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United Kingdom: Birmingham Canals

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Birmingham Canals | United Kingdom | Europe

[Visited: June 2005]

Several centuries ago, the main means of transportation in the United Kingdom was canals. They were developed and used just as we develop and use highways, and the network of canals still exists to a large extent. The hub of these canals was Birmingham. While many canals do not exist anymore, the canal area is undergoing a major facelift. Housing projects, restaurants and bars, shopping malls, boat tours: you can find it all along the many waterways of the second largest city in the United Kingdom.

Picture of Birmingham Canals (United Kingdom): Birmingham: boats lying in the Gas St Basin

It is claimed that Birmingham has more canals than Venice. This might be true for the length of all canals combined and the fact that Birmingham is much bigger than the famous canal city, but Birmingham certainly does not have anything close to the romantic feel of Venice. Still, walking the towpaths and improved canalside quays has a certain charm. After visiting the inner city, this is a different story. Attractive bow-shaped bridges, long, narrow boats plying the canals cautiously, people walking the waterside, quiet peaceful corners all give something extra to the feel of this part of Birmingham.

Picture of Birmingham Canals (United Kingdom): Birmingham: street lantern hanging above one of the quays

Sometimes, the broad quays narrow down to a towpath that is just enough to let one person pass at a time. You can even see the signs of ropes having eaten their ways into the sidepillars under bridges. Walking further along the canals took me to the locks of the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal. Here, I stayed to see two boats on their way down the canal, their skippers manually opening and closing the locks, and sweating it out under a warm June midday sun. The locks are made to measure, as the narrowboats just fit in. Walking up the stairs took me to a main street and back to the other, modern, busy Birmingham that seemed to far away on the quiet canals.

Picture of Birmingham Canals (United Kingdom): Birmingham: crosscanals of Birmingham & Fazeley and Worcester & Birmingham canals
Picture of Birmingham Canals (United Kingdom): Birmingham: canal with new housing and gondola near Mailbox
Picture of Birmingham Canals (United Kingdom): Birmingham: driving a boat requiers concentration
Picture of Birmingham Canals (United Kingdom): Birmingham: boat passing under Worcester & Birmingham canal
Picture of Birmingham Canals (United Kingdom): Birmingham: renovated canalside house
Picture of Birmingham Canals (United Kingdom): Birmingham: narrowboat and new houses on Birmingham & Fazeley Canal
Picture of Birmingham Canals (United Kingdom): Birmingham: narrowboat waiting in lock to go down
Picture of Birmingham Canals (United Kingdom): Birmingham: narrowboat precisely fitting in lock
Picture of Birmingham Canals (United Kingdom): Birmingham: house on canal near Gas Street

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