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Droitwich Canals

The Droitwich Canals, the Droitwich Junction Canal and the Droitwich Barge Canal, run from the River Severn to Hanbury.

Droitwich Canals Map

Facts & Stats

5.8 miles

(9.3 km)

The length of the Droitwich Barge Canal that is navigable. The Droitwich Junction Canal is 1.5 miles (2.4 km).

8 locks

+ 7

There are 8 wide locks in the Droitwich Barge Canal and 7 locks in the Droitwich Junction Canal.


Year opened

On March 10th the Canal opened to Great celebrations in Droitwich.

From the River Severn to Hanbury

1758 :

  • Salt Union Directors asked James Brindley to survey feasibility of a Canal from Droitwich to the River Severn.


  • Brindley obtained the necessary Act of Parliament and work started at Lock One Hawford. The Severn was tidal at that time with a rise and fall of five feet creating serious construction problems with hand pumps working night and day.


  • On March 10th the canal opened to great celebrations in Droitwich and drinks for all the workers.


  • Railway competition was met by building The Droitwich Junction Canal to join the Worcester Birmingham Canal at Hanbury. This meant one of our oldest Canals and the newest design exist at Droitwich.


  • The last salt barge, a Severn Trow named Volunteer worked down from Mildenham Mill with two hayricks for the Army in France via Cardiff Docks.


  • The last narrow boat worked down the Junction Canal with 30 tons of bricks from Hanbury Brickworks stolen from Hanbury to Droitwich by the Canal Manager where the police arrested him.


  • An Act of Parliament abandoned the canals to become derelict and filled with sewage from Droitwich and the villages. There were continuous press complaints about the mess and flies down the Salwarpe valley.

Chronology continued


  • Max Sinclair, an IWA member, started a correspondence campaign in the local press and with the Councils for restoration. This led to considerable opposition from locals and some Councillors.


  • 200 years to the day since the opening, volunteers from the Worcestershire and Birmingham Canal Society started removing over 1000 dead elm trees and fund-raising by selling firewood.


  • Droitwich Canals Trust was formed and was granted long term leases for restoration to progress. In the October over a thousand volunteers held a weekend camp to uncover the Barge Canal to the amazement of many locals who were unaware of the waterways existence.The trust made substantial early progress on the restoration of the Barge Canal, with the assistance of job creation schemes. As a result the canal through Vines Park in the town, the long pound, and three locks were largely restored.


  • Restoration of the eastern three locks of the much later Junction Canal, near the junction with the Worcester & Birmingham Canal at Hanbury Wharf, was completed . The restoration was largely funded by an IWA grant from a legacy. 


  • Work to complete the restoration of both canals in Worcestershire started.  The total cost of work was about £11 million, with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Advantage West Midlands, Wychavon District Council, Worcestershire County Council and other contributors, including IWA. 


  • The Waterways Trust launched a successful public appeal for £100,000 for work on the Barge Lock, which connects the two canals in Droitwich.  This work was undertaken, largely by the Waterway Recovery Group, and the lock formally reopened in September.  Much of the work to restore the lock was undertaken by IWA’s Waterway Recovery Group, and was the culmination of over 30 years’ work by IWA to promote restoration of the Droitwich Canals. 


  • On 11th September, the Barge canal was opened for a narrow boat gathering in Vines Park.


  • On 1st July, the Junction Canal was re-opened with three days of celebratory concerts and plaque unveiling.



Waterway notes

Maximum boat sizes

  • Length: 71′ 6″ (21.7 metres)
  • Beam: 7′ 1″ (2.1 metres)
  • Height: 6′ 5″ (1.95 metres)
  • Draught: 3′ 6″ (1.05 metres)

Navigation authority

Canal & River Trust

Waterway underfunding

Hundreds of miles of waterways – along with their unique heritage and habitats – are currently starved of funding and rely on constant lobbying by us to safeguard their future.

Sustainable Boating

We want boating on canals and rivers to be more sustainable and – even though the current overall contribution to UK carbon emissions is very small – we want to help reduce emissions on the waterways.

Waterways Heritage at Risk

Britain’s canals and rivers are a unique, living heritage. But that heritage is at risk – from urban development, lack of protection, loss of skills and knowledge and climate change.

You can help Save Waterways Heritage.

Waterway restoration

Restoring the UK’s blue infrastructure – our inherited network of navigable canals and rivers – is good for people and places.