The Oldbury Loop

Historical Profiles: NarrowBoat, Summer 2023

Andy Tidy

Andy Tidy uses an archive panorama of Oldbury to explore a lost loop of James Brindley’s original Birmingham Canal, which used to encircle the town

Oldbury is a Black Country town through and through. It sits in the heart of the old coalfield and specialised in the chemical industry. From the outset, the town and the canals were inextricably intertwined, with James Brindley’s 1769 Birmingham Canal Navigation carving a huge arc around the town as his new waterway clung to the 473ft contour on its journey from Birmingham to Wolverhampton. Then, 50 years later, a short cut was built across the neck of higher land, creating the Oldbury Loop. This reduced journey times and congestion in the Oldbury area and, at the same time, completed the encircling of the town with a watery moat. The main panorama image Many atmospheric photographs have been taken of this part of the Black Country but, for me, one in particular stands out. This is a panorama shot taken from the top of a spoil tip that stood to the south-west of the town, providing a vantage point similar to that offered by today’s M5 Oldbury Viaduct. The image (below) l…

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The Oldbury Loop featured image