Saltisford Arm Warwick

Saltisford Arm Warwick

The search through old slides continues, including a 1976 canal trip in Warwick. Most canal enthusiasts entering the Saltisford Arm of the Warwick & Birmingham/Grand Union Canal will not be aware that the arm (the original terminus of the canal) was in serious danger of being filled in in the mid-1970s. The original twin-pronged basin (best viewed on the 1851 Public Health map of Warwick, not included here for copyright reasons) had long been filled in, but the truncated spur remained ending at the bridge carrying the GWR Birmingham Snow Hill to Leamington railway line. A short section of the route into the centre of Warwick beyond the railway line could also still be traced, but this has now all been replaced by new housing.

Several individuals regarded the threat of filling in the arm with horror and took it upon themselves to prove that it was still navigable, a major plank in the case for retention. I became involved in a trip up the arm with a gentleman whose name regrettably currently escapes me (was it Peter Webb?). We were joined by his young son, and three Warwick School Sixthformers – Bob Bleasdale, Simon Rowberry and Paul Waterworth – together with my wife of a just a few weeks. She was obviously aware of my interest in industrial heritage, but I think she was a little taken aback by my invitation of a ‘boat cruise up the canal’ actually turning into a pioneering trip up a near-redundant, stagnant waterway!

The trip was a success, mainly because nobody fell in the canal plus the fact that the evidence of the navigable nature of the arm was recorded on camera, a small selection from these photographs are included. In the 1980s efforts were begun to restore the arm and it has now become the Saltisford Canal Centre, busy with a residential canal community. This is captured in some of the other photographs, including a winter scene. It is another example of a situation where community effort and pressure for restoration can contribute to our unique waterways heritage.

Additional newspaper cuttings from around 1983-86 kindly provided by Richard Sanders.

Copyright © Martin Green 2020