Tuesday, 21 September 2021

Walking the waterways (25) : Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal

The Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal links the river Severn in Stourport with the Trent & Mersey Canal at Great Haywood, passing through Kidderminster on the way which is where the below photographs were taken. The canal stretches for seventy four kilometres. The canal was opened in 1771, James Brindley being the chief engineer. The canal was a commercial success, transporting goods from the Potteries to the South West and also to the Midlands via a link to the Birmingham Main Line at Aldersley.

The opening of the Worcester & Birmingham Canal in 1815 created a more direct route from Birmingham to Bristol and this affected trade on the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal. Despite the competition from other canals and the railways the canal remained profitable, though steadily reducing. The canal was nationalised in 1948 though by now traffic was scarce. 

There were plans to close the canal in 1959 but it survived thanks to the efforts of volunteers. In 1969 the canal was reclassified as a cruiseway and preservation and restoration has continued ever since.