THE STOURBRIDGE CANAL
The Stourbridge Canal, from Stourton Junction to the Dudley No. 1 Canal was completed in 1779 and brought greater accessibility to a glass industry that had thrived around the Stourbridge area since the arrival of the Huguenots. The canal opened up the glass and iron making industries to more extensive markets and enabled the capacity for the transportation of fragile glass items, on one hand, and heavier products, on the other. Previously it was generally only smaller items such as nails and hinges that could be transported.
The canals functionality lasted for about a century, finally being superseded by locomotives. It fell into disrepair until the latter half of the 20th century where it has since been restored.
According to a local account, the Stourbridge Canal was built into an existing water garden. The purpose for this is not yet apparent. It was called the ‘Hades’ which is indeed substantiated by a map dating from c. 1760, just prior to the building of the Stourbridge canal:
THE RIVER STOUR
According to a local source, the Stour was frequently navigated by coracle, a small round boat made of wickerwork covered with a watertight material, propelled with a paddle. This would have been used for transporting light goods up and down the river.
For an excellent account of the River Stour: http://www.blackcountrysociety.co.uk/articles/stour.htm#inddev
THE BONDED WAREHOUSE
A bonded warehouse is a secure house where goods such as tea, tobacco and spirits which were dutiable, were stored or processed. Outside is the original weighbridge where goods were weighed and subsequently stored in the warehouse ready for transportation. The Bonded Warehouse was built in 1799 and is situated on the wharf at the termination of the Stourbridge Canal.
THE OLD FOUNDRY (LION HEALTH MEDICAL CENTRE)
The ‘New Foundry’ was where ‘The Stourbridge Lion’, the first steam engine to run on a commercial railroad in the USA, was built. The Stourbridge Lion was prior, by about a year, to Stephenson’s Rocket. Another steam engine, ‘The Agnoria’ was the first locomotive to work in the Midlands or south of England and today is the oldest locomotive in the National Railway Museum in York. The New Foundry is now a medical center, ‘The Lion Health Medical Centre’, with 26,000 patients.
JAMES DOVEY GLASSWORKS
This building was part of the James Dovey Glassworks which was established in 1799 and was an early advocate of steam power which was used for cutting, grinding and polishing glassware.
THE CANAL OVERFLOW
The crane base was for loading heavier cast products onto the narrow boats. A narrow gauge railway track connected this to the New Foundry (The Lion Health Medical Centre).
CAST IRON TAIL PLATES
Alongside the canal-side and thanks to the close proximity of the iron works, can be found cast iron tail plates. They were constructed with wood workers dovetails. This was at a time when iron technology was in its infancy, riveting and welding undeveloped, so the default was to use a woodworking approach. The famous bridge at iron bridge is constructed similarly.
WROUGHT IRON MAKING TOOLS
Dave Galley, volunteer at the Black Country Historic Society, claimed that Mr Rodin, son of the manager that lived in riverside house, said these were tools to ‘puddle’ the melted castings, to stir the ‘grain’ and skim off impurities. They are now being used to support the wall. They are located along the towpath on the wall of the Riverside House site