Canals are often just a few yards away from us in our cities, but they are a hidden world, passing under roads and buildings and cut off from view.

It is difficult task in a few short pages to bring to life this hidden world and to reflect the history and current state of the Midland Network.

In historic terms the inland waterways have in a relatively short period gone from being marvels of engineering, to unwanted and unloved blots on the landscape, and are now all things to all men, cycle tracks, walkways, running tracks, fishing venues, wildlife reserves, waterfronts for bars and chic apartments, even the BBC television studios in Birmingham have a waterfront back drop following relocation to “The Mailbox” complex.

Certainly in Birmingham and perhaps elsewhere to a lesser extent there has in recent years been much development and waterways contribute once again to the local economy after years of neglect.

Among all of the above uses it is easy to forget that people even use waterways for boats. Some people live full time, others own boats for leisure purposes, others hire boats for a day, weekend or by the week. Commercial carrying is limited, the main use is trips, short or longer (e.g. Hotel Boats).

The Waterways Network was built by private companies for specific tasks during the Industrial Revolution generally to move raw materials for processing and finished goods to market. Companies were in competition with each other and the idea of a national system was not foremost in mind when construction was under way, but in order to reach markets it was necessary to serve major cities.

There are a number of constraints that engineers had to overcome including water supply and gradients. The ways in which difficulties were overcome were often ingenious and are available to be seen today, including, reservoirs, locks, tunnels, aqueducts and even lifts to carry boats from one level to another.

For a canal trip with a difference try The Dudley Tunnel and Limestone Mines

In 2008 celebrations take place to mark 150 years of The Netherton Tunnel follow this link for details of the 150 YEAR CELEBRATIONS.

Never Tried Boating ?


Canal Rings

Avon and Severn Rings

Birmingham Canal Navigations

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Hoseasons Boating Holidays

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