The Birmingham and Fazeley Canal from Farmer's Bridge Birmingham to Fazeley Junction Near Tamworth

 Written and researched by Jeannette Briggs

This canal is a relatively short but very useful "linking" canal, that enables boaters to reach the centre of Birmingham, and to travel northwards via the Coventry Canal at Fazeley Junction just south of the town of Tamworth, and then to join the great Trent and Mersey Canal at

Fradley Junction.
 
Above: The Birmingham and Fazeley canal at Farmer's Bridge - photo by Katy Walters and reproduced by kind permission

I should say at the outset that the canal is quite short in length, not an especially "pretty" so not really a canal boat holidays destination but worth taking your canal boat all the same with some pleasant sections for you to enjoy. The canal starts at Cambrian Wharf in the centre of Birmingham, and almost immediately you commence the long descent of the Farmers' Bridge flight of locks as you travel north east towards Aston Junction. This is an exhausting exercise which will leave you not a lot of time to admire your surroundings. You cannot fail to notice the BT Tower, however, as it looms above you and you can see it all along this stretch of the canal.

As you can see from these photos, Birmingham is slowly waking up to the fact that its network of canals is a huge environmental asset, and improvements and redevlopments are happening all the time to the properties and buildings on either side of stretches of the canals. This is in no small way thanks to the tireless work of the Birmingham Canal Navigation society, which has campaigned continuously for the regeneration of the Birmingham canals.  They should be warmly congratulated for all their hard work and many achievements. Visit their website www.bcnsociety.org.uk for more information.
 
 

Above: Farmer's Bridge - photo by Gordon
Griffiths and reproduced by kind permission

Above: A canal signpost by the BCN in the
centre of Birmingham - photo by J Briggs

The locks at Farmer's Bridge are a case in point:  they have been restored and there is now a viewing area at Newhall Bridge by the Science Museum. The canal passes the base of the giant BT Tower - the tallest building in Birmingham - , and now there are moorings provided for boaters between the bottom of the Farmer's Bridge flight of locks and the beginning of the Aston Flight, beyond Aston Junction.

At this junction if you were to turn right you would link up with the Grand Union Canal at Bordesley Junction.  The main line of the Birmingham and Fazeley however continues north east and ever downwards through the Aston Flight of 11 locks. You will always be aware of the presence of the motorways high above you - they dominate the view in all directions. You pass through the Aston area, and soon reach Salford Junction, which is the junction with the Grand Union Canal. This again is dominated by the huge motorways on concrete pillars above you.
   

Above: The canal and locks at Aston -
photo by David Bailey and reproduced by
kind permission

Above: The canal at Minworth - photo by
David Stowell and reproduced by kind permission

From this point, the canal turns east and the signs of heavy industry begin to give way to suburban housing. You are still fenced in by factories, and this makes access to shops etc. difficult. Once past Tyburn the surroundings become more rural, and you reach the village of Minworth, having negotiated three locks.  This has all necessary supplies and two nice old canalside pubs, the Hare and Hounds and the Boat. 

Past Minworth your views of the countryside are uninterrupted, apart from sections of the canal that flow through deep cuttings. In fact, the contrast between the first section of this canal and the section you are now on could not be greater.

There are now no indications of the heavy industry that was all around you at the beginning of your journey, and instead you will continue for mile after mile with no settlements of any note anywhere near the canal, and only the 11 locks at Curdworth to keep you occupied. Curdworth has a pub a short walk from the canal, called The Beehive. Beyond Curdworth the canal is quiet and preaceful, and you pass the Marston locks and Marston Hall Farm. Soon you come to Bodymoor Heath bridge which has a great canalside pub called the Dog and Doublet.

Leaving Bodymoor Heath you continue north through open and rather desolate countryside, until you see the village of Drayton Bassett which is a little way off the canal. Drayton  Bassett is notable for its quaint bridge over the canal.
 


Above: The canal at Curdworth, a very rural scene. Photo by Row17 and reproduced by kind permission

Above: Drayton Bassett Bridge - photo by
Angella Streluk and reproduced by kind permission

  
 Alongside the canal here is the famous Drayton Manor Park and Zoo. In my opinion, the Zoo is well worth a diversion from your journey on this canal.

Beyond Drayton Manor the canal continues north until it reaches Fazeley.  This is a small industrial town which has grown up largely because of its location at the junction of two canals, and also of the junction of the main trunk road the A5 with the A4091. 

Fazeley has all necessary supplies and pubs like the Three Tuns with overnight mooring for boaters. At Fazeley Junction the canal "merges" with the Coventry Canal and continues north until the junction with the Trent and Mersey Canal is reached at Fradley Junction.  For this section see the separate article about the Coventry Canal. I hope that this brief introduction to the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal has caught your interest, and that you will try it for yourself one day.
 
Above: Fazeley Junction canal signpost - photo by Rob Farrow and reproduced by kind permission

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