Historical Information

A canal route continuing up the Tame valley towards the industrial centre of the Black Country was first considered in the late 18th century but the rapidly growing town of Birmingham was a greater draw and the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal route left the Tame at Salford Junction to climb steeply up the Aston and Farmers Bridge locks to join the Birmingham Canal.  But the success of this route brought its own problems of congestion on the locks which unlike most other canals at the time had to be kept open day and night and on Sundays.  Building parallel locks at Farmers Bridge was considered but by then the land alongside was too built up and a bypass canal following the upper part of the Tame valley was first proposed in 1810.  It was to be 1839 before work started and, following a second bill in 1840 that revised the route, the Tame Valley Canal opened in 1844.

Engineered by James Walker, the Tame Valley Canal uses deep cuttings and high embankments to maintain a direct course. There are some impressively high bridges over the cuttings and the embankments include several major brick and iron aqueducts over roads, a railway and the River Tame, plus a modern concrete one over the M5.

The Tame Valley Canal was one of several major improvements and new connections to the Birmingham Canal Navigations (BCN) system constructed following the merger with the Wyrley & Essington Canal in 1840.  These included the Walsall Junction Canal (1841), the Bentley Canal (1843), and the Rushall Canal (1847) which linked the Tame Valley with the Daw End Branch of the Wyrley & Essington.  Together, these all helped consolidate the system and speed up traffic, the better to resist growing competition from the railways.

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See also:

Waterways A-Z
Map of UK Waterways

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