Things were quiet during late morning at Ashted Locks on the short 1500m 6 lock Digbeth Branch canal in Birmingham.My aim was to take photos of the progress of the construction of the new Birmingham City University buildings; such progress as there was in the past 6 weeks since my last visit was uninspiring. Would anything happen to brighten my visit?

OD4A2876-5OD4A2862-6After 45 minutes of no boat traffic the boredom was suddenly relieved when Sandy and Pete Walpole appeared at Lock 5 with their unusual combination narrow boat Alice or is it Alice Too?

Two names which is strange on the face of it but not when you realise that it consists of two craft. At the front is Alice Too, a detachable craft which is normally shunted by the powered  boat, Alice, from behind.

Alice Too houses a workshop, diesel tanks and a generator which supplies domestic power to Alice and the workshop. The total length is 71ft 6ins, but the clever bit is that Alice Too can be temporarily detached to facilitate navigation of tight corners and awkward lock entrances. This enables the whole of the waterways network to be navigated according to Sandy and Pete. What’s more Pete built Alice Too himself and a  professional job he has made of it too being a super match for Alice in both shape and livery.

As a hobby Sandy and Pete make rag mats in the work shop and sell these from the canal side anywhere they feel like mooring.

They are from Luton and were being helped through the many locks required to climb up to Birmingham from the south by their son who lives in Stourbridge. They were also accompanied by an older lady but I failed to meet her and discover who she was.

Here are a few photos I took of our meeting…

(How to Get the Most Out Of the Photos.)