One of the UK’s shorter waterways, the Coventry Canal starts in Coventry Canal Basin and heads north west for 38 miles through the Midlands’ countryside up to Fradley Junction, just north of Lichfield. It was built to create an important link between the northern and southern canal networks, cutting out the need to travel through central Birmingham.
Coventry Canal – a brief history
This canal, which starts at Coventry Canal Basin, was build to transport coal by canal boat from the Bedworth coalfield to the north of the city of Coventry. It was then developed to link Coventry to the Trent and Mersey Canal at Fradley Junction then on to the River Trent at Trent Lock.
The famous canal engineer James Brindley started work on the original canal build, but was later sacked from the project apparently for going over budget because of his high standards of construction! By 1790 the canal was operating, but was in competition with the newly constructed Birmingham and Fazeley canal and the Oxford Canal. Despite this competition, the Coventry Canal was very profitable because of the transport of coal, and remained so until 1947. After this it fell into disuse and disrepair until the rise of canal boating for leisure started in the 1970s.
Overview of the route
The Coventry Canal starts at Coventry Basin located in the heart of the city and ends 38 miles to the north at Fradley Junction where it joins the Trent and Mersey Canal.
From the canal basin, the canal takes a meandering route north out of the city to Hawkesbury Junction, where you’ll find a beautiful iron bridge that marks the start of the Oxford Canal.
The Coventry canal continues north (whereas the Oxford Canal turns and heads south) and you’ll cruise through some scenic countryside, past Bayton Lake, on to Marston Junction where the Ashby-de-la-Zouch Canal can be found.
From Marston Junction, the Coventry canal runs north-west through Nuneaton, Atherstone, under the A5 to Polesworth and then on to Tamworth. At Atherstone a set of 11 locks lower the level of the canal 80 feet (24 m) towards Polesworth.
In a suburb of Tamworth, at Fazeley Junction, boaters can turn south towards Birmingham along the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal.
The Coventry Canal continues northwards to end at Fradley Junction where it joins the Trent and Mersey Canal.
A fairly short length of waterway, the Coventry Canal forms part of three waterway rings
The Coventry Canal forms part of the Leicester Ring, with the Trent & Mersey Canal, Grand Union Canal (Leicester Section) and North Oxford Canal.
The Coventry, Oxford, Grand Union and Birmingham & Fazeley Canals are all part of the Warwickshire ring. This 104 mile ring is one of the larger cruising rings with 121 locks and will take a good ten days or two weeks to navigate.
Black Country Ring
With 79 locks over 125 miles, the Black Country Ring incorporates five canals. You’ll come across a real mix of industrial heritage to rural scenery whilst navigating this ring, and the waterways are Trent & Mersey, Coventry Canal, Birmingham & Fazeley, Birmingham Main Line and the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal.