Posted 21st Feb 2018
In the next of our History of the Waterways features, courtesy of Insure4Boats and the Canal and River Trust, we find out about Gas Street Basin
Now the very heart of Birmingham (and Britain's) canal network, Gas Street Basin was historically the meeting point of the Worcester and Birmingham Canal and the Birmingham Canal Main Line.
Canal owners were fiercely protective of their waterways, with Birmingham Canal Navigations were determined not to lose water to the Worcester and Birmingham Canal. Subsequently, for nearly 30 years, the Worcester Bay, a solid block of metal, was erected to completely divide the two canals, with no boats able to pass.
Due to this divide, the large and generally heavy loads of cargo would need to be sailed up to one side of the bar and then lugged across to the other, where there would be another boat waiting to complete the journey. It seems an astonishing act of pettiness when you consider how much cargo was transported using the two canals. Thankfully, today, although the Worcester Bar is still there, a gap has been added, allowing boats to pass through.
Did you know...
- The reason for Gas Street Basin's name comes from it being the first street in the city which has gas lighting.
- Surrounding Gas Street Basin is Brindleyplace, which is named after Birmingham Canal (and many others) engineer, James Brindley.
- One of the canal-side cottages was actually used in long-running soap Crossroads.