View Full Version : Archived: Windmill End Pumping Station and Netherton Tunnel, Rowley Regis, West Midlands July

04-08-2009, 10:41 PM
Underneath the Black Country, West Midlands, are miles and miles of forgotten coal mine shafts, flooded and abandoned. Every now and again, someone's garden or a road collapses in on them. A hundred and seventy years ago, the area would have looked very different, with smoke from furnaces belching from chimneys, and the foundries turning out iron, glass and the machinery that made Britain lead the world.
Today, remanants of the industrial age are everywhere. This is Cobb's Engine House, in Rowley Regis.

It is properly known as Windmill End Pumping Station, and is a scheduled ancient monument and a Grade II listed building built around 1831.

The Newcomen engine that pumped 1,600,000 litres of water into the nearby canal was moved in the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan in 1930. Comedy eyes bleeder picture i'm afraid. :(

A 525ft shaft is under here somewhere. As well as pumping water from Windmill End Colliery, the engine house also pumped water from other mines nearby into the cut. But wait, what's that tunnel to the left of the picture?

This, readers, is the Netherton Tunnel, nearly 3km of canal tunnel started on New Year's Eve, 1855.

There were three long canal tunnels in the West Midlands, the now filled in Lapal tunnel, which took three hours to leg the boat through. The Dudley tunnel, deep underneath Dudley castle and Zoo is the second longest in England (Standedge is the longest) and this fella. Narrow boats still use it.

This tunnel is big. Tow paths on either side allowed horses to pull the boats along. Because of it's air vents, boats with engines are allowed to use it.

Originally gas lamps lit the tunnel, which were later replaced with electric lamps. Today, the tunnel is unlit. It is much darker than these long exposure snaps show. I thought it would be good for the big torch. It was.

This tunnel was built to relieve pressure on the nearby Dudley tunnel, where waiting times of eight hours (sometimes up to many days) were common. Refuge in the tunnel wall.

I didn't walk all the way through it this time, only getting about a third of the way in. Was I scared of the dark, or falling in? No. The gang of chavs rapidly approaching from the other end meant that I turned and left, camera with me rather than stolen and me swimming out of the tunnel.
Here is my favourite picture of the boat going through, at warp speed four knots.

Probably not urbex as the public can visit. Still, I thought it was interesting.