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 leisure. 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.