Sunday 1 January 2017

Walking the waterways (6) : Coventry Canal

The Coventry Canal is a 38 mile canal that stretches from Fradley Junction near Lichfield where it is connected to the Trent & Mersey Canal. The canal company was formed in 1768 [1] with the canal opening the following year though delays in raising sufficient finance (financially the company was quite weak compared to most contemporary projects) meant it was not completed until 1789.
Fradley Junction

As you might imagine the other end of the canal is in Coventry, and indeed the canal terminates here at Coventry Basin. Though before that there are connections to the Lichfield (originally the Wyrley & Essington), Ashby, Birmingham & Fazeley and Oxford canals. The Coventry Canal performed a useful role in connecting the various canals to the East and North of the Birmingham complex.

One complication with plotting the Coventry Canal is that while in reality it is a continuous stretch of waterway some maps treat it as two separate sections connected by part of the Birmingham & Fazeley. This confusion dates from the days of private ownership of the canals which often could be quite Byzantine, but now the canals are all owned by British Waterways the canal should really be treated as it physically is.
Approaching Coventry Basin

Narrowboat near the Ricoh Arena on the outskirts of Coventry
Coventry Basin

[1] J.R. Ward, The Finance of Canal Building in Eighteenth Century England (Oxford University Press, 1974) p. 31