Monday, 27 August 2018


SUNDAY'S BIKE RIDE EVENT WAS NO WASH OUT  Or, this will turn you green with envy (I don't think)!

When I was expecting no-one, my faithful friend, Roy of Stourbridge turned up on his bike and it was a wonderful couple of hours.

We found a short section of canal water at Parkhead Locks where we never saw our own reflection but did see through the amazingly clean water to the bottom.  This was at the entrance to the Dudley tunnel with 1884 in white lettering on the brick work of the portal above.

We then explored a short section of our wasted railway "of national strategic significance" (Network Rail and DfT on the 8 March) that has been completely cleared in readiness for the non-appearing local trams in, so far, 37 years of trying and being very trying.  Roy and I have other ideas.  We want the return of the regional and national trains that were so successful for 100 years until we started to put all our eggs in the one basket of road transport for everything and everyone.

Trains over the full 120 Kms between Worcester and Derby can take vehicles off the jam packed roads and motorways that run alongside the empty, double tracks of our forgotten main line railway.  This is a much better idea than the planned 11 Kms of tramline to destroy the railway.  Or, the proposed 87 Kms, eight to ten lane Western Orbital Motorway, nearby.  From my research, the UK's new tramlines are working out at about double the cost per Km of new motorways.  And the trams simply replace diesel buses and local trains that could all be electric, if public opinion forced the authorities to do it!

Parkhead Locks and railway viaduct is a huge area of open space that many never visit.  We did, though!  We found a 70 foot, beautifully decorated narrow boat going through one of the deepest locks in the land.  We helped it through.  It was called 'Miriam' and it was halfway on a two week long circuit from Sharpness on the river Severn between Gloucester and Bristol.  I now know what a cratch is and where to find the two cleverly plaited rings on a narrow boat.

On the, now hard, puddle free, and mud free surface of the towpath to the colourful Waterfront marina, we saw the proposed site of the tram stop - NOT railway station, mind you but, the so small ambition tram stop of all things.  And this on a partly unused, main line railway "of national strategic significance"!

For me, the grand climax of the short cycle ride was my magnificent guerilla gardening landscape enhancement scheme to cover the rusting, 20 metre high blot on the landscape of metal sheet piling that holds up a huge area of wasted, flat land bereft of its first time homeowners and renters to enjoy the shops on one side and the canal on the other side.  Roy liked the variety of plants there, including the blackberries coming down from above.

We finished the ride and parted at Saltwells Local Nature Reserve on the other side of Merry Hill from the canal.  This is an area of woodland and an SSSI - a Site of Special Scientific Interest - for Doulton's clay pit that is there.  It's a geological SSSI.

I'll organise it again in twelve months time to get you all out and about on your human powered transport!

Crystal clear waters v Smog of confusion, dissembling and waste

Crystal clear waters v Smog of confusion, dissembling and waste

Last week, it was the cleaness of a Scottish loch that enabled my wife and I to see clearly to the bottom.  For the first time, Roy and I looked down through crystal clear, deep waters of an English canal to also see the bottom. 

We had biked it to the entrance of Dudley Tunnel at Parkhead Locks - the canal tunnel, this time not the railway tunnel.  It reminded me of the nearby wasted railway "of national strategic significance" that uses the 150 year old Parkhead Viaduct that has not a brick out of place.

The authorities want the commuter and regional trains back on the 120 Kms railway from Worcester, through the Black Country to Derby but insist that only by spending £343 m plus cost overruns on turning 6.7 Kms into a tram line can the regional trains be achieved to complete the full 120 Kms.  That is their confusion.

The dissembling arises from our politicians and transport VIPs telling me that passenger and freight trains will still be able to be used alongside the six to ten trams every hour and every day.  Yet, they know there is only one set of double tracks that cannot be quadrupled.  To put it more baldly: they are lying to us.

The waste of taxpayers' money comes from these same politicians and experts using our money to pay twice to get the trains back through the heart of the congestion choked and densely populated Black Country.  In fact, rising £400 million for the two short sections of tramline blocks for ever the return of commuter and regional trains to deal with the increasing popularity of train travel and ever slower motorway travel.

