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Birmingham & Fazeley Canal

The Birmingham & Fazeley Canal is 15 miles long and connects the Birmingham Canal at Farmers Bridge Junction to the Coventry Canal at Fazeley.

Things to do nearby

Facts & Stats

15 miles

(24 km)

The length of the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal which is navigable.

38 locks

There are 13 locks at the famous Farmers Bridge lock flight

1794

Formation of the BCN

The year the “Birmingham and Birmingham and Fazeley Canal Navigations” was shortened to the now familiar Birmingham Canal Navigations (BCN)

From Birmingham to Fazeley

The route of the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal is a varied one.  The journey begins in Birmingham with a rapid drop down the 13 Farmers Bridge locks.  The locks are hemmed in and partly built over by densely packed commercial premises.

At Aston Junction the canal’s Digbeth Branch heads off through 6 locks to the Grand Union Canal at Warwick Bar. Meanwhile the main line of the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal continues down through the 11 locks of the Aston flight to Salford Junction.  Here, at a waterway crossroads, the Birmingham & Warwick Junction Canal (part of the Grand Union system) joins on one side and the Tame Valley Canal on the other.  There are two large aqueducts over the River Tame, a railway and the M6 Spaghetti Junction flying over it all.

The route out of the city is heavily industrial, but from Minworth locks onwards the countryside appears.  The Curdworth flight is pleasantly rural apart from the noise from the nearby M42!  The Tame valley opens out with gravel pits and water parks before the cotton mills of Fazeley mark the original terminus on the edge of Tamworth.  The Birmingham & Fazeley Canal actually continues via Hopwas to Whittington Brook through more pleasant countryside.

 

A canal oddity…

When the Birmingham Canal was completed through to Wolverhampton, with a connection with the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal, it gave an outlet to the west for the minerals and manufactured goods of the Black Country. With the Coventry and Oxford canals then being built to join the Trent & Mersey Canal to the Thames, the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal was planned to provide a vital link to the east.

Progress  in building the Coventry Canal was slow.  In 1782 the Birmingham & Fazeley and the Trent & Mersey companies took the initiative and offered to build the Fazeley to Fradley section of the Coventry Canal’s route.  The deal was that the Coventry Canal had to complete its line to Fazeley.  This was done by 1790 and the Oxford Canal was finally completed to the Thames in the same year.  Meanwhile the Coventry Canal had bought back the Trent & Mersey’s part of their route.  But the Coventry Canal never took over the intervening Fazeley to Whittington Brook section.  Therefore, legally, this part of the Coventry Canal remains part of the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal.  This section follows the Birmingham & Fazeley’s tradition of named rather than numbered bridges.

In 1784 the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal amalgamated with the Birmingham Canal and took on the name of the “Birmingham and Birmingham and Fazeley Canal Navigations”.  As this was rather a cumbersome title it was shortened in 1794 to the now familiar Birmingham Canal Navigations (BCN).  Thus the BCN extends out as far as Whittington Brook, only 1½ miles from its other former outpost at Huddlesford Junction. The historically significant end-on junction at Whittington Brook was unmarked until 1990 when an inscribed boundary stone was provided by IWA Lichfield Branch on the 200th anniversary of completion of the canal.

Waterway notes

Maximum boat sizes

  • Length: 70′ 7″ (21.52 metres) – Curdworth Middle Lock
  • Beam: 7′ 4″ (2.23 metres) – Curdworth Middle Lock
  • Height: 7′ 3″ (2.22 metres) – Caters Bridge
  • Draught: 4′ 7″ (1.39 metres) – Curdworth Middle Lock

Navigation authority

Branch

IWA Birmingham, Black Country and Worcestershire Branch – Junction with BCN main line to Minworth Bottom Lock

IWA Lichfield Branch – Minworth Bottom Lock to Whittington Brook

Useful Info

Handcuff keys are required for many of the locks on the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal.