Affectionally known as the “Curly Wyrley”, the Wyrley & Essington Canal today winds around to the north of Walsall through industrial and housing areas, and some surprisingly pleasant green spaces. Along with other parts of the northern Birmingham Canal Navigations it now sees very few boats, but it was not always so and evidence of its former existence as a busy transport artery can still be seen.
The Wyrley & Essington Canal runs for 16½ miles on one level from its junction with the Birmingham Canal at Horseley Fields, Wolverhampton through Wednesfield, Bloxwich and Pelsall to Brownhills. Here it once descended through 30 locks in 7 miles to Lichfield and the Coventry Canal at Huddlesford Junction. The restoration of this Ogley Locks section as the Lichfield Canal is being progressed by the Lichfield & Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust.
At Birchills Junction a ½ mile branch connects with the Walsall Canal, and at Pelsall Junction it connects to the remaining 1½ miles of the Cannock Extension Canal. From Catshill Junction, Brownhills the 5 mile Daw End Branch leads to Longwood Junction where it joins the Rushall Canal, and from Ogley Junction the 1½ mile Anglesey Branch runs to Anglesey basin at the foot of Chasewater Reservoir.
The maximum size of boat that can navigate the Wyrley & Essington Canal is
length: 70' 11" (21.62 metres)
beam: 7' 4" (2.24 metres)
height: 7' 5" (2.26 metres)
draught: 4' 4" (1.32 metres)
Historically the lock-free Wolverhampton level of the Wyrley & Essington Canal was large enough for a special size of narrow boat known as ‘Ampton’ boats or Wharf boats up to 86ft length by 7' 9" beam.
Birmingham, Black Country and Worcestershire – Horseley Fields Junction to Birchills Junction.
Lichfield – Birchills Junction to Huddlesford Junction including Daw End Branch, Anglesey Branch, Wyrley Branch, and Cannock Extension Canal.
Canal & River Trust
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Canal & River Trust website