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The Stratford upon Avon Canal was authorised by an initial Act of Parliament in 1793, and additional Acts in 1795 and 1799. Cutting began in November 1793 at Kings Norton on the Worcester and Birmingham Canal. The work progressed in various stages until the completed canal was opened at its junction with the River Avon at Stratford on 24th June 1816.

As completed the canal was twenty five and a half miles long and had cost £297,000 to build. The major constructions on the canal include 56 locks, a 352 yard long, 16 feet wide tunnel, a large single span brick aqueduct and three cast iron trough aqueducts, three high embankments and a reservoir.

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Edstone Aqueduct

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At Lapworth junction

In 2013 the Society purchased The Report of the Committee of Works of the Stratford-on-Avon Canal Navigation which was ordered to be printed at their General Assembly held on 8th October 1813. Further information.

Trade on the canal steadily increased to a peak in 1838; but with the coming of the railways was gradually taken from the canal. The canal company sold out to the Oxford, Worcester and Wolverhampton Railway Co in 1856. Ownership passed to the Great Western Railway in 1865 and to the State on Nationalisation in 1948. Decline increased with each change of ownership until in 1958 the Warwickshire County Council applied for a warrant of abandonment so that it could repair a bridge at Wilmcote more cheaply. Members of the then infant Stratford upon Avon Canal Society were able to produce two licences which proved navigation of the canal within three years of the notice of abandonment made by the council.

Click here to see a longer report written in 1964 about the battle to prevent closure.

The Society, in conjunction with the Inland Waterways Association and the Coventry Canal Society interested the National Trust in acquiring the southern section of the canal for restoration. Mr David Hutchings was appointed director of operations and, under his leadership, volunteers from various Waterways Societies, Boy Scouts, the Armed Services and later prisoners from Winson Green prison, carried out the restoration work from 1961 to 1964. The southern section was re-opened to navigation on 11th July 1964 by Her Majesty the Queen Mother.

The canal became one of the most popular in the country, but in spite of the tolls paid by boaters, income always fell short of expenditure. After eleven years of negotiations with various organisations, responsibility for the southern section was transferred to British Waterways on 1st April 1988 and ownership passed to the Canal & River Trust in 2012.

A Chronology of the canal is available Here

Over 50 Historical Photographs of the canal are Here

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Bancroft Basin in recent times

A Brief History of the Stratford upon Avon Canal

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