The Lapal Tunnel (old spelling Lappal Tunnel) is a disused 3,795-yard (3,470 m) canal tunnel on the five mile dry section of the Dudley No. 2 Canal in the West Midlands, England.[2] It takes its name from the settlement of Lapal.

Lapal Tunnel
LocationWest Midlands, England
Coordinates52°26′42″N 2°00′06″W / 52.4450°N 2.0017°W / 52.4450; -2.0017
OS grid reference
WaterwayDudley No. 2 Canal
Start52°26′45″N 2°01′39″W / 52.4458°N 2.0275°W / 52.4458; -2.0275
End52°26′39″N 1°58′33″W / 52.4442°N 1.9759°W / 52.4442; -1.9759
Design engineerWilliam Underhill
Length3,795-yard (3,470 m)[1]
Tunnel clearance6 feet (1.8 m)
Width7 feet 3 inches (2.2 m)
1955 Ordnance Survey map of the west portal of tunnel
1955 Ordnance Survey map of the east portal of tunnel

History edit

The narrow brick-lined tunnel, built in 1798 by William Underhill, had no towpath. It had a very small bore — at 7 feet 9 inches, barely wider than the boats which used it, with a headroom of only 6 feet. Boats originally took about three hours to complete the passage by legging or poling, so in 1841 a steam engine was built at the Halesowen end which drove a scoop wheel to load the tunnel with water. Stop gates could be opened at either end to assist boats along the tunnel in either direction.

The tunnel suffered many collapses, and after a collapse in 1917 due to mining subsidence it was abandoned. It runs under Lapal, the M5 motorway near junction 3 and Woodgate Valley Country Park. The canal between Halesowen and Selly Oak is disused and some sections have been filled in as the tunnel was considered uneconomic to repair. A short un-navigable length remains in the grounds the Leasowes, once a garden belonging to the poet William Shenstone (1714–1763), and now a public park and golf course.[3]

To the north of Halesowen, the canal is in good repair and is used by boats accessing Hawne Basin. The canal north of Halesowen includes the Gosty Hill Tunnel which at 557 yards (509 m) is much shorter than the Lapal Tunnel. [4] It was built at the same time and has similar cross sectional dimensions.[5]

Restoration edit

The Lapal Canal Trust aims to restore the un-navigable parts of the Dudley No 2 canal to the tunnel entrance sites at Halesowen and California, from Hawne Basin and Selly Oak

They originally aimed to restore the tunnel, but a study in 2007 showed this to be unfeasible.[6] The study showed that an "up and over" solution would be possible, though at a cost that makes its achievement in the foreseeable future somewhat unlikely.

The restoration of a short section of the canal from the junction with the Worcester Birmingham Canal to Selly Oak Park is probably achievable. The recently built supermarket on the line includes allowance for the restoration.

The exact locations of the portals at California and Halesowen can be seen on the National Library of Scotland website.

Points of interest edit

Point Coordinates
(Links to map resources)
OS Grid Ref Notes
End of navigable Dudley No 2 Canal 52°27′23″N 2°02′29″W / 52.4565°N 2.0415°W / 52.4565; -2.0415 (End of navigable Dudley No 2 Canal) SO9718084325 near Halesowen
West portal 52°26′45″N 2°01′39″W / 52.4458°N 2.0275°W / 52.4458; -2.0275 (West portal) SO98228309 (precise OS ref from 6" map) At western end of track opposite Lapal Cottage, Lapal Lane South
Mid point 52°26′42″N 2°00′06″W / 52.4450°N 2.0017°W / 52.4450; -2.0017 (Mid point) SP9996583000 (calculated)
East portal 52°26′39″N 1°58′33″W / 52.4442°N 1.9759°W / 52.4442; -1.9759 (East portal) SP01718291 (precise OS ref from 6" map) Under grass
Harborne Lane bridge 52°26′37″N 1°56′33″W / 52.4435°N 1.9426°W / 52.4435; -1.9426 (Harborne Lane bridge) SP03908288
Selly Oak Junction 52°26′37″N 1°56′16″W / 52.4436°N 1.9377°W / 52.4436; -1.9377 (Selly Oak Junction) SP0423482891 Terminus of canal at Selly Oak

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ The Dudley Canal and Tunnel Trust.
  2. ^ "History of the tunnels". The Dudley Canal and Tunnel Trust. Retrieved 5 January 2020.
  3. ^ "The Leasowes". Retrieved 11 January 2020.
  4. ^ Mosse, Jonathan (2018) [1969]. Waterways Guide 2: Severn, Avon & Birmingham. Nicholson. p. 138. ISBN 978-0-00-825801-6.
  5. ^ Green, Dave (1979). "The Dudley Tunnel". Waterways Magazine.; "Black Country History". Black Country History. Retrieved 11 January 2020.
  6. ^ Feasibility Study for the Restoration of the Dudley No.2 Canal (The Lapal Canal)

Further reading edit