Thursday, 23 August 2018

Sunday 26 August 2018 at 2 pm to bike, view and wonder

Our equivalent of the Russian Iron Curtain is a sight to behold and definitely unique.  And, what's more, we now have ONE hotel in heavenly Halesowen, a Travelodge and, another unique edifice - the bare, ugly, hellish 30 metre major roundabout that our home has such a fine view of.  Well, from Becky's old bedroom window, anyway.

On Sunday 26 August, 2 pm (move off at 2.10)  Meet in Farthings Lane DY2 0XU on the southern side of Dudley Southern (not even a pavement, let alone a cycle-walkway)
Bypass.  Motor or, better cycle there.  Plenty of parking if you bring the bike by car.  Or, meet on the soon to be expanded canal embankment, on the towpath opposite Primark and M&S at Merry Hill for 2.30 pm.

We cycle down a short wooded footpath to Parkhead Locks, its canal basins and the solid, brick built, Victorian Parkhead Viaduct.  Take in the magnitude of the blunder in putting slow, 6 to 10 an hour, local "bus on rails" trams instead of commuter and regional trains to complete the 120 Kms Black Country Railway.  We could have fast electric trains on a railway "of national strategic significance" that worked so successfully for 100 years until the 1960s.

Next, pedal power down the newly hard surfaced, puddle free, canal towpath.  Look out for herons, swans, geese, coots and moorhens. Past the colourful, narrow boats in one of the biggest inland marinas in the UK, to view the stunning sight of 30 m high corroded, metal sheet piling that nature is colonising, with a little help from yours truly.

Be awed by the thought that the embankment will be doubled in size and width to take the trundling trams.  Be shocked that my obliterated trees, shrubs, virginia creepers, cotoneaster and, brambles from above, will be no more.
3 Kms to this point.
From here, we cycle to Dudley Road, Brierley Hill to look down on the freight only Black Country Railway at Round Oak.  Remember? A railway "of national strategic significance" but wasted over 56 Kms in the middle of the 120 Kms between Worcester and Derby.  Shuttle trams planned for a mainline railway. £350m to £400 m to destroy a valuable, principal, mainline railway. Last time, in 1999, it was only a principal railway station in Wolverhampton and 20 Kms of mainline railway!  This time, 56 Kms!

We cycle a further 1.8 Kms on to the Dudley start of the 22 Kms Black Country Cycle-Walkway, at Fens Pool Avenue DY5 1QA.  We soon cycle through the Buckpool and Fens Pools Local Nature Reserve on this cycle-walkway to Barrow Hill Nature Reserve.  We keep to this route for as long as we wish, towards Himley before we return back to Farthings Lane by the route we came and then road.  Or, we keep to the entire, more attractive traffic free route we used for the outward journey. In a wet winter, this last unfinished but official traffic free 22 Kms route is a mudway for much of its length.  At the time of writing, it is dry. In three weeks time there may be puddles in places. Or, mud if there has been a lot of rain in the days leading up to 26 August. What a hope!

Please bring your own A-Z/map or electronic equivalent if you wish to make your own way home at any stage.

View the Oddity of ...

... the planned tramline taking over the main line railway "of national strategic significance".


My biking event highlighting the oddity of the planned tramline taking over the main line railway "of national strategic significance".
  • celebrate a muddy towpath turned into a smooth, hard surface for a responsible shared cycle-walkway;
  • view the Parkhead Viaduct on the forgotten, wasted, existing main line railway with no houses, offices or roads built on it - yet!  Only slow "bus on rails" trams planned on 6.7 Kms instead of commuter, regional and freight trains on 56 Kms to complete the full 120 Kms .
  • see the huge grass embankment to be turned into a viaduct for "bus on rails" trams and,
  • the beautiful grassy embankment spoilt by a double track tram line;
  • give feedback on my guerilla gardening landscape enhancement scheme threatened by the £343 million tram scheme on the Black Country main line railway "of national strategic significance".
On Sunday 26 August, 2 pm (move off at 2.10)  Meet in Farthings Lane DY2 0XU on the southern side of Dudley Southern (not even a pavement, let alone a cycle-walkway) 
Bypass.  Motor or, better cycle there.  Plenty of parking if you bring the bike by car.  Or, meet on the planned, expanded canal embankment, on the towpath opposite Primark and M&S at Merry Hill, for 2.30 pm.