Category Archives: Latest News

Santa Boat Trip Programme – Cancelled

Stourbridge Navigation Trust (the Bonded Warehouse) Committee last night made the very difficult decision to cancel its annual 2021 Santa Boat Trip programme. We are sure that many of our regular and loyal visitors will be greatly disappointed by this announcement and indeed so are we.

But, after consultation with all of our volunteer workforce who contribute to this event and much discussion and consideration by Trustees it soon became clear that due to the uncertainties in the near future of the forecast flu season, worrying Covid-19 trends and the potential for new strains and any subsequent restrictions that may need to be imposed, we found it difficult to commit to the significant task of safely running the Santa Boat Trip programme.

Hopefully, having learned from the experiences of the forthcoming Winter and with the promise of an improving pandemic landscape in 2022 we aim to begin planning earlier and introduce new ideas to provide the a full programme of Santa Boat Trips in 2022.

External Bonded Warehouse Repairs and Painting.

Passers by in Canal Street may have noticed over the last couple of months the Tuesday Club volunteer group have been really busy and taking advantage of the fair weather to tackle the maintenance work on the windows and doors of the Bonded Warehouse which have been left largely untouched for many a long year.

The work required was certainly more than the proverbial ‘lick of paint’ with the high top floor windows in need of a lot of preparation before the final coat of paint could be applied. The wooden frames where they adjoin the concrete cills were very rotten as they are exposed to the sun during the day and the extremes of rain, frost and wind in the winter months. The work required gaining access by erection of our platform scaffold for the safety of our team and then gouging out the rotten timber until it was sound enough to apply wood hardener and then filler. Of course as the Tuesday Club only get together once a week the work was spread over an extended period of time which at least allowed each stage of the process to settle down and dry thoroughly before receiving the primer, undercoat and top coats of paint.

I must say that the windows and doors on the Canal Street side and ends of the Bonded Warehouse look much smarter now with shiny new coats of paint and we hope that this lasts a good few years before we need to tackle it again. Doing the same job on the canal side of the building is going to be significantly more interesting  in terms of gaining access!

Whilst a small team was working on this project other volunteers worked on the inside of the building, giving the beams in the Brindley room a really good dusting followed by a coat of varnish as well as making good a few areas of the ceiling where the white paint was flaking. The cast iron bridge at the entrance to the moorings has also been rubbed down and re-painted, though the underside remains to be done until when we can ‘borrow’ a boat to paint from. The steps to the Bonded Warehouse and the underside of the lucum above the main entrance has also been given a coat of wood treatment. The fire escape to the side is also being maintained with just a final coat of paint required to finish it off nicely.

The volunteers have done a great job and have saved the Stourbridge Navigation Trust a lot of money by taking on this large project on a voluntary basis in order to keep the building maintained to a good standard for the public. The reward however is the immense pride they take in looking after the building as well as the enjoyment of spending social time with a great bunch of fellas. We are always on the look out for new people to join us so if you are interested in talking to us about joining the team, always pop down on Tuesdays and we can tell you more about the various tasks we undertake.

Bonded Warehouse Artefacts discovered in New Zealand

We were delighted earlier this week to receive a random email from Michael Hammond in Auckland, New Zealand.

He tells us that he was just having a look in a charity shop, rummage around in a box and something caught his eye – some Middleport pottery. He used to live around the corner and bicycle to work in Kidsgrove using canal tow paths where possible.

And after a bit of a search through a box he came across some mug coasters and got this ‘set’ for about a pound. As you can see from the photographs of the items the coasters are of local canal scenes, featuring the Bonded Warehouse.

Who knows how they managed to end up in New Zealand , but Michael thought that maybe one of our members or canal users might recognize the images of the coasters which perhaps date back to perhaps in 70-80’s?

Fellow Trustees have provided further information of what the images depict as follows:

Top Left, Broad Street Wharf, Wolverhampton (top of the 21)

Top Right, Bonded Warehouse before the dry dock was built but after the winding hole creation. So if my memory is correct the photo is post 1990. The first boat named Dadford went into the dry dock in 1997.

Bottom left, Bratch Locks, Wombourne.

Bottom Right, Gas Street Basin in Birmingham before its re-development.

We suspect that they were sold by Inland Waterways Authority and other canal shops including the Blackcountryman shop. They were probably a holiday memento present to relatives back in NZ as we do have a surprising number of visitors from down under, who hire boats often for 4 weeks or more.

Of the two boats moored alongside the wharf (where the Dry Dock is today, the boat on the inside is OLLY which was owned and liked on by Colin & June Beard. June was SNT Manager from c1988 until 2000.

