and of course Santa was always in demand and under pressure. Volunteers also operated the kitchen, serving welcome hot drinks and seasonal delicacies (weren’t the mince pies great !).The office of course had also been busy with ticket sales coming in thick and fast as Christmas approached and Facebook / Website “adverts” galvanizing interest in this local Santa experience right up until the last day as parents desperately tried to get a place – “book early” is a good idea for the future !

Most of the Trip Boats were in fact fully booked and it was a joy to hear the excited children shouting “we want Santa” as they returned back to the Bonded Warehouse, urged on by John Ganner through his louder than usual P.A. system – and then Santa arrived on his platform at the head of the canal to great delight and cheers by the little ones (and many parents / grand-parents!). So it was almost time to disembark the boat and enter the brightly lit and animated grotto area where patience was a virtue for many as children waited excitedly and with great anticipation for their turn to see Santa whilst being amused by face-painting, family photograph opportunities and looking in wonder at the display area where Thomas the Tank engine and his locomotive friends must have covered many a mile during the course of the annual event.

Santa tells us he enjoyed meeting all of the children and their parents and was able to give out an early Christmas present to those who had been good which was well received by the children who went off happily with their cuddly toy or magic set whilst parents headed for the café for their hot drink and mince pie or stollen.

We hope that everyone who came along enjoyed their visit – the volunteers work so hard to ensure that everyone has a good time and of course the income raised is vital to enabling the Bonded Warehouse to continue to operate for the benefit of the community. We received some wonderful Facebook reviews, recommendations and many “Likes” from some of our visitors but we were particularly pleased with the following well thought out comment from Teresa Hodgetts to whom we as volunteers are understandably most grateful:

“What a lovely Santa trip today – I have two children who have grown up and have visited Santa in many places but not here, what a wonderful experience at an exceptional price. The wait for Santa was in an area lit up with so much to look at. Santa himself was so welcoming and patient with our little one. She has never got close to the big man and usually ends in tears and screams but not today – a testament to Santa. Just goes to show the not so well known places with volunteers can really achieve the ultimate package – Thank you to you all.”

The Photo gallery below provides a pictorial record of the 2018 Santa Boat Trip programme – if anyone has any personal photographs that they would like to share we’d be grateful to receive these via the Bonded Warehouse email address and would happily add them to the Gallery.

Amazingly the volunteer “Tuesday Club” will commence  deconstructing and storing Santa’s grotto and all of the decorations on 8th January whilst Santa has a well earned rest !

Finally on behalf of David Caunt, Chairman of  Stourbridge Navigation Trust, we  would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who bought tickets for our Santa Trips and hope that you all felt it a good, value for money and memorable experience – we’d love to see you again next year ! In the meantime we’d like to wish you all a very Happy New Year.

The Blackcountry Man featured in Towpath Talk

The Blackcountry Man trip boat is pretty well known in the area and many local people would have been onboard but a recent edition of “Towpath Talk” , the ever popular newspaper for canal boat enthusiasts,  recently featured a 2-page spread about the boat, its history and indeed its current role on the Stourbridge Arm.

Here are the extracts for Towpath Talk for your information:

“Black Country people were once the backbone of the Industrial Revolution – foundry workers, miners, glass turners – and the narrowboat with the namesake The Blackcountry Man is a living tribute to the heritage of local people. The Blackcountry Man was built in 1948 by Harris Brothers in Netherton for Stewarts & Lloyds of Halesowen.

It’s thought to be the last full-length 70ft boat built of riveted plates in the Black Country. In its more recent transformation, The Blackcountry Man was fitted with a Lister diesel engine, but was originally unpowered and would have been towed by a tug, a horse, or even the might of a man.

The boat was used for trade on the Birmingham Canal Navigations (BCN) until it changed career to become a maintenance craft for British Waterways (now the Canal & River Trust). Like many of the historic canal boats that have survived, The Blackcountry Man’s raison d’être had to be fluid with the times. In 1986 she was spectacularly converted to a passenger-carrying vessel for the Stoke on Trent National Garden Festival with the Queen Mother as prime guest. In 1991 she changed hands and was restored, and spruced up for new purpose in Stourbridge. The boat’s original crews would probably have raised their eyebrows over the addition of some fancies such as soft cushioned seats, side windows, loos, wheelchair access, taped music and (for goodness’ sake) a bar.

In her latest guise, The Blackcountry Man is a trip boat that carries passengers from the distinctive round-walled Bonded Warehouse to Stourton and Kinver. The journey can be enjoyed as a floating escape to the quiet backwaters of the Midlands, or seen as a voyage to discover local heritage or even a brazen excuse to experience this historic boat at intimate quarters. Like many of the best canal treasures, this boat refuses to retire. When the much respected boat operator Mick Bourne retired, Tom Downing and his father Andy took up the baton. Tom became the youngest boat master in the country at the age of 18, and he and his boat, The Blackcountry Man, both became national record breakers with local pride.

Cruises on The Blackcountry Man run from The Bonded Warehouse in Stourbridge along the Stourbridge Arm Canal and the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal. They also run special themed cruises and are available for private charter.”

Dates and timings vary and a full schedule of trips for 2019 together with an online Booking Enquiry Form can be found on the Stourbridge Navigation Trust website:


Santa’s Helpers Working Hard to Build the Grotto.

An urgent call to Santa’s helpers to start the enormous and often complicated task of preparing for Santa’s visit next month was met with seasonal enthusiasm and very soon the Bonded Warehouse was a hive of industry as partitions were erected, lights checked and attached to the ceilings and tinsel adorned wherever there was a blank space. The active display once again featuring the ever popular Thomas the Tank engine was also constructed – quite a challenge with items needing to be carefully positioned and a veritable spaghetti of wiring connected safely – it’s all looking very good I must say. The entrance to the Grotto has also been changed this year under the watchful eye of Pauline, one of the volunteers. The ‘set’ is more directed towards a ‘snow scene’ style which works well in showing off the festive display amongst twinkling lights. A new red carpet has been ordered, featuring silver twinkly bits so that should look very festive but creates another task to fit it (it all got a bit too much for Della at one stage – see photograph!).

There’s much more to do so it will be “all go” for the next few weeks as further decorations are put in place – it promises to be a spectacular show !