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 Stratford-upon-Avon Canal runs from Birmingham's suburbia to Shakespeare's Stratford in 25 picturesque miles.
50 Berth Marina located on a beef and sheep farm in rural Warwickshire. Truly unique and tranquil.
Refitting Canalboats, complete restoration creating a modern, spacious and easy to use boat, perfect for modern day living.
A tranquil and friendly atmosphere awaits any visitor to our canalside bar and eating house.
A small and friendly mooring next to bridge 19 on the North Stratford Canal.
We are Roving Traders travelling the inland waterways on our narrow-boat Islonian trading as Flavoursfloat.
Family run Canal Boat holiday hire fleet located in the heart of Shakespeare's Stratford upon Avon, on the unique Stratford Canal and the beautiful River Avon. Hire available from 3 nights, 4 nights, a...
Choose to take your canal boat holiday from a choice of nine holiday centres, from the Peak District to the Midlands, Cheshire, Cambridge, Oxford, Wiltshire, Scotland, Wales and London, each with their...
Experience the charm and beauty of historic Shakespeare County with Bancroft Cruisers, Stratford’s only guided sightseeing cruises
The canal is usually considered as a northern and a southern section.
The Northern Stratford starts at Kings Norton Junction, with its guillotine-gated stop-lock that prevented water loss from one company's line to the other. It continues on the same level for ten miles then descends by 19 locks to Kingswood Junction, where there is a link to the Warwick & Birmingham Canal (now the Grand Union Canal).
The South Stratford is memorable for its split bridges, built with a gap to allow the tow ropes of the boat horses to pass through, and its unique barrel-roofed lock cottages.
The charming conservation area of Wootton Wawen has many ancient timber-frames houses. Nearby is Edstone, or Bearley, Aqueduct, with its cast-iron trough.
Just before Stratford, the canal passes through the tiny village of Wilmcote, where you can stop and visit Mary Arden’s house. The historic half-timbered Tudor farmhouse was home to Shakespeare’s mother before she was married.
The canal joins the River Avon at the Bancroft Basin in Stratford-upon-Avon, where a pretty park and waterfront paths are overlooked by the famous Royal Shakespeare Theatre.
Find stoppages, restrictions and other navigational advice for this waterway.
Bancroft Canal Basin, on the Stratford-upon-Avon Canal, lies in the heart of historic Stratford. Surrounded by beautiful gardens, it’s easy to miss this hidden gem.
Download a free activity guide to Bancroft Basin
The Stratford-upon-Avon Canal was promoted by an Act of 1793. By the time construction reached Hockley Heath in 1796, most of the money had been spent. More was raised, enabling work to start again, and the canal was joined to the Warwick & Birmingham Canal in 1802. It was not until 1812 that yet more money was raised and the cutting continued. The link to the river Avon at Stratford was completed in 1816.
As on most canals, the principal traffic was coal. Some of this went on from Stratford down the river Avon to Evesham, other across Clopton Bridge and along the Stratford & Moreton tramway, which had opened in 1828.
In 1845 the Oxford, Worcester & Wolverhampton Railway proposed building a line from Moreton-in-the-Marsh via Stratford to Birmingham. It offered to buy the tramway and the canal, an offer which was readily accepted.
Traffic diminished, but the railway company (from 1863 the Great Western Railway) had the legal obligation to keep the canal open. However, by the Second World War the southern section was almost unnavigable.
To the north, the canal owners fixed one of the swing bridges permanently shut. It soon became the scene of a number of incidents, where protesters including Sir Peter Scott aboard his boat Beatrice, insisted it be moved as it was blocking a statutory right of navigation.
Meanwhile, the Southern Stratford quietly decayed. But when Warwickshire County Council announced it was closing the canal by lowering a bridge at Wilmcote, public outcry prompted a campaign for restoration. Proposals for closure were stymied at the eleventh hour by a canoeist who produced a toll ticket less than three years old, proving that boats still wanted to navigate the canal.
Having avoided closure, the Southern Stratford was taken over by the National Trust. By utilising a combination of volunteers, army personnel and prisoners, the canal was restored at reportedly less than half the estimated cost of filling it in. It was reopened by HM The Queen Mother in 1964. In 1988, the National Trust handed the Southern Stratford-upon-Avon Canal back to us and together with the Northern Stratford it now forms part of the Avon Cruising Ring.
Waterways in the West Midlands
Read our plans and all the latest news from our team in the West Midlands.