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Front cover of brochure

Coventry's Canal
AN URBAN OASIS  

Transcript from Coventry City Council 2001 brochure LA 076155 with updates re "5 miles of art" brochure and with added introduction and hot link index.  

NB - An alternate publication titled "COVENTRY CANAL Greenway" (undated, but probably c.2006 since includes data that National Cycle Network route 52 now includes this 5 miles) is also available - this has similar data, but more pictures.

Introduction

This page is a transcript from the City Council 2001 brochure titled "Coventry's Canal - AN URBAN OASIS".  It describes the canal and associated Art Trail.  The paper version has a better layout, and the pictures are of higher definition - get one in preference to printing this.  If you want more detail a full colour brochure "5 miles of art - Coventry Canal Public Art Trail" was published in May-2002, about the Art Trail, the artists and the inspiration behind their works. It is available for sale, price 3 from the Canal Basin, tourist information centres and the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum.

INDEX

Hot links to main sections of this page:
An urban oasis Finding your way around The Art Trial
Leisure Hawkesbury Junction Artworks Key
Safety first Canal Basin Further Information
The Story Wildlife Map of Coventry Canal

An urban oasis

Following a major investment programme, the 5 mile stretch of canal between Coventry Basin and Hawkesbury Junction has been transformed from a forgotten backland into the city's longest park.  It is now not only one of the greenest urban canals in the country, but also one of the most interesting.
 


Canal Basin

Visit the lively Canal Basin in the heart of Coventry or the picturesque Hawkesbury Junction which joins the peaceful Oxford Canal.  Follow the unique Art Trail along the traffic-free towpath.  Or discover more about canal characters and historical features of interest from the various information boards and plaques.

Combining the natural peace and beauty of the countryside with Coventry's rich industrial heritage, the canal provides the perfect setting for an unusual walk - whatever your interest.


Hawkesbury Junction

                

 
A noticeboard

Leisure

The transformation of the canal including 'pocket parks' and towpath improvements has created a linear park serving the Foleshill area in the north of Coventry.  Better access to the canal has been assured by the creation or improvement of 20 new entrance points, each with a panel informing you where you are and how far it is to the next exit.
 

A programme of guided health walks incorporating the canal will be run from early 2001.  There are also plans to widen parts of the towpath to cycleway standard.  As part of the SUSTRANS national network, this will eventually link to Coventry City Football Club's new stadium.  Other popular recreation activities along the canal include fishing and boating.
 

The Canal Ranger service regularly patrols the canal towpath, arranges repairs, organises events and guided walks, and works with local people to promote better understanding and care of the canal environment. For further information contact the Canal Ranger office on 024 76231306.
 

Safety first

SPOT THE DANGERS.  Water may look safe, but it can be dangerous.  Never go on ice, keep dogs on a lead, and stay well away from locks and weirs.  Dog fouling is an offence so please use the dog bins where available.

KNOW THE DIFFERENCE. You may be able to swim in a warm indoor pool, but canals can be very dangerous and swimming is not usually permitted.

Children should always be accompanied by an adult.

        

The Story

The 38 mile long Coventry Canal links Coventry Canal Basin with Fradeley Junction near Burton-on-Trent.  Construction began in 1768 to transport coal from the North Warwickshire coalfield into Coventry, and the work was completed in 1790.  The section between Coventry and Bedworth was central to Coventry's industrial growth, with many of the City's employers located alongside the waterway.

Britain's first production car was built next to the canal by the Daimler Motor Company in 1897. The old Daimler Power House can still be found on the bend of the canal, just north of the Canal Basin.

The world's first man-made fibres were also developed and manufactured beside the canal at the former Courtaulds Main Works, known to many by the famous Courtaulds Clock Tower which now forms part of the Foleshill Enterprise Park.

Probably the most famous group of buildings along the Coventry's Canal are Cash's 'Top Shops'.  Built in 1857 by Joseph Cash, these were designed to help people weaving in their own homes to compete with power-driven factory looms via a central steam engine in the courtyard.

But the canal could not compete in a rapidly developing world.  By the late 1950s the market for coal had shrunk and other faster forms of transport had taken over.  The Coventry Arm - known to boaters as "The 5" - became derelict and only a campaign by local enthusiasts saved it from being filled in.
 

Finding your way around

Visitors from outside Coventry are advised to park at Coventry Canal Basin or Hawkesbury Junction.

Hawkesbury Junction

The picturesque Hawkesbury Junction - known locally as Sutton Stop - was constructed in 1802.  One of the busiest canal junctions in the country, this is where the Coventry Canal meets the Oxford Canal.  Here walkers can pick up Coventry's Sowe Valley Footpath, Warwickshire's Centenary Way or British Waterway's Oxford Canal Walk.

Pause a while to admire the elegant cast iron footbridge, erected in 1827, at the heart of the Conservation Area or the former Pump House, which used to pump water into the canal up a 114 ft. shaft.  Enjoy the hospitality offered by the Greyhound Inn, or just sit and watch the boats go by.

How to get there

BY CAR: From M6 junction 3, take the B4113 (north), turn 1st right into Black Horse Road, then left into Sutton Stop immediately after the canal bridge.

FROM COVENTRY CITY CENTRE: take the B4113 Foleshill Road (north), turn right into Oakmoor Road, under the M6, then right into Sutton Stop before the canal bridge.
 

Canal Basin

Coventry Canal Basin was opened to traffic in 1769.  The impressive canal warehouses, dating back to 1837 or earlier, were used for loading and unloading grain, cement and other goods.  Their restoration was completed in 1986 and they now house a range of small arts and crafts businesses. The rest of the Canal Basin was redeveloped for offices and craft workshops in 1995 with the former coal vaults refurbished as a tappas bar in 2000.

Why not browse around the shops and craft workshops, stopping at one of the cafes or bars for some refreshment, or use the Basin as a base to visit Coventry's busy shopping centre?  Together with car parking and toilet facilities, the Canal Basin makes an ideal destination for a family day out.

It is also a popular venue for events and entertainment, and groups wishing to hold an event may even be eligible for a grant.  Phone the Ranger service on 024 76231306 for further details.

How to get there

BY CAR: Follow the Canal Basin signs From Coventry's Inner Ring Road junctions 1 or 9.  Free parking is available off St. Nicholas Street or Leicester Row, with Pay & Display parking off Tower Street.

BY FOOT FROM CITY CENTRE: Leaving Broadgate (Lady Godiva) follow the Burgess and Bishop Street across the Ring Road Footbridge.
 

Wildlife

Local wildlife has also benefited from the investment programme.  Over ten hectares of previously derelict land has been sympathetically landscaped with trees, shrubs and ponds.  And the retention of a 'soft edge' between the towpath and the water helps to protect and enhance the natural habitat.

Swans, moorhens, coots and mallards can be found nesting amongst the reed, iris and reedmace, and there is at least one known colony of water vole.  Over 100 different species of aquatic invertebrates can be found.  As these all need clean water, their presence is evidence of good water quality.  17 species of butterfly have been recorded, as well as over ten different types of fish - making the canal a popular fishing spot.

The Art Trial

With 39 works of art by 31 different artists over 5 miles, the Coventry Canal Art Trail has been described as Britain's longest outdoor art gallery - appealing to all ages and backgrounds.  It offers a creative interpretation of old and new, natural and manmade, and sits comfortably within the canal environment.

The trail complements the information panels and explanatory plaques in telling the fascinating story of the role of the canal in the development of the City over 200 years.  It begins at the Canal Basin with the impressive statue of James Brindley and ends with the dramatic Hawkesbury Gateway feature overlooking the canal at Hawkesbury Junction.

See if along the way you can also find all 10 Canal Entry and Bridge Parapet Markers, each bearing a different inscription taken from local people's memories of the canal.

A full colour brochure "5 miles of art - Coventry Canal Public Art Trail" was published in May-2002, about the Art Trail, the artists and the inspiration behind their works. It is available for sale, price 3 from the Canal Basin, tourist information centres and the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum.

Artworks Key

Letters refer to Artwork Identification Markers on Map below:
A LOCK GATES    N LADY SCURRYING
B JAMES BRINDLEY THE NAVIGATOR
C CANAL BASIN MOSAIC CHILDREN PLAYING
D THE JOURNEYMAN Q SPRING ROAD MOSAIC & RAILINGS
E WAVE SEAT R 'THE FOXY' MURAL
F DAIMLER HERITAGE MARKER S PIPE SEAT
G CABLE BRIDGE T CRASH MURAL
H THE COIL U STONE SOFA
FISH SEATS V BRIDGE THAT FLOWS
J WATERWALL WALL WALK
REFLECTIONS MOSAIC X FOLDING WEDGES
SNAKE IN THE GRASS & Y HAWKESBURY SEAT
  'FISH RAILINGS' Z HAWKESBURY GATEWAY
TRAVELLER & THE STREAM & VARIOUS LOCATIONS :
SEATS BY THE WATER 6 canal entry reminiscence markers
4 bridge parapet markers

FURTHER INFORMATION

 

   
                                        City Development Directorate  024 76831354
Canal Ranger Service  024 76231306
British Waterways  01283 790236
Coventry Tourist Information  024 76832303
Boat Hire  024 76258864
Coventry's Canal Society 
 
024 76614463
 

 

  

Map of Coventry Canal

 


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