Tame Valley Canal & Rushall Canal


The Tame Valley Canal was opened from Salford Junction on the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal through 8½ miles to Tame Valley Junction on the Walsall Canal. It was built by the BCN who owned most of the canal routes in the Birmingham area. The intention was to provide an alternative route for boats on the congested Farmers Bridge flight in Birmingham centre. It soon proved to be a popular success.Being a "modern" canal it was built almost dead-straight diving into deep cuttings and emerging on high embankments. It had one long lock flight at its eastern end. At Salford Junction another new line, the Birmingham & Warwick Junction Canal, took boats from the Tame Valley and linked with the new route to London on the east of Birmingham.

The Rushall Canal was opened by the BCN company. It left the Tame Valley Canal at Rushall Junction, near Grove Vale. It ran north for about 2 miles to the Daw End Branch of the Wyrley & Essington Canal. The route was created to aid the carriage of coal from the prosperous Cannock Mines in the north of the BCN area.

Both the Tame Valley Canal and Rushall Canal have remained open to the present day.

Tame Valley Canal Route

Starting at its western end the Tame Valley Canal leaves the Walsall Canal and heads directly north east through Wednesbury. The new Black Country Spine Road crosses the canal very close to its junction with the Walsall Canal.

Typical iron towpath bridges cross the junction and the Tame Valley Canal has a towpath along both banks. Access to the junction is best gained from the Ocker Hill Branch of the Walsall Canal. This can be found on Bayleys Lane off Toll End Road (A461). The Ocker Hill Branch is itself well worth a visit.

Th best access to the Tame Valley Canal in Wednesbury is gained from Bridge Street (A41) which crosses the canal on Hollaway Bank Bridge.

The stretch of canal from Wednesbury to Rushall Junction has been described as the dreariest stretch on the whole of the BCN!! As the line approaches Rushall Junction things get even worse with the western link of the M5/M6 interchange crossing over head. If this sight isn't bad enough, the smell of a canal side sewage farm filling the air usually is.

At Rushall Junction the Rushall Canal leaves heading north (see below) while the Tame Valley swings south east.Above the junction is a criss-cross of motorways as the eastern link of the M5/M6 interchange passes by.

The motorways head away from the canal and suddenly a transformation takes place. Small fields with grazing horses have taken over, the canal is now tree lined and there are occasional views of nice gardens from nearby housing estates. Within ½ a mile the canal finds itself in a deep wooded cutting. Their are streets and houses on either side up above.

The high Newton Road bridge (or Scott Viaduct) takes the A4041 over the cutting and Chimney bridge carries a footpath which links the housing estates on either side. Within ¼ of a mile the route bends slightly but is still heading generally south east. Past the bend the canal emerges from the cutting and suddenly the housing estates are down below as the canal now finds itself on an embankment.

An aqueduct takes the canal across Spouthouse Lane and then a second aqueduct crosses Old Walsall Road (B4124).Shortly after this, the canal enters another cutting stretching for around 600 yards. This cutting was driven through 200 million year old sandstone.

The busy A34 crosses the route just after the canal has turned eastwards, immediately after this (Walsall Road) bridge the canal reaches Perry Barr top lock - the first of 12 within the next 1½ miles.At the top lock is a BCN lock house, a gauging weir house and old stable buildings. The locks pass by back gardens and then open spaces with Perry Park and reservoir on the south bank.

Half way down the flight the M6 crosses over and then after the canal has swung south east and passed under College Road (A453) it passes Perry Well Pumping Station. The motorway crosses again and then the final 2 locks are reached. There are lock houses here too and industry has reappeared nearby.

Just ahead is the concrete mass of Gravelly Hill motorway interchange (Spaghetti Junction) and just beyond this (still hidden beneath the motorway) is Salford Junction, the meeting place of the Tame Valley Canal, the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal and the Birmingham & Warwick Junction Canal. The normally pretty scene of a canal junction with its sign posts and cast iron towpath bridges is dwarfed by concrete pillars but it certainly provides a different and interesting way to end a canal journey.

Rushall Canal Route

Starting under Junction 8 of the M6 the Rushall Canal heads directly north for about ¾ of a mile to the first in a flight of 9 locks. The first 7 locks are fairly close together near to Sargent's Hill Road (A34). After climbing above the 7th lock the canal runs between suburban streets and passes under Sutton Road (B4151).

Despite its doubtful start, the Rushall Canal's route soon evolves into a very pleasant urban water. It is often flanked by open golf courses and when it becomes closed in the gardens of houses are not shut off behind high fences. In its most suburban stretches the canal is flanked by hanging willow trees and other pretty plant life.

Beyond Sutton Road bridge the land opens out with a golf course on the west bank. Within a mile the final 2 locks are reached just before Aldridge Road (A454) crosses over on Longwood Bridge.

The area around the top lock is very nice, there are a couple of canal houses with pretty gardens and one of the houses is now used by the local boat club who's boats are moored above the locks. At the road bridge is Longwood Junction where the Rushall Canal meets the Daw End Branch of the Wyrley & Essington Canal.

This heads off to the north east while another canal arm heads off south east from the junction. This passes under Hay Head Bridge and enters an area now designated as a nature area with sign posted trails. The arm ends after about 400 yards.

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