The original canal serving Birmingham was a contour canal, in other words it followed level land. This avoided the cost and time of having to build embankments or cutting or locks, but this meant that it very ofter meandered, just like a river. In the mid 1820 a new cut was started, straight as an arrow, lopping of many miles, but the old loops were still left connected, as they obviously still served the factories and warehouses.
We decided to investigate a couple of these old loops. They were as you can imagine surrounded by the derelict remains of these old factories and warehouses, but there was a tranquility about them. The water was clean and many Canada Geese had made their homes there.
On the second loop, The Soho, there was more housing and eventually a lovely old house came into view, close to Asylum Bridge, we asked a fisherman if it had been an asylum, and he confirmed, but added that it was now one of the Queen's Hotels, in other words Winson Green Prison. Around the next bend this became very evident, even with its own entrance from the canal, looking much like Traitors Gate at The Tower of London.
Jacquie and I had visited Birmingham twice a year for many years, but spent all the day at the NEC at a childrenswear trade exhibition and only got into the City centre in the evenings looking for somewhere to eat. We were really surprised at the space and grandeur of the centre. There was no traffic, the old buildings could have been lifted from Athens and Italy and the new buildings competed competently for space and the fascinating statuary completed the picture. We enjoyed the museum off Victoria Square and returned to the boat having left so much more to return to Birmingham for.