- Hits: 1373
Wednesbury Old Canal is part of the Birmingham Canal Navigations (BCN) in West Midlands (county), England.
The canal leaves the main line Birmingham level at Pudding Green Junction and passes through a completely industrial landscape. At Ryders Green Junction the Walsall Canal begins its descent down the eight Ryder's Green Locks. Just before the locks Wednesbury Old Canal veers off and commences its meandering route through Swan Village and, originally, around the collieries. The canal beyond Swan Bridge Junction was also known as the Balls Hill Branch.
This part of the canal is now only open to boat traffic as far as the Black Country Spine Road, following the decision to build a new bridge which didn't allow enough headroom for boats to pass. The Wednesbury Canal is dry from this point, but the Ridgacre Branch continues, watered for most of its original length (without its branches) past the culverted road and, although inaccessible to boats, is now used for fishing, walking and is a valued wildlife habitat. Some modern sources mark the Ridgacre as starting at Ryder's Green Junction but this is not historically correct.
The Wednesbury Canal was part of the first phase of the Birmingham Canal (the first around the Black Country or Birmingham).
It was authorised in the 1768 Birmingham Canal Act which authorised the Birmingham Canal and branches to Wednesbury and Ocker Hill as a major branch of the Birmingham Canal and was completed and delivering coal to Birmingham on 6 November 1769, even before the Birmingham Canal had reached Wolverhampton.
It started at what is now Spon Lane Junction (Wolverhampton Level) and descended the three remaining Spon Lane locks to the Birmingham Level. Its length was 4 miles 3 furlongs. It terminated at Balls Hill Basin, not far from the later Tame Valley Canal.
The Ridgacre Branch opened in 1826 and was ¾ mile in length. It ran from the Wednesbury at Swan Bridge Junction, a few metres north of the New Swan Lane / Black Country New Road roundabout. From it ran the Dartmouth Branch northwards and the Halford Branch southwards to collieries.
The 'Island Line' - Thomas Telford'S BCN New Main Line cut in a straight line from Tipton Factory Locks towards Spon Lane bottom lock (Bromford Junction, and then on to Smethwick and Birmingham). It cut into the original Wednesbury Canal, forming Pudding Lane Junction, and the short, curved length of the Wednesbury Canal between there and Bromford Junction was lost.
The Wednesbury Old Canal was given abandoned status by 1955 and 1960 Acts.
Recent road developments (Black Country New Road) at Swan Bridge Junction have severed the connection to the remaining, navigable canal, and have also severed the Ridgacre Branch from the canal network.