Black Country Landscapes - The Stourbridge Canal & Glass Works Walk

The Stourbridge Canal

Easily accessible and a pleasure to explore the Stourbridge Canal links the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal with the Dudley Canal to Birmingham and the Black Country

The canal has always been associated with the glass making industry, once over twenty glass works thrived in this area.

Stourbridge Glass Museum

The canal was built in 1779 to transport coal into the region and then extended to help transport the world renowned Stourbridge glass out.

Stourbridge basin was enlarged in 1807 to cope with the sheer volume of traffic from this industrious area, even today its still busy, repurposed for pubs with outdoor dining and narrow boat moorings. 

Just off Stourbridge ringroad you will find the Old Wharf Inn. Its a great place to start your walk of the canal, about five miles with excellent towpaths and about fifteen locks. The landscape is quite varied with lots of glimpses into our industrial heritage along the way, theres a pub at each end so refreshments are plenty.

Black Country Landscapes - The Stourbridge Canal & Glass Works Walk

more Black Country Landscapes in the book "As If It Were Yesterday" now available in the store.

Photography by Simon Donnelly


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The Telegraph

Peter Donnelly's prize-winning essay offers a brilliant example of how local, and often unprepossessing, backgrounds can provide the material for an outstanding colour story. All his photographs were taken within a few miles of his home in Birmingham, Brierley Hill, at Blackheath, Bilston and Cradley Heath. He took them over a period of several months while on weekend walks along the deserted banks of the local canals. "Most evenings I never met a soul," Mr Donnelly recalls. "There was an air of isolation, and often desolation, over the whole scene, and this is what I have tried to capture in my photographs." The camera used was a Pentakon F and the film Agfa and Kodachrome.
by Dr Carl Chinn MBE
Peter Donnelly was born in Birmingham, educated at Corpus Christi junior school, Stechford and later at the holy rosary, Saltley. While at the Holy Rosary he took and passed a drawing examination for Moseley school of art at which he spent several years tuning his artistic talent.

On leaving the art school he joined Birmingham printers, Sam Currier & Son in brook street, St Pauls square, as an apprentice commercial artist. After completing his apprenticeship he left Sam Currier and worked at various printers and advertising agencies gaining valuable experience before starting with his working associate Bob Burns (typographer). Donnelly Burns Graphic Design studio was in Chapel Street, Lye before moving to larger premises in Cradley heath then Harborne.

Before starting the business Peter entered and won the Sunday Telegraph national photographic competition. He submitted an essay of photographs illustrating the demise of the Birmingham and Black Country canals with fellow photographer Norman Fletcher. To Peter and Norman, Midlands photographers and photographic societies seemingly had ignored the once great industrial arena that surrounded their everyday lives.

What an arena! what powerful exiting subjects for the camera; neglected canals, weed and web woven towpaths, old worn out narrow boats – redundant and half submerged in silted murky brown waters; steam trains rattling, hissing and bumping their waggons into line and the rail men who worked the line at that time.

Old foundries, run down factories and scrapyards – the industrial flotsam of a once great manufacturing region. Many six o’clock early morning starts were walked and many miles covered by Peter and his camera.

Now over 60 years later, photographs taken during those early excursions are being published - looking back at the time, long before the surge of change and reconstruction 1962 - 1965