Birmingham and Fazeley Canal

Birmingham and Fazeley Canal

The Birmingham and Fazeley Canal is a canal of the Birmingham Canal Navigations in the West Midlands of England. Its purpose was to provide a link between Birmingham and the south east of England, by way of the Coventry Canal and the Oxford Canal.


The canal was authorised by an Act of Parliament obtained in 1784. This was opposed by the Birmingham Canal Company, but was granted despite the opposition. The two companies merged soon afterwards.cite book|author=Perrott,David|coauthors=Mosse,Jonathan|title=Nicholson Waterways Guide 3 - Birmingham & the Heart of England|publisher=Collins|year=2006|isbn=978-0-00-721111-1] Prior to this, the company had been active in negotiation with other canal companies, to ensure that when the canal was built, it would be part of a larger network. In 1782, they obtained an agreement from the Oxford Canal Company that they would complete the route to the River Thames at Oxford, one from the Coventry Canal that they would extend their canal from Atherstone to Fazeley, and agreed that they would complete the Coventry Canal's route from Fazeley as far as Whittington, with the Trent and Mersey finishing that link by building the remainder of the route to Fradley Junction. This arrangement was caused by the Coventry Canal's inability to finance the whole route.

John Smeaton was the engineer employed by the Birmingham and Fazeley, and the canal was completed in 1789. The benefits of the co-operation with the other canal companies were that when all the links were completed in 1790, it immediately generated a great deal of freight traffic. This created problems, as the flights of locks at Aston and Farmer's Bridge became congested, and this became worse when the Warwick Canal built a junction onto the Digbeth Branch. The problem was not solved until 1844, when the Birmingham and Warwick Junction Canal to the south east and the Tame Valley Canal to the north west were opened.


The canal runs from the BCN Main Line at Old Turn Junction (near the National Indoor Arena), Birmingham to the Coventry Canal at Fazeley Junction, just outside Tamworth. The length of this stretch is 15 miles (24 km), and it includes 38 locks. There is a one mile (1.6 km) branch called the Digbeth Branch Canal which runs from Aston Junction to Typhoo Basin and contains 6 locks. The 5.5 mile (8.8 km) stretch which extends northwards beyond Fazeley Junction to Whittington, near Lichfield, is still technically part of the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal, although it was built on the route authorised by the Coventry Canal's Act of Parliament.

Historically the canal started at Farmer's Bridge Top Lock (the real Farmer's Bridge Junction), where it met the already existing Birmingham Canal Newhall Branch. That branch has now been built over, with only Cambrian Wharf surviving.

The Birmingham and Fazeley Canal forms part of the Warwickshire ring.



BT tower
Newhall Street bridge in central Birmingham. There is a lock gate on either side of the road.
swing bridge
Watling Street Bridge at Fazeley

ee also

*Canals of Great Britain
*Transport in Birmingham, England
*History of the British canal system


*cite book |last= Pearson|first= Michael|authorlink= |coauthors= |editor= |others= |title=Canal Companion - Birmingham Canal Navigations|origdate= 1989|publisher= J. M. Pearson & Associates|isbn= 0-907864-49-X

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