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Coronavirus Covid-19 Update

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE:

Due to restrictions put in place to help fight the current Coronavirus pandemic we will be adhering to Government advice and will be cancelling all of our Blackcountry Man boat trips for the months of May, June, July, August and September 2020 as it is still not possible to put any social distancing in place.

We will monitor the situation closely and make decisions based on Government and Public Health advice regarding trips booked after these dates. We will be issuing updates on a regular basis on our website.

If we have not been in touch with you individually regarding refunds please ring us on 07889 908090 with the date of your trip and your ticket number which is on the ticket.

We are currently looking to arrange further trips later in the year if the situation improves but increasingly it seems likely that it will be 2021 before any form of normal service resumes.

In the meantime the Bonded Warehouse remains closed but our manager is working from home and is able to respond to enquiries about changing existing bookings and taking new ones for later in the year or indeed in 2021 when we all hope this the restrictions necessary due to this latest pandemic will be reduced sufficiently to allow some sense of normality.

Thanking you all for your patience and understanding in these very difficult times.

 

Blackcountry Man Boat Trips – Coronavirus Cancellations

Due to restrictions put in place to help fight the current Coronavirus pandemic we are going to adhere to Government advice and cancel/postpone all of our boat trip bookings for the months of April and May 2020.

Like many others in our position we will monitor the situation closely and make decisions based on Government and Public Health advice as to our intentions with regard to trips booked to embark after these dates.

We will be issuing updates on a regular basis on our website and Facebook Group Page.

If we have not been in touch with you individually regarding refunds please ring us on 07889 908090 with the date of your trip and the ticket number on the ticket.

We are currently looking to arrange further trips later in the year if the situation improves sufficiently  to enable us to operate these.

Thanking you all for your patience and understanding in these very difficult times.

 

“Tuesday Club” Volunteers Hard At It !

After the post-Christmas peak of activity for the volunteers at the Bonded Warehouse you would have thought that a trip back to the North Pole with Santa would have been in order for a well deserved rest, but no, the ‘elves’ are still hard at it with plenty of work to do.

The first big job of course was to dismantle Santa’s Grotto and importantly store it away in an orderly manner so that constructing it again later in the year (starting at the end of October) will be much easier, in theory at least. This job took us into February when due to the poor weather most of the volunteer’s energies were focused on ‘indoor’ jobs – we didn’t have to look very far to find those jobs either and more were added along the way.

The really good news is however that Tuesday Club has been bolstered by three new locally based volunteers, – Ivor, Geoff and Ken, who are all quickly finding their way around the buildings, discovering where things are stored and of course making new friends and joining in the banter whilst making their contribution to the cause.

Progress has been good with many jobs completed as the new volunteer workforce organised themselves into a number of small groups to tackle specific jobs (many involving paint!) proving that many hands do indeed make light work.

Amongst the jobs already completed, or almost completed include applying white emulsion to the basement ceiling, maintenance and re-staining of 4 wharf-side benches, replacing damaged flooring by the bar in the Brindley room, repairing and colourfully painting the boat hook from the Blackcountry Man, replacing a broken window on the Blackcountry Man, repairing the ceiling in the weighbridge room and apex of the Bonded Warehouse and similarly repairing the interior wall in the parlour which are now all ready for the final paint job as well as examining and starting to deal with a significant damp patch in the stairwell of the office building which has caused some cosmetic damage. We have been busy!

We have just created a “to do” list of a range of identified jobs and this already extends to just over a page of A4 so we are going to be busy in the weeks ahead when hopefully the weather will improve and we can tackle some outside jobs which are getting a bit overdue. Adding to this extensive list the complete refurbishment of the gents toilets will commence in April.

I must admit it is a nice, rewarding feeling to leave Canal street at the end of a busy Tuesday in the knowledge that a job or two has been completed, creating a better place for our customers to enjoy and importantly safeguarding this historic building.

The photographs show some of the team in action, other photographs will be added in the coming weeks and months as more known jobs are tackled, new jobs crop up and finished off.

 

All Hands on Deck for Blackcountry Man Maintenance.

With the new trip boat season looming ever closer and indeed an independent inspection of the boat, effectively an MoT, due later in the following week, it was time to give the hard-working Blackcountry Man some well earned TLC.

The boat was subsequently put into dry dock and firstly as part of the important preparation process given a good pressure wash to remove any crud that had accumulated over the previous couple of years.

A ‘call to arms’ was then issued to Stourbridge Navigation Trust Trustees and it’s enthusiastic team of volunteers to once again give up a couple of mornings to liberally apply the special paint required to protect the underwater hull of this large vessel – it was felt that many hands would make light work of the task!

Saturday 1st February saw the team assemble, confronted by what looks like a long wall of a hull, but undeterred paint brushes and 5 litre tins of the special paint were distributed, working groups established and application of the sticky ‘black stuff’ commenced.

