Heritage Towpath Trail
Part 2

An Introduction to the Lichfield Canal

This Ordinance Survey map shows the Pipehill area in 1883. 

On the right is Ogley third flight Locks 13 to 17 between Wall Lane and Fosseway Lane. To the left is the redundant Loop of the original canal cut off when railway was constructed and new bridges formed in 1846.

This is the Pipehill road and rail Bridge. This three span bridge for the A461 passes over the canal and the adjacent railway was originally constructed in 1846 and replaced the original canal road bridge.

Pipehill Pumping Station

Pipehill Pumping Station

The privately owned canal channel and towpath remain as abandoned to the north of the Pipehill Pumping Station. 

The pumping station was constructed and brought into service in 1910 and electrified in 1973. Coal for the Pumping Station Steam Engines would have been delivered to a canalside wharf.

The source of the supply is four boreholes sunk into Bunter Sandstone and pebble beds. The average amount of water pumped daily is 2,850,000 gallons.  Pipe Hill supplies water to parts of Sutton Coldfield, Shenstone, Wall, Brownhills, Aldridge, Little Aston, Walsall and Great Barr.

Moat Bank Brige on the A461

Moat Bank Bridge is a sister Bridge to St. Johns London Road Bridge for half its width, which was also rebuilt in 1930's. This bridge was exposed by County Highways as part of their bridge inspections and was found to be intact.

Adjacent to the bridge on the other side is Lock 11 which was excavated in 2009 for inspection and found to be structurally intact. It was re-buried to preserve until required.

Muckley Corner and the A5

The 'Muckley Corner' was the original Old Coaching Inn and parts of the building date back to 1683. An inn was recorded there in the 1790's.

A new Tunnel is required under the A5 Watling Street on the new canal alignment in this location. A new lock 9B is required to allow canal access under the A5 Watling Street on an altered alignment avoiding modern developments on the old canal bed in this area.

The Summerhill Section

Thanks to a grant of £336,000 from SIB early in 2015 work is underway on the section of the Lichfield Canal from The Boat Inn on the Walsall Road to Barracks Lane just west of the aqueduct over the M6 Toll Road near Brownhills.
This section will then be opened to the public.

Eventually, a new bridge will be required next to the Boat Inn to replace the original bridge removed shortly after abandonment. The new 'bridge' will actually be a tunnel under the A461. A cranked water pipe to the side of the road indicates the profile of the original canal.

Trees have been cut down from the canal line but will be replaced with more new trees and hedges. Scrub has been cleared. The towpath will be restored and made accessible to walkers. The original culvert across Crane Brook was demolished to increase the water flow for M6 Toll run-off water. Construction of a new culvert began in March 2015 and completed by June.

By June 2015 the culvert was completed and a concrete raft laid on top. The site is now being prepared for the construction of deep Lock 8 which will raise the canal level to that of the Aqueduct. To avoid loss of water it will be back-filled by electric pump.

M6 Toll Aqueduct

Approaches to the M6 Toll in February 2015 just after scrub clearance. The autumnal look is due to chipped wood.

The M6 Toll Aqueduct is a new structure installed at the expense of the Trust in 2003 to provide the necessary headroom for the motorway. This structure had to be erected during the motorway construction as part of the funding arrangements. It may soon be possible for walkers to cross the M6 using the Aqueduct.
A new deep lock 8 will raise the canal 5m. to the level of the aqueduct.

The Towpath Trail will soon be crossing the Aqueduct via temporary steps, creating a walking route from the Boat Inn to Barracks Lane.

The Aqueduct  from the west side, approximately on the site of Lock 8 (now filled in)

The original Lock 8 just west of the aqueduct has been filled in. After leaving the Aqueduct the canal will pass through Locks 7 and 6 before reaching Barracks Lane. A new bridge will be required here. The original was hump-back so a new line for the road or a lower level for the canal will be needed. We are now just over a mile from Ogley Junction.

A flight of five locks called 'Ogley First Flight' then takes the canal up to Ogley Basin. The ground slopes some 40 feet in this area and so requires a flight of locks to move boats up and down. These locks are largely intact but they are mostly infilled with soil and therefore restoration should be feasible. Ogley Junction is 80 m. approx higher than Huddlesford Junction requiring 30 locks in all over the 7 miles.

And so we arrive at Ogley Junction just over seven miles from Huddlesford.

Ogley Basin provided a trans-shipment point at the summit level of the canal network and was used to load sand brought by a horse drawn plate way up the hill from nearby sandpits.

This Traditional Iron Footbridge was cast by the Horseley Iron Works and is dated 1829. This was installed in this location in approx 1862 when the Anglesey Branch was made navigable to provide a canal link to the colliery wharfs along this navigation.

Ogley Junction

Ogley Junction in 1955. Building just over the bridge is a blacksmith's workshop. 

This junction on the Wryley and Essington Canal from Catshill Junction is the point where the Anglesey Feeder was constructed in 1799 from Norton Bog (now called Chasewater Reservoir) subsequently made navigable as the Anglsey Branch in 1862.

Onward to Catshill Junction

This section is in water and fully navigable by boat or on foot to Catshill Juncion, about 1.5 miles.

Ogley Hay Steam flour Mill is thought to date from the 1840's and was equipped with 4 pairs of french grinding wheels driven by a 35HP steam engine with a Cornish boiler and used to employ 4 millers.

Catshill Junction marks the start of the Wyrley & Essington Canal to Lichfield constructed late in the 1790's, and the end of this presentation.

Back to Huddlesford in Part 1

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This  presentation represents just  a few of over 80 Points of Interest along, and nearby to, the route of  the Lichfield Canal.

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©  Lichfield & Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust