Monday 27 April 2020

Wyrley Bank Branch Homepage

Wyrley Bank Branch

The first part of the Wyrley Bank Branch  as far as Cannock Lodge Pit at Newton used to be the eastern end mainline Wyrley and Essington Canal.

Having made its way eastwards from Wolverhampton the 1794 canal rose through five locks at Sneyd to reach the Cannock Coalfield on the 503 ft contour, just over 2 miles north of Sneyd Junction. At this time two further branches radiated out from the terminus, one to the coal pits of Essington which involved a climb through another five locks to what was the highest point on the BCN, and the other heading south to Birchills on the outskirts of Walsall. 

Two years later the Wyrley and Essington Canal was extended east to connect with the Coventry Canal at Huddlesford, with the Birchills Branch becoming part of the new mainline and the Sneyd Locks and above being relegated to branch status.

The section to the north of Newton was added in 1799 to tap into the Great Wyrley coal measures near Landywood, but was abandoned in 1829. The discovery of more coal at Cheslyn Hay saw the branch reopened and extended in 1857 to the terminus you see above.

With the accessible coal measures exhausted the branch was abandoned in 1955. Subsequently the old coalfields were ripped open by opencast mining and the remaining coal removed. This process was, in some ways, the salvation for this lost waterway. As the land was reinstated the line of the canal was retained and a good towpath added which has resulted in the popular linear water park we see today. 

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