Coventry Canal

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Coventry canal near Fradley
Geographic map of the Coventry Canal (zoom in to see detail)

Coventry Canal Route map
-- Coventry Canal (detached section)
Fradley Swingbridge
New Bridge
Fradley Estate Access Bridge
Fradley Bridge
Bell Bridge/A38 road
Brookhay Pumping Station
Fradley Bridge
Bears Hay Bridge
Streethay Bridge
Streethay Wharf
Cross-City Line
King's Orchard Bridge
Stoney Step Bridge
Plough Bridge
Trent Valley line
Huddlesford JunctionLichfield Canal
Huddlesford Foot Bridge
Bowmans Bridge
Cheadles Bridge
Burton Road Bridge
-- Coventry Canal (detached) above
Whittington Brook
-- Birmingham and Fazeley-built canal below
Whittington Bridge
Minor Road Bridges
Hademore House Bridge
Hademore Farm Bridge
Tamhorn Farm Bridge
Tamhorn House Bridge
Tamhorn Park Bridge
Hopwas Wood Bridge
Hopwas School Bridge
Hopwas Hill Bridge/A51 road
Minor Road Bridges
Dixon's Bridge
Balls Bridge
Dunstall Bridge
Hopwas Wood Bridge
Bonehill Road Bridge
A5 road
Peel's Wharf
Fazeley JunctionBirmingham & Fazeley Canal
-- Coventry Main Line Canal below
Junction Footbridge
Tamworth Road Bridge
Tame Aqueduct
A5 road
Kettlebrook Bridge
Cross Country Route
Glascote Locks x2
Glascote Road (Anchor Bridge)
Amington Road Bridge
Gate Inn Bridge
Hodge Lane Bridge
Alvecote Marina
Hodge Lane Bridge
M42 motorway
Polesworth Bridge
Polesworth (Mill Bridge)
Trent Valley Line
Limekiln Bridge
Bradley Green Bridge
Atherstone Bottom Locks 10–11
Whitley Bridge
Locks 8–9
Baddesley Bridge (Whittington Lane)
Trent Valley line
Lock 7
Baddesley Basin
Holly Lane Bridge
Lock 6
A5 road
Watling Street Bridge
Atherstone Top Locks 1–5
Minor Road Bridges
Coleshill Road Bridge
Outwoods Bridge
Rawn Hill Bridge
Mancetter Bridge
Worthington Farm Bridge
Glebe Farm Bridge
Cherrytree Farm Bridge
Atherstone Road
Hartshill Wharf
Minor Road Bridges
Apple Pie Lane Bridge
Grange Road
Anchor Bridge/Nuneaton Road
White House Bridge
Wood Bridge
Tuttle Hill Bridge
Birmingham–Peterborough line
Vernons Lane
Wash Lane Bridge
Boot Bridge
Coventry to Nuneaton line
Wharf Inn Bridge/Coventry Road
Donnithorne Ave
Griff Arm
Gipsy Lane
Marston Junction/Ashby Canal
Charity Dock
Marston Lane
Bedworth/Bulkington Roads
Bedworth Hill Bridge
Junction Footbridge
Hawkesbury Junction/Oxford Canal
Exhall Footbridge
Exhall Basin
Coney Lane Bridge
M6 motorway
Longford Junction
Longford Bridge
Longford Footbridge
Judds Lane Bridge
Coventry Building Society Arena
New Inn Bridge/Longford Road
Little Heath Factory Footbridge
Old Church Road Bridge
Phoenix Way (A444)
Navigation Bridge/Stoney Stanton Road
Heath Crescent Tunnel (334 yds)
Red Lane Old Bridge
Red Lane New Bridge
Stoke Heath Basin
Priestley's Bridge/Stoney Stanton Road
William Henry Bridge/Foleshill Road
Cash's Lane Bridge
Cash's Hundred Houses
Canal Basin, Coventry

The Coventry Canal is a navigable narrow canal in the Midlands of England.

