Stratford-upon-Avon Canal

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The Stratford-upon-Avon Canal is a canal in the south Midlands of England. The canal, which was built between 1793 and 1816, runs for 25.5 miles (41.0 km) in total, and consists of two sections. The dividing line is at Kingswood Junction, which gives access to the Grand Union Canal. Following acquisition by a railway company in 1856, it gradually declined, the southern section being un-navigable by 1945, and the northern section little better.

The northern section was the setting for a high-profile campaign by the fledgling Inland Waterways Association in 1947, involving the right of navigation under Tunnel Lane bridge, which required the Great Western Railway to jack it up in order to allow boats to pass. These actions saved the section from closure. The southern section was restored by the National Trust between 1961 and 1964, after an attempt to close it was thwarted. The revived canal was re-opened by Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, and responsibility for it was transferred to British Waterways in 1988.

Contents

Route

The Stratford-upon-Avon canal connects the Worcester and Birmingham Canal at Kings Norton to the River Avon at Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire. It consists of two sections, divided by a junction which connects it to the Grand Union Canal. The northern section from Kings Norton in the suburbs of Birmingham to Lapworth is level for the first 10.8 miles (17.4 km), following the 460-foot (140 m) contour, but then descends quite rapidly through the Lapworth flight of 18 locks, to reach the junction. There is a choice of route to reach the Grand Union, as there are two locks side by side, one on the main line of the canal, and one on the branch, but a channel joins the bottom ends of both locks. The junction is almost exactly half way along the canal.[1]

The southern section continues the descent with the final seven of the Lapworth locks, passing under the M40 motorway just before the final one. The locks are closely spaced until those at Preston Bagot are reached, after which there is a 6 miles (9.7 km) section with just one lock in the middle. This nearly-level section contains two of the canal's three iron aqueducts. The easy cruising is interrupted by the Wilmcote flight of eleven locks in just over a mile (1.6 km), soon after which the canal reaches Stratford-upon-Avon.[1]

Along the 25.5-mile (41.0 km) route of the canal, there are a total of 54 narrow locks.[1] Near King's Norton Junction there is a disused stop lock, which used to prevent the canal taking water from the Worcester and Birmingham Canal when they were separately owned, but is now left permanently open. It is unusual in that it has two guillotine gates which are made of wood. When operational, they moved vertically in iron frames, and were counter-balanced by weights.[2] A barge lock connects the terminal basin (Bancroft Basin) with the River Avon.

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