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Company of Proprietors of the Warwick and Birmingham Canal Navigation


Records of the Company of Proprietors of the Warwick and Birmingham Canal Navigation



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These records are available immediately for research

Administrative /‚Äč Biographical history

The Warwick & Birmingham canal was built with the support of the Birmingham Canal Navigations (BCN) and the Earl of Warwick. It was surveyed by the BCN engineer Samuel Bull and the Act of Parliament was passed in March 1793. The canal was completed in 1799 and ran for 22 miles from the Digbeth branch of the BCN to Saltisford Wharf at Warwick. There was one short tunnel at Shrewley, a major aqueduct over the River Rea and 34 locks grouped into 3 flights at Camp Hill, Knowle and Hatton, with a single stop lock at Digbeth. Water supply to the canal was from Olton reservoir and Olton Mere, and from 1796 back pumps were in use at the Camp Hill flight. The new Tame Valley Canal, opened in 1844, would divert traffic away from the Warwick & Birmingham. To avoid this the company proposed the Birmingham & Warwick Junction Canal, which also opened in 1844. The Warwick & Birmingham, who also financed and staffed it in conjunction with the Warwick & Napton canal company, managed the new canal. From the beginning competition was fierce. The Grand Junction and Warwick & Napton canals had opened in the same year and the Birmingham & Fazeley and Coventry canals were fighting for the London trade to Birmingham. In 1810, an agreement regarding tolls was reached with the Coventry canal and this helped matters. With the opening of the London & Birmingham Railway, trade was heavily cut and no dividend was paid after the appointment of a receiver in 1853. Carriers on the canal included Pickfords, who set up a wharf at Digbeth in 1812 and another at Warwick in 1818, giving up canal trading in 1847 with the advent of the London & Birmingham Railway. Following the closure of Pickfords canal trade, the Grand Junction set up as carriers and acquired important Warwick canal carrying contracts. The Grand Junction finished carrying in 1876. From the 1880s the largest carriers on the Warwick canals were Fellows Morton & Company and subsequently Fellows Morton & Clayton Limited. In 1895 both the Warwick & Birmingham and the Warwick & Napton canal companies agreed to amalgamate with the Grand Junction, although nothing came of it. In 1917 both canals and the Birmingham & Warwick Junction came under a Joint Committee of Management. This situation remained until their eventual purchase by the Regents Canal & Dock Company in 1927. In 1929 they became part of the Grand Union Canal Company. For further information, see Alan Falkner 'The Warwick Canals' (Railway & Canal Historical Society, 1985) and Edward Paget-Tomlinson 'The Illustrated History of Canals & River Navigations'.

System of arrangement

Several arrangement notes in the 'Plans' fonds and series level.