The Joy of Kidderminster

I really wanted to write something nice about Kidderminster but..

We are moving our canal boat from it’s old moorings at Upton on Severn Marina to its new moorings at Market Drayton so rather than do the entire run over the Easter weekend we decided to do some of the move this weekend to make things easier/more relaxed over Easter.

So we do the run up the River Severn – it was extremely cold and windy and it was good to get off the river at Stourport and back onto the narrow canals which the boat was built for.

Kidderminster makes its presence felt the minute you come through York Street Lock – the top gate is always surrounded by a mess of plastic bottles, cans and other detritus of Human civilisation.

So you head off up the canal, sneaking through the outer reaches of Stourport, the canal bank is pretty well kept, but unfortunately like so many other places, littered with dog shit. Quite why dog owners think its acceptable to let their dog spray its shit all over the place and not clear up I do not know.

Once you are out of Stourport its quite a nice run through open country until you reach Falling Sands Lock which now has security devices on all the paddles as the youth of Kidderminster think its clever to open all the paddles and drain the canal. The lock was full of more plastic bottles, a rucksack, plastic bags and other rubbish.

It’s a short run from Falling Sands, under the Severn Valley Railway Viaduct to Caldwell Lock. Now Caldwell Lock should really be a pretty lock, given its location tucked in under a sandstone cliff, but alas its all spoiled by more bottles, crisp bags, shopping bags, old tyres and other things which you’d really rather not think about.

Now you are approaching Kidderminster itself. Kidderminster used to be a very industrial town and was famous the world over for its carpets. It doesn’t make anything more, apart from rubbish and chavs (if the sample of the population on the towpath is anything to go by). There are some canal side properties that try to make up for the lack of respect the local have but I don’t think its working.

Kidderminster has two canalside supermarkets – a Tesco and a Sainsbury’s. At Tesco the locals seem to finish their shopping by dumping their trolleys in the canal… we hit one and the propeller ripped a lot of blue plastic into the water…. I’ll get onto Sainbury’s in a few lines.

So past some more chavs, more graffiti, the “drive thru” MacDonalds, under the rather grim ring-road bridge, through Kidderminster Lock, with its own collection of rubbish ((It might be a complete co-incidence but one of the worst problems we have ever had with prop fouling was in this lock when we got a small inflatable dingy wrapped round it. It took about 45 minutes of hacking with the breadknife to get the thing off)), and past the Wharf, past the dodgy looking winos with their cans of “super strength” “lager”, past the Sainsbury’s (which didn’t have trolleys filling the moorings last time we stopped) past a long section of newly built, and newly graffitoed, wall and you start to escape from the town. The canal starts to get better but either there was a rather inefficient plastic bottle recycling plant or the local think the canal is designed for throwing them in to.

By the time you reach Wolverley Court Lock you are out of the town and the moorings above the lock are good and quiet. ((But the TV reception is lousy))

OK I know that all large towns can have problems with rubbish in their canals but the rubbish levels in Kidderminster remind me of the rubbish levels you used to see in Blackburn and Burnley over 20 years ago.

It seems so sad that Kidderminster which has done a lot to revitalise its derelict factories, by turning them into a huge shopping area along with offices and college facilities, seems to have really ignored the boaters. People in boats wont stop if the ground their boats on rubbish or don’t feel safe leaving their boat due to obvious signs of vandalism and a high chav count.

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