Birmingham Canal Navigations

The start of the Birmingham Canal at Gas Street Basin, central Birmingham

Birmingham Canal Navigations (BCN) is a network of canals connecting Birmingham, Wolverhampton, and the eastern part of the Black Country. The BCN is connected to the rest of the English canal system at several junctions.

At its working peak, the BCN contained about 160 miles (257 km) of canals; today just over 100 miles (160 km) are navigable, and the majority of traffic is from tourist and residential narrowboats.


BCN Network (within shaded area) from historical map, 1864
Birmingham Canal Company offices fronting Paradise Street. They backed onto the Old Wharf terminus.

The first canal to be built in the area was the Birmingham Canal, built from 1768 to 1772 under the supervision of James Brindley from the, then, edge of Birmingham, with termini at Newhall Wharf (since built over) and Paradise Wharf (also known as Old Wharf) near to Gas Street Basin to meet the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal at Aldersley (north of Wolverhampton).

The Birmingham and Fazeley Canal, from Birmingham to Tamworth, followed in 1784 with the Birmingham Canal Company merging with the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal Company immediately, to form what was originally called the Birmingham and Birmingham and Fazeley Canal Company. This cumbersome name was short-lived, and the combined company became known as the Birmingham Canal Navigations from 1794, as the network was expanded.


The BCN is built on three main levels, each with its own reservoirs.

These levels are linked by locks at various places on the network.

There are also stretches on their own levels.

The canals of the BCN

Fingerpost at Old Turn Junction, where the BCN Main Line meets the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal
BCN branded paddle gear on the Walsall Canal

Linking canals

Associated features



The BCN Society is a registered charity (number 1091760) formed in 1968, which exists to conserve, improve and encourage a wide range of interests in the BCN. It publishes a quarterly journal. Boundary Post. From 1983, it erected signposts at most of the canal junctions on the BCN.

See also

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Birmingham Canal Navigations.


    External links

    Coordinates: 52°28′39″N 1°54′32″W / 52.4776°N 1.9088°W / 52.4776; -1.9088

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