Progress was initially slow as the size of the task dawned – you seemed to have been painting for ages and then looked left and there was what seemed like a long way still to go. However, with constant conversation about a range of subjects ongoing, real progress was being made and surprisingly in just over a couple of hours the job was done, well the first coat at least.

Sunday saw the team join up again for the application of the second coat – easier this time in terms of the paint gliding and adhering easily over the first coat but it was a little more difficult to see where you had actually given the second coat – nothing is simple in this life!

When the job was finished it was most rewarding to inspect it for any ‘missed bits’ but actually to admire the shiny finish – you can easily see what I mean by looking at the before and after photographs below. So, allowing for a period of thorough drying time the Blackcountry Man will be re-floated ready for inspection on Thursday 6th, hopefully passing with flying colours and then ready to make it’s steady way up the Stourbridge Arm with delighted passengers enjoying canal cruises in the coming months.

Update: The trip boat has now been re-inspected and passed with flying colours. Thanks to all who took part in the blacking over the week-end and to Ken Bywater, the boatmaster, for his continuing care of our asset. Just some painting left to do and the window to replace and it will be ready for another busy season.

Once again, the Trust has to acknowledge the commitment and hard work of the volunteer workforce – seen in the photograph above upon completion of the job – many hands do indeed make light work of a big task.

 

 

Flood Averted (just!)

The Bonded Warehouse (housing a partly assembled Santa’s Grotto) had a narrow escape last Thursday night due to the River Stour bursting it’s banks – the flood water reached half way across Canal Street judging by the tide mark of mud and was coming up the road drains. There was no more than 2 inches of clearance under the bridge across to the old Evans & White factory and beyond the bridge the area cleared by the land preparation work was a wide flooded plain. Thank goodness for all the land preparation work for the new development which has probably saved us from a big and chaotic flood.

We are in debt to Ann Pollard, one of our Trustees (and a moored boater) who asked a volunteer (John Ganner) and her husband Gareth to attend site at lunchtime to put the defence barrier in the basement – they were both soaked due to the heavy rain and we are very grateful to them indeed in taking this action.

The stable block on the opposite side of Canal Street from the warehouse  was subject of water ingress but there was no major damage caused though it is a bit whiffy as it gradually dries out. The photograph shows just how far the water reached – ironically impacting the freshly repaired and painted end door of the stable block which serves as access to the bar on Open Weekends – another touch up job to add to the list. The basement of the Bonded Warehouse was checked on the Friday morning and everything is fine other than just a very small amount of mud was showing on the inside of the door – Santa continues !! Phew !!

 

2019 Open Weekend Report

This year the Open Weekend was once again well supported by the local community who attended in large numbers throughout the weekend. The Trust tried this year to inject some new ideas into the event by having more live music, with hopefully something for everyone – we had The Shambolics,  City Limits, Matthew Richards as George Formby, The Fretted Orchestra,  The Endangered Species, Cheeky Blinders,  The Singing Princesses and P Body with many of these bands performing to entertain the crowds for free – thank you so much for that. There was a different portfolio of vehicles, new traders and food outlets. Black Country Radio 102.5FM also broadcasted live from a double decker bus with “live” commentary from a number of organisations who were plying their wares or causes (e.g. Guide Dogs & the RNLI). We hope that the changes were noticed and appreciated / enjoyed by our loyal supporters.

The Trust, as a Registered Charity,  relies on the Open Weekend as a major opportunity to generate income which goes a long way in helping to cover the costs of maintaining and operating the unique buildings to be found on site – this help is very much appreciated by the many volunteers who give up their time and skills freely to assist. This is an opportune moment to recognise the efforts of the volunteers who contributed to the success of the Open Weekend, whether it was manning the entrance, erecting the beer tent or simply having a presence on the day it is all appreciated by the Trust. special thanks must be given to Pauline Hooper who acted as Project Manager for the whole event for the first time – well done and thanks to you !

The gallery of photographs (in no particular order) below provides a lasting record of the Open Weekend from the setting up stage onwards but if you have any good shots that you would like to share, send them to us and we’ll add them onto the website.

Many thanks are due to the Mayor of Dudley and his consort, Cllr Anne Millward for coming along to give their support and also to the Stourbridge Army Cadet Force who once again did a great job in keeping the street clean as well as exercising the various dogs and doing other odd jobs which cropped up without a grumble – they are a fine group of young people !

Extract from the Express & Star:

Stourbridge Navigation Trust’s annual Open Weekend festival in Stourbridge was held last weekend and thousands of people descended to enjoy the experience along the Stourbridge Arm.

Christopher Dyche, treasurer to the Stourbridge Navigation Trust, said: “We had several thousand people, we had about 100 boats visiting on the canal, a large variety of craft and many stalls. We had vintage vehicles, steam engines, musical entertainment, children’s rides and canal boat trips as well. The whole thing takes place in the Canal Street conservation area. It helps raise funds for the maintenance of the conservation area.”

Mr Dyche added: “The event promotes the local waterways, The Bonded Warehouse, the conservation area, and it gives a weekend of free entertainment to the local population. This year’s festival was very successful and the weather was very kind to us.”

The event was fully organised by volunteers who are passionate about helping the local community, commented Mr Dyche.

Stourbridge Navigation Trust annual festival is on its 36th year and keen to attract new and younger volunteers. Mr Dyche said: “If people ring Stourbridge Navigation Trust, we’d be happy to chat to them and ask them to come along to volunteer their help to maintain the facilities and indeed to assist in the management of the Trust!”

For more information, visit thebondedwarehousestourbridge.co.uk

 

Coal and Canal Presentation Evening – 15th November.

A night out with a difference is being held down at The Bonded Warehouse on Friday 15th November at 7.30pm – tickets bookable direct from Brian Langtry only please on the advertised number or simply turn up on the door.

“Coal and Canals” is an exciting new production using film, narration and songs performed by the five piece group “The Zouch Band”. It tells the stories, heritage, history and culture of these two seminal industries documented by complementary song and spoken word – how they were born, developed and died.

The show is entirely self contained, being performed with verve, energy and emotion involving the audience in the  unfolding important story lines. It is performed by playwright, director and film-maker, Brain Langtry, founder and long time member of one of the Black Country’s  favourite “folkies” Giggetty.

Tickets £10 – to reserve you place at what is likely to be a popular show call Brian directly on 01530 416251 or buy them on the door.

 

Splendid Makeover in Ladies Toilets.

At the beginning of the year the SNT Committee determined what major projects needed to be taken on and importantly funded for the year ahead. One of the projects which was felt absolutely necessary was to refurbish the toilets in the Bonded Warehouse to bring them up to a standard that our visitors and hirers expect in this modern age. Funding was earmarked and a project set up to initially identify companies who could make suggestions about the specification, design and cost of such a challenge. We needed to identify a time to undertake the work when an important event such as a wedding reception was not taking place – quite difficult thesedays with the venue becoming increasingly popular and firms operating with full order books. However, dates in August were scheduled and the work commenced in earnest.

It was fascinating to watch the aged toilets and sanitary ware being ripped out as well as lighting, ventilation, floor and tiling which have now all been replaced to create a modern, fresh and easy to maintain toilet area in the Ladies area just off the Brindley Room. The job took almost 2 weeks such was the extent of the work and also reflecting the quality of the workmanship and materials to get the job done to a high standard.

The lights automatically turn on when you enter the room, taps also turn off automatically and the two new lights burn time is 30,000 hours. Two concealed cisterns have been fitted but will allow access to the pipework if we have any plumbing problems, white tiles are on all the other walls along with a new modern radiator. Heavy duty Porcelain floor tiles finish the room off and it all looks very clean in white and grey

The photograph gallery below shows the various stages of the work up until the finished article which we hope all of our female visitors will like and appreciate. Further works on the remaining toilets are being arranged, starting with the lower floor ladies toilets which will be given the same makeover treatment by the same contractor with whom we were very pleased. This is to be programmed in the not too distant future.

 

New wall and railings now in place.

It had been noticed for some time that the wall acting as a boundary between Stourbridge Navigation Trust and what will soon be re-named “The Old Wharf” was starting to lean quite noticeably – our regular Tuesday Club volunteer, John Ganner, a former builder, expressed his concerns and so did Jack the new proprietor of the soon to open pub – there was only one course of action to take.

A few quotations were acquired and various options explored as to how the work might be done, what we all wanted it to look like and of course as a Charitable Trust we were very mindful of the potential cost. In fairness it didn’t take too long to put a plan in place and over a couple of months the old wall which featured blue bricks showing the “SNT” initials was demolished, new stronger footings put in place and the new walling built. The final part was the installation of attractive railings on top of the wall to serve as the boundary, providing security for our moorers and giving a nice view from the pub’s outside space up the Stourbridge Arm.

The photo gallery below shows the various stages of the job from day one to demolition to rebuilding and the end product which all agree is very smart. That’s another job off the list and quite a considerable sum spent from the Trust’s bank account.

There’s only one small job to do now to complete the job and that is to re-instate the plaque which heralded the building of the original wall in 2003 – it’s only right that the history of the site is preserved. Photographs of the plaque is also shown in the gallery below and this will be fixed in place very soon.

 

 

Street Food Affair – Friday 6th September

This  event  takes place at the beautiful and historic Bonded Warehouse, a short walk from Stourbridge town centre. Following on from much success  we are inviting people to join us again on Friday 6th September 4.00pm – 9.00pm.

The event will take place come rain or shine outside on the cobbled street.

Street Food Affair is held on the cobbled street of the Bonded Warehouse and brings together the community for a summer evening with delicious Street Food, bars , live entertainment from amazing local musicians and the Twilight Art, Craft and Vintage Market.

A small entrance fee of £1 for adults with the kids going in free.

Wherever possible Street Food Affair also aims to support local businesses and musicians. We would encourage any local food traders, musicians, artists and makers to get in touch via our website at http://www.streetfoodaffair.co.uk/to explore how we can work together at this and future events.