Birmingham Canal Navigations (BCN) is a network of navigable canals connecting Birmingham, Wolverhampton, and the eastern part of the Black Country. The BCN is connected to the rest of the English canal system at several junctions.
The first canal to be built in the area was the Birmingham Canal, built from 1768 to 1772 under the supervision of James Brindley from the, then, edge of Birmingham, with termini at Newhall Wharf (since built over) and Paradise Wharf (also known as Old Wharf) near to Gas Street Basin to meet the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal at Aldersley (north of Wolverhampton).
The Birmingham and Fazeley Canal, from Birmingham to Tamworth, followed in 1784 with the Birmingham Canal Company merging with the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal Company immediately, to form what was originally called the Birmingham and Birmingham and Fazeley Canal Company. This cumbersome name was short-lived, and the combined company became known as the Birmingham Canal Navigations from 1794, as the network was expanded.
I love narrow boats and the BCN. I also like what what I describe as ‘weeping willows, green fields and kingfisher’ narrow boating but it the industrial BCN which I love best. I’ve cruised the canals of Birmingham for the past 15 years trying to get a last feeling for a location before it becomes gentrified and the old works at the canal side are demolished with yuppie apartments replacing them. Or the warehouses are turned into wine bars and boutiques.
I’m writing this because where we park the megabus during our break in Birmingham is not far from the Digbeth Branch Canal (infact the canal is in a tunnel at that point and almost runs under the spot on which the bus is parked!). I walked to the canal this week and took this picture, but by the time I realised I was that near to the canal I didn’t have enough time left to explore. I will do that on my next Birmingham trip.