The Titford Canal also performs a water supply function. From the junction it climbs through six locks (known as ‘The Crow’), at the top of which a (once navigable) feeder the Tat Bank Branch turns off to supply Rotton Park Reservoir. The canal continues past Langley Green before splitting into two branches, leading to two small reservoirs known as Titford Pools. In the 1960s, it was becoming difficult to navigate, but the Birmingham Canal Navigations Society held campaign cruises in 1963, 1971 and 1972 to try to keep it open.

However, by 1972 it was becoming impassable. So the Society got together with Warley (now Sandwell) Council and British Waterways, and carried out much work on the locks over the following two years – in between working on other sites on the BCN (including the Soho Loop) as well as holding ‘away’ BCNS working parties on the Droitwich and Stratford canal restorations. And other groups returned the favour by working on the Titford – the Stroudwater Canal Society (now the Cotswold Canals Trust) were regular visitors.

This culminated in an opening ceremony on the weekend of 30th and 31st March 1974 – and four years later in 1978 IWA took advantage of the restored canal to hold the first of two National Rallies (the second was in 1982) at Titford Pools. More recently the silted-up pool under the M5 motorway has been cleared thanks to a Highways England grant, and even more recently the BCNS (whose headquarters is now in the former pumping station by the top of the locks) marked the anniversary of the re-opening with an anniversary celebration just a few weeks ago.

[The photo shows Oldbury Top Lock on the Titford Canal in April 1974 – by John Gagg]

This article is based on piece by Martin Ludgate in Navvies 324 (April – May 2024)