CanalCuttings.co.uk are now supporters of the The Lapal Canal Project through the Lapal Canal Trust - Striving towards the incremental restoration of the decommissioned half of the Dudley No. 2 Canal, between Selly Oak in Birmingham and Halesowen in Dudley, eventually to full navigation via the Woodgate Valley.
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Birmingham Canal Navigations (BCN) Main Line - BCN New Main Line - BCN Old Main Line
BCN New Main Line - Birmingham Level - BCN Old Main Line - Wolverhampton Level
We have cruised the BCN Main Line canals a few times now and find they are improving for cleanliness year on year. Not the prettiest of canals but interesting in many ways.
The BCN Main Line connects the Worcester and Birmingham Canal at Gas Street Basin, Birmingham and the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal at the Old Turn (Deep Cuttings) Junction, in front of the National Indoor Arena and National Sea Life Centre in Birmingham to the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal at Aldersley Junction at the bottom of The Wolverhampton 21 Locks, at a distance of just over 15 miles. There are two Main Line routes: The BCN Old Line and The BCN New Line.
The Birmingham Canal Navigations Old Main Line was created by James Brindley and follows the present day Wolverhampton Level which leaves the Birmingham Level Main Line at Smethwick Junction rising through the three Smethwick Locks passing the old toll booth pictured left, a view of the Engine Arm Aqueduct, Smethwick New Pumping Station and the Galton Valley Canal Heritage Centre, plus a few other interesting sights, eventually rejoining the Main Line at Factory Junction.
The Birmingham Canal Navigations New Main Line designed by Thomas Telford stays at the same level from Gas Street Basin to the three Factory Locks below Factory Junction where it joins the Wolverhampton Level. At one point there is a near straight section just under three miles long! The canal is overpassed by a number of bridges, some modern and some original to the canal's construction, the most modern is the M5 Bridge.
There are two aqueducts, the Engine Arm Aqueduct and the Steward Aqueduct, adjacent to Spon Lane Junction (WL). The Birmingham to Wolverhampton Railway Line follows the course of the BCN BL for most of its length,
There are a number of junctions still in operation today and many that are defunct. The present day junctions give access to The Oozells Street Loop (2 junctions), Icknield Port Loop (2 junctions), Soho Loop (2 junctions), the Engine Branch (off the Wolverhampton Level - WL), Smethwick Junction and Bromford Junction (from the Birmingham Level - BL up to the WL), Spon Lane Junction (above Spon Lane Locks near Bromford Junction), Oldbury Junction (WL to the Titford Canal), Bradeshall Junction (WL to Gower Branch and BL), Tipton Junction (WL to the Dudley Canal, Dudley Tunnel and Limestone Caverns Visitor Attraction and Black Country Museum), Factory Junction (WL to Main Line and Factory Locks down on to BL), Deepfields Junction to the Wednesbury Oak Loop, Horseley Fields Junction to the Wyrley and Essington Canal. On the Birmingham Level - BL, Pudding Green Junction to the Wednesbury Old Canal, Albion Junction (BL to Brades Locks and WL) and the Dudley Port Junction (BL to Netherton Tunnel Branch, Netherton Tunnel and through to the Dudley No.2 Canal).
A major part of the BCN Main Line between Birmingham and Dudley Port Junction (BL - Above) forms part of the Stourport Ring, a popular Midlands cruising ring that includes many visitor attractions of Birmingham, The Black Country, Kidderminster and Worcester, including a section of the navigable River Severn.
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