Birmingham City Council

A History of the Canals in and around Birmingham - Canal Mania

The 1790s began a period which is now described as Canal Mania. People who had seen the success of the first few canals were prepared to plan new routes and speculate in shares of the new companies. Eventually all the schemes had to get an Act of Parliament to authorise construction. Many of the planned canals had little chance of success, but it didn't seem to stop investors.

In the Midlands, this era saw the planning and building of five new canals, four terminating in Birmingham.

  • Worcester and Birmingham Canal
  • Dudley No 2 Canal
  • Stratford on Avon Canal
  • Warwick and Birmingham Canal
  • Wyrely and Essington Canal

The Birmingham Canal took the same attitude to most of the plans. They would lose trade to these competitors and would lose water, being the highest of the canals involved. This approach was taken to the Parliamentary Bills for each canal, the Birmingham canal opposing the applications. However by the time that the Acts were passed the Birmingham canal had agreed extra tolls for the boats using the new canal and water charges to its competitors. Only the Wyrely and Essington escaped total opposition. Worcester and Birmingham Canal


Canals in Birmingham: History