It starts in Coventry and ends 38 miles (61 km) to the north at Fradley Junction, just north of Lichfield, where it joins the Trent and Mersey Canal.[1] It also has connections with the Ashby Canal, the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal and the Oxford Canal.

Some maps show the canal as a northern and a southern section, connected by a stretch of the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal, but others, including the Canal and River Trust show the through route as the Coventry Canal. This reflects a complicated period of ownership and re-leasing when the Coventry Canal company was in financial difficulties during construction.

It runs through or past the towns of Bedworth, Nuneaton, Atherstone, Polesworth and Tamworth. It is navigable for boats up to 21.9 m (72 ft) length, 2.1 m (7 ft) beam and 1.98 m (6 ft 6 in) headroom. It forms part of the Warwickshire ring.

Route in detail[edit]

Coventry Canal basin

The canal starts at Coventry Canal Basin. The basin was opened in 1769 and expanded in 1788. It is situated just north of Coventry City Centre and just outside the city's inner ring road. Many of the buildings and the site were restored between 1993 and 1995. The Canal Bridge, Canal House and the warehouses are grade II listed buildings. All boats going in and out of Coventry Canal Basin have to pass through the Canal Bridge.

From the canal basin, the canal meanders north through Coventry passing under many road bridges including prominent hump-back bridges under the Foleshill Road, Foleshill through Little Heath and the Longford Road, Longford.

Five miles north of Coventry, at Hawkesbury Junction, a superbly preserved iron bridge crosses the start of the Oxford Canal, which journeys southwards to join the River Thames at Oxford. At Hawkesbury Junction there are buildings from the working days of the canal, and the Greyhound pub is a traditional stop for boaters. Hawkesbury Junction is also known to regular boaters as Sutton Stop, though strictly this refers to the stop lock, a short distance along the Oxford Canal.

A few miles north of Hawkesbury, just outside Bedworth, is Marston Junction, where the Ashby-de-la-Zouch Canal starts its meandering, rural and lock-free journey towards the former coal mines at Moira; although it is now navigable only for 22 miles (35 km) to Snarestone.

From Marston Junction, the Coventry canal runs north-west through Nuneaton, Atherstone and Polesworth, to Tamworth. At Atherstone a set of 11 locks (Top Lock No. 1 to Atherstone Bottom Lock No. 11) lower the level of the canal 80 feet (24 m) towards Polesworth. The only other locks on the Coventry canal are the two Glascote locks which lower the level of the canal a further 13 feet 8 inches (4.2 m) about one mile (1.6 km) before Fazeley Junction.[2]

In a suburb of Tamworth, at Fazeley Junction, boaters can turn south towards Birmingham along the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal.

The Coventry Canal continues northwards to end at Fradley Junction where it joins the Trent and Mersey Canal. From Fazeley to a point halfway to Fradley, some maps show the canal as the "Birmingham and Fazeley Canal" (see History).


The Coventry Canal Company was formed in 1768. James Brindley was commissioned to build the canal, and work started on it in December that year. Due to the high standards of construction demanded by Brindley, the canal company ran out of money by the time the canal had reached Atherstone in 1769, and Brindley was replaced by Thomas Yeoman.

Thomas Dadford advised on the Canal's aqueduct over the River Tame (now known as Tame Aqueduct) in 1784, and in June 1785 Thomas Sheasby was awarded the contract to connect the Coventry Canal to the Trent and Mersey Canal.

Although the canal reached the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal at Fazeley, the final Parliament-approved stretch to the Trent and Mersey at Fradley was not finished until 1789.

The Trent and Mersey company, and the Birmingham and Fazeley company, anxious to allow through traffic between Birmingham and the Trent and Mersey Canal, gained permission to complete and operate the approved but unbuilt section from Fazeley to Fradley. The B&F worked north from Fazeley, and the T&M worked south from Fradley. The full length from Coventry to Fradley was opened in 1789.

