Lapal Canal

The Lapal Canal is the name now associated with the restoration of the Dudley No 2 Canal using an alternative route in places.

History

The Dudley No 2 Canal once ran from Parkhead Junction , where it meets the Dudley No 1 Canal, to Selly Oak Junction where it met the Worcester & Birmingham Canal.  It opened in 1798 and carried significant traffic once the Worcester & Birmingham Canal was completed in 1802.

The route included Lapal Tunnel, some 3461 metres (3785 yards) long, the second longest canal tunnel at the time, just 20m (22 yards) shorter than Sapperton Tunnel on the Thames & Severn Canal.  The tunnel suffered many collapses, mostly caused by mining subsidence, and was abandoned after a major collapse in 1917.

Lapal Canal alignment
Lapal Canal alignment

The section of the Dudley No 2 Canal to the east of the abandoned tunnel remained navigable to a brick works at California until 1953 when it was drained and filled in.  To the the west of tunnel the navigation was effectively terminated at Hawne Basin, with a short length beyond being used for moorings.

In 1990 the Lapal Canal Trust was formed to support the restoration of the Dudley No 2 Canal, or Lapal Canal as the restoration section was becoming know.

Restoration

Restored Lapal Canal
Restored Lapal Canal at Leasowes

In 1997, Dudley Council restored a section of the canal at Leasowes (not far from Hawne Basin).

A study, commissioned from Atkins in 2007, confirmed that re-opening Lapal Tunnel was not practicable and recommended an alternative route using locks to take the canal over the top of the hill instead of through it.

In 2013, planning permission was granted  for development of a site alongside the Worcester & Birmingham Canal at Selly Oak which would block the line of the Lapal Canal and prevent restoration.  Fortunately, after considerable pressure from the public, the plans included provision for reinstatement of the canal, on a new alignment a little further south.  The developers will make provision for the canal but it’s not clear if they will finish construction and and open the route without additional external funding.  The development is expected to finish in 2017.

In late 2015 the next 100 metres of canal after the Selly Oak development was dug out and will become connected to the Worcester & Birmingham Canal by the new channel through the development, probably during 2017.

There are no more active plans for completing the Lapal Canal, although there is much local enthusiasm.

Further Information

Selly Oak Junction
Selly Oak Junction

You can view a virtual cruise along the canal, just choose your starting point and click the “Next” links:-

Extract from Lapal Canal Map
Extract from Lapal Canal Map

You can download free Lapal Canal maps in a choice of Acrobat (pdf) and Memory-Map (qct) formats.  These show both the original route of the Dudley No 2 Canal and the proposed route of the Lapal Canal.

Map Updates – January 2016 – Issue 46

The January 2016 monthly updates for my maps are now available on my website.

Extract from Bridgewater Canal Map
Extract from Bridgewater Canal Map

You can see a full list of the issued maps and those with significant changes are:

Remember, you can update your map to the latest version – free during the first year and a small charge after that.  You can also upgrade to a larger map.  Just email paul@waterwayroutes.co.uk with details of your existing maps for a no obligation quote.

Map Updates – February 2016 – Issue 47

The February 2016 monthly updates for my maps are now available on my website.

Map extract showing Barton Lift Bridge
Map extract showing Barton Lift Bridge

You can see a full list of the issued maps and those with significant changes are:

Remember, you can update your map to the latest version – free during the first year and a small charge after that.  You can also upgrade to a larger map.  Just email paul@waterwayroutes.co.uk with details of your existing maps for a no obligation quote.

Hollinwood and Stockport Canals Map

My February map updates included an increase in the routes covered, with the addition of a map covering the Hollinwood Canal and the Stockport Canal.

Route of Hollinwood and Stockport Canals
Route of Hollinwood and Stockport Canals

Some might consider these to be called the Hollinwood Branch Canal and the Stockport Branch Canal and both to be branches of the Ashton Canal, but I’m using the shorter name they are gradually becoming known by.

The map includes the Fairbottom Branch of the Hollinwood Canal, and the Werneth Branch Canal, a stand alone canal, despite the “Branch” in the title which is often mistaken for a branch of the Hollinwood Canal.

Restoration of most of the Hollinwood Canal looks possible, excluding the most northern section after the motorway, but a link to the Rochdale Canal looks possible instead.

Restoration of the Stockport Canal might be possible for the northern half of the route but the southern part (within Stockport) looks unlikely as the route is blocked by too many developments and, regrettably, some of these seem very recent.

Extract from Hollinwood and Stockport Canals Map
Extract from Hollinwood and Stockport Canals Map

The Hollinwood and Stockport Canal Maps are free to download, as are all the maps for canal restoration projects, and available in both Acrobat (pdf) and Memory-Map (qct) formats.  They are included in the England & Wales Canal Maps from the February 2016 issue onwards.

Precision Timing

While cycling along the Leigh Branch of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal recently to check my map data I encountered new signs, intended for cyclists.

This was the first sign I found, at Leigh.

Signpost at Leigh
Signpost at Leigh

I was intrigued by the precision of the timings shown on the signs, with Wigan shown as 59 minutes rather than 60 minutes, or 1 hour.  As it takes 10-15 minutes to cycle across Wigan this must be to a very precise location, but where?

Later I found this sign at Wigan, at the junction between the Leigh Branch and the main line of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal.

Signpost at Wigan
Signpost at Wigan

Leigh is 54 minutes and Wigan town centre is 6 minutes, a total of 60 minutes cycling, so where did the 59 minutes come from, was it to one end of the pier?

Map Updates – March 2016 – Issue 48

I’m pleased to announce the March 2016 updates to my cruising maps are now available.

Extract from Trent & Mersey Canal Map
Extract from Trent & Mersey Canal Map

You can see a full list of the latest issue of the maps, but those with significant changes this month are:-

Remember, you can update your map to the latest version – free during the first year and a small charge after that.  You can also upgrade to a larger map.  Just email paul@waterwayroutes.co.uk with details of your existing maps for a no obligation quote.

10th Anniversary

Ten years ago today I sold the first Waterway Routes DVD.

Leeds & Liverpool Canal DVD Cover
Leeds & Liverpool Canal DVD Cover

After many hours of careful editing, I added the Leeds & Liverpool Canal DVD to my website and crossed my fingers to see how it would sell. The answer was very well and it led to the whole series of Waterway Routes DVDs.

Thank you to S who was my first customer, and to his wife L.  They became regular customers and now help with proof watching DVDs and, more recently, with crewing the boat and filming too.

A very big thank you to all my customers who have purchased DVDs (and Maps) and it’s nice to see many of your names appear regularly as you return each year to purchase more.

Helping Seyella

It was early yesterday morning when I arrived in Wigan by train.  I was on the way to help Geoff and Mags on Seyella come down the Wigan Flight.

Waiouru in Wigan
Waiouru in Wigan

I paused to say hello to Jan on Waiouru as I walked past on the way to the top of the Wigan Flight.

Seyella at Wigan Top Lock
Seyella at Wigan Top Lock

Meg spotted my arrival at the top of the flight as she waited patiently outside Seyella.

Wigan Top Lock
Wigan Top Lock

It was a lovely day once the sun had come out and Wigan Top Lock looked very welcoming.

Mags steering Seyella
Mags steering Seyella

There were no boats within the flight so I lifted one top paddle on the locks near the top of the flight so they would be full by the time we came down.  Geoff went ahead to open the gate and see the boat in safely as Mags steered Seyella and I shut the paddles and gates behind.

Geoff winding paddles down the Wigan Flight
Geoff winding paddles down the Wigan Flight

Geoff and Mags are used to working together and there was no need to hold the boat on the centre rope as the locks are gentle when emptying.

Jan arrives from Waiouru
Jan arrives from Waiouru

Jan walked up from Waiouru and met us part way down the flight, providing another pair of hands.

Jan winding the gate shut
Jan winding the gate shut

Some of the locks have winding hear to help close the gates.

Jan having fun on the Wigan Flight
Jan having fun on the Wigan Flight

Jan seems to be having fun – it’s not often that happens on the heavy locks of the Wigan Flight.

Meg, Geoff and Mags at Poolstock Bottom Lock
Meg, Geoff and Mags at Poolstock Bottom Lock

Jan left us at the bottom lock of the main flight and I stayed on board to help with the two Poolstock Locks.

I left Meg, Geoff and Mags looking very happy at Poolstock Bottom Lock.  It took four and a half hours from top to bottom, including a stop for a brew half way down with four of us working well together – it would have taken Geoff and Mags much longer on their own.  The 21 locks in the main Wigan Flight, plus two at Poolstock, are hard work, with some of them being very hard work.

I paused to help Jan with a minor problem as I walked back to the station and caught the train home.

Map Updates – April 2016 – Issue 49

I’m pleased to announce the April 2016 updates to my cruising maps are now available.

Extract from Cotswold Canals Map
Extract from Cotswold Canals Map

You can see a full list of the latest issue of the maps, but those with significant changes this month are:-

Remember, you can update your map to the latest version – free during the first year and a small charge after that.  You can also upgrade to a larger map.  Just email paul@waterwayroutes.co.uk with details of your existing maps for a no obligation quote.

Map Updates – May 2016 – Issue 50

I’m pleased to announce the May 2016 updates to my cruising maps are now available.

Extract from Warwickshire Ring Cruising Map.
Extract from Warwickshire Ring Cruising Map.

All of the maps have been updated this month, to include the latest Ordnance Survey (OS) background maps. Most have updates to the waterway features too.

I started making monthly updates available shortly after releasing the first maps and I’m pleased to say we’ve reached our 50th monthly issue.

Remember, you can update your map to the latest version – free during the first year (initial map plus 11 monthly updates) and a small charge after that.  You can also upgrade to a larger map.  Just email paul@waterwayroutes.co.uk with details of your existing map(s) for a no obligation quote.