Horseley Fields to Corn Hill

A walk along this quiet stretch of canal reveals industrial dereliction, and modern high rise dwellings. The silence is only broken by the frequently passing trains, in and out of the high level railway station, and the occasional pleasure boat. Today’s tranquil scene is a great contrast to the busy, bustling times in the second half of the 19th century, when a long line of tightly packed businesses stretched along the canal bank, as far as the eye could see. Each one of them relied heavily on the canal for transporting raw materials or finished goods, and so the sides of the canal would have been full of activity, coupled with the sounds and smells of industry.

This section of the canal showing the large number of businesses that were once here.

The tranquil scene today, looking westwards from Horseley Fields Junction.

The original canal, as surveyed by James Brindley, followed the 473ft. contour around hilly Wolverhampton, and curved in a north-westerly direction after passing Albion Mill. It then went under Corn Hill, and followed a route around the Old Steam Mill, to cross the site of the High Level railway station, before reaching Broad Street Warehouse and Broad Street Basin.

When the railway came to Wolverhampton, with the building of the Shrewsbury and Birmingham Railway, and the Stour Valley Line in 1849 to 1851, the canal was diverted to its current path, in a cutting under the top of Corn Hill, and through the tunnel to Broad Street, and Broad Street Basin. The original curve into the Old Steam Mill remained as a short basin, with a wharf for the mill.

A map based on the 1842 Tithe Map showing the old and new route through Wolverhampton.

This photograph is taken from near the front of Albion Mill, and looks across the canal towards the remains of the Old Steam Mill. The modern concrete fence and the brick building on the other side of the canal are on the line of the original canal which curved off to the right, around the Old Steam Mill.
The old Corn Hill bridge, and the basin that served the Old Steam Mill.

The original tow path that would have been on the right-hand side of the canal, was converted into a narrow lane, leading from the canal, up to Corn Hill.

This photograph from the other side of the canal looks along the route of the 1850 diversion towards Mill Street Bridge and the cutting.

The view from the tunnel, looking towards the cutting and Mill Street Bridge, which carries Corn Hill over the canal. The tunnel was built to carry the station approach that ran from the Queens Building to the High Level Station. It was extended in the 1880s when the station approach was skewed away from Queen Street to meet up with the newly created Lichfield Street.

Until about 20 years ago the tunnel had a rail alongside the canal.

A final view of this section of the canal taken in January, 2010.

Corn Hill bridge is in the foreground, Albion Mill can just be seen on the right, and in the distance is the butter and cheese warehouse.

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