This is a large, man-made valley cut into thick Quaternary, Anglian age glaciofluvial sands and glacial channel fills to create a major canal and railway transportation corridor during the industrialisation of the region.
It is the best site to appreciate the scale of man's manipulation of the landscape during the height of the Industrial Revolution. The valley hosts some of the most important industrial heritage sites of Britain.
Galton Bridge was built by the famous British engineer Thomas Telford in 1829. It spans the Birmingham Canal Navigation New Main Line and it carried a road called Roebuck Lane. When it was constructed, its single span of 151 feet (46 metres) was the highest in the world.
Chances Glass Works is a cluster of listed buildings and adjacent canal bridges on the Birmingham Canal Navigation Main Line. They were the innovative manufacturers that produced most scientific grade glass and most of the world's lighthouses as well as the glass in London's iconic Crystal Palace during the Industrial Revolution. All of these industrial heritage features fall within the Smethwick Summit - Galton Valley Conservation area.
Steward Aqueduct, an impressive structure, the Grade II listed aqueduct, was built by Thomas Telford in 1829 when he bypassed James Brindley's earlier Birmingham Canal (at the Wolverhampton Level) with his New Main Line (at the Birmingham Level). Both canals contributed to the Industrial Revolution in the Midlands by conveying coal and raw materials to Birmingham and finished products to the country and ports.
The Engine Art Aqueduct near Smethwick, West Midlands was built in 1825 by Thomas Telford to carry a water feeder, the Engine Arm from Edgbaston Reservoir over the BCN New Main Line canal to the adjacent and parallel Old Main Line. It is a Scheduled Ancient Monument. It is a 52-foot (16m) span structure consisting of a cast-iron trough supported by a single arch with five ribs, each consisting of four sections with bolted joints. The trough is supported on three columns. All cast-iron features were manufactured at the Horseley Ironworks in nearby Tipton. The waterway in the aqueduct is 8 feet (2.4m) wide with the towpaths either side being 4 ft 4 " (1.32m) in width each. The eastern towpath is paved in brick with raised strips for horses.
A major geotourism and geoeducational asset of the geopark, Galton Valley has a visitor centre in the old Victorian canal pumping engine house (a Scheduled Ancient Monument), some on-site interpretation. It has extensive footpaths along the two canals and two rail station within the cutting providing ease of access. There is online information and plans for a geotrail linking the industrial heritage to the geological story and intentions to link with a building stone trail of the adjacent Smethwick town centre.
Galton Valley has a visitor centre in the old Victorian canal pumping engine house which is a Scheduled Ancient Monument.
If you like this, try these too...
Geosite Wednesbury Museum is Sandwell's Museum and Art Gallery. It is a purpose built Victorian Art Gallery, housing collections which include fine art paintings, applied art, old toys as well as one of the world's largest collections of Ruskin pottery. There is a pay and display car park adjacent to the Museum. Free admission. There are no café facilities on site. The nearest café is Morrison's supermarket nearby. For more information call + (44) (0) 121 556 0683 - Wednesbury Museum.
Geosite Sandwell Park Farm has an award winning tea room and toilet facilities. It has a range of small animals and a programme of events throughout the year. There is a small charge for car parking. For more information call +44 (0) 121 569 3070 - Sandwell Park Farm.
Geosite Sandwell Valley RSPB reserve has a visitor centre with toilet facilities and free car parking. Inside the visitor centre there is hot and cold drinks available with snacks and confectionary. There is a programme of events and exhibitions throughout the year. For more information call +44 (0) 121 357 7395 - Sandwell Valley RSPB.