(Item 10) Taking the Year in Review (2015) Wednesfield North – The Wyrley& Essington Canal

The Wyrley & Essington Canal in WednesfieldIn the last twelve months the Wyrley & Essington Canal has played a big part in the Ward. As we build towards creating a new Local Nature Reserve, and developing the canal in Wednesfield as a tourist destination. The WE has achieved much local coverage as the profile of the canal and the proposed LNR has been debated and activity towards its management has been taking effect.

IMG_0273 willowsThe Canal & River Trust who own the canal are working closely with your Councillors as is the City Council to deliver the LNR. Wildlife audits and reports have been carried out. Plus English Nature is also actively involved. In early January 2015 I reported a Narrow Boat that had been set adrift then days later burnt out. This caused some disruption to the canal traffic. But it was moved by the CRT lifted from the water at Bentley Bridge and carted off by road.

    • January 2015 – Much chatter about a Narrowboat that was set a fire and was blocking the canal at the Linthouse. Boat was reported to CRT & Local Police.
    • February – There were still calls being made in the first week of February by residents to get the burnt out boat cleared because it was a mess and there were allegations that oil from the boat was polluting the canal. I also received On behalf of Peter Mathews, Chair, and the Canal & River Trust, confirmation on my appointment as a Member of the West Midlands Waterways Partnership.  The appointment is for a period of 3 years from 5 February 2015,
    • In March I congratulated Ian Lane on his appointment as the CRT New Waterways Manager.
  • April- A meeting took place between the Local Authorities and the CRT   In short it was reported that CRT now had two volunteers working on the management plan for the canal, and the LNR which we are seeking. They had a first draft to comment on.  They reported that they were working up a draft action plan for the end of May –


    • May – The BCN Cruise arrived on the Wyrley & Essington canal at Bentley Bridge some 21 narrow-boats in total over-nighted, in Wednesfield and had a great time! A meeting took place with regard to progressing the LNR.
    • June – Confirmation was received that good progress was made working up potential actions for the Wolverhampton part of the Local Nature Reserve –  The accompanying map shows where the sites are located.
    • July –On the 9th July I arranged for the CRT’s West Midlands Partnership to hold their monthly meeting at Wolverhampton City Council, I felt this would strengthen the links. I also received a request from a boat owner about the draught level of the canal- The answer was it varies! Busy month July- Giant Hogsweed is discovered by a local resident alongside the canal.
    • August – The first week end in August witnessed the return of the second floating Market at Bentley Bridge, over 800 people were estimated to have turned up over the two days of trading. It was however very well received by every one including the traders. I received a complaint from the public about residents pruning badly the trees alongside canal here in Wednesfield- After an investigation it appeared that the trees were not on CRT land, and the Council also stated that it was not on their land! In fact it was taking place on unregistered Land. A not very conclusive response! Also I received confirmation that the wonderful Willow Trees that sweep the canal at New Cross are subject to Outline Planning application 14/00083/OUT for New Cross Car Park, Wolverhampton Road for the construction of a medium secure unit and a block of 14 apartments with all matters reserved except for access was submitted 3 February 2014.  The application was reported to Planning Committee at its meeting on 23 September 2014 where it was determined that whilst the proposal would result in the loss of these mature trees, the site being bought back into use along with job creation and the proposed development providing security as a result of overlooking, along with new tree planting outweighed the loss of these trees.  The proposal was subject to a S106 agreement which has been agreed and planning permission is being issued. Lots of people are disappointed about this decision.
  • September – This was the month Mary & I launched a local walk of 4.5miles that kind of mixes local knowledge with a bit of the famous national walk of Monarchs Way. This is what we wrote at the time on my web site www.philbateman.com “The Monarch’s Way is itself a 610 mile hike, and I am not talking about making that sort of trek! But we have this celebrated walk way in our neck of the woods, and I have used that. It was where King Charles the Second took off chased by Oliver Cromwell back in 1651! So we can combine a bit of our national history, with local history and the local points of interest, like the canal itself. The Wyrley & Essington canal was constructed in the  1790’s, the waterway’s a heritage site in its own right! Currently the Wyrley & Essington canal is subject to ‘a bid’  to become a Local Nature Reserve, so if it is successful a LNR will run from the Wolverhampton City Centre through to Brownhills in Walsall. The canal towpath is already a fabulous wildlife walk. Providing a very different habitat to the nature that is on view on the Monarch’s Way, and the Mineral railway. Discover the difference yourself. I have always known that here in Wednesfield we have an interesting neighbourhood! But sitting down and working out a nice circular route has been exciting in itself. Now I think this is a very nice walk…what do you think??”


Another 22 Birmingham Canal Network cruisers visited Wednesfield Bentley Bridge. They had a good cruise travelling around some of Britain’s finest canals, and they tell me that they had a great night in Wednesfield. Iwas inform that some of the visitors went to the local hostelries, some visited the Cinema. Some Narrow boaters re provisioned at the Local Supermarket’s! Its great news! The furthest a person had come to spend the night in our Village was from Australia….Now isn’t that just great. The Wyrley & Essington canal is a historic gem for Wednesfield, and is contributing even now after all the hundreds of years to our continued economic development today!

  • October A smaller Pop Up Market took place at Bentley Bridge, the good news about this is the fact that this year the enthusiasm for Wednesfield via the canal is growing quickly. That is good news for our local economy. Plus its great for leisure and name placement.
  • November – Met with CRT Officers to talk over the success of the W&E this year. Also I received a complaint from a Member of the Public who wrote “was walking back from the village, towards Castlebridge, and I saw yet again another payback barge with a load of lazy criminals lazing on the boat( As per usual) wading through beer cans. No one ever tells them to get off their lazy butts. so I am going to fill a few bin liners myself I will feel I have done something, how come they get a free days cruise for a punishment it is embarrassing to watch them, time and time again, I back onto the canal so i care very much so…I did report this to CRT for investigation!
  • December –I have collected information that informs me that- January to December an estimated 84 boat movements took place on the WE. That is a 62% growth in movement from 2007 statistics. 71 Boats overnighted in Bentley Bridge and some 106 people stayed overnight on board the Narrow boats. That is a really great set of statistics

Meaning that some £10,600 is estimated to have been spent in Wednesfield from           ( Tourists)Visitors to the Village as a direct of the canal! Make no mistake this canal the Wyrley & Essington canal is a wonderful asset to Wednesfield and the City of Wolverhampton. It is a green lung, a fabulously beneficial piece of infrastructure that was opened in 1790, historical and rich in Wildlife.

It provides great cycle journeys and walks. It is a good angling water, and it is a largely untapped economic advantage which has yet to be fully exploited. Local residents love the canal and what it delivers for Wednesfield…..I am proud of the role I play in promoting it ,as do all the Wednesfield Councillors who all play a part in its development.Canal Boats Visiting Wednesfield

Phil Bateman

Phil Bateman is Married to Mary and lives in Wednesfield North. He was a long serving local politician having served previously on the now defunct West Midlands County Council... read more


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