Cleaning up on the Birchills cut!

The former Birchills Canal Museum, 1990
The former Birchills Canal Museum, 1990

A stretch of canal that passes through Birchills, which is part of the old Bloxwich parish and boasts some of the most stunning views in Walsall, received a makeover on 25 June 2015 as part of Walsall Council’s Big Spring Clean voluntary scheme.

Council staff joined partners from Agenda 21, Ghausia Mosque, year six pupils from Birchills Church of England Primary School and the Canal and River Trust to take part in a canalside clean-up as part of the six week borough-wide initiative.

The old Boatman's Rest mission building (later Canal Museum)
The old Boatman’s Rest mission building (later Canal Museum)

The site incorporates the Grade II listed former Boatman’s Rest building and historic lock-keeper’s cottage, built c1900.  The Boatman’s Rest was one of three in the West Midland canals operated by the Incorporated Seamen and Boatman’s Friend Society (founded 1846). The other two have since been demolished.  The society was established to support the lives of men and women working on the waterways.

In more recent years, the building was used as the Birchills Canal Museum, but closed in 2003 after funding was cut. The canal alongside has become a valuable sanctuary for plants and local wildlife.

Birchills Canal Junction, Walsall (pic by Oosoom, c/o Wikipedia)
Birchills Canal Junction, Walsall (pic by Oosoom, c/o Wikipedia)

The clean-up was initiated as part of a broader aim to restore pride in a canal network that once transformed the lives of local residents.

The young people involved in the clean-up were excited to participate in this year’s Big Spring Clean campaign which helped them contribute some essential activity to help improve their local community.

Bashir Ahmed MBE, from the Canal and River Trust, said: “The students had a great day out on the canal and have really helped tidy up this local stretch of the waterway.

“We have some great assets within Walsall which are under utilised, the canals being one of them, so it’s great to see people coming together to encourage use of a beautiful location.”