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Shropshire Union Canal

The Shropshire Union Canal runs from Autherley Junction, near Wolverhampton, on the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal, to the Manchester Ship Canal at Ellesmere Port.  

Things to do nearby

Hurleston lock flight
view of a canal through a bridge
Paul Rodgers standing on a bridge over the Oxford Canal
narrowboat going over an aqueduct

Facts & Stats

66.5 miles


The length of the main line of the Shropshire Union Canal that is navigable. The Middlewich Branch is 10 miles (16.1km) and the River Dee branch is 0.25 miles (0.4km).

47 locks

Main line

The Middlewich Branch has 4 locks and the River Dee Branch has 3 locks.



Shropshire Union Railways and Canal Company was formed.

From Autherley Junction to the Manchester Ship Canal

There are two branches, the Middlewich Branch (which runs from Barbridge Junction to the Trent & Mersey Canal at Middlewich) and the River Dee Branch (which runs from the main line at Chester to the tidal river Dee).  

There is also a Newport Branch that is derelict, but under restoration as part of the Shewsbury and Newport Canal that joins at Norbury Junction.

The Shropshire Union Canal was formed from a group of canal companies, which became the Shropshire Union Railways and Canal Company in 1846. 

IWA has proposed improved links between the Shropshire Union Canal and the river Dee.

Waterway notes

Maximum boat sizes (main line)

  • Length: 70′ 11″ (21.62 metres) – Autherley Stop Lock
  • Beam: 7′ 7″” (2.21 metres) – Autherley Stop Lock
  • Height: 7′ 11″ (2.41 metres) – Bridge Lock
  • Draught: 4′ 1″ (1.24 metres) – cill of Autherley Junction Stop Lock

Maximum boat sizes (Old Chester Canal and Middlewich Branch)

Old Chester Canal

  • Length: 75′ 2″ (22.91 metres) – Ellesmere Port Locks
  • Beam: 11′ 1″ (3.37 metres) – M53 Bridge
  • Height: 7′ 11″ (2.41 metres) – Sellar Street Bridge (Bridge 123C), Chester
  • Draught: 4′ 1″ (1.24 metres) – Sellar Street Bridge

Middlewich Branch

  • Length: 75′ 4″ (22.95 metres) – Church Minsull Lock
  • Beam: 7′ 1″ (2.16 metres) – Church Minsull Lock
  • Height: 8′ 0″ (2.44 metres) – rail bridge at Cholmondeston
  • Draught: 4′ 10″ (1.47 metres) – Church Minsull Lock

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