Fancy a Trip on the Canals in Birmingham?
In Dudley, there are two branches (both of which goes through tunnels that are over a mile long.. One from Dudley Port, through the long tunnel to Bumble Hole (by the Cobbs Engine House and the Dry Dock pub). The second goes through the tunnel between The Parkhead locks and the basin by the Black Country Museum. From the north you get the Caldon which runs south from Stoke on Trent and runs down to Froghall in Staffordshire. It “enjoys” seventeen locks and a seventy metre tunnel.
From the south you have the twenty five mile long, Stratford-upon-Avon canal. This runs from Stratford to the Birmingham suburbs. In that short distance it has fifty four locks!. It was almost closed in the nineteen fifties (between Lapworth and Staratford) after being taken over by the national Trust in 1960. It was reopened after four years of restoration in 1964. The canal goes through some beautiful Warwickshire countryside as well as parts of the ancient Forest of Arden (often hought to be the setting for Shakespeare’s “As you like it”.
The Worcester and Birmingham also comes from the south. It connects the Birmingham canal network to the River Severn. This allowed a faster passage than using the existing network (which is why there was considerable opposition from other canal companies). It eventually gained it’s clearance for construction in 1791. You can go all the way from the Gas Street Basin in the centre of Birmingham, all the way to the centre of Worcester. The canal is famous for it’s Tardebigge locks. Out in the Worcester countryside, this stretch of canal has fifty eight locks in just two miles! The canal originally was built for wide barges (14′ wide) but when the tunnel was put through at Tardebigge, it was only built for narrow boats.
The Birmingham and Fazeley canal runs from Gas Street Basin, through the east of Birmingham, where it meets the Coventry canal at Fazeley. There is some real contrast here; from inner city landscapes to open country in just a few short miles. Highlights include the Farmer’s locks section. A busy set of locks that were actually lit at night by gaslight because they were so busy. Contrast that to the northern section that runs adjacent to the nature reserve section of Kingsbury in Warwickshire. Again, only a few miles apart.
The canal network has been transformed from a dying wasteland to ahuge one hundred mile leisure complex varying from industrial cityscape to beautiful countryside and forest.