Tracing the origins of this canal, it is notable that the route was chosen to leave the Worcester and Birmingham Canal just three miles from the junction with the Dudley Canal which provided a short journey to a major source of coal. At the maximum the Stratford canal carried 180,000 tons of coal in a year and 50,000 of these tons travelled all the way to Stratford.
There were several designs for the link to the Warwick and Birmingham Canal; one of which was over one mile long. The canal terminated at Kingswood in 1802 in a large basin when finance ran out. It must be noted that Lock 21 was not built at that time so the water level in the basin was six feet higher than it is at the present time. The link to the W&B canal was the channel at right angles which was a lock chamber with that six feet fall in level in the Link to the Warwick and Birmingham. When construction of the canal commenced again from Kingswood, Lock 21 was built, the level of the basin was reduced and the gates on the lock on the Link were removed. The W&B company objected because existing agreements guaranteed them a lock full of water from every boat travelling through the junction on the Stratford Canal; in this new arrangement there were occasions when the W&B could actually lose water to the Stratford Canal. A legal dispute continued from 1812 to 1816 and eventually the lock on the Link was made into a stop lock to ensure no water was lost by the W&B. This arrangement needed permanent staff to monitor it and eventually a new lock from the canal above Lock 21 was built and the lock on the link was filled in. This new lock is No 20. This new lock was really redundant when the canals were nationalised but both locks Nos 20 and 21 are still operational and the original lock chamber on the Link was opened up about 1996. Kingswood junction is seven locks up the Lapworth flight.
Stratford. The original plans for the canal did not include a junction with the river. However, plans for a junction at several points on the river in or near Stratford were proposed from 1795. Eventually the Bancroft area was chosen and two extensive basins were built. There were as many as 22 merchants with landing stages in the basin.
One important feature at Bancroft was the Stratford and Moreton Tramway which was authorised in 1821 and opened 1826; a branch to Shipston on Stour was opened in 1836. The photo above shows a restored wagon on a section of the tramway.
The River Avon junction and the restored river navigation were reopened on 1 June 1974 by Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. Restoration of the Upper Avon had again been managed by David Hutchings.