Usually referred to together, the Lichfield Canal and the Hatherton Canal are actually two separate waterways. Restoration of them both will provide additional access to the presently underused northern parts of the Birmingham Canal Navigations.
The Hatherton Canal is the Hatherton Branch of the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal plus a new section of canal to replace the former Churchbridge Locks connection to the Cannock Extension Canal that was lost to coal mining.
Both canal restorations have many obstacles to overcome, particularly road crossings. The threat posed by the building of the M6 Toll Motorway was an early challenge. Over £2 million has had to be invested in these major road crossings to preserve continuity of the routes, which for some time inhibited the pace of actual restoration work.
The Lichfield Canal has seen work over many years on several sites. This includes the restoration of a lock at Fosseway Lane, and a partly built diversion channel, a lift bridge and an inverted siphon stream culvert at Darnford Lane.
Tamworth Road Locks
The main voluntary work effort has been at Tamworth Road in Lichfield. Two partly demolished locks have been rebuilt, wash walls reconstructed, a section of a land drain pipeline removed, a slipway built, and a pound relined and rewatered. In the adjacent Darnford Park, between two future road crossings, the site for two new locks has been excavated and extensive landscaping carried out.
A grant in 2015 enabled the Trust to purchase a 1 km section of canal at Summerhill, clear 60 years of undergrowth, construct a new culvert and canal channel over the Crane Brook to replace the one demolished when the motorway was built, and to relay hedges and resurface the towpath between the Boat Inn and the aqueduct.
Fosseway Heath Towpath
In 2017 work started at Fosseway Heath to reinstate a missing section of towpath, modify the canal channel and create a nature area. By 2019 a large new turning basin had been mostly completed, and at Fosseway Lock 18 the channel was re-excavated back to the road and the towpath wall rebuilt.
Work has also resumed at Darnford Lane, and in 2018 some 11 pre-cast concrete culvert sections, purchased with a European grant 12 years earlier, were relocated there to be used to replace the road bridge.
There are now 5 currently active restoration sites along the Lichfield Canal and the Trust hosts WRG Canal Camps and weekends, and frequent visits from Corporate volunteer groups, to supplement its own regular volunteers.
£10,000 was awarded the Ashby Canal Trail Project as part of IWA’s Waterways in Progress Grants in 2019.
Waterways affected by HS2
We’re campaigning to protect canals and rivers from the damaging effects of HS2, especially where the tranquillity of the waterways is under threat.
HS2: Coventry Canal
Both the public country park and the private moorings at the old colliery basin at Polesworth on the Coventry Canal will be severely damaged by HS2.
HS2: Leigh Branch of Leeds & Liverpool Canal
The junction of HS2 with the West Coast Main Line at Abram requires a high embankment that will be visible from the Leeds & Liverpool Canal’s Leigh Branch across the Hey Brook valley.
HS2: Manchester Ship Canal
It is expected that the HS2 viaduct crossing will maintain the headroom and width required by the maximum size of ships that can use the canal – making the structure very high and prominent.
LOVE YOUR WATERWAYS
Together we can protect and restore the waterways; Britain's 7,000 miles of canals and navigable rivers need your help.
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