Canal News, – March 3rd

Canal News – March 3rd 2012

Cannock Extension Canal and Woodland Walk

08 March 2012

The Turf Lodge,  Watling Street,  Norton Canes,  Cannock,  Staffordshire.

WS11 9ND

Join the IWA Lichfield Branch for a group walk along canal towpath and through woodland near Brownhills. About three miles. No stiles. Dogs on leads welcome.

Meet at 10.30 am for a 10.45 start at The Toby Carvery (The Turf Lodge).

Non-members welcome. No charge but donations of £1 to Branch funds appreciated, to support canal restoration projects. Further information from Margaret Beardsmore on 07581 794111 or

The Wyrley & Essington Canal is aptly nicknamed the Curley Wyrley, due to its twisting course.

Constructed entirely on the level, this canal was once busy with boats carrying coal from the Cannock pits. Most of the main line has survived as a charming, part-rural waterway. It is not often cruised by pleasure boats, but is a deservedly popular waterway with walkers, cyclists and anglers.

It runs for almost 17 miles from Wolverhampton to Brownhills, skirting the northern Birmingham Canal Navigations. The canal runs close by many local attractions: Pelsall Common, once the site of Pelsall Iron Works but now popular with walkers and nature lovers; Chasewater Leisure Park, a popular tourist destination; Wolverhampton city centre, Walsall town centre, and many more.

Does Birmingham really have more miles of canal than Venice?

The exact numbers depend on where you draw the city boundaries, but the whole Birmingham Canal Navigations system extends for 100 miles in total. It is one of the most intricate canal networks in the world.

These waterways converge at the city centre bustle of Gas Street Basin, where historic boats and canal architecture mingle with modern-day restaurants, cafes and pubs. But elsewhere on the ‘BCN’, you can really get away from it all on winding suburban canals and a series of surprisingly rural branches.

Raised towpath, Birmingham and Fazeley Canal

The Birmingham and Fazeley Canal is part of the Birmingham Canal Navigations. It forms a link between the Coventry Canal and Birmingham and thereby connects Birmingham to London via the Oxford Canal.  John Smeaton was the builder and it was completed in 1789.   © Copyright Nigel Chadwick and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

The canals were the life-blood of Victorian Birmingham and the Black Country. At their height, they were so busy that gas lighting was installed beside the locks to permit round-the-clock operation. Boats were built without cabins for maximum carrying capacity, and a near-tidal effect was produced as swarms of narrowboats converged on the Black Country collieries at the same time every day.

The BCN has survived remarkably intact, with 100 miles still navigable from a peak of 160. The main lines and city centre canals are well patronised, but the waterways of the Northern BCN remain truly off the beaten track. But should you decide to tackle some of these rarely cruised waters, beware – boating the BCN can become addictive.

Bridge over the Birmingham Canal

The Birmingham Canal, was built from 1768 to 1772 by James Brindley from the, then, edge of Birmingham, at Paradise Wharf (also known as Old Wharf) near to Gas Street Basin to meet the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal at Aldersley, near Wolverhampton. The canal was upgraded and straightened by Thomas Telford between 1824-7.  The canal forms part of the Birmingham Canals Navigation, a network of canals in and around the city.  © Copyright Nigel Chadwick and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

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