Art SOAK 2014 Guest Blog: Tom Cahill-Jones: Thissen Thatten

For last year’s Art SOAK Tom brought us the wonderful Hinterland, a shed made out of wood reclaimed from the Stirchley area that stood on a very snowy day overlooking what will soon be a Tesco, playing recordings of interviews with former and current residents recalling their memories of the area. This year Tom is back with another exciting project, Thissen Thatten which will be behind the scout hut in Selly Oak Park on the corner of Gibbins Road and Harborne Lane, 12-3pm on Sunday 16th March. Here he tells us more about it…


Inspired by the work of the Lapal Canal Trust, Tom Cahill-Jones’ Thissen Thatten imagines a future where Dudley and Selly Oak are connected once more, through the reintroduction of the lost 5.4-mile channel. 10 boxes, made from wood reclaimed from the local area and containing objects connected to Dudley – some humorous, some not so much –, will be positioned along the route of the old canal, behind the Scout Hut in Selly Oak Park. People are invited to search the area and find this bounty, as if precious wares had been transported along the reopened trade route and stored as treasure by astonished Selly Oakers, only for their containers to remain uncollected.


The Dudley No. 2 Canal opened in 1798, providing a direct link from the Dudley No. 1 Canal in the Black Country to the Worcester & Birmingham Canal in Selly Oak, from where, the major southern waterways could be accessed. Its route included a 3,795 yard tunnel (described as a long and eerie drainpipe) starting in Lapal, Halesowen, and emerging in California, Birmingham. Unfortunately, the tunnel was built through a geological fault, resulting in a series of roof falls. By 1917 it was decided enough was enough and the tunnel was abandoned. By 1953, the length from Hawne Basin on one side to Battery Park on the other was decommissioned; the “Lapal Canal” is the name given to this portion, now completely filled in.

The installation will appeal to curious adults and curious children alike.

For more information on the Lapal Canal, please consult

Additional links:

Dudley Canal:

Dudley No1 Canal:

Dudley No2 Canal:

Worcester & Birmingham Canal:


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