Central Birmingham

Central Birmingham

Canal & River Trust Information Centre, 22 Cambrian House, King Edwards Road, Birmingham, B1 2AN.

Some people say Birmingham has more canals than Venice! Find out if that’s true by exploring the canals in the centre of Birmingham at Cambrian Wharf. Our volunteers will introduce you to the tales of Birmingham’s canal system, engineered by James Brindley and Thomas Telford. One built the long route and the other took a short cut. 

Canals were a big business in Brum!

Did you know that there are three canals running through Birmingham?

Birmingham’s canals were built to transport goods to and from the factories. Cement was brought to Gas Street Basin from quarries in Warwickshire. Other wharves were built to handle timber and metals and there were over 60 coal merchants. Even John Cadbury moved his tea and cocoa business here!


KS1 KS2 Guided Locks Trail

Our locks trail unearths the secrets of the local area through first-hand observation of the canal and the buildings which surround it. Did you know there is a chocolate factory in Birmingham and boats brought the ingredients to make this yummy treat? Discover how boats moved cargoes around the system and how boats navigate up and down hills.

KS1 KS2 Build a Canal

This session helps children understand how and why canals were built, how they changed Britain and how canals are different to rivers. It provides an interactive way of discussing local industry and how the arrival of the canals shaped the landscape.

KS1 KS2 Building Bridges

Have a go at building model canal bridges and find out why arches are such a good shape.

KS1 KS2 Stay SAFE Near Water

All our visits include learning about water safety and how respecting the canal environment is vital. We offer pre-visits, where our volunteers can come into your school to run a water safety assembly or incorporate it into your canal-side visit.

KS1 KS2 Boating Families

This indoor workshop helps children understand what life was like for boating families in Victorian times, and considers how life is different for people living in different times and places. The Boating Families workshop is delivered through storytelling and object handling. There is even the opportunity for children to try on canal costumes.

KS2 Heritage Boat Visits

On special occasions our Heritage Boats visit Cambrian Wharf and offer a unique opportunity for children to step on board to see inside the cabin where boating families lived.

These are available on specific dates. Please enquire when booking a visit.

KS1 KS2 Floating & Sinking

This workshop will help children develop a clearer understanding of the factors affecting whether something sinks or floats. Children take the challenge of loading a model boat with cargo, trying not to sink it!

Self-guided Trails

Our downloadable trail introduces children to the history and wildlife of Central Birmingham.

Learning Resources

Use the following resources to support learning on your trip and back in the classroom:

Life on the English Waterways

All About Canals

Building & Carrying Topic Pack

Heartland Canals Topic Pack

All About James Brindley

Find out more about pioneering canal engineer James Brindley.


Free facilities include pre-visits and downloadable trails.

Practicalities include limited toilets, indoor workshop space. Coaches will need to drop off at roadside, near ramp to canal towpath.

Add text – To ensure your visit runs smoothly and safely by water, we offer visits for one class per booking (roughly 30 children). Visits are 2 hours. If you need to bring two classes, then you could book a morning and afternoon slot e.g. 10am – 12noon and 1pm – 3pm.


Visits to Birmingham canals are FREE!