Uncovered in 2014, this bywash has been restored as a typical example of this comonplace canal feature although it will not be needed for the final canal route which will now run at a lower level under Cricket Lane (formerly a hump-backed bridge).
A bywash forms an overflow by diverting surplus water over a weir instead of allowing it to flow over the lock gates. It then flows via a small tunnel into the lower lock.
“Since first walking the Tamworth Road section of the Heritage Towpath Trail I have been intrigued by the Lock 24 bywash entry feature with the extant ‘tunnel’ to the lower level, hiding demurely behind its 4 foot screen of nettles.
As I understand it, this was blocked by the ‘authorities’ many years ago to prevent any attempts by the foolhardy to try to crawl through it, or local dogs to become trapped.
Having braved the prickly barrier I started to remove the centuries of mud, weeds and detritus to reveal a beautifully blue-nosed capped perimeter wall, still with 80% in reasonable condition; readily restorable as a feature of interest, even if possibly becoming redundant.
However, as I penetrated deeper to expose the base I was puzzled by what I found. In contrast with the precise laying of the wall bricks, each brick in the base was 1/4 to 1/2 centimetre higher or lower than it’s neighbour. I wonder If this was to provide a 200 year old equivalent to a ‘non-slip’ surface to prevent accidental slips when being cleaned out.
Entry to the tunnel is prevented by a blockage of tarmac-like material. Removal of the ‘blockage’ will necessitate the fabrication of a security grill to deter interference.”
Lock 24 Bywash after initial uncovering in 2014
Mike Battisson investigating the outlet tunnel
Photo: Lock 24 bywash more or less complete. Mike Battisson examines the reconstruction. 25th April 2016
A fitting tribute to the skilled work of Barry Parkes and Rick Walters.