The Cannock Extension Canal

Historical Profiles: NarrowBoat, Autumn 2020

Andy Tidy

Andy Tidy explores the history of this largely lost section of the BCN

Exploring any abandoned canal can be problematic but few offer the challenges presented by the Cannock Extension Canal, north of the A5/M6 Toll. This lost section of canal represents the northernmost extremity of the original Birmingham Canal Navigations network and was linked into the 13 Churchbridge Locks, making a connection with the older Hatherton Branch of the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal. These late additions to the BCN network were wiped off the map by massive opencast coal-mining operations in the 1950s and ’60s. While the canal track is long gone, a ghostly echo is emerging in the shape of a growing collection of archive photographs, which I have been piecing together, image by image, in an attempt to create a comprehensive end-to-end record of this elusive waterway. Origins The 5¾-mile Cannock Extension Canal was one of the last waterways built, constructed between 1857 and 1863 by the BCN, running north from Pelsall Common on the Wyrley & Essi…

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