.........................The 2013 Season.......................................

A very cold January Morning 2013. Bittell breaking up to 3" of Ice.

January 18th 2013. Our Trip Boat Electra had just been in Caggys Dry Dock to have some work plus a repaint. We did not want to rip all the new black paint off the hull of Electra due to the canal being frozen up, so we pressed Bittell into service. This old 1934 Tug was built as an Ice Breaker by Yarwoods ans Sons in Northwich. The Ice was around 3" thick in places, with lot's of revs on the Lister engine Bittell broke through the ice well, be it very slow, At times we have to back up and take a run at it with the crew rocking the boat from side to side. This trip nrormally takes around 50 mins to do, Today (Because of the ice) it took 3 hours ! We did get Electra out of the Dock okay and returned back to it's mooring at the BCLM later that day.

Saturday 9th Febuary 2013. Bittell & Flying Scott on the New Main Line Canal.

On Saturday 9th Febuary We took Bittell and the Flying Scott Joey Boat to a canal clean up on the New Main Line Canal along the stretch by Caggys Boat Yard.

Tipton Assosiation organised the event with Canal & River Trust. Around 20 volunteers turned up to cut bushes and trees back on the towpath plus shift rubbish from the towpath area and below the waterline of the canal. Voulunteers used Grapple Irons on the end of ropes to pull out the many scrap items that lurked beneath. At the end of the day we all shifted a lage skipfull of rubbish.

Easter at the Black Country Living Museum. March 30th 2013.

Easter at the BCLM.   I was invited to bring the two Supercars along with the Black Country Live Steamers to put on a show for the Public. The only problem was that the weather was freezing! We had 4" of Snow the weekend before and during the following week we had freezing conditions with minus 5 dec during the night and zero degrees during the day time and a wind chill from the East of Minus 2 !

Only six little traction engines turned up because of the weather, I had the use of Brooms Garage which was very usefull for somewhere to keep wam and make a cup of tea pluss it was an ideal place to store the cars overnight.

Sunday March 31st. Little and Large, Overtaking the Museums Trolley Bus

BITTELL ROBBERY ? Monday April 1st 2013.

April 1st was a strange day.........I still had the Supercars at the BCLM when I awoke on the Bank Holiday Monday only to find BITTELL MISSING ?

Yes, I was thinking YEP this is an April Fools Joke ? But no......It had been stolen ?

By 11am I had a phone call to say that BITTELL had bee found only a few miles  up the canal with the boat rammed into the offside bank with the engine running flat out !

The Police thought that the steerer had fallen off the back of the boat and was drowned in the canal ? So after the divers had serched the bottom of the canal only to find no dead body, the boat was moved to Withymoore Island in Netherton for safety. When I turned up I found the rear hatch had been forced open they had trashed in inside of the boat and set off all three fire extingushers, thats why there's dry powder everywhere, but I did find some steel Ingots inside on the floor which did not belong to the boat ? I suspect they used this boat to break into the rear fence of a Factory that would have been closed over the Easter Holidays to steel a quantity of steel !

They also stole all the brass and other steel items out of the boat.  All I could do at the time was to take the boat back home to Parkhead Locks and tie it up on it's correct Moorings, then when back to the BCLM to start packing up the Supercars. 

April 6th 2013. The DCT Members Boat Trip.

On April 6th, we organised a Members Boat Tunnel Trip. We used the trip boat "ELECTRA" and filled it with 48 passingers, all Dudley Canal Trust Members. The trip boat was moored up in the Pensnett Arm to start with and entered the depths of Dudley Tunnel at 12 midday navigating the whole 2 miles of the tunnel including the Limestone Mines. Returning by Coach back to the Pumphouse at Parkhead by 2pm.

April 13th/14th B.C.N. Clean up.........Stourbridge.

After a frantic sort out of Bittell from it's ordeal two weeks later it was the Annual B.C.N. Clean up, This year was happening on the Stourbridge Canal. We (Dudley Canal Trust) Played a major operation in organising this event as we played host to around 50 W.R.G.S (Waterways Recovery Group) in housing them overnight in our Pumphouse at Dudley, These people came from far and wide......Just to pull crap out of the canal !

The rest of the volunteers came from local canal societys and local public which made up a total of around 100 voulteers.  

Four Working boats took part in clearing the rubbish off the towpaths, We pressed Bittell and the Flying Scott joey boat into action. The Volunteers are given a gapple iron and gloves each to see what they can pull out of the bottom of the canal ? You would be supprised what is lurking below the water line, like the usual shopping trollys, Bikes, Tyres, clothes, Bedding, Scrap, Road Signs......The list is endless !

The boats are loaded by hand and the taken to a desinated place to be unloaded by Barry from C.A.R.T. (Canal & Rivers Trust) with his Grab to load up the waiting skips.

Over the two day's We shifted around 50 ton's of rubbish ! We all went home dirty and very smelly but knowing a good job was done by all who attended.

28th April......Sagitta aproaching Kidderminster Lock

Our Mission was to get Bittell and Sagitta to Droitwich in two days.

Both boats left Parkhead in Dudley at 8am on Saturday 28th April. They both went via the Delph 8 locks, Stourbridge 16 locks and the 4 locks at Stourton before turning left onto the Staffs and Worcester Canal. 40 locks later both boats arrived at Stourport Basin for tea time.

The next day (Sunday 29th) we dropped both boats down the wide broad locks onto the River Severn, then navigated the two River locks before turning sharp left and up the Driotwich Barge canal where we assended the 7 wide locks into the Town. by 4pm we had arrived in Vines Park.

Bittell breasted up to Sagitta motoring down the River Severn.

The following weekend was May Day Bank Holiday, the event was held over the three days which saw some very nice dry sunny weather and 21 degrees celcius. Sagitta saw over 150 visitors during the weekend while Bittell did the Mayors Parade of boats through the park. Many thousands of people turned out for this event.

Bittell just coming back from the Mayor's Parade of boats to it's mooring. (Taken by Martin Attewell)

The following weekend (Saturday 11th/12th May) We started bringing the boats back. Starting out from Vines Park in Driotwich both boats started heading up the narrow locks of the Driowich canal. After assending the fist lock we came across the culvert that passed under the M5 Motorway, this was a very tight fit for Sagitta, but with about 1" to spare the boat got through. We were doing well untill Sagitta tried to come out of the top lock at Handbury where she became jammed ! So it was Bittell to the rescue.

After breaking one hefty tow rope I reverted to getting out the long chain, this got Sagitta out the lock like popping a cork from a bottle. We both turned left onto the Worcester/Birmingham Canal then started assending the 40 more locks to get to Tarbebigge. By tea time we had reached the wharf by the top lock at Tardebigge. 

The next day was a lot easier (Well for Bittell) Bittell set off at 10am traveling on the level for the next 30 miles around and through Birmingham back to Parkhead which took 7 hrs to complete. Sagitta turned left at Kings Norton Junction and started heading down Lapworth locks going South to Crick which was it's next event in two weeks time. 

May 18th/19th Bittell at Hawne Basin.......Coombswood Open Weekend.

The folllowing weekend we motored Bittell around the Dudley Number Two Canal which took around 2 hours to get to Hawne Basin for the Coombswood Open Weekend. I also took the Morris truck, I did manage to find a 14ft gap to park it up among the many canal stalls around. Weather was sunny and dry with plenty of public around all day.

Sunday May 19th I took the Morris to Bidford On Avon Steam Rally. A nice sunny day,  with plenty of Public around. Bob Walters had battery problems with his half size miniture Scammell truck, I helped jump start his truck with the Morris.

The Morris at Bidford - On - Avon Steam Rally. Sunday May 19th.

Wednesday 22nd May. The new footbridge is fitted across Blowers Green Lock, Dudley.

May 25th 2013. Halfpenny Green Airport. at War weekend.

Over the Weekend of 25th/26th May, Halfpenny Green Airport hosted in conjunction with the Militry Vehicle Trust held it's first 1940's War weekend. I took the Ford Coal Truck as a Cilvilian Vehicle. The weather was nice and sunny all weekend with a slight wind. Plenty of home guard around to protect us all from those pesky Germans. Plenty of Militry Vehicles around to look at.   (RIGHT)   Herman Gurring come's out of his tent to inspect his troops. 

June 1st and 2nd 2013. West Park Steam Rally, Wolverhampton.

The First weekend in June was supposed to be the last event at Weest Park for the Steam Event. I took the Morris truck and the two Supercars to run around the park.

The weather was lovly and sunny all weekend whith plenty of visitors which packed out the Park each day. There is plenty of dliberation about this event weather it should stay at the park or go to Wolverhampton Racecource instead.

The whole event was a sucsess even without the parade around the streets. 

Little & Large. 8th/9th June Astwood Bank Vintage Rally.

