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.

Hawne Basin

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Hawne Basin
Hawne Basin

The entrance to Hawne Basin, under the bridge, marks the normal limit of navigation on the Dudley No 2 Canal.  Straight ahead the canal once continued to reach the Worcester & Birmingham Canal at Selly Oak but is now a short length of moorings.

Restoration is planned, as the Lapal Canal, following a similar route to the Dudley No 2 Canal and taking the route over the top of the hill with additional locks instead of through the collapsed Lapal Tunnel.

Waterway and Kilometerage BCN+DUD3 19.625
OS Grid Reference SO 97447 84418
Date and Time 110430 101914
Copyright © Paul Balmer

Selly Oak Junction

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Selly Oak Junction
Selly Oak Junction

The Dudley No 2 Canal once came through the building site to meet the Worcester & Birmingham Canal near the centre of the photo.  The Worcester & Birmingham Canal runs between Birmingham (to the right) and Worcester (to the left).

The Lapal Canal is will restore through navigation using approximately the line of the Dudley No 2 Canal. The building works in the photo include creation of the first section of the Lapal Canal as an integral part of the work.  The Lapal Canal will run a little further south than the original alignment, nearer to the blue and grey buildings seen in the background.

Waterway and Kilometerage LAPAL 00.000.01
OS Grid Reference SP 04401 82805
Date and Time 151204 081759
Copyright © Paul Balmer

Selly Oak Junction

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Selly Oak Junction
Selly Oak Junction

Looking north, along the Worcester & Birmingham Canal towards Birmingham from Bristol Road Bridge 80.

The Dudley No 2 Canal once came in from the left, approximately where the raised section of towpath is, near the pylon.  The Lapal Canal will soon provide an alternative route with the new junction a little nearer to the camera, close to this end of the straight section of towpath.  The canal will be widened a little to the right to make turning at the junction easier, and creating a new winding point.

Waterway and Kilometerage LAPAL 00.000.03
OS Grid Reference SP 04356 82707
Date and Time 151204 130402
Copyright © Paul Balmer

Restoration Started

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Lapal Canal after excavation
Lapal Canal after excavation

A section of the Lapal Canal has been dug out and its starting to collect water after rain.  The next photo (towards Selly Oak) shows a similar view taken a few months earlier before restoration started.

Behind the camera is the building site which will eventually include a through channel to the Worcester & Birmingham Canal at Selly Oak Junction.

Waterway and Kilometerage LAPAL 00.365.06
OS Grid Reference SP 04010 82803
Date and Time 151204 125517
Copyright © Paul Balmer

Harborne Lane Bridge

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Modern Bridge on Lapal Canal
Harborne Lane Bridge on Lapal Canal

The modern Harborne Lane Bridge was constructed with navigation clearances and a channel in anticipation of restoration of the Lapal Canal.  The recent excavations have created around 100m of channel this side of the bridge, ready to be linked through the bridge.

Around 300m of channel will be created through the building site at the other side of the bridge to link to the Worcester & Birmingham Canal at Selly Oak Junction.  It’s hoped that boats will be able to cruise here within a few years.

The next photos (towards Selly Oak) were taken from this bridge.

Waterway and Kilometerage LAPAL 00.430
OS Grid Reference SP 03938 82850
Date and Time 151204 124931
Copyright © Paul Balmer