Birmingham (and environs). We left Alvechurch and made our way in the approach to Birmingham through the massive (and impressive) campus of Birmingham University. We stopped in Bournville along the way,which is the purpose built town for the Cadbury empire. Toured Cadbury World, which is the still-functioning central manufacturing center for Cadbury products (read chocolate…). They were instrumental in the success of the canals in this area, using them for raw materials and finished product transport until the second World War.
Kerry got his fill of chocolate, and we have enough on board to last me two lifetimes (Kerry- probably until the end of the week).
We then entered the center of Birmingham proper, which has an extensive, restored canal network that rivals Venice in length (though probably not in terms of romantic interest!). We toured for the day on foot to the jewellery quarter, where still today, more than 70% of the jewellery for the British market is manufactured. We toured a factory, owned by 3 siblings, who never married, did little to modernize their practices or equipment, and when they retired in their mid 70’s, just closed the factory doors and walked away. The local council took over the premises several years later, and it is now a time-capsule museum of jewellery manufacturing in Victorian times. It was really interesting, and the tour is highly recommended- guided by someone who understands and shows the use of the machines and tools there.
We are now on our way out from the city: 24h there reminds us of the peace and tranquillity of the canal system in rural places! We did lots of locks, dropping from the plateau that Birmingham is built upon, and are headed along the Birmingham and Fazeley, to the Coventry, and then to the Trent and Mersey canals. We’ve decided to attempt the Leicester ring, eastern parts, that I tried to do last fall and was thwarted by heavy rain and high water.