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Company of Proprietors of the Birmingham Canal Navigation


Records of the Company of Proprietors of the Birmingham Canal Navigation: transfer of shares 1769, details of land ownership 1776, plans of the canal 1771-1782.



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These records are available immediately for research

Administrative /‚Äč Biographical history

In 1767 local interests in Birmingham proposed a canal to link the town with the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal near Wolverhampton. James Brindley carried out the survey and, with support from Matthew Boulton and members of the Lunar Society, the Act was passed in 1768 to form the Company of Proprietors of the Birmingham Canal Navigation. With James Brindley as engineer and Robert Whitworth and Samuel Simcock assisting, the length of canal from Wednesbury to Birmingham, via Tipton, Oldbury and Smethwick, was completed in 1769. After pressure from the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal, cutting went on towards Wolverhampton from 1770. The cutting at Aldersley Junction on the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal was completed in 1772, with 20 (later 21) locks at Wolverhampton. The canal was just under 23 miles long and followed the contours of the land, intending to serve as wide an area as possible. The Wednesbury Branch from Spon Lane was 4 3/8 miles long, and the Ocker Hill Branch 5/8 mile. The canal did well financially, and was able to make improvements. An Act was passed in 1783 sanctioning the construction of canals between Birmingham and Fazeley and between Rider's Green and Broadwaters, John Smeaton being engineer for both projects. In 1784 the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal company amalgamated with the Birmingham Canal Navigation company, the company's name being changed to the Company of Proprietors of the Birmingham & Birmingham & Fazeley Canal Navigations. For further information on the Birmingham Canal Navigation see Edward Paget-Tomlinson's 'The Illustrated History of Canals & River Navigations'.

System of arrangement

It has not been possible to ascertain any original structure of record-keeping from the small number of records held for this company. The fonds has therefore been arranged in chronological order.

Associated material

[See also: BW165 for records of the Birmingham Canal Navigations]