Lichfield Canal

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Lichfield Canal
The Lichfield Canal at Huddlesford Junction - geograph.org.uk - 1163861.jpg
A short section at the eastern end acts as moorings
Specifications
Locks 30
Status active restoration project
History
Original owner Wyrley and Essington Canal Company
Date of act 1794
Date completed 1797
Date closed 1955
Geography
Start point Huddleford Jn, Coventry Canal
End point Ogley Junction, Brownhills
Lichfield Canal
Coventry Canal, Huddlesford Jn
Moorings
Cappers Lane
30
(Some restoration)
29
Darnford Lane
27-28
26 Tamworth Road locks
(Restored)
25 Millennium lock
(Some restoration)
24 Tamworth Road locks
Cricket Lane
22-23
20-21
19
18 Ogley 3rd flight
(Some restoration)
Fosseway Lane
13-17 Ogley 3rd flight
A461
10-12 Ogley 2nd flight
9 Ogley 2nd flight
A5
A461
M6 Toll aqueduct
1-8 Ogley 1st flight
Anglesey Bridge marina
Wyrley and Essington, Ogley Jn

The Lichfield Canal, as it is now known, was historically a part of the Wyrley and Essington Canal, being the section of that canal from Ogley Junction at Brownhills on the northern Birmingham Canal Navigations to Huddlesford Junction, east of Lichfield, on the Coventry Canal, a length of 7 miles (11.3 km). The branch was abandoned in 1955, along with several other branches of the Wyrley and Essington, and much of it was filled in.

Restoration plans were first voiced in 1975, and since 1990, the Lichfield and Hatherton Canals Restoration Society have been actively engaged in excavating and rebuilding sections of the canal as they have become available. Major projects have included an isolated aqueduct over the M6 Toll motorway, ready for when the canal reaches it.

History[edit]

The Wyrley and Essington Canal was built under an Act of Parliament passed on 30 April 1792,[1] for a canal which would run from Horseley Junction near Wolverhampton to Sneyd Junction, near Bloxwich. The main line would be level, following the 473-foot (144 m) contour. From this junction, a branch would run to Wyrley Bank and on to Essington, which would include nine locks, and another level branch would run to Birchills, near Walsall. In 1794, the company obtained a second act, which authorised a long extension from Birchills to Brownhills, again on the level, but then descending through 30 locks to reach Huddlesford Junction, on the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal near Lichfield. The whole canal was opened on 9 May 1797, although there were problems with inadequate water supply, which were not resolved until 1800, with the building of Cannock Chase reservoir.[2]

Although not prosperous, the company made enough profit to start paying dividends, which eventually rose to 6 per cent in 1825. The price of coal in Lichfield dropped considerably, due to the benefits of cheap transport. Following an agreement reached on 9 February 1840, the whole canal became part of the Birmingham Canal Navigations from April of that year.[3] Under the terms of an Act of Abandonment obtained in 1954, most of the branches of the original Wyrley and Essington Canal were closed, including the branch from Ogley to Huddlesford,[4] which was abandoned in 1955. Much of the bed has been filled in since then, although a short section at Huddlesford Junction remains in use as moorings. The branch has subsequently been named the Lichfield Canal, while Huddlesford Junction is now considered to be on the Coventry Canal.[5]

Restoration[edit]

Borrowcop Locks Canal Park on Tamworth Road between Lock 25 and 26.

Plans to restore the Lichfield Canal were first raised in 1975, when area planning authorities were required to produce county structure plans. The Inland Waterways Association (IWA) encouraged all members to ensure that local waterways were properly noted in the structure plans. Ideas for the restoration were put before the West Midlands planning team. Although the scheme was deemed to be unviable,[6] interest in restoration continued, and the Lichfield and Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust (LHCRT) was formed to promote the restoration of the Lichfield Canal and the Hatherton Canal. Lichfield District Council allowed the Trust to start work on a half-mile (0.8 km) section near Fosseway Lane in 1990.[7] In 1993, the Trust published detailed plans for the Ogley Locks Branch, now formally branded the "Lichfield Canal".[8]

All 7 miles (11 km) of the canal are within the jurisdiction of Lichfield District Council.[9] The Trust is working on three main sites, as they have become available. The first site was the half mile at Fossway Lane, bounded by locks 18 and 19, which was owned by the council. The second was at Darnford Lane, on either side of lock 29, which was bought by the council in 1995, using a Derelict Land Grant. The third was at Tamworth road, covering locks 24 to 26. The upper two have been largely restored, while lock 24 was excavated to assess its condition, but has been filled in again to conserve it, pending a decision on how the canal will cross Cricket Lane, immediately upstream from the lock. This whole area has been landscaped, and designated the Borrowcop Locks Canal Park.[10]

The M6 Toll aqueduct.

Restoration was threatened by the construction of the M6 Toll motorway around the north of Birmingham, which cut across the canal's route. The Inspector heading the enquiry for the Northern Relief Road ruled that the contractor would only be responsible for the footings for a new aqueduct to carry the canal over the motorway, and that the Trust would need to raise the costs for the rest of the structure.[11] An appeal was launched for funds, headed by the actor David Suchet, and together with a grant of £250,000 from the Manifold Trust, the £450,000 cost was met, the road contractors built the supporting columns, and on 16 August 2003, a steel trough was craned into position, having been pre-fabricated by Rowecord Engineering Ltd, who are based in South Wales.[12] (The aqueduct has been finished but the canal has yet to reach it, giving it an odd appearance). This had a beneficial side-effect – the Government promised that never again would a new road be built in the path of a waterway restoration scheme, unless an aqueduct or tunnel was provided.

