Saturday, September 17, 2005

BLACK COUNTRY BOATFEST 17th & 18th September 2005.

Saturday 17th October 2005.
Ok, it isn't Birmingham. It has nothing to do with genealogy. It is a far cry from the noble sentiments of Key Hill and the dangerous exploration of St Saviours.. but I like it.
Armed with my trusty camera and an A-Z of the Black Country, I bussed out to Windmill End, near Netherton for the annual gathering of boats. When I arrived I was greeted by the bustle of the crowds of visitors, the chugging of narrow boats and the smells of steam and burgers.
The area is a network of canals and canal arms, joined by a plethora of bridges, set in a beautiful patch of countryside. It is worth a visit any time of the year as it is a haven for wild-life and flora. The Bumble Hole visitor centre is there for people to drop in to find out about the area.
There were lots of stalls selling the usual canal goodies, tombolas, charity stalls, a fairground, craft stalls, displays of dancing and boatmanship, burger stalls, a pig-roast and a beer tent, to name just a few. The rain held off while I was there although it clouded over somewhat.

Dozens of brightly coloured narrow-boats are moored along the many towpaths...

.....whichever way you look.

Bumble Hole visitor centre.

The "Swallow", an old working boat.

An old lorry. For the more pedantic amongst you it's a 1960 L.C.5 Morris commercial 30cwt truck. On the back of the truck is a WWII magnetic sea-mine.

An organ of the Fair Organ Preservation Society.

Canal-ware for sale. A large selection of tea-towels, books, postcards and, of course a range of crockery painted in the traditional "Roses and Castles" style.

This group is called Cast Off, a group of Appalachian Step-Dancers.


The Boat-Manouvering Competition. Boats are timed through a course, moving forward and reversing under a cluster of bridges with obstacles dangling from them. Formula One it isn't, but it's more interesting to watch and great fun for all.



....all done now.



Boats with bunting and flowers.

An overhead view from one of the many bridges in the area.

Cobbs Engine House. Built in 1831, the building contained a Watt beam engine which pumped water from the mines into the canal. The engine house was named after a farmer Cobb who was a local land-owner.

More canal-ware.

Visitors amble along the tow-path looking at the various stalls.

Left and right are craft-tents, but the big tent in the middle is, I think, the beer-tent.

The BlackCountry Man Canal Shop.

An owl (keeping out of the sun) at the Midlands Birds of Prey Rescue stall.

An eagle?

An owl.

The obligatory fair-ground.

The "Dry Dock", a great place to end up the day. The bar was built from sections of two narrow-boats, the music was traditional folk and the beer was excellent. Sitting in here I decided that next year I would leave the camera behind and partake more of the activities... the greasy burgers, pork-roast, boat-trips and more beer ;-0