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A detailoed description of our boats, Oak and Ash.    
Where we will be going in 2004.  

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on the Canals and Rivers of the UK

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Our guide to the waterways of the UK in detail.

The Birmingham Canal Navigations.

or BCN


These, as the name suggests, are a collection of canals, in their heyday over 160 miles of them, which while having large rural sections, are mainly urban in nature. Generally we only cruise what is called "the main line", this is based on the original canal of 1772 though it was extensively modernise in 1789 and between 1825 and 1838. It runs between the centre of Birmingham and the Staff and Worcs canal just to the west of Wolverhampton. So this page concentrates upon this part, just 30 or so miles of the total.

One end of the canal starts in Gas Street Basin at the former stop lock in the "Worcester Bar". Right in the centre of Birmingham,shops, hotels and bars border the canal, a variety of boats are moored here and trip boats and restaurants of all types and sizes travel the waters. The canal then passes under Broad Street bridge, which still has buildings on it over the canal, and through a watery cross-roads, with Farmer's Bridge locks on the Birmingham and Frazley canal going down to the right, and the National Indoor Arena and Sea World towering above it.

As the canal moves out of the centre of Birmingham it is straight, wide and deep with its course before the modernisation of the 1830's still navigable as loops off to the side. When you come to the former summit, the old route climbs 3 locks while the new route goes through a 60 ft deep cutting. We have a choice of routes for the next few miles, new and straight or old and windy, with both the Netherton and Dudley tunnels off to the left.

At Tipton Green, near the Black Country Museum, the two routes combine for a short tunnel and the last few miles to Wolverhampton. The canal passes through the edge of Wolverhampton town centre before dropping down 21 locks to join the Staff and Worcs canal at Alderly junction. These last locks are in good condition with clear and clean water as they slowly head past the race course out into the country.

Throughout the BCN main line is an urban canal, with many side routes from just a few hundred yards up to many miles long, canals in their own right. The attraction of the main line is not in fields and rural isolation but in the often impressive remains of the industry which was created by this canal. It varies from dereliction in places right up to the intensely alive waterways of the centre of Birmingham. While probably not a canal for those who have never travelled on the waterways of the UK before, it is an essential route for those who seek to explore and understand the impact of the canals.



Unfortunately we will not be on this canal in 2012 during our cruises.

However we are cruising on many other canals and rivers in 2012, details of these cruises can be found at

routes for 2012.


Some pictures of this canal?

In the centre of Birmingham / At Wolverhampton / Along the main line / Black Country Museum


More information from Reed Boats about this canal.

A history of this canal.

Find our information about other canals on the canal index page.


If you have any questions then do ring us on 07977 229103
or email us at

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