The pools, which consist of Grove Pool, Middle Pool and Fens Pool, were constructed as reservoirs by the Stourbridge Canal Company. The Stourbridge canal links Buckpool Dingle and the Fens Pools.
The Stourbridge canal opened in 1779 and the reservoirs fed into a navigable branch which joined the canal's main line at Leys Junction, close to the top of the Stourbridge Flight. This is a series of 16 locks through which the level of the canal falls by 145 feet, down to Wordsley Junction, where the Stourbridge Town branch joins the main line.
The reservoirs formed the main source of water supply for these locks, until it was supplemented by water leaving the Dudley Canal with which the Stourbridge Canal made an end-on junction in 1792.
Collieries were operating at the Dell, on the Leys and the Wallows and around Grove and Middle Pools. There were claypits where Middle Pool and the Farmers Pond are today and a large brickworks on The Leys. The Pensnett Railway ran between Middle and Fens Pools, bringing coal from the Earl of Dudley's Baggeridge pits to the Round Oak Iron and Steel Works, whose blast furnaces lit up the night sky for miles around.
The pools are the focus of the site, being the largest area of open water in Dudley. The pools are an important site for migrating and over-wintering waterfowl. Ducks, Shoveler and Gadwall are also attracted to the watery site. Rare visitors include some breeding birds, like the Mute Swan and Great Crested Glebe, utilising the bushy forestry areas that line the edges of the pools for nesting.
The smaller ponds north of the pools are also home to an abundance of wildlife, toads, frogs, insects and newts. The pools house the largest numbers of the Great Crested Newt in the U.K, although sadly on the decline in recent years.
The land is surrounded by shrubbery, mosaic scrub and pioneer vegetation. This great richness has been developed upon the abandoned wastelands left from the coal and iron industries. The areas have some tarmac and un-managed paths (gravel/dirt tracks) with a selection of seating benches. The pools are the focus of outstanding scenery, they have water based bird resting platforms and raised land based feeder platforms. So the area is idea for bird watching.
The nearby Stourbridge canal has strong links the Stourbridge glass making industry. The coal measures in the area comprised a series of thick beds of fine fireclay and coal. Good quality fireclay was found to be particularly abundant in this part of the coalfield and is the prime reason the glass industry settled here. Fireclay was an essential material for making bricks suitable for lining furnaces and glass kilns which can resist high melting temperatures and aggressive chemistry of molten glass.
There is a new Stourbridge Canal & Glass Quarter Heritage Trail leaflet that can be downloaded via Discover Dudley and an accompanying video which can be viewed on Dudley Council's YouTube channel.
There are no visitor centre, café or toilets at the site so plan your visit with this in mind. Alternative public toilet facilities can be found at The Dell Stadium in Pensnett approximately 0.5 miles away open 9am to 4pm or in Dudley Town Centre at Castle Street, Dudley, opposite Dudley Bus Station about 2.5 miles away.
For more information, including copies of leaflets, details about events and guided walks call +44 (0) 1384 812780 (Monday to Friday 9am to 4pm).
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Geosite Dudley Canal & Tunnel Trust take a trip into the underground limestone mines. Call +44 (0) 121 557 6265 - Dudley Canal Trust.