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Black Country Society Walk 15/06/2023 to Willingsworth

A report by Dave Galley

How many people have heard of Willingsworth, never mind visited it? Well now thanks to Keith Hodgkins some thirty, plus members of the Black Country Society can answer that question.

Originally the local senior school was known as Willingsworth High School but later became the Royal Society of Arts Academy, but after a further name change it is now called Gospel Oak School.

However Willingsworth is most remembered for its Iron works and Blast Furnaces.

Our first stop was to look at a stone wall made from Peldon Stone and topped off with half round capping bricks. The route followed the line of the disused Gospel Oak Branch canal that has been totally filled in forming a liner walkway but then part watered sections begin to appear, gradually these sections get bigger and begin to look more like an overgrown canal . A cast iron bridge of unknown pedigree takes us over the Walsall canal and above an angler peacefully fishing. We follow the Walsall canal in the Walsall direction along a towpath well used by the local community, bikes, and dog walkers until we reached Moorcroft Junction with the Bradley canal. This linked us in with our walk of two weeks previous looking at the Bradley canal restoration project where our walk ceased on Bilston Road Bridge. Here the canal was in water where it passes Moorcroft wood, the late evening sun filtering through the trees accompanied by a chorus of bird song it did not take much imagination to compare it to the Stratford canal in rural Warwickshire. Eventually we came to where the Bradley volunteers hold their work parties and the two filled in locks below the Bilston road bridge.

One last stop was outside the school where Keith told us a little more about its name changes before returning to our cars.

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