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£7.5m restoration to bring back 'buried' Black Country canal

Wolverhampton | News | Published:

An historic Black Country canal which was shut and 'buried' in the 1950s could be given a new lease of life with a £7.5 million restoration project.

A public meeting to kick-start the project is now to be held and organisers are looking at ways to fund the project.

The new initiative aims to raise support to restore the Bradley Arm Canal which was largely filled in after closure about 65 years ago.

Bradley flight as seen now

A study concluded last year that full restoration was feasible at an estimated cost of £7.5m.

The report was commissioned by the West Midlands Waterways Partnership of the Canal & River Trust (CRT), the Inland Waterways Association, the Birmingham Canal Navigations Society and Birmingham and Black Country Wildlife Trust.

Bradley during the industrial revolution

The Waterways Partnership has now organised a public meeting in Bilston to form a group to get the project up and running and to find potential funding sources,

The meeting will take place at Wilkinson Primary School, Walter Road, Bradley, Bilston, on Wednesday at 6.30pm.

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Steve Burt, who champions volunteering for the CRT Partnership, said: "The idea is to drum up as much interest as possiblefor help in restoring the canal, which includes a flight of nine locks.

"We believe that the work can be undertaken by volunteers as well as professionals and the aim of Wednesday's meeting is to encourage local people to come forward and offer support for the project."

Mr Burt added: "At the meeting we will have speakers to explain the project and we would encourage local people and anyone interested in canals to express their views and form a working group to return the Bradley Canal to its former glory."

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The Bradley Canal, also know as Wednesbury Oak Loop, is fairly short and runs from the Birmingham Mainline Canal near Coseley to Bradley.

The restored section would start near CRT's Bradley workshops, where most of the lockgates for narrow canals are made, and continue down to Moorcroft Junction.

"The restoration will create a through route from the Wolverhampton Level of the Birmingham Canal main line to the Walsall Canal and the Tame Valley Canal," said Mr Burt.

"The health and wellbeing benefits of canals to a local community are proven. This will form a valuable wildlife corridor and recently there has been an upsurge in interest in the industrial heritage of the Black Country."

The idea of restoring the canal was originally put forward by the Birmingham and Black Country Wildlife Trust.

They believe that the project will deliver enhancements for wildlife and will result in some urban regeneration beneficial for recreation, heritage restoration and general education.

After the Bradley Canal was closed in the 1950s it was infilled with the exception of the bottom two locks and the final reach to the Walsall Canal.

The remaining portion of the Wednesbury Oak Loop has survived, serving the maintenance depot at Bradley Lane which still operates today.

There is local support from a residents association and the Birmingham Canal Navigations Society have announced that their annual spring cruise on April 2 will include the navigable section of the Wednesbury Oak Loop up to Bradley Workshops.

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