Birmingham is criss-crossed by canals. The towpaths alongside them are becoming more and more popular as walking routes and places to visit and enjoy the landscapes. The water in the canal fascinates passers-by, but who thinks about what lies beneath that placid surface?
Canals are a triumph of engineering, built with skill and sweat in the 1700s. That can only be appreciated when the water is drained away. The Canal and River Trust looks after our canals and the locks that allow boats to climb or descend hills. Every 25 years or so the gates of those locks need replacing. It was the turn of the Farmers Bridge flight of locks at the start of 2019 and the public were given the chance to walk along the dry canal.
The base and sides of the canal are lined with brick to make them waterproof. Below the water level, they are covered with plant life, but you can see that the floor is clean. It is normally covered by a layer of sludge which is dug out as part of the refurbishment. The new gates at each end of the lock are made of British oak to the same design as the originals. They will soon be hidden beneath the water as boat traffic returns but you can visit the canal side from King Edwards Road, Birmingham behind the ICC.
Thanks to the Canal & River Trust for hosting the open days 22-24 Feb 2019.