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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The Stratford-on-Avon Canal is a canal in the south Midlands of England.
The Act that was passed in 1793 for the construction of a canal from a junction with the Worcester and Birmingham Canal in Kings Norton to Stratford-upon-Avon. The Canal Act did not include any provision for a connection with the River Avon.
We cruised the northern section of the Stratford-on-Avon Canal from Kings Norton Junction with the Worcester and Birmingham Canal to Kingswood Junction with the Grand Union Canal (GUC) as part of our 2010 cruise.
At Kings Norton Junction you can see the unique King's Norton Stop Lock a pair of guillotine locks that are permanently open now, that were operated by a chain driven mechanism.
There is only one tunnel on the canal, less than a mile further along the cut; The Brandwood Tunnel, 320m / 365yds, a nice dry trunnel, at Brandwood near Kings Norton Junction at the northern end. MAP
Shirley drawbridge (bridge No. 8) at Majors Green, adjacent to the 'Drawbridge' pub and restaurant, on the northern branch is an electrically operated, road barrier controlled bridge that is accessed by way of a British Waterways Facilities Key.
Earlswood Lakes in Earlswood are feeder reservoirs for the canal. The three lakes were built between 1821 and 1822 and have a total capacity of 210 million gallons. The lakes consist of three separate pools; Terry's, Engine and Windmill Pool. They are retained by earth embankment. Until 1936 the water was pumped into the feeder by a beam engine, whose engine house can still be seen. The feeder was navigable for coal boats to reach the engine house and is now the Earlswood Motor Yacht Club, private moorings.
Other features along the northern section before Kingswood Junction are: Birmingham to Stratford Railway (Bridge 9a), The M42 Bridge (20a), Hockley Heath (old coal) wharf, Draw Bridge (26), Lift Bridge (8) and the 18 Lapworth Locks No's. 2 to 19.
We can also recommend a visit to Wege's Bakery Shop, around 100m / yds down the road north of bridge 20. They bake all their own breads, cakes and pasties as well as supplying free range eggs, great looking fresh veg and more.
The Stratford-upon-Avon Canal, built between 1793 and 1816 and its full length runs 25½ miles in total, consisting of two sections.
Along the full length of the canal, there are 54 narrow locks, all of which are concentrated between between Hockley Heath and Stratford.
The southern section of the canal passes over three cast iron aqueducts, unusual in that the towpaths are at the level of the canal bottom.
Another interesting feature of the canal is the unique barrel-roofed lock keeper's cottages to be found south of Kingswood Junction. All but two have been swamped by large modern extensions, but those at locks 28 and 31 are still in something like their original state.
Many of the accommodation bridges south of Kingswood Junction are twin cantilever bridges of cast iron, with a central slot to accommodate the tow rope of horse-drawn boats. On the northern section there are three lift bridges, one of which, no. 8, is electrically operated.
By the late 1930s the southern section Stratford-upon-Avon Canal had become derelict, although a water supply was maintained, which the GWR used to supply its engine shed in Stratford. The northern section was never officially closed, but traffic had virtually ceased by 1939. It was blocked when bridge no.2, a lift bridge, was repaired by the GWR in such a way that it could not be opened by anyone using the canal. After Lord Methuen raised the issue in the House of Lords in 1947, and was assured that the bridge "would be lifted at any time on notice of intended passage being given", Tom Rolt of the Inland Waterways Association gave notice that he intended to pass under the bridge on 20 May 1947. Despite difficulties with the state of the canal, and the fact that the accompanying boat provided by the GWR got stuck, the bridge was reached. It had been jacked up and was resting on heavy timbers. Eric de Mare repeated the exercise in 1948, and the northern section was saved from dereliction by such efforts. The bridge was subsequently rebuilt as a swing bridge, but has now been removed altogether with just the concrete bases remaining.
Restoration of the the southern section Stratford-upon-Avon Canal started in 1961, led by David Hutchings and using voluntary labour including prisoners from Winson Green prison and pioneering methods used on many subsequent restorations. The formal reopening was on 11 July 1964. A private toll fee was charged for navigation, until the canal was transferred to British Waterways on 1 April 1988. Its restoration was a turning point for the waterways movement in Britain.
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