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Coventry Canal near Fradley
Coventry Canal viewed looking west from Foleshill Rd, near Matlock Rd.

The Coventry Canal is a navigable narrow canal in the Midlands of Englandmarker.

It starts in Coventrymarker and ends 38 miles (65 km) north at Fradley Junctionmarker, just north of Lichfieldmarker, where it joins the Trent and Mersey Canal. It also has connections with the Oxford Canalmarker, the Ashby Canal, and the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal.

Some maps show the canal as a northern and a southern section, connected by a stretch of the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal, but others show the through route all as the Coventry Canal. This reflects a complicated period of ownership and re-leasing when the Coventry Canal company was in financial difficulties during construction.

It runs through or past the towns of Bedworthmarker, Nuneatonmarker, Atherstonemarker, Polesworthmarker and Tamworthmarker. It is navigable for boats up to 21.9 m (72 ft) length, 2.1 m (7 ft) beam and 1.98 m (6 ft 6) headroom. It forms part of the Warwickshire ringmarker.

Route in Detail

The canal starts at Coventry Canal Basin. The basin was opened in 1769 and expanded in 1788. It is situated just north of Coventry City Centre and just outside the city's inner ring road. Many of the buildings and the site were restored between 1993 and 1995. The Canal Bridge, Canal House and the warehouses are grade II listed buildings. All boats going in and out of Coventry Canal Basin have to pass through the Canal Bridge.

Image:Coventry Canal bridge 19n06.jpg|Canal Bridge (viewed from the Canal Basin)Image:Warehouse water flats2 19n06.jpg|Warehouses adjacent to the canalImage:Coventry Canal basin - southern end of canal 19n06.jpg|The southern termination of Coventry Canal

From the canal basin, the canal meanders north through Coventry passing under many road bridges including prominent hump-back bridges under the Foleshill Road, Foleshillmarker through Little Heath and the Longford Road, Longfordmarker.
Hawkesbury Junction
Five miles north of Coventry, at Hawkesbury Junctionmarker, a superbly preserved iron bridge crosses the start of the Oxford Canalmarker, which journeys southwards to join the River Thames at Oxfordmarker. At Hawkesbury Junction there are some fascinating buildings from the working days of the canal, and the Greyhound pub is a traditional stop for boaters. Hawkesbury Junction is also known to regular boaters as Sutton Stop, though strictly this refers to the stop lock, a short distance along the Oxford Canal.

A few miles north of Hawkesbury, just outside Bedworthmarker, is Marston Junction, where the Ashby-de-la-Zouch Canal starts its meandering, rural and lock-free journey towards the former coal mines at Moira; although it is now navigable only for 22 miles to Snarestone.

From Marston Junction, the Coventry canal runs north-west through Nuneatonmarker, Atherstonemarker and Polesworthmarker, to Tamworthmarker.

In a suburb of Tamworthmarker, at Fazeley Junctionmarker, boaters can turn west towards Birmingham along the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal.

The Coventry canal continues northwards to end at Fradley Junctionmarker where it joins the Trent and Mersey Canal. From Fazeley to a point halfway to Fradley, maps show the canal as the "Birmingam, and Fazeley canal" (see History).


Coventry Canal: view to the north from Cash's Lane Bridge, Coventry.
The Coventry Canal Company was formed in 1768. James Brindley was commissioned to build the canal, and work started on it in December that year. Due to the high standards of construction demanded by Brindley, the canal company ran out of money by the time the canal had reached Atherstonemarker in 1769, and Brindley was replaced by Thomas Yeoman.

Thomas Dadford advised on the Canal's aqueduct over the River Tame (now known as Tame Aqueduct) in 1784 and in June 1785, Thomas Sheasby was awarded the contract to connect the Coventry Canal to the Trent and Mersey Canal.

Although the canal reached the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal at Fazeley, the final Parliament-approved stretch to the Trent and Mersey at Fradley was not finished until 1789.

The Trent and Mersey company, and the Birmingham and Fazeley company, anxious to allow through traffic from Birmingham to the Trent and Mersey canal, gained permission to complete and operate the approved but unbuilt section from Fazeley to Fradley. The B&F worked North from Fazeley, and the T&M worked south from Fradley. The full length from Coventry to Fradley was opened in 1789.

The middle section remained part of the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal, but the Coventry Canal company later bought the northern section, nowadays sometimes referred to as Coventry Canal (detached portion).


The Coventry canal was a vital trade artery for many years. In particular, it was part of the Birmingham-London route via the B&F Canal, Coventry Canal, Oxford Canal, and River Thames.

When the Grand Junction Canal and some smaller companies (which much later merged to form the Grand Union Canal company) opened a direct rival route from Birmingham to London, via Warwick, Napton, Braunston, and Bletchley, trade still remained high on the Coventry. This was partly because of the work done by the Oxford company to shorten its route north of Braunston, and because Grand Junction traffic using the Braunston/Fazeley route avoided the high tolls charged by the Oxford canal company on its Braunston-Napton section (which was also part of the new route).

The Coventry paid a dividend right up to 1947, and remained navigable to the present day.

It was nationalised in 1948 being operated first by the British Transport Board and then by the British Waterways Board, the forerunners of British Waterways.

In 1957, Coventry Canal Society was established to promote the proper use and maintenance of the canal, and to protect its interests. The canal acts as a base to Mercia Canoe Club, which is part of Coventry Canal Society.


Point Coordinates

Fradley Junctionmarker

Bell bridge (A38/Ryknild Street)

Huddlesford Junctionmarker

Fazeley Junctionmarker

Tame Aqueduct

Glascote Basin

Baddesley Basin

Mill Bridge (Polesworthmarker)

Atherstonemarker Top Lock

Marston Junction

Hawkesbury Junctionmarker

Coventry Canal Basin

See also


External links

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