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Lichfield & Hatherton Canals

Lichfield & Hatherton Canals

There was a fantastic milestone moment for Lichfield & Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust in 2023 with a new section of the Lichfield Canal completed and in water before the year ended. 
A 500m+ section of the canal was built, lined and watered as part of the Darnford Moors Ecology Park project, thanks to major grant funding. The project was made possible through funding from European Regional Development Fund with match funding from HS2’s Community & Environment Fund, and separate funding from the Biffa Award and the Wesleyan Foundation. The grants funded the development of the canal as part of an ecology park, providing an aquatic habitat, along with a wetlands area, hedgerow corridors and trees, and a nature trail with native planting. 
Work was carried out by a combined workforce of LHCRT volunteers, visiting corporate volunteers and WRG, with the contractor Onsite Central Ltd installing the lining. In addition to the work to build the canal, ducting was installed for electric cables to provide power for electric boats moored there in the future. LHCRT members were given the first opportunity to see the canal in water, during a guided walk in November 2023. 

HS2 crosses the canal route at Cappers Lane, so a new Cappers Lane bridge will need to be built and the canal diverted around the HS2 viaduct arches. This work is due to be completed by 2027 by Balfour Beatty Vinci at the expense of HS2, extending the Huddlesford Arm. Once the HS2 section is complete, it will be relatively easy to connect through to Huddlesford and create the first navigable section of the Lichfield Canal.

The other active site in 2023 was Borrowcop Locks Canal Park, where volunteers made progress converting the old Lock 24 into a narrows and the canal channel grew each day, a step closer to the road. This road is where a bridge will be installed by housing developers Persimmon as part of a new housing development. To get the canal under the road, without a humpback bridge, the canal needs to be lower than its original level so the old lock won’t be used, and a new lock will need to be built on the other side of the road.

In the summer, LHCRT announced that Robbie Cumming had become the new patron of the trust, helping to raise additional awareness of its work. Robbie had a tour of the restoration sites and met his first ‘canal engineer’ – LHCRT’s Peter Buck. The year’s events included the annual Brownhills Canal Festival, revitalising the Wyrley & Essington Canal at the top end of the Lichfield Canal, and the return of Huddlesford Heritage Gathering after a prolonged break due to Covid and HS2 works. Both of these events were vital fundraising initiatives for the trust.
Membership numbers at the end of 2023 were 2,475, with members living all across the UK and overseas, plus boaters who live aboard. These numbers help to show funders the value of the canal restoration, through the growing number of supporters. The year 2024 looks to be an equally successful one!

April 2024

Navigation Authority


Lichfield & Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust