Context 146 - September 2016

18 C O N T E X T 1 4 6 : S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 6 housing developers still favour almost everywhere.The Canal and River Trust is now left with only one small building, a ‘hovel’, the local name for a lengthmans (maintenance/inspection employee) hut. Its new life will be as a ‘welcome station’ for volunteers to recruit members to the charity Canal and River Trust. More new Taylor Wimpey housing continues along the river bank and around the Oil Basin. I suspect a new name will soon appear for this cavernous area of water adjacent to the river. There is still a challenge to find a use for this water area, at the time of our visit some five metres below the adjacent land, which goes up and down as the river floods. The last venture, a large commercial craft used for leisure purposes, did not go down well with local residents when it became a nightclub. New ventures are being sought. Our last important site was the lock island in the river, accessed only over the lock gates but with a his- toric collection of lock cottages (1844, Grade II). The terrace of three have all been sold to private owners and one is now a holiday let. Also on the island is a historic single-storey maintenance yard (also Grade II) with iron window frames with an ornate lattice pattern of glazing bars, and some lower panes with coloured glass, indicating a former use as a chapel for workers. Very little of the floor space is now required by the Canal and River Trust, so what can they do with this historic property that floods? One tenant has been found who occupies the old blacksmith’s forge but the future remains uncertain for the remainder of the buildings. The tour was led by David Viner, heritage advisor, supported by Audrey O’Connor, senior framework heritage advisor, both at the CRT. David Blackburn DavidViner with delegates on a swing bridge over the Worcester and Birmingham canal at the Diglis Basin (Photo: Roy Lewis) Canalside signage (Photo: Andrew McClelland) and an ancient crane at the Diglis Basin (Photo: Roy Lewis)