If you have any personal recollection of the coasters or indeed have some of your own we would be pleased to hear from you to add more detail of these items found on the other side of the world.

Leisure Mooring available on Stourbridge Arm Canal

A Leisure mooring has become available on the Stourbridge Arm Canal near to the Bonded Warehouse. The mooring could accommodate a canal boat from 33ft  up to 40ft in length.

If you are interested in this rare opportunity please contact Heide the Trust Manager on 01384 395216 or email stourbridge-trust@btconnect.com for further details.

The Canal Basin which is located at the end of the Stourbridge Town Arm alongside the Bonded Warehouse provides a secure mooring area for both permanent residential and pleasure moorings as well as being the operating base for the Blackcountry Man Trip Boat.

Various facilities are on offer within the basin which include:

  • Sanitary Station
  • Pump Out (10:30-14:30 Monday-Friday) – this MUST be booked in advance.
  • Water (water is provided at the CRT funded water point situated on Joyner’s Wharf  near to the arch bridge).
  • Calor Gas, Coal plus other small chandlery items, Oil, Elsan Blue, maps etc. provided by ABC Marine.
  • Dry Dock (book in advance via ABC Marine Services 07968 508872)

NOTE:

There is a 70ft Winding Hole at the end of the arm alongside the Bonded Warehouse.

Stourbridge Town Centre is a short walk from the visitor moorings and includes a large Tesco Extra Store in the Crown Centre, a Waitrose in the Rye Market plus other major outlets which should be able to supply most boaters’ needs (including some good pubs!).

The towpath from Wordsley Junction to the end of the Town arm has recently benefited from a major upgrade and is hard surfaced for its entire length and is popular with walkers, cyclists and local fishermen.

Stourbridge Navigation Trust – 2021 Annual Open Weekend

At the Stourbridge Navigation Trust committee meeting of 20th May, after much discussion  the difficult decision to cancel the 2021 Open Weekend was taken. We know that will no doubt disappointment all of those who actively participate in this annual event and also members of the public who flock in their thousands to enjoy this weekend with us in Canal Street.

Clearly the lingering uncertainty of Covid-19 was a significant factor in the decision as we felt it would be impossible to control numbers in attendance and to maintain requisite social distancing measures that may remain in place – of course we would also need to ensure our insurance policies covered Covid eventualities after an in-depth risk assessment.  Many of our visitors to the Open Weekend are younger people and we can’t be sure that vaccination programme would have reached this demographic group. This year we also have neighbouring activities to consider – specifically the likely unavailability of the carparking area reserved for traders on a space in Old Wharf Road where housing development will potentially soon commence.

We have also seen significant growth in ‘traffic’ by members of the public legitimately setting off on cycle rides, walks and visits to the Old Wharf public house from Canal Street, making it increasingly difficult to manage access at the entrance to the street.

At a practical level we also have less time available to organise such a large scale event so with all things being considered, with great reluctance, it was unanimously decided to cancel this years event.

Bonded Warehouse Opening Up out of Lockdown

In line with Government guidance we are pleased to announce a cautious re-opening of the Bonded Warehouse for a number of our clubs and societies. Activities such as Pilates are already operational and our long-standing hosting arrangement of the Stourbridge Photographic Society will soon be following suit, as will the monthly Friday night Jazz Club.

Looking ahead we are already taking bookings for hire of the Brindley Room for wedding receptions into 2022 as well as for other celebratory parties – it’s great to see that support for our unique building is still strong after months of enforced closure. The good news is that the Tuesday Club of stalwart volunteers have done a sterling job by dusting off and varnishing the aged beams as well as painting the white ceiling areas where the paint was in places peeling off – it looks really good and is ready to go for your party.   Oh, and yes all of the toilet facilities have now been fully re-furbished to a good standard !

All enquiries to our manager Heide on 01384 392516

We look forward to welcoming you back !

Dr Bikes at the Bonded Warehouse – 3rd May / 23rd May / 5th June

CYCLISTS across the Dudley borough can drop in for a free bike MOT service this month.

Dudley Council’s road safety team is running Dr Bike sessions, funded by Cycling UK, giving people chance to take their bikes along for a free MOT, with minor repairs carried out free of charge.

The next sessions for 2021 will take place on the weighbridge at The Bonded Warehouse in Stourbridge  as follows:

  •  Monday 3rd May, 10.30am – 12.30pm and 1.30pm -3.30pm
  • Saturday 23rd May, 10.30am – 12.30pm and 1.30pm -3.30pm
  • Saturday 5th June , 10.30am – 12.30-pm

Examination of the bikes and any repairs is free of charge and is carried out by trained technicians.

