The Edstone Aqueduct, also known as the Bearley Aqueduct, carries the Stratford-upon-Avon Canal over Salters Lane, the North Warwickshire Railway Line, and a small river. It is the longest canal aqueduct in England measuring 479 ft (146 m) and is unusual in that the towpath is at the base of the canal, not at water level.
|Maintained by||Canal & River Trust|
Free car park
Bearley – 0.75 miles
Open 24 / 7
What is the best way to enjoy Edstone Aqueduct?
Walk up the steps from the car park on Salters Lane to the canal above. Notice the column of the wing wall, which has seen better days.
Turn right at the canal and onto the aqueduct where you will get a superb view of the aqueduct and its sheer scale.
Walk across where you will get another fantastic view of the surrounding countryside. You can also view the detail of the cast-iron trough and its metalwork due to the towpath not being at water level.
Once you have crossed the aqueduct, you have the option of continuing your journey up the Stratford-upon-Avon canal to enjoy the country air and local wildlife. This is a remote attraction so it may be worth continuing your walk to make the most of the time. Be aware the towpath can become extremely muddy during wet and cold weather.
How long does it take to see Edstone Aqueduct?
Viewing the aqueduct and crossing it from and back to the car park on Salters Lane will take around 15 minutes. If you continue north up the canal for another 1.4 miles (2.3km), you’ll arrive at Wootton Wawen Aqueduct, which uses a similar design to the one at Edstone. It will take you roughly 35 minutes to walk this distance and 40 minutes to return to the aqueduct car park.
Where is the best spot for a picnic?
There is a memorial picnic bench just above the northern entrance to the aqueduct; however, you may wish to bring sandwiches and a flask of tea if the weather is not up to scratch.
How do I get to Edstone Aqueduct?
Bearley railway station is a 15-minute walk from the aqueduct. If you are travelling by car, there is a small car park next to the southern end of the aqueduct on Salters Lane.
History of Edstone Aqueduct
1793 – The construction of the Stratford-upon-Avon Canal begins from a junction with the Worcester & Birmingham Canal at King’s Norton, which is now a suburb of Birmingham.
1796 – The canal was built as far as Hockley Heath, then construction halted because all the raised capital had been spent.
1802 – Another Act of Parliament allows the canal company to raise more money and construction resumes. Progress is halted a second time after the line reaches the Grand Union Canal at Kingswood Junction. This line is referred to as the northern section of the Stratford-upon-Avon Canal.
1812 – Construction commences on the southern section which extends the canal from Kingswood Junction to the River Avon at Stratford. The project is