Tidying & Locking – a busy lead up to the BCNS Rally

Saturday 19th May saw a small army of volunteers busy round the Titford Pumphouse, preparing it for the 50th Anniversary BCNS Rally. This year nearly eighty boats were expected as the rally coincided with the end of the 24 hour Challenge as well as the Explorer Cruise.

The BCNS butty, Crow, was full of scrap that had been collected on various work parties and this had to be emptied and taken off for sale to a scrap merchant.


The ‘lawn’ had to be mown, tidied and ‘Crow’ put out of the way at the end of the arm. The BCNS tug, Phoenix, was taken down to clear up some greenery that was blocking the entrance to Titford Pools.


A LOT of boats would be heading down that way in order to earn their brass plaque. Here’s the one we earned last year. Still haven’t managed to find anywhere to display it!


Monday saw six of us heading off to Rushall Locks to help the 21 or so boats on the Explorer Cruise down from Longwood Boat Club on their way to Walsall town basin. It’s a very pretty flight of locks…

Rushall Locks

…but when Kirsty and I wandered down to check that all was well we found this in the last pound. Word was passed up the flight, Phil let some water down and in a relatively short time this…


…became this…


…and the boats could get on their way.

Brenda’s boat departing the last lock around 1pm was the signal for us to pack up and head back to Oldbury to celebrate Kirsty’s birthday in Wetherspoons.


Not too much of a celebration though as we were going to have to do it all again the following day to see the Explorer Cruise boats up the Walsall Flight.


Only four of the bunch from Rushall were available for the Walsall flight as Kirsty and Tug were having a go at printing T Shirts, but luckily we were joined by Brian Holmes who arrived early. By the time we got there, at 7.30am, he’d been down the flight, set all the locks and was already dealing with the first boat. What a star!

No problems with empty pounds on this flight – the day’s issue seemed to be rubbish and plenty of it! Gordon had to leave the top lock to help the first boat to deal with an obstruction under the next bridge. This turned out to consist of a sofa, a mattress, some tyres and a shopping trolley!

When the top lock gate was sticking a bit, this was fished out from behind it.


Despite the issues all the boats were through by around 1pm again. Brian left his car at the bottom of the flight so was not available for the ‘team photo’ at the top lock. Just Phil, Mike, me and Gordon…


…who then repaired to The Pretty Bricks, a Black Country Ales pub in Walsall.


This was our first ‘official’ taste of helping out at locks and while it did prove to be hard work, both of us had a great time doing it. I can imagine that if, for some reason, our boating life was curtailed and we still had our health, we’d be volunteering somewhere or other on a regular basis.

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