- Stourbridge Extension Canal
The Stourbridge Extension Canal was a short canal built to serve a number of mines in the
Kingswinfordarea of Staffordshirein England. Although connected to the Stourbridge Canal, it was independent from it. It opened in 1840, and was abandoned in 1935. A short section of it is still used as moorings for boats using the Stourbridge Canal.
In the 1820s, a number of coal mines opened up in the Kingswinford area, which was just to the north-west of the Fens branch of the Stourbridge Canal. Although a survey was carried out for a canal to service the mines, no definite proposals emerged. A railway from the
Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canalwas constructed by Lord Dudley, but there were further plans for both canals and railways to the area of Shutt End. [http://www.birmingham.gov.uk/GenerateContent?CONTENT_ITEM_ID=911&CONTENT_ITEM_TYPE=0&MENU_ID=12885&EXPAND=12879 Birmingham City Council: History of the Canals] ] In 1836, the Stourbridge, Wolverhampton & Birmingham Junction Canal was proposed. This would have started near Fens Pool on the Stourbridge Canal and run via the mines and a long tunnel to Bloomfield Junction on the Birmingham Canal Navigations. This did not meet with general approval, with opposition from Lord Ward and various canal companies, and so the Stourbridge Extension Canal Company was formed, and the Act of Parliamentobtained in 1837 only authorised the first part of this grand plan. [ [http://www.lostlabours.co.uk/agenoria/research/canals.htm Lost Labours: Research: Canals] ]
Construction of the canal began in June 1837 with William Fowler as the engineer, who was replaced by Benjamin Townshend in September 1838. [ [http://www.jim-shead.com/waterways/History22.html#SBEX Jim Shead, Waterways History] ] The canal was all on one level, with a stop lock at its junction with the Stourbridge Canal, and the total length of the canal was about 2 miles (3.2km). Completed in 1840, the canal was a success, with good amounts of iron ore and limestone being carried to blast furnaces, and finished iron and coal being exported to the wider region.
The Coming of the Railways
The canal was barely open, when the railways posed a threat. The
Oxford, Worcester and Wolverhampton Railwaywas active in the area, and in 1845 applied for an Act of Parliament to authorise a number of routes, one of which would run along the banks of the canal. An agreement was reached, whereby the Railway Compnay would buy the canal if the Act was granted. It was, and the canal passed into the hands of the Railway Company on 27 March 1847. Unlike many such takeovers, the canal was not immediately run down, as it provided a source of income to the new company, and indeed traffic increased. By the 1850s, the canal served two brickworks, four collieries, and six ironworks, which operated a total of seventeen blast furnaces.
When the Oxford, Worcester and Wolverhampton Railway became part of the
Great Western Railway, the canal also had new owners. Despite its short length, and the fact that much of the traffic travelled less than a mile on the canal, the canal still made a profit, and it was not until the early 1900s that traffic started to decline. The canal was finally abandoned in 1935.
Most of the canal was filled in after its abandonment. A trading estate covers most of the northern end of the Sandhill Branch, and housing has been built over the middle section. A short stub, from the Brockmoor Junction with the Stourbridge Canal to the stop lock at Bromley has been retained in water, and mooring facilities with a boundary fence were constructed by
British Waterwayson the north bank of the stub in 2004. [ [http://www.tuesdaynightclub.co.uk/Tour_04/Tour04_5.html Tuesday Night Club cruising record and pictures] ]
Canals of Great Britain
History of the British canal system
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