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Birmingham Canals History

Background

The Duke of Bridgewater
The Duke of Bridgewater
James Brindley
James Brindley

In 1761 the Duke of Bridgewater’s Canal was opened and in 1766 Birmingham’s Matthew Boulton subscribed to Trent and Mersey Canal, which formed two of the four arms of Brindley’s Grand Cross, the others being the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal and the Oxford Canal, which together linked the four great rivers of England – the Mersey, Trent, Severn and Thames.


Birmingham Canals

In January 1772 the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal was fully opened and in the same year the Birmingham Canal Main Line (from Aldersley to Deepfields Junction) was fully open. James Brindley was the engineer and it was 22˝ miles long. From the start Matthew Boulton played a leading role in the building of Birmingham’s canals. He, and many other manufacturers, could see the benefit of water transport to a land locked town, dependent on poor roads and expensive carriage charges for all its trade

in 1776 the Dudley Canal Line No 1 from Tipton Junction, on the BCN Old Main Line, to Stourbridge Canal was started , under the direction of Thomas Dadford Senior and opened in 1779. It was extended to the Birmingham Canal via Dudley Tunnel in 1792 and from Tipon Junction, through Dudley Tunnel, to Park Head Locks.

The canal was officially closed in 1962. Dudley Canal Tunnel Preservation Society formed on 1 January 1964, and provided boat trips through the tunnel. In January 1972 Dudley Borough Council agree to contribute half the cost of restoring the canal and in September 1972 it was officially reopened.

Dudley Canal Line No 2 is an extension to the Dudley Canal and was completed in 1798. It runs from Parkhead Junction, with the Dudley Canal Line No 1, to Coombeswood. The canal originally went on to join the Worcester & Birmingham Canal at Selly Oak. The closed section contains the 3,795 yard Lappal Tunnel.

The Birmingham and Fazeley Canal, opened in 1789 runs from Farmers Bridge, junction with the BCN Main Line, to Whittington Brook, where it joins the detached section of the Coventry Canal.

The first section of the Worcester and Birmingham Canal was opened in 1795 but the full 30 miles from Worcester Bar (Gas Street Basin, Birmingham) where it joins the Birmingham Canal Navigations, to Worcester, where it joins the River Severn was not openned until 1815. Before this date the Worcester Bar was a barrier to water and boats passing between the canals and goods were transfered across the bar between boats.

The Digbeth Branch Canal: Runs from Aston Junction on the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal to Bordesley where it joins the Grand Union Canal. It was built under the Birmingham Canal Act of 1768 but started some years later and opened in in 1799.

The Titford Canal from Oldbury Junction on the BCN Old Main Line to Causeway Green, like many local canals, was built under the Birmingham Canal Act of 1768 and opened in 1837. At the top of Oldbury locks is Titford Pool, at 511 feet above sea level it is the highest Point on the Birmingham Canal Navigations.