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The Lichfield Canal, as it is now known, was historically a part of the Wyrley and Essington Canal, being the section of that canal from Ogley Junction on the northern Birmingham Canal Navigations to Huddlesford Junction on the Coventry Canal, a length of 7 miles (11.3km).
Currently derelict, it is being rebuilt.
The Wyrley and Essington Canal was built under an Act of Parliament passed on 30 April 1792, for the original main line, and a second Act, passed before the canal authorised by the first Act had been constructed. This second Act authorised a long extension, part of which is now the Lichfield Canal.
The whole canal was opened in 1797. While the rest of the Wyrley and Essington Canal does not contain any locks, as it was all built on the 473ft contour, the Lichfield section descended through 30 locks to reach the Coventry Canal. It was abandoned in 1955, under the terms of an Act of Abandonment obtained in 1954, and much of the bed has been filled in since then. The Lichfield and Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust (LHCRT) are in charge of the restoration of this and the Hatherton Canal.
The trust currently estimates both canals should be complete by 2025. Restoration was threatened by the construction of the M6 Toll motorway around the north of Birmingham, which cut across the canal's route. Funds were raised to build an aqueduct to carry the canal over the motorway. (The aqueduct has been finished but the canal has yet to reach it, giving it an odd appearance.) This has had a beneficial side-effect – the Government has promised that never again will a new road be built in the path of a waterway restoration scheme, unless an aqueduct or tunnel is provided. A new bridge taking Cappers Lane over the canal near Whittington was opened on 21 April 2006.
As of August 2010, most of the work on the Lock 25 by-wash adjacent to the Borrowcop Locks Canal Park has been carried out by members of the Lichfield and Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust, with help from the Waterways Recovery Group during weekend visits to Lichfield. Before the end of 2010 it is planned to water part of the canal in Borrowcop Locks Canal Park to enhance the amenity created beside Tamworth Road.