Gas Street Basin

We arrived in Gas Street Basin in 1959. A forced stop for a broken oil pipe had run the big ends.

The basin was derelict place. The bar was thick in reeds with swans nesting amongst the reeds and sunken day boats alongside. We moored against one of them. There were still working boats - many horse drawn salvage boats, Caggy Stevens would pass through with coal for King's Norton Paper Mill, a daily tug with coal for Davenports Brewery. Charley Ballinger was still working to Gloucester, Willow Wren to Cadbury's and British Transport Commission boats to Worcester Porcelain Mills. Occasionally working boats would stay the night moored end on to the bar facing the tunnel.

The lock was still in use for there was about a 6 inch difference in water level either side of the bar. The following year year they ran water through the lock for three days to fill up the lower pound, and the gates were left permanently open.

The inspiration for my painting came several years later when the basin had been cleaned up a bit. I love trying to catch the effect of smoke drifting up from the cabin fires, though Birmingham was a smokeless zone. A policeman told me that I was only allowed a smoking fire while the boat was moving!