Lapal Canal Restoration Project
The Lapal Canal is the derelict half of the otherwise viable Dudley No.2 Canal which connected the Dudley No.1 Canal to the Worcester & Birmingham Canal. It was first constructed to be a 'speedy' (level) waterway route to transport coal to London while avoiding local congestion.
The Lapal Canal Trust has accepted recommendations from professional consultants (Atkins, May 2007) that the derelict Lapal Tunnel should not be restored.
Instead, it should be substituted by a new, elevated alignment along the Woodgate Valley floor. By this means the resulting rural canal (passing over the top; OTT) benefits ALL recreational parties, not just the boating fraternity.
The restoration schedule and sequence is to commence in the East (i.e Selly Oak) and progress westwards in incremental sections as finance allows. These conveniently divide:
Lapal East = Selly Oak (Birmingham)
Selly Oak Park
Lodge Hill (Weoley Castle)
Lapal Central = Woodgate Valley (Birmingham)
California Ascent (East Locks)
Valley Floor Summit
Halesowen Descent (West Locks)
Lapal West = Halesowen (Dudley)
Manor Way (St Mary's) Aqueduct
The Lapal Project may also be divided thus; WW, CW, EW, WC, CC, EC, WE, CE, EE !! ?
It was the dawn of the Industrial Revolution; the heyday of the canal era and the waterways in the West Midlands were fast becoming the hub of the entire UK system. Not surprisingly, with almost all raw materials and manufactured goods being transported by sturdy and reliable narrow-boat, the Birmingham Canal Navigations (the BCN, as they are now known) soon fell victim to their own success and became heavily congested. In particular, this congestion impeded the otherwise steady and highly-lucrative movement of coal from the abundant supplies in the Black Country, on their long-haul journey South to fuel the fires of residential London. As a first major conflict in modern domestic economics, this could not be tolerated ! (map-link)
So, with great haste, the Dudley No. 2 Canal was surveyed, constructed and then opened in 1798 for more than a century of strategic operation until it fell victim to some of the defects of its hurried construction. But, having been disused and almost forgotten for over half a century, it now awaits sympathetic restoration using modern engineering solutions.