Skip to main content

The charity making life better by water

Landslip closes North Oxford Canal in Warwickshire

We have had to close a section of the North Oxford Canal near the village of Brinklow in Warwickshire after an 18-metre-high section of embankment slipped, blocking the canal and the towpath.

A fallen tree and lumps of land in a canal.

The slippage happened late last week after a period of intense, heavy rainfall, and resulted in a huge amount of soil, debris, and large mature trees being deposited into the canal, all of which will now need specialist removal by our teams.

Designed by canal engineer James Brindley, the Oxford Canal was opened in sections between 1774 and 1790, with the purpose of bringing coal from the Coventry coalfields to Oxford and the River Thames. Nowadays the canal, with its meandering contours, is a popular place for leisure, with Hillmorton Locks in Rugby the busiest canal locks in England & Wales.

A huge challenge

Richard Preston, our regional operations manager said: “This is a huge challenge for us. Clearing the debris and getting the canal and towpath back open is likely to cost our charity several £hundreds of thousands. Accessing the embankment is difficult as it’s steep and the ground is saturated, so it’s likely we’ll need to bring the specialist machinery in by boat.

“This damage is one of the very real effects we’re seeing of climate change affecting our canals. Increasing extremes in weather patterns are bringing considerable challenges to our ageing infrastructure, some of which is over 250 years old. This is costing us a huge amount as we manage this growing risk to this wonderful canal heritage.

“While the effects of storms are dramatic, heavy rain isn't the only climate challenge facing the waterways. Long, dry spells can also be a serious problem, causing earth structures to dry out and increasing their vulnerability to erosion, especially when followed by intense rainfall when the weather breaks.”

Our contractors and engineers are already on site to begin the massive task of removing the debris from the canal. The canal and towpath are expected to stay closed for several weeks whilst the works are ongoing. Thankfully, no property or boats have been damaged. Boaters, walkers and cyclists can keep up to date with the works progress via the stoppages and notices page

Kingfisher in flight with small fish in its beak

Support our work

We need your support to keep canals and rivers alive. Donate today to make a difference

Last Edited: 16 February 2024

photo of a location on the canals
newsletter logo

Stay connected

Sign up to our monthly newsletter and be the first to hear about campaigns, upcoming events and fundraising inspiration