Read the story of how the Canal & River Trust came to be
Work for us
We have vacancies across all of our waterways and in the offices, museums and attractions that support them. We're one of the UK's biggest charities and we take pride in everything we do
If you're thinking of getting in touch then please take a moment to look through these pages as we probably have the answer on our website
Planning & design
All you need to know about planning and design on our canals and rivers
Find a winter mooring
Find a cosy section of canal to hunker down in this winter
10 reasons to take up canoeing
It's a great way to get fit and explore our waterways at the same time
Share the Space
Take a look at our common sense guide to sharing the towpath
Find a place to fish
From reservoirs to club-managed canals and river stretches - find your nearest place to fish
Get your free guide
Download your free guide today and start exploring the waterway nature near you
Download your free guides
You've nine free days out guides to choose from - where will you go first?
Find a walk near you
Are you ready to ramble? Find a waterside stroll or a satisfying hike along our beautiful canals and rivers
Take a look at our upcoming events here.
Find your favourite waterway
With over 95 canals, rivers, reservoirs, docks and navigations, find out more about your favourite waterway
Something for everyone
Help us make a difference and have fun along the way. Find your perfect volunteer role today
Join our team
Could you join your local Towpath Taskforce team and help us to keep our canals looking lovely?
Desmond Family Canoe Trail
If you're aged 16-25 and would like to get involved with this exciting project, please get in touch
Could you be a volunteer lock keeper?
Find out what's involved with this popular volunteering opportunity
Why we think canals are better with Friends
Become a Friend of the Canal & River Trust today and you’ll open yourself up to new experiences and endless opportunities.
We love and care for your canals and rivers, because everyone deserves a place to escape.
The sense of history on the Birmingham Canal Old Main Line is almost overpowering. Its meandering course was partly replaced by Thomas Telford’s arrow-straight New Main Line, leaving peaceful looping backwaters, like manmade oxbow lakes.
13th Feb 2018 8:00am to 2nd Mar 2018 6:00pm
Alfred Bagnall & Sons Limited on behalf of National Grid will be repainting the gas pipe crossing the canal. An encapsulated scaffolding will be erected across the canal & towpath to facilitate the works.
5th Feb 2018 8:00am to 2nd Mar 2018 4:00pm
Lock Chamber brickwork repairs to be undertaken. .
We are Roving Traders travelling the inland waterways on our narrow-boat Islonian trading as Flavoursfloat.
Many of these are still open to boats and walkers, although some are no longer navigable. While those in a hurry head straight down the main line, if you have time to explore, these waters provide a fascinating diversion.
The canal takes you from Birmingham to Wolverhampton, through Black Country scenery that is rich in industrial history. The Black Country Living Museum is a great family day out – a recreation of a 19th-century industrial town, including canal docks and boat trips.
On a trip along the Old Main Line, you can spot the New Main Line in the cutting below, as well as the Titford Canal, Engine Arm and Netherton Tunnel Branch.
Find stoppages, restrictions and other navigational advice for this waterway.
Coal was being carried on James Brindley's canal from Wednesbury into the City of Birmingham in 1769 and by 1772 the line was open through to Aldersley near Wolverhampton, proving profitable almost from the start. Built to Brindley's contour method, in which the water level followed where possible the contours of the landscape, it was a meandering route of more than 22 miles.
Various modifications and improvements quickly followed; the section between Smethwick and Spon Lane was originally built on a level of 491 feet above sea level, with six locks at Smethwick and three leading down to the 473 feet level at Spon Lane. This arrangement wasted much precious water and in the 1780s the engineer Smeaton, who was also responsible for Eddystone Lighthouse, lowered it to the 473 feet level. An approximate indication of the old level can be gained from looking over Brasshouse Bridge to where the New Main Line and Old Main Line are overshadowed by an embankment.
The Engine Arm is a feeder that crosses Telford's later New Main Line on the elegant cast iron Telford Aqueduct. The arm takes its name from the first Boulton & Watt engine to be installed by the Birmingham Canal Company; it pumped water between the levels before being moved first to mine workings at Ocker Hill thence the Birmingham Science Museum.
The locks at Titford, known locally as the Crow Flight after a local benefactor, afford access to Titford Reservoir and various branches. At Tividale the Old Main Line crosses the Netherton Tunnel Branch on Tividale Aqueduct. Blue engineering bricks predominate; known locally as ‘toccy bricks', they were made from Staffordshire clay and baked in the hottest part of the oven rendering them virtually impervious to water.
At Tipton the line makes a junction with the Dudley Canal near the northernmost portal of Dudley Tunnel. From Factory Junction, named after a long-vanished soap works, the route to Wolverhampton now continues via the New Main Line.
West Midlands waterways
Find out more about the region's waterways