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  History of the Basin up to 1970

Researched and presented by Roy Kenn

A Rough History of Hawne Basin, our neighbours and our Canal

 

As part of the process of creating an Archive for our Trust, I realised that a large amount of historical information was being collected. All of the information is available in one form or another but no-one, as far as I know, has collated it into an easily-followed format.

 

So I found myself doing something which was completely unplanned, but which I believe to be of interest. I will do it in the old-fashioned (but better!) way and leave it to others to ‘electronify’ it if they so choose.

 

April 1798

The Earl of Dudley’s second canal was opened. It

 

linked with his original canal at Parkhead and

 

joined a newly-opened section of the Worcester

 

and Birmingham Canal at Selly Oak. It passes

 

through Halesowen between Gosty Hill and Lapal

 

tunnels and its main cargoes were coal and lime. It

 

became known as the Dudley No. 2 Canal.

1834

   Hawn Colliery was opened. The colliery was

 

situated on the western side of the River Stour and

 

access to the Dudley No. 2 was by means of a

 

horse-drawn tramway. A basin was built to allow

 

the coal to be loaded on the boats, and the basin

 

was known as Hawn Colliery Basin. At various

 

times the basin was known as Coombeswood

 

Basin, Heywood Basin and, by the railway,

 

Halesowen Basin. Around the turn of the century

 

an ‘e’ was added to the original ‘Hawn’. The basin

 

has been extended once, possibly twice, since it

 

was originally built and has evolved into the

 

Hawne Basin we have today.


1841

A scoop wheel was installed on the western side of Lapal Tunnel. It was driven by a steam engine removed from Coombeswood, and this assisted passage through the tunnel. This engine operated until 1883 when it was replaced by a new engine which, in turn, operated until 1912


1846

Dudley No. 2 Canal amalgamated with the Birmingham Canal Navigations.

1839

A trial took place using a steam-driven tug in order

 

to tow boats through Gosty tunnel. The experiment

 

failed. Later, in 1913, a paraffin-fuelled Bolinder-

 

driven tug was trialled, this time successfully, and

 

this operated until the late 1930s. The tug was

 

named George and, unusually, it had two bows

 

and no stern thus eliminating the need to wind

 

after each trip through the tunnel. The remains of

 

the Tug House can still be seen at the northern

 

end of the tunnel.

1860

The arrival of Industry. Abraham Barnsley opened

 

the first ironworks. Two years later Coombeswood

 

was bought by Noah Hingley from Lord Lyttleton,

 

and the land was used to extend the Ironworks

 

and the Rolling Mills. A series of amalgamations

 

ended in 1903 with the company becoming known

 

as Stewarts and Lloyds. In 1967 S & L was

 

nationalised and became the British Steel

 

Corporation, which was privatised again in 1988

 

and closed in 1996.

1864

Haywood Forge opened. It was taken over in 1866

 

by Walter Somers. At first forgings were

 

transported by canal but they eventually became

 

too big for the boats and transferred to rail. The

 

anchor shank for Titanic was forged by Somers. In

 

April 1990 the Company were involved in the

 

infamous episode of Saddam Hussein’s

 

“supergun”, in which Company Directors were

 

arrested and wrongfully charged with breaking UN

 

sanctions. It took until November 1990 for the

 

Government of the time to admit their

 

responsibility.

11.04.1864

New Hawn Colliery opened

1878

The first railway arrived in Halesowen.

    1897


Old Hawn Colliery closed down.

1902

Our Basin was bought by the Great Western Railway Company and the Halesowen Basin (Hawne) branch railway line was opened. Note the GWR boundary post just inside our entrance gates. This was when our basin became an Interchange Basin.


1876 A triple murder took place at a cottage in Coombeswood A man killed his wife and two young daughters with an axe. Luckily for him, or perhaps not, he was found Not Guilty due to insanity, and spent the rest of his life in a lunatic asylum.

1917 Lapal Tunnel closed due to roof fall. At least one more major roof fall has occurred since then and parts of the> tunnel were infilled when the M5 was built.

March 1929 A disaster occurred at Coombeswood Colliery in which eight men were killed. They were Edward Barnsley, Joseph Chance, Harry Edwards, John Hargreaves, James Harris, Edward Jukes, George Parkes and John Westward. Just eight men out of the tensof thousands who died in this country digging for coal, the coal which created our canal and then our Basin. May they all rest in peace.

1944 The original Coombs Bridge was demolished, allegedly due to the threat of invasion by German troops. I find this theory hard to accept because, by 1944, the threat of invasion had been overcome. So, what was the real reason?

1963 Lapal section of the Dudley No. 2 Canal was formally abandoned .

1964 Dudley No. 2 Canal from Hawne Basin to Windmill End, designated a water supply channel only i.e. giving the potential to infill or to pipe sections of the canal.

1965 Canal infilled west of Lapal Tunnel when Manor Way was upgraded.

1971-72 Canal east of Lapal Tunnel infilled

To Be Continued…………


Roy Kenn                   nb.Placidus

 

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Hawne Basin, Hereward Rise, Halesowen, West Midlands, B62 8AW.
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