Building the Birmingham to Stratford-upon-Avon canal

The canal starts at Kings Norton on the south west side of Birmingham and joins the River Avon at Stratford a distance of 25 ½ miles. The canal is divided into two roughly equal parts, the north and the south.

The Stratford-upon-Avon Canal Act was passed by parliament on the 28th March 1793 with an authorised capital of £ 120,000. It had powers to raise an extra £ 60,000 if needed. Work started in November of the same year. By May 1796 the first 10 miles through Earlswood to Hockley Heath was opened. This first section had used almost all of the money raised for the canal construction, so nothing happened much until 1799 when a further Act of Parliament allowed the raising of an extra £50,000.

By May 1802 the canal had reached Kingswood at Lapworth and connected with the Warwick & Birmingham Canal. By now the Canal company has once again used up all their money for the canal construction. Construction of the southern part of the canal finally started in 1812. By June 1813 it was open as far as Wootton Wawen. The canal was finally opened to Stratford-upon-Avon by June 1816. A lavish opening ceremony was arranged. On the 24th June 1816 the first boat was pulled into the basin at Stratford-upon-Avon to the sound of a brass band and to be welcomed by the Mayor. This was 23 years after the canal was started so it took  23 years to build 25 miles.

Written by Roy Willmott, Chairman of the Parish Council

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