The canal has been a life-line for Worcester since around 1870. Though it was only used in full action for about 40 years, it has been an industrial highway linking the exports from Worcester’s cottage industries to the wider world via Birmingham and Bristol.
Find out more about your stretch of the canal and send us photos, stories anecdotes and if you know anyone that has lived around the canal for a few generations, we can build a picture that marks the areas linked by the canal and the archaeology of the landscapes it cuts through.
We are starting with four areas of interest that we want you to tell us more about, but we will give you a head-start.
Diglis Basin, past the Commandary
Where the Roman war ships came and couldn’t go any further so landed by the Worcester Quay.
Civil war at the commandery. Anglo-Saxon princess Æthelflæd named the town a burr or protected settlement
(by the Oculus Bridge) past Lansdowne Road bridge (The Arboretum) past Flagg Fen
Gregory’s Mill Lock – past the brickworks, WWi munitions factory that was built by Rowntrees the all replaced by the football ground and more recently flats
Gregory’s Mill to the Perdiswell (Devil’s Archway)
Lock (top lock) to the Perdiswell bridge and beyond (Devil’s Archway)
The men that worked to dig the canal in the late 18th century onwards, were generally itinerant workers that were often working 14 hour days and were not permitted into local hostels (or pubs). Many used the planks of wood that they would use to layer the clay canal lining as bench beds pushing them into the canal lining like a supportless shelf unit.
The itinerant workers often used to work other jobs when not working on the canal such as fruit and vegetable pickers in places like Evesham market gardening growing areas. They would hardly ever get the chance to go ‘home’ (wherever that might be) as they were working all hours to earn a living.
Canal-boat workers would use horses to draw the barges along – hence the name “tow-path”. However, if a horse was old, inferm or could not pull hard enough they would certainly be whipped and sometimes simply unleashed and pushed into the canal …
The canal, once eventally completed, it was only in operation for around 40 years.
A huge amount of money was invested by the Birmingham canal-building consorteum in order to help grease the palms of the Worcester consorteum who found other ways of using the money they were given.
The canal took the route it did in order to pass by the cottage industries in warehouses close to the Foregtate (some of them are still visible and used either side of the Foregate station and back onto the Arboretum in Southfield Street).