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

Dudley No 2 Canal Route

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< Hawne Basin Selly Oak >
The former Dudley No 2 Canal Route
The former Dudley No 2 Canal Route

The photo is taken alongside the bus stop in the next photo (towards Selly Oak) where the footpath follows the route of the Dudley No 2 Canal, with the gentle depression where the trees are growing to the left marking the line of the canal.

Waterway and Kilometerage LAPAL 07.270
OS Grid Reference SO 97655 83179
Date and Time 151124 115349
Copyright © Paul Balmer

Crossing on the Level

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< Hawne Basin Selly Oak >
Former Dudley No 2 Canal
Former Dudley No 2 Canal

The original route of the Lapal Canal, as the Dudley No 2 Canal crossed here at road level, passing just to the right of the bus shelter where we are looking along the line of the canal which we see in the next photos (towards Hawne Basin).

The proposed new route for the Lapal Canal will take it further away, close to the white building, where there is headroom to cross on an aqueduct before rejoining the original route around 200m later.

Waterway and Kilometerage LAPAL 07.210
OS Grid Reference SO 97703 83158
Date and Time 151124 115035
Copyright © Paul Balmer

Halesowen Abbey

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Halesowen Abbey
Halesowen Abbey

The Lapal Canal will pass close to the ruins of Halesowen Abbey, established in 1218.  This is the nearest anyone can get to the abbey as the land is in private ownership.

Waterway and Kilometerage LAPAL 07.200
OS Grid Reference SO 97727 82958
Date and Time 151124 114506
Copyright © Paul Balmer