The Coventry Canal company later bought the northern section, nowadays sometimes referred to as Coventry Canal (detached portion), while the middle section remained under the ownership of the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal, and thus some maps show this middle section as the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal, but others describe the complete route as the Coventry Canal. The Canal and River Trust who manage the canal describe the whole route from Coventry to the Trent and Mersey Canal as the Coventry Canal.


The Coventry canal was a vital trade artery for many years. In particular, it was part of a Birmingham–London route via the B&F Canal, Coventry Canal, Oxford Canal, and the Thames.

When the Grand Junction Canal and some smaller companies (which much later merged to form the Grand Union Canal company) opened a direct rival route from Birmingham to London, via Warwick, Napton, Braunston, and Bletchley, trade still remained high on the Coventry. This was partly because of the work done by the Oxford company to shorten its route north of Braunston, and because Grand Junction traffic using the Braunston–Fazeley route avoided the high tolls charged by the Oxford Canal company on its Braunston–Napton section (which was also part of the new route).

The Coventry paid a dividend right up to 1947 and remained navigable to the present day. Today, the canal is also a popular route for narrowboat trips. Many tourists hire narrowboats to explore Coventry's industrial heritage.[3]

It was nationalised in 1948 being operated first by the British Transport Board and then by the British Waterways Board, the forerunners of British Waterways.

In 1957, Coventry Canal Society was established to promote the proper use and maintenance of the canal, and to protect its interests. The canal acts as a base to Mercia Canoe Club, which is part of Coventry Canal Society.


Point Coordinates
Fradley Junction 52°43′25″N 1°47′36″W / 52.7236°N 1.7934°W / 52.7236; -1.7934 (Fradley Junction)
Bell bridge (A38/Ryknild Street) 52°42′41″N 1°45′57″W / 52.7113°N 1.7658°W / 52.7113; -1.7658 (Bell bridge)
Huddlesford Junction 52°40′59″N 1°46′37″W / 52.6831°N 1.7769°W / 52.6831; -1.7769 (Huddlesford Junction)
Fazeley Junction 52°36′55″N 1°42′04″W / 52.6154°N 1.7010°W / 52.6154; -1.7010 (Fazeley Junction)
Tame Aqueduct 52°37′03″N 1°41′31″W / 52.6176°N 1.6920°W / 52.6176; -1.6920 (Tame Aqueduct)
Glascote Basin 52°38′10″N 1°38′08″W / 52.6362°N 1.6356°W / 52.6362; -1.6356 (Glascote Basin)
Baddesley Basin 52°35′00″N 1°33′40″W / 52.5832°N 1.5612°W / 52.5832; -1.5612 (Baddesley Basin)
Mill Bridge (Polesworth) 52°36′57″N 1°37′00″W / 52.6158°N 1.6167°W / 52.6158; -1.6167 (Mill Bridge)
Atherstone Top Lock 52°34′29″N 1°33′03″W / 52.5748°N 1.5509°W / 52.5748; -1.5509 (Atherstone Top Lock)
Marston Junction 52°29′25″N 1°27′33″W / 52.4902°N 1.4592°W / 52.4902; -1.4592 (Marston Junction)
Hawkesbury Junction 52°27′28″N 1°28′08″W / 52.4578°N 1.4690°W / 52.4578; -1.4690 (Hawkesbury Junction)
Coventry Canal Basin 52°24′48″N 1°30′43″W / 52.4134°N 1.5120°W / 52.4134; -1.5120 (Coventry Basin)

See also[edit]



  1. ^ "Waterscape - Coventry Canal History". Waterscape.
  2. ^ Waterways Guide 3: Birmingham & the Heart of England. Glasgow: Nicholson. 2009. pp. 56–59. ISBN 978-0-00-728162-6.
  3. ^ "Coventry Canal Basin". BBC. Retrieved 18 August 2018.

External links[edit]