From Salford Junction to Tame Valley Junction
The Tame Valley Canal was one of the last narrow canals to be built, being opened in 1844. It was constructed on a generous scale with a towpath on both sides and takes a direct line with deep cuttings and high embankments, more like the railways it was by then competing with than the earlier contour canals.
Its start beneath the towering concrete spaghetti of the M6 is impressive rather than attractive, with more motorway bridges to follow, and its end around Ocker Hill is in the industrial heart of the Black Country, but in between much of the route is green and pleasant despite its urban surroundings. The Perry Barr locks are soundly constructed and well maintained and the lock cottages and bridges have an attractive solidity of design. Wildlife abounds on this little-used canal which deserves to be better known. With the Rushall Canal and the older Daw End Branch and Wyrley & Essington Canal it forms a suburban through route around the northern BCN and a quieter alternative to the better known Main Line.
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.