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The Hatherton Canal is a derelict branch of the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal in south Staffordshire.
It was constructed in two phases, opened in 1841 and 1860, and closed due to subsidence in 1955. It is now the subject of a restoration plan.
The Hatherton Canal was built in two phases by two separate canal companies, over a period of some 20 years. The first part to be constructed ran from Hatherton Junction at Calf Heath on the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal to Churchbridge, and was built as a branch of the main canal by the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal Company. This phase was completed in 1841, was about 3 miles (4.8 km) long, and rose through eight locks. The second phase was a flight of locks to link the canal to the Cannock Extension Canal, which was a branch of the Wyrley and Essington Canal built to serve coal mines in the vicinity of Cannock. This canal was owned by the Birmingham Canal Navigations Company, who built the flight of thirteen locks as a branch of the Cannock Extension Canal. This section was completed in 1860, and opened up a useful route along the northern edge of the Birmingham conurbation. The total length of the two branches was around 4 miles (6.4 km).
Subsidence due to mining caused its closure in 1955. Parts of it, including the Churchbridge flight of locks, were destroyed by opencast coal mining, and have subsequently been re-developed.
The idea of restoring the canal was first developed in 1975, as a result of legislation requiring planning authorities to produce county structure plans. The West Midlands structure plan included the concept of the restored canal as a linear park, and included a bypass to avoid the section destroyed by opencast mining. Further threats to the route from the proposed Birmingham Northern Relief Road led to the formation of the Ogley and Hatherton Restoration Society in 1989. The Society later became the Lichfield and Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust, while the relief road became the M6 (Toll) motorway.
In 1995, motorway development plans again threatened the route, when plans for the proposed widening of the M6 motorway made no plans for the canal where the two crossed. The Trust had produced several papers which had been submitted to the planning enquiry for the road. The Trust continued to negotiate with the agencies involved in the construction of the M6 (Toll) motorway, even though the cost of providing navigable culverts was likely to be between £2M and £3M, but when agreement was finally reached, the Trust raised £150,000 to pay for a culvert under the A5/A34 roundabout, and the main culvert under the motorway was funded by the government.
The canal is now part of an active restoration project. As a result of a feasibility study, carried out by the consulting engineers Arup, the proposed new route for the Churchbridge bypass would have run through new locks to a new junction at Grove Basin on the Cannock Extension. However, this route proved to be unacceptable for a number of reasons, and a second feasibility study, carried out by Atkins, has now identified a route which would join the Wyrley and Essington Canal via the former Lord Hayes Branch instead. This route would help satisfy environmental concerns, be preferable to local landowners, and reduce the number of new road bridges needed. In either case the route would incorporate the new culverts under the A5 road and the M6 Toll motorway.