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Birmingham to Smethwick walk up the Birmingham Canal Navigations New Mainline with Jonathan

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Start at Brindleyplace. Pass the National Sealife Centre, then cross over the footbridge, passing the Oozells Street Loop. 

At Old Turn Junction will be a view of The Malt House and the Library of Birmingham. The Birmingham & Fazeley Canal starts here, but it was the Newhall Branch of the Birmingham Canal Navigations as far as Farmers Bridge Locks / Cambrian Wharf.

Old Turn Junction and The Malt House

BCN New Mainline


Pass the Arena, and turn left past the Legoland Discovery Centre Birmingham, head down the towpath onto the Birmingham Canal Navigations New Mainline.

Utilita Arena Birmingham - Old Turn Junction

BCN New Mainline


At Old Turn Junction is also the start of the Oozells Street Loop at this bridge near Brindleyplace. Part of the Old Mainline.

Oozells Street Loop Junction Bridge - Old Turn Junction

BCN New Mainline


Walk under the Sheepcote Street Bridge as you pass The Distillery and the Roundhouse.

Sheepcote Street Bridge

BCN New Mainline


The Distillery

BCN New Mainline


The Roundhouse

BCN New Mainline


Before leaving the City Centre you pass Ladywood Junction, where the end of the Oozells Street Loop joins onto the BCN New Mainline.

Ladywood Junction Bridge - Oozells Street Loop

BCN New Mainline


Head out of the City Centre under the St Vincent Street Bridge into Ladywood.

St Vincent Street Bridge

BCN New Mainline


After passing under Ladywood Middleway, at the Monument Road Bridge, you will pass the start of the Ickield Port Loop at Sandy Turn. There is also the Monument Road Basin Bridge, also called Monument Lane Basin, just before Ladywood Middleway.

Sandy Turn bridge - Icknield Port Loop

BCN New Mainline


The new Port Loop development is between both ends of the Icknield Port Loop near Rotton Park Street.

Port Loop development

BCN New Mainline


The other end of the Icknield Port Loop is at Rotton Park Junction.

Rotton Park Junction Bridge - Icknield Port Loop

BCN New Mainline


You will pass over the Eyre Street Junction Bridge, which is at the start of the Soho Loop, near the Soho Wharf development. The other end of the Icknield Port Loop is opposite here, plus the railway bridge that carries the line from Birmingham New Street to Wolverhampton.

Eyre Street Junction Bridge - Soho Loop 

BCN New Mainline


Pass under the Rotton Park Towpath Bridge, continue past the Site of Harborne Branch Railway Bridge, until you get to the Lee Bridge.

Lee Bridge

BCN New Mainline


Continue up to the Winson Green Bridge, which has Winson Green Road crossing overhead.

Winson Green Bridge

BCN New Mainline


The other end of the Soho Loop is at Winson Green Junction. This is near the Soho EMU Depot, home of the Cross City Line's famous Class 323 Electric Multiple Units!

Winson Green Junction Bridge - Soho Loop

BCN New Mainline


The Winson Green Gauging Island is next to the Winson Green Roving Bridge, as you pass the Soho EMU Depot (either side of the canal, there is a towpath on both sides here).

Winson Green Roving Bridge

BCN New Mainline


Continue walking up to the railway bridge, as you will soon cross into Smethwick in Sandwell.

Soho Railway Bridge

BCN New Mainline


Between here was the site of Soho Foundry Basin, and the site of Smethwick Gas Works Basin, and the French Walls Basin Bridge.

Rabone Lane Bridge

BCN New Mainline


Smethwick Junction on the BCN is where the New Line and Old Line splits. The New Mainline is to the left on the Birmingham Level, while the Old Mainline is to the right on the Wolverhampton Level.

Smethwick Main Line Turnover Bridge - Smethwick Junction

BCN New Mainline


The Rolfe Bridge in Smethwick is at Bridge Street North. One of the towpaths is fenced off here.

Rolfe Bridge

BCN New Mainline


Passing the Rolfe Pipe Bridge and Smethwick Stop, and then pass under the Engine Arm Aqueduct.

Engine Arm Aqueduct

BCN New Mainline


The next bridge to walk under is the Brass House Bridge, which is on Brasshouse Lane in Smethwick.

Brass House Bridge

BCN New Mainline


The Smethwick Pumping Station, also called the Galton Valley Canal Museum, or the New Smethwick Pumping Station. It was built in 1892. The lower level is on the New Mainline, while the upper level to the right is on the Old Mainline of the BCN.

Smethwick Pumping Station

BCN New Mainline


Walking up to the Galton Tunnel from the southeastern portal, then walk through to the northwestern portal. It was built of concrete, and is below Telford Way.

Galton Tunnel

BCN New Mainline


Cross under the famous Galton Bridge. Opened in 1829 and designed by Thomas Telford. It has been pedestrianised since the 1970s. A Grade I listed structure.

Galton Bridge

BCN New Mainline


The next bridge is the Smethwick Railway Bridge. This was converted into Smethwick Galton Bridge Station in 1995, with the opening of the Jewellery Line, it carries the Snow Hill lines on the high level, while there is also a low level that carries the line from Birmingham New Street to Wolverhampton.

Smethwick Galton Bridge Station

BCN New Mainline


The next bridge carries Spon Lane South, not far from the remains of the Chance Glassworks.

Spon Lane Station Bridge 

BCN New Mainline


This was where Jonathan ended his walk, and turned back towards Birmingham. Beyond here is a couple of bridges next to Chance Glassworks, and Spon Lane Junction, where the Old Mainline crossed the New Mainline on the Steward Aqueduct, followed by the M5 motorway.


You can either walk or cycle back, or leave at Spon Lane South, and walk to Smethwick Galton Bridge Station, to catch the train to either Birmingham Snow Hill or Birmingham New Street (your choice, remember to buy your train tickets before travelling). Also various nearby bus routes.


Post by Elliott Brown. Photos from Jonathan Bostock.

Source: Office for National Statistics licensed under the Open Government Licence v.3.0 Contains OS data © Crown copyright and database right