West Midlands Cycle Hire

West Midlands Cycle Hire  launched in Stourbridge on 26th April.

Upon the launch they stated “We hope cycle hire will help to promote more active and healthy travel for short journeys, and also to re-engage people with cycling for leisure and exercise!

We have a docking station near to the Bonded Warehouse, so  from that start point there is a great cycle route all the way to Kingswinford (where we have another dock), and also routes into the town centre. You can view the map of our locations here on our website; www.wmcyclehire.co.uk/stations

Try a fun, healthy and greener way to travel this spring as West Midlands Cycle Hire rolls out in Stourbridge. To celebrate the launch you can enjoy your first 30-minute bike ride absolutely free. To receive the offer simply download the Beryl Cycle Hire app and register your details.

The scheme is designed to help offer more people the opportunity to enjoy cycling and offers a convenient alternative to the car or public transport for shorter journeys.

There are docking stations across Stourbridge including Stourbridge Bus Station, near the Bonded Warehouse and in the town centre.

To use the scheme download and register on the Beryl Cycle Hire app. Using the app you can find your nearest station and the simply tap to unlock a bike!

So, what are you waiting for?

More details online: WMCycleHire.co.uk Follow us on social media: @wmcyclehire #wmcyclehire

Good to see The Prime Minister on a “Boris bike” going along the Stourbridge Arm with Andy Street the West Midlands Mayor.

Road Map out of Lockdown [Updated 1st May]

Following the Government’s publication of the Roadmap out of Lockdown we have received many enquiries about our plans for re-opening the Bonded Warehouse to community activities. We are as keen as you to return to some sort of normal but will be cautious in our approach as urged by Government and will re-start activities strictly in line with their guidance and rules.

As far as Room Bookings are concerned some activities will be able to commence before others, and we are still expected to operate as a Covid-secure environment – we would ask that if you are considering booking our unique venue that you contact Heide, our manager on 01384 395216 or via Facebook Messenger / email, in order to discuss your requirements which will require a fairly detailed discussion to ensure compliance.

We anticipate that it will be 21st June before we are allowed to commence our popular boat trip programme on the Blackcountry Man therefore we have tentatively scheduled the first public trip for Friday 2nd July to Stourton.

The Summary of the Government Roadmap which we are trying to adhere to can be found through this link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-response-spring-2021/covid-19-response-spring-2021-summary

Of course progressing the Roadmap out of Lockdown dates depends on certain criteria being met so a certain amount of uncertainty is still with us in terms of being able make any guarantees in the immediate future.

As the picture unfolds and becomes clearer we will of course provide more detailed updates and look forward to welcoming you back real soon! Things are starting to look more positive now and we can now report the following after consultation with our valued clients:

Exercise groups can return from 17st May, Stourbridge Bonsai club return 23th May, Jazz Club returns 9th July as per the Government steps to re-opening. Weddings and parties in the Brindley function room can resume from 21 June. Stourbridge Photographic Society are returning on 1 July so we have booked in another yoga class for six weeks commencing 20th May.

Many thanks for your continued support.

Despite Covid-19 Lockdown Work Continues at SNT

We thought that our loyal supporters and the public at large may be interested to know what has been going on at the Bonded Warehouse during the last 6 months of ‘lockdown’ due to the Coronavirus Cov-19 pandemic. Despite the limiting nature of the measures required as a result of the Coronavirus Cov-19 pandemic and the subsequent cancellation of annual events at the Bonded Warehouse we have managed to make a lot of progress with many of the major projects which were approved at our January 2020 Trust Meeting.

Passers-by may have noticed the recent scaffolding which was required to safely facilitate the last stage of repairs to the roof of the office buildings. We took the opportunity of the scaffolding being in place to commission a replacement of guttering and re-pointing of the rear wall which in places was in a poor state causing water ingress through the walls causing damp patches in the ground floor parlour and stairwell. A job well done and one which will safeguard the integrity of the building for many years to come.

Following the successful refurbishment of the Ladies toilets last year, the same extensive treatment has been given to the Men’s toilet in the Bonded Warehouse. One of the few advantages of the building being closed is that the contractor could work safely, avoiding interaction with our customers and generally it didn’t cause us any bookings inconvenience as the building wasn’t being used. All the tiling and flooring has been finished too and it does look very nice and to a high standard – Gents please watch your aim!

