Canal Trail text:

Canal Trail:
1.Birmingham Mailbox
Birmingham’s city centre canals are a magnet for developments. The canalside environment is very attractive, especially for city centre housing and
Birmingham Mailbox is the latest city centre building to be redeveloped. The
old Royal Mail sorting office has been rebuilt as a mixed-use development,
with luxury apartments, offices, shopping, entertainment, hotels and parking.
Turn left to head to follow the canal trail.
Location: Next to the Worcester and Birmingham canal, and close to New
Street Station.
Key Facts:
The £50 million development will contain:
 a new 200 metre shopping street
 30 or more shops
 20,000 square metres of office space
 restaurants, cafes and bars
 950 parking spaces
 two hotels with 280 beds
 140 roof-top apartments
2. Worcester Bar, Gas Street Basin
This area is a magnet for visitors and leisure boats – the canal environment is
an important attraction. The bridge is a new one, built using the original cast
iron design to fit in with the canal heritage.
Turn right to see Gas Street Basin.
This picture shows the area in 1778 from Thomas Harrison's Map.
This is an important point in Birmingham’s canal history. The Worcester Bar
is where Birmingham’s earliest canal was connected to the Worcester and
Birmingham Canal in 1815.
3. Gas Street Basin
Gas Street Basin was the end of Birmingham’s first canal, built from
Wolverhampton to Birmingham by James Brindley in 1772. The canal led to a
wharf under the buildings opposite.
Today Gas Street Basin is one of Birmingham’s most popular tourist
attractions. The surrounding buildings have been rebuilt or restored, and from
here canal trips take visitors around the city centre canals. Some people still
live on canal boats in the city centre.
Turn left to go to the Waters Edge.
Worcester Bar and Gas Street in 1913.
Birmingham’s first canal created rapid growth of industry – the Industrial
Revolution. Coal and building supplies were brought into Birmingham on
narrowboats, and manufactured goods were carried out.
In 1772, this area was on the edge of town. But it was soon surrounded by
factories, warehouses and houses as Birmingham grew rapidly to become a
great city.
4. The Waters Edge and the ICC
This place is at the centre of Birmingham’s redeveloped canal network. On
the left is the Waters Edge. This development is a mixture of shops, bars,
and restaurants – it is busy all day, and often crowded at night.
On the right is the International Convention Centre, where top conferences
are held. These developments have brought new life and hundreds of jobs to
the area.
Walk straight on to the Sea Life Centre.
The Canal in the 1970s
By the 1970s, most canal trade had stopped due to competition from road
transport. Much of Birmingham’s industry closed down, especially small old
factories in the centre of town. This was a derelict area before the city began
to plan for a new future.
5. The Sea Life Centre
The Sea Life Centre is England’s largest aquarium, although it is miles from
the sea! The aquarium is the home of 3000 creatures. It is part of
Brindleyplace, the UK’s largest mixed-use redevelopment, which includes
land used for offices, entertainment, housing and open space.
Next, turn right towards Tindal Bridge.
Old Turn Junction.
This place is known as Old Turn Junction. It is at the centre of England’s
canal network. The canals to London, Wolverhampton and Worcester meet
here and at one time, it was busy with canal trade. In the background is the
old Atlas Works, a factory that made bedsprings.
6. Birmingham and Fazeley Canal
This is the starting point of the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal. The Malt
House pub in the centre of the photo was made famous when US President
Bill Clinton had a drink there. He was visiting Birmingham for the G8
conference in 1998.
Walk straight on under Tindal Bridge towards Cambrian Wharf.
7. Cambrian Wharf
Canal towpaths are popular places for a stroll. This was the first canal-side
area to be redeveloped and now the old canal buildings are a good location
for small offices. Planners hope to improve access for walkers and cyclists.
Walk straight on to Farmers Bridge Locks.
Derelict factories surrounded Cambrian Wharf in 1954. In its hey-day, this
was one of the busiest wharves in Birmingham.
8. Farmers Bridge Locks
At this point, the canal begins to go downhill, so it is the start of a long flight of
13 locks. On each side of the canal here are houses. Birmingham planners
are trying to encourage more people to live in the city centre – the policy is
called City Living.
There are two long flights of locks on this part of the canal – the first is called
the Old Thirteen, taking the canal down 25metres. 100 years ago there were
so many traffic jams along this canal that 24-hour working was introduced.
This is the end of the city centre Canal Trail.
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