Over the second weekend in June I took the Morris and the 1961 Portafold Classic Caravan to Astwood Bank Vintage Rally. I see we have gone back to the origiinal field that we were all on around three years ago, which I find, a lot better.  I had a good spot with the Commercials surounded by Scammell Trucks !  Each day I did the parade of Commercials around the ring, I had lots of interest in the caravan, Dr Busker and the Quack Doctors played in the beer tent on the Saturday night which went down very well, Weather was nice and sunny all weekend.

June 15th/16th Pelsall Canal Festival. (Photo by John Smith)

June 15th/16th saw the 2nd Pesall Canal Festival organised by the BCNS. We took Bittell there on Friday 14th it took 6 hrs from the BCLM to Pelsall Junction and managed to get past 13 boats getting to the event, most of them were tugs towing joey boats.

129 boats were booked in not counting the 5 unbooked joey boats there. I also took the Morris, but just on the Saturday.

Weather was nice and sunny all weekend apart from a heavey down pour of rain at 12 miday just when the Mayor of Walsall officialy opened the show.

Sunday June 16th. Kinver Fayre.......Parade of Vehicles. (Photo by Martin Attewell)

June 16th. I was invited to bring the Ford A coal Truck to To the Kinver Faye.

After rushing back from Pelsall Canal Festival yesterday, I swaped the trucks over so getting to the Severn Trent Waterworks in Kinver at 10am. At 11am we started the parade of old vehicles led by the old horse dray. I parked up the Ford among other small commercial vans on the green oposite the Plough & Harrow Pub. The weather was overcast with sunny spells, this bought out many thousands of people to this event.

June 29th / 30th...... Sagitta at Braunston awaiting customers

June 29th/30th. Working Boat Gathering at Braunston nr Daventry. All the usual suspects were there, Well over 81 working boats attended this event on the Grand Union Canal. This year was the turn of the Fellows Morton and Clayton boats who were all crammed in the Marina at Braunston. All the boats went out on their daily parade led by the steamboat President and Kildare which took the usual 3 hours to complete. The weather was nice, dry and sunny all weekend which bought out the crowds. By the end of the weekend we recieved around 150 people on board Sagitta showing them photos of 50 years of Dudley Canal Trust and the workings of the boatmans cabin. 

F.M.C. Working Boats Warming up before their parade

13th/ 14th July 2013. Stourport-on-Severn Steam Rally.

On 13th/14th July I attended the Ninth Annual Stourport-On-Severn Steam Rally at Coney Green Farm. I put the little blue Supercar on the back of the Morris which provided a lot of attention as the Supercar had never been at this event before. The weather was very dry and dusty and up to 29 deg celcus heat !  Last year we were all up to our ankles in MUD !!

A good turn out of classic and vintage vehicles plus around 6 steam engines were there including Alan Bakers Fowler Steam Roller.

20th/21st July. 1940's weekend at the Black Country Living Museum. Ford truck in the Coal Yard. (Note the blackout headlamps)

Even the locals who live here came out to look at the coal truck, including the coal miner.

The Weekend of the 20th/21st July saw the first full 1940's weekend at the B.C.L.M.

I took the Ford Coal Truck there and set in up in James Willetts Coal Yard in the Village.

 We also moored Bittell and Sagitta on show alongside the Rolling Mills. The weather was a nice 26 deg celcus, Plenty of poeple dressed the part in their 1940's gear with road blocks manned by the Home Guard with Military Trucks parked around the village.    

Then the Air Raid siren sounded, and then you could hear the drone of German Bombers overhead. The photo above is the local Spive being arrested by the local policeman and an M.P. Aparantly he was caught in the Pub trying to sell Black Market Gear to the locals, he tried earlier to sell me some dodgy bank note's !

27th/28th July 2013. Welland Steam Rally.

27th/28th July Welland Steam Rally at Upton -On-Severn hosted the 49th event.

I took the Morris and the Porta-Fold Classic Caraven there allong with the Supercar on the back of the Morris. After a steady 50mph trundle down the M5 I got to the showground at 10.15am on the Saturday Morning. I turned into the field where all the Commercials are lined up, I struggled to find a place to park up with around 200 other commercials there !

The weather during the two days was dry and sunny around 26 deg celceus, but Saturday night was a wash out, the rain started to come down at tea time and did not stop untill the early hours of Sunday Morning when at 5 am the sun was back out again.

The roads around the site was a like bog ! but things did dry up by the end of the day to drive out again. Many thousand of public turned up.

..................... CONTINUED ON BLOG 2013 PART 2