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Tame Valley Canal

From Salford Junction on the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal, the Tame Valley Canal climbs the 13 Perry Barr Locks then runs level via Rushall Junction to Tame Valley Junction on the Walsall Canal.

Map of the Tame Valley Canal and surrounding waterways

Facts & Stats

8.5 miles


The length of the Tame Valley Canal that is navigable.

13 locks


Year opened

It was one of the last narrow canals to be built.

From Salford Junction to Tame Valley Junction

The Tame Valley Canal was one of the last narrow canals to be built, being opened in 1844.  It was constructed on a generous scale with a towpath on both sides and takes a direct line with deep cuttings and high embankments, more like the railways it was by then competing with than the earlier contour canals.  

Its start beneath the towering concrete spaghetti of the M6 is impressive rather than attractive, with more motorway bridges to follow, and its end around Ocker Hill is in the industrial heart of the Black Country, but in between much of the route is green and pleasant despite its urban surroundings. The Perry Barr locks are soundly constructed and well maintained and the lock cottages and bridges have an attractive solidity of design. Wildlife abounds on this little-used canal which deserves to be better known. With the Rushall Canal and the older Daw End Branch and Wyrley & Essington Canal it forms a suburban through route around the northern BCN and a quieter alternative to the better known Main Line.

A canal route continuing up the Tame valley towards the industrial centre of the Black Country was first considered in the late 18th century but the rapidly growing town of Birmingham was a greater draw and the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal route left the Tame at Salford Junction to climb steeply up the Aston and Farmers Bridge locks to join the Birmingham Canal.  But the success of this route brought its own problems of congestion on the locks which unlike most other canals at the time had to be kept open day and night and on Sundays.  Building parallel locks at Farmers Bridge was considered but by then the land alongside was too built up and a bypass canal following the upper part of the Tame valley was first proposed in 1810.  It was to be 1839 before work started and, following a second bill in 1840 that revised the route, the Tame Valley Canal opened in 1844.

Connections of the Tame Valley Canal

Engineered by James Walker, the Tame Valley Canal uses deep cuttings and high embankments to maintain a direct course. There are some impressively high bridges over the cuttings and the embankments include several major brick and iron aqueducts over roads, a railway and the River Tame, plus a modern concrete one over the M5.

The Tame Valley Canal was one of several major improvements and new connections to the Birmingham Canal Navigations (BCN) system constructed following the merger with the Wyrley & Essington Canal in 1840. These included the Walsall Junction Canal (1841), the Bentley Canal (1843), and the Rushall Canal (1847) which linked the Tame Valley with the Daw End Branch of the Wyrley & Essington. Together, these all helped consolidate the system and speed up traffic, the better to resist growing competition from the railways.

Waterway notes

Maximum boat sizes

  • Length: 70′ 11″ (21.62 metres)
  • Beam: 7′ 4″ (2.24 metres)
  • Height: 7′ 5″ (2.26 metres)
  • Draught: 4′ 4″ (1.32 metres)

Navigation authority

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.

Funding of Canal & River Trust waterways

IWA was instrumental in Canal & River Trust receiving a sufficient funding package from Government when the new charity was set up in 2012 to run the waterways previously managed by British Waterways.

Waterway restoration

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

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.