Farmer’s Bridge Locks, looking towards Newhall Street Bridge, c. 1913. Elkington’s were partners in a small ironworks on the left of the picture. They became pioneers in the electroplate trade and built up extensive premises on both sides of the canal. Here a horse, seen feeding from its nose bucket, is crossing the side bridge over Whitmore’s Arm (Capt. Ahab provides a really useful exploration of the remains of the Arm HERE). Much of the property on the left -hand side of the canal belonged to the Colmore family. Whitmore’s Arm was a private canal owned by the Colmore Estate, which served a number of works and factories in Charlotte Street and George Street. Photo: Birmingham Reference Library Text: based on pg 64 (of the wonderfully evocative) Birmingham’s Canals by Ray Shill  Additional Information: Newhall Street stretches from Colmore Row in the city centre by St Phillip’s Cathedral in a north-westerly direction towards the Jewellery Quarter. Originally the road was the driveway to New Hall occupied by the Colmore family. New Hall was demolished in 1787 after being vacated by the Colmores. Newhall Street was so named in 1766, after opening as a public street in 1746 called Newport Street and then New Hall Walk. The streets on the estate were named after the children of the family.

I’ve included these couple of photos simply to illustrate something of the flavour of the secretive, cavern-like nature of the BCN at this point, weaving between and beneath the city.


‘The Cut’ cut-off from the outside world… Has Birmingham’s rapid and transformational development over the last couple of decades perhaps diminished something of the intimate, ‘closed world’ character of the canal?

Other posts in this series, on horse boating around the BCN, can be accessed HERE or in the series introduction, HERE.


4 thoughts on “Horse Boating on BCN: Farmer’s Bridge Locks

  1. re the Farmers’ Bridge pic at the head, states horse is feeding over bridge to Whitmores arm – is wrong! The entrance to Whitmores’ arm is further down, it is the iron bridge you cross with the arm underneath it, the bridge shown is a short basin with a small wharf to the other side. This error also appears in the book Birmingham canals.
    Now, a modern “bridge” that looks like a collapsed bike wheel just slices into it, how crass can they get ?


    1. You are most welcome. If we were to go under that bridge old Neddy is on we would find to our right a wharf, we would then go under a travelling crane, then into a covered shed with another travelling overhead crane, this being a sawmill.
      There is yet another basin on this stretch just before Friday bridge. How these boats were horse drawn in and out of these arms I can only surmise, the access to Whitmores’ being particularly restricted when Elkingtons works were built into the side pound. A bit like road traffic of today, but at least we can stop. That phrase “Argy bargy” would be quite apt for this place, at times so busy it had to work 24hrs a day and queues of boats up to twenty waiting either end, the water consumption would have been enormous, with lock dues to pay, ropes getting tangled up must have been bedlam. Love it.


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