This week marks the 60th anniversary of The Battle of Stourbridge which took place an unbelievable 60 years ago this week back in 1962. The aim was to regain navigation on the Town Arm Canal and hold a rally in order to highlight the plight of the then closed Stourbridge ’16’ locks. Thanks largely to the endeavours of the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal Society, with help from the Inland Waterways Association, following a legal battle with The British Transport Commission, the rally went ahead.
By 1964, the Society had made an agreement with the then newly formed British Waterways Board that the ’16’ would be jointly restored using both volunteer and paid Board labour. This made history in being the first such agreement in the country. The ’16’ Locks, and with It the through route to Birmingham, was reopened at Whitsun 1967.
Undoubtedly, had this not happened most of the canal routes in the area would have been filled in and been made into additional road infrastructure. Indeed, the Arm was threatened with this possibility in the early 1970’s, hence the Staffs & Worcs. Society taking on the restoration of the Town Arm, and subsequently the Bonded Warehouse and its environs.
It’s interesting to reflect on what could have been and how Canal Street, the Bonded Warehouse and the canal route might have looked now if those in power had their way at that challenging time. Certainly looking at the local community enjoying themselves over the recent hot spell in a vibrant Canal Street with the now well maintained and well used Bonded Warehouse, cared for by the Stourbridge Navigation Trust, looking over it all with moorings permanently occupied by residential boaters all of this would have been lost forever if the infamous Battle of Stourbridge hadn’t been fought by local people for the benefit of the community.
Some of the pictures below show the scenes when the rally took place and also a recent portrait of Chris Dyche, SNT Treasurer, who took part in The Battle and supplied the information above.