The Wyrley and Essington Canal, known locally as "the Curly Wyrley", is a canal in the English Midlands. As built it ran from Wolverhampton to Huddlesford Junction near Lichfield, with a number of branches: some parts are currently derelict. Pending planned restoration to Huddlesford, the navigable mainline now terminates at Ogley Junction near Brownhills.
The canal was built to allow transport of coal from coal mines near Wyrley, Essington and New Invention to Wolverhampton and Walsall, but also carried limestone and other goods. An Act of Parliament received the Royal Assent on 30 April 1792, entitled "An Act for making and maintaining a navigable Canal from, or from near, Wyrley Bank, in the county of Stafford, to communicate with the Birmingham and Birmingham and Fazeley Canal, at or near the town of Wolverhampton, in the said county; and also certain collateral Cuts therein described from the said intended Canal".
As the act's name suggests, this authorised the construction of the canal from the BCN Main Line of the Birmingham Canal Navigations (which would not be known as such until 1794) near Wolverhampton to Wyrley Bank, and the raising of up to £45,000 to pay for construction. William Pitt was appointed engineer.
A second act received Royal Assent on 28 March 1794, entitled "An Act for extending the Wyrley and Essington Canal" – this authorised a long extension, from Sneyd (thus making the line from Sneyd to Wyrley Bank effectively a branch) past Lichfield to Huddlesford Junction on the Coventry Canal, together with the raising of up to £115,000 (£10,522,579 as of 2010), to complete construction. The 1794 Act also authorised a branch to the Hay Head Limeworks, which became known as the Daw End branch, and a short branch to Lords Hayes.
The canal, including the extension, was open throughout by 1797. In February 1840, the Daw End branch was linked to the Tame Valley Canal by the Rushall Canal which included 9 locks. The section from Ogley Junction to Huddlesford is now known as the Lichfield Canal and is derelict, having been abandoned in 1955, under the terms of an Act of Abandonment obtained in 1954. It is now the subject of restoration.
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