A new bridge taking Cappers Lane over the canal near Whittington was opened on 21 April 2006.[13]

By August 2010, most of the work on a by-wash for lock 25, adjacent to the Borrowcop Locks Canal Park, had been carried out by members of the Restoration Trust, with help from the Waterways Recovery Group during weekend visits to Lichfield.[14] The canal between Lock 25 and 26 was filled with water in April 2011, this was the first part of the canal to have been filled with water since restoration works started.

Route[edit]

Point Coordinates
(Links to map resources)
OS Grid Ref Notes
Huddlesford Junction[15] 52°41′00″N 1°46′38″W / 52.6833°N 1.7771°W / 52.6833; -1.7771 (Huddlesford Junction) SK15160953[16] Junction with Coventry Canal
Watery Lane accommodation bridge 52°40′50″N 1°46′53″W / 52.6806°N 1.7815°W / 52.6806; -1.7815 (Watery Lane) SK14880923
Cappers Lane 52°40′47″N 1°46′58″W / 52.6798°N 1.7829°W / 52.6798; -1.7829 (Cappers Lane) SK14770914
Darnford Bridge 52°40′31″N 1°47′45″W / 52.6753°N 1.7958°W / 52.6753; -1.7958 (Darnford Bridge) SK13830870
A5 Tamworth Road, Freeford Bridge 52°40′20″N 1°48′08″W / 52.6723°N 1.8022°W / 52.6723; -1.8022 (A51 road) SK13460830
A38 road 52°40′21″N 1°48′18″W / 52.6725°N 1.8051°W / 52.6725; -1.8051 (A38 road) SK13290833 Lichfield bypass
A5206 London Road 52°40′19″N 1°49′21″W / 52.6720°N 1.8226°W / 52.6720; -1.8226 (A5206 London Road) SK12090826
Bend 52°40′16″N 1°49′38″W / 52.6710°N 1.8272°W / 52.6710; -1.8272 (Bend) SK11770816
Shortbutts Lane 52°40′19″N 1°49′45″W / 52.6719°N 1.8293°W / 52.6719; -1.8293 (Shortbutts Lane) SK11630826
Cross-City Line Rail 52°40′29″N 1°49′49″W / 52.6747°N 1.8302°W / 52.6747; -1.8302 (Cross-City railway line) SK11570856
Fosseway Lane 52°40′08″N 1°51′09″W / 52.6688°N 1.8526°W / 52.6688; -1.8526 (Fosseway Lane) SK10060790 locks below - Ogley 3rd flight
Wall Lane 52°39′59″N 1°51′32″W / 52.6665°N 1.8589°W / 52.6665; -1.8589 (Wall Lane) SK09650765
Shaw's Bridge 52°39′55″N 1°51′53″W / 52.6653°N 1.8646°W / 52.6653; -1.8646 (Shaw's Bridge) SK09260751
Pipehill A451 Walsall Road 52°40′02″N 1°52′08″W / 52.6673°N 1.8689°W / 52.6673; -1.8689 (Pipehill A451 Walsall Road) SK08970774 meets disused railway
Coppice Lane 52°39′44″N 1°52′37″W / 52.6622°N 1.8770°W / 52.6622; -1.8770 (Coppice Lane) SK08430717
A461 Walsall Road 52°39′38″N 1°52′34″W / 52.6606°N 1.8762°W / 52.6606; -1.8762 (A461 road) SK08480696 locks below - Ogley 2nd flight
A5 road 52°39′22″N 1°52′47″W / 52.6562°N 1.8796°W / 52.6562; -1.8796 (A5 road) SK08260649 Muckley Corner
Boat Bridge A461 52°39′07″N 1°53′20″W / 52.6519°N 1.8888°W / 52.6519; -1.8888 (Boat Bridge A461) SK07630602
M6 Toll - new Lichfield Canal Aqueduct 52°39′19″N 1°54′05″W / 52.6552°N 1.9015°W / 52.6552; -1.9015 (M6 Toll) SK06760638 Unfinished aqueduct, part of restoration project
Barracks Lane 52°39′10″N 1°54′30″W / 52.6529°N 1.9082°W / 52.6529; -1.9082 (Barracks Lane) SK06310613 locks below - Ogley 1st flight
Ogley Junction 52°39′06″N 1°54′59″W / 52.6516°N 1.9163°W / 52.6516; -1.9163 (Ogley Junction) SK05770598 Junction with remaining Wyrley and Essington Canal


See also[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Priestley 1831, pp. 700–702
  2. ^ Hadfield 1985, pp. 94–97
  3. ^ Hadfield 1985, pp. 98–99
  4. ^ Hadfield 1985, p. 263
  5. ^ Nicholson 2003, pp. 56–57
  6. ^ Squires 2008, p. 85
  7. ^ LHCRT 2009, p. 1
  8. ^ Squires 2008, p. 133
  9. ^ LHCRT 2009, p. 13
  10. ^ LHCRT 2009, pp. 1–3
  11. ^ Squires 2008, pp. 140, 151
  12. ^ LHCRT 2009, p. 10
  13. ^ BBC News web article
  14. ^ Lichfield Mercury Article - 12 August 2010
  15. ^ Coordinates: WGS84, from Google.
  16. ^ OS Grid Reference: OSGB36, from OS 1:25000 mapping

Coordinates: 52°39′59″N 1°51′32″W / 52.6665°N 1.8589°W / 52.6665; -1.8589

External links[edit]