The three boilers in the Bonded Warehouse have been serviced with the good news that they have passed the required tests and we have a new gas safety certificate. Repair work has also been done on the control panel in the Bonded Warehouse for the heating system, requiring the replacement of a few outdated components. The gas meter in the Bonded Warehouse has also been changed. The electrician has completed the annual electrical inspection at the Bonded Warehouse and this has pleasingly passed without any further work needed to be carried out. Nine new LED lights have been fitted in the Brindley Room, securely attached by new cables to the beams to prevent hirers from attaching items around them. Two new ceiling lights outside the toilets have also been fitted and the outside lighting by the fire escape is now working properly on the light sensor. The new lights are very bright when you look directly at them so have been finely adjusted to avoid them shining into people’s eyes.

Of course all of the above projects will enhance and safeguard the buildings and some of the maintenance tasks are now mandatory to ensure that as a facility used by the public it is a certified as safe – this has meant a significant hit on our funding given that our main income streams have needed to be cancelled, but due to great fiscal diligence by our Treasurer, Chris Dyche, we are keeping our heads above water (no pun intended – well OK it was!) and financially we are positioned satisfactorily going forwards and certainly better off than many other charitable organisations and businesses who have serious concerns for their survival.

We are delighted to report that following a risk assessment and consultation with many of our regular hirers (e.g. Yoga and Slimming World) we are now starting to ‘open up’ the Bonded Warehouse as long as social distancing measures and other Government guidelines are complied with. Pilates classes on Mondays and Thursdays during the day are also resuming on 7th September, Meditation class are considering returning on 9th September. Yoga evening classes are considering returning towards the end of September along with the Stourbridge Bonsai Society.

Posters and hand sanitisers are in place in the building as protective safeguards for our hirers. Our Manager, Heide, has sent out our risk assessment and special conditions of hire with regard to Covid-19 to our regular hiring groups and any groups that are returning will have to add their Covid-19 risks to their risk assessment form. Groups such as Slimming World that have multiple sessions in one room hire meeting will be exiting the building from the Brindley room down the rear fire escape and out through the gate into Canal Street using a one way system.

Malcolm, one of our stalwart Tuesday Club volunteers, has kindly put up hand towel dispensers in the Kitchen, Green room in the Bonded Warehouse, basement kitchen and the Elsan, as we can’t use our normal towels due to Covid-19. Disposable / once usable paper towels are a cleaner safer option. Also the office building has been fitted with two dispensers in lieu of hand dryers.

Our manager has held a meeting with our Cleaner and Caretaker to discuss issues about re-opening the building and agreed enhanced cleaning procedures, they have been provided with -Covid-19 cleaning requirements for them to follow and to decide on a cleaning schedule to work around the groups that will be hiring. PPE such as plastic aprons, gloves and a face visor have been made available as we need to insure their safe working conditions and also that of the public that are using our buildings.

This essential preparation has clearly involved a lot of work by our Manager to whom we owe an enormous debt of gratitude in working hard to ensure that we are all as safe as possible.

Malcolm again has been very busy undertaking Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) in the Bonded Warehouse and the offices, yesterday he was working all day in the basement to ensure that all of our electrical items, and there quite a few are working safely and compliant with the standards – thank you Malcolm, it is most appreciated.

On the technology front, we have invested in BT’s new BT Halo System which commenced on 19th August so it will be a change over from a normal phone line to the internet based solution which affords greater clarity on the new handsets and has inbuilt resilience of 4G in the event of broadband outage. On the back of the installation of the necessary new router we have installed three BT Wi-Fi extender disks to give improved coverage across the offices and the warehouse for the benefit of our volunteers but also as a service improvement to our hirers who will soon be able to access the managed free to use Guest Wi-Fi service.

In addition, because we were having problems with the annual PCI DSS certification, we have installed a new Credit Card device using GPRS access which will improve our capability to take payments in both buildings using a roaming SIM – the signal is excellent even in the carpark.

Letters have been posted to all of our Tuesday Club volunteers providing them with an update of activities and importantly asking if they would like to return back on 1st September. We are pleased to report that the group has since reformed and have an unusual and quite beneficial situation in that they can concentrate on routine maintenance tasks for the immediate future as resources will not be required to orchestrate the Open Weekend and Santa Trips – the proverbial silver lining in the Coronavirus dark cloud. Expect to see many a paint brush earnestly in action over the forthcoming months. Just today one team replaced a rotting window cill on the top floor of the rounded end of the building whilst others did a litter pick (4 bins full) and tidied the overgrowing vegetation on the carpark which now looks much better.

If you would like to join us at the Tuesday Club please get in touch as many hands do indeed make light work. It is a fulfilling role and one to which you can commit as much or little time as you are able.

We hope that you find this update of interest, useful to know and that you will return to provide your valued support to Stourbridge Navigation Trust in 2021 when perhaps we can return to some sort of normality.