Posted 23rd July
In the next of our History of the Waterways features, courtesy of Insure4Boats and the Canal and River Trust, we find out about Dudley Canal Tunnel
Dudley Canal Tunnel carves a path under Castle Hill, making it the second-longest canal tunnel in the United Kingdom, standing at 2,900 metres long.
While some historians argue it is, in fact, a series of smaller connected tunnels - in which case the record would not stand - one thing cannot be denied; the sheer beauty and magnitude of the tunnels.
Work was meant to begin on the tunnel following a private Act of Parliament being passed in 1776. however, the Dudley Canal Company, who wanted to start the work, soon found out that Lord Dudley and Lord Ward had already started work on a tunnel and canal the year before joining up with the Birmingham Canal and speed up his limestone transport.
However, after negotiations, Lord Ward agreed to sell his half-finished canal and tunnel to the Dudley Canal Company, who quickly pressed on. However, it was not until the 25th June 1791, that the Dudley Canal Line No. 1 was announced.
Despite being well constructed, subsidence from nearby coal mines caused damage in 1884, with part of the tunnel needing to be rebuilt. However, apart from that one instance, the majority of the network is still useable today and are a major tourist destination.
Did you know...
- Two new canal tunnels were created in 1989, but their limited size means they can only be used by small boats.
- Dudley Canal Tunnel passes directly underneath both the town of Dudley and its castle.
- The Dudley Tunnel proved so popular that the Netherton Tunnel was built just over a mile away to help with congestion.
- In 2015, Dudley Canal Tunnel opener 'The Portal', an educational exhibition that help children learn about the history of the canal.