Old Vineries Bridge & Canal

In 2008 Acocks Green Neighbourhood Forum secured the Grade II listing of this little well-used footbridge following a full inspection of the site by English Heritage.  The listing ensures the conservation of the bridge for its particular architectural and historic interest.

Canal History
In 1793 King George III gave royal assent to an Act of Parliament permitting the construction of a canal from Birmingham to Warwick.  Shortly afterwards work began. The Vineries Bridge was built around 1794.  Looking down into the deep cutting that is the canal it is hard to imagine that it was dug out by hand.  The total length is 22.5 miles from Digbeth to Warwick.  It was officially opened in 1799.  This new transport opportunity would have taken a lot of the coach drawn wagons off the Warwick Road.

By 1799 this Warwick Canal was continued beyond the Avon to join the Oxford canal at Napton.  This then formed a link for all the canals of the Midlands with the Thames and London.

Canal connections continued to improve to London and to the River Severn.  This in turn brought prosperity to Yardley.  Bricks and tiles from farm kilns were loaded up to boats at the wharves and along with and sand and gravel quarried from the Stock Field, and Woodcock Lane quarries for distribution far and wide.

The name the Vineries came from a market garden that prospered on Vineries Lane close to the bridge in the 1900’s. Here many grapevines grew in large glass houses.  In the 1930’s the gardens were sold off and the Rover factory was built on the site producing important parts for aircraft during the war.

During the 1930’s the majority of the canal bridges were replaced with wider stronger road bridges to accommodate the increasingly popular motor car. Somehow bridge number 86 escaped this fate and remains close to its original state.

Today’s Grand Union Canal is composed of about 8 original separate canals linking London with Birmingham, Leicester and Nottingham.  In the 1920’s The Regent’s Canal Company acquired the group of the canals and the whole system was integrated in 1929 as the Grand Union Canal Company.

In 1990 with funding from the European Union improvements were made to the canal towpath.  Thanks to pressure from local residents, access steps were built down to the towpath at the bridge. This makes the canal accessible for walkers, joggers, cyclists and fishermen to enjoy.

Copies of a postcard of The Vineries bridge are available from the convenience store on the corner of Clay Lane and Bosworth Road or contact the Neighbourhood Forum directly.

6 Responses to Old Vineries Bridge & Canal

  1. Kevin says:

    I am lucky enough to live right by the bridge. If only the local (or perhaps from further afield) youth would appreciate its historical signifiance. I thought there was a cctv camera put nearby?

    • gedhughes says:

      There has been CCTV. They move it around. Yes it is a problem about the graffiti and because it is listed it costs too much to clean it now! Just learning to accept its part of the bridges history. Integrally it is mostly unchanged.

  2. R S jay says:

    Unfortunately many of the younger local populace do not appreciate the sigificance of this bridge and insist covering it in graffiti. Another Birmingham piece of history slowly being destroyed reminiscent of the sixties concrete invasion !

    • gedhughes says:

      Hello R S
      Yes it is most unfortunate about the graffiti on the bridge. Because the bridge is listed, apparantly it is very expensive for the authorities to clean, they can’t just blast it as if it was a modern wall. Other people have commented on the recent appearance of more graffiti. We will discuss it at the next committee meeting.
      Kind Regards
      Ged Hughes

  3. andysheppard says:

    I must see this bridge so many interesting things happended in Birmingham during the 18th century with for example the Lunar Society and impact on society of the American War of Independence and the French Revolution.

  4. Pingback: Acock’s Green Transitions? « acocksgreentransitions

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