The weir stones of Brindley

Recently, I posted about weirs at locks on the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal, inspired by Ray Shill’s book Silent Highways.  It seems to me that the chief engineer, James Brindley, and his assistants were experimenting with weir design along this stretch of canal, so here are a few images taken at various locks from Compton, Wolverhampton, down to Stourport.  Most folk don’t seem to notice these bits of engineering – I have seen them not noticing.

circular weir Compton Lock s
“Circular weir, Compton – the circular weir was installed at many of the earliest locks on the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal. It is a design linked to James Brindley.” (Ray Shill)

The image above is from my earlier post, and is apparently one of the first built on this canal.  But they are not all circular, or walled off in similar ways.

Going down stream from Compton, the next lock is Wightwick Mill Lock,

circular weir Wightwick Mill Lock
Circular weir, Wightwick Mill Lock.

After that is Wightwick Lock, where the water is carried through an open channel on the off side, which seems more simple.

Wightwick Lock 2
Wightwick Lock. overflow channel from top.

Next up (or down) is Dimmingsdale Lock.  I missed getting an image of the weir, but this is at the downstream end, where a feeder comes in.

Dimmingsdale 3
Dimmingsdale Lock downstream. Ahead is a feeder. Coming in from the left is the side pound, and off to the right is the return to the canal.

Update:  actually, I did get an image, though it is not that obvious, as it is some way upstream of the lock.

Dimmingsdale 4
Weir above Dimmingsdale Lock. The water goes under the concrete beneath the abandoned stack, then down a channel to join the feeder below the lock (see above). The post with the green arrow indicates visitor moorings above the lock (unusually on the off side).

Then it’s Ebstree Lock.

Ebstree Lock 2 weir
Ebstree Lock weir, but why this shape?  The fence is obviously not from the 1760s.
Ebstree Lock 5 landing
Ebstree Lock sidewash. This is the downstream return to the canal at the lock landing, which can be tricky for a single hander like me.

Awbridge Lock, with ornate brickwork, and another circular weir, comes next.

Awbridge Bridge
Awbridge Bridge (49)
Awbridge circular weir
Awbridge Lock weir.

Another circular weir, but this one has a wall all around.

After that comes The Bratch, which deserves a separate post.

The locks (or weirs) featured above were built in the 1760s, just over 250 years ago.  My boatman ancestors used these locks and they probably didn’t look much different back then, except that there are more trees now, and that blasted Himalayan balsam that is squeezing the life out of local flora (and therefore fauna) in the Stour valley, and other places).

Did my ancestors notice these things?  Probably, because what else would they do while waiting for the lock to fill or empty, even if Mrs Evans (the times) had made a cup of tea or a sandwich?

The title?  Well, James Brindley was the engineer.  The reference in the title is to The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, by Alan Garner, which my junior school class did with Mr Caffrey.  My apologies to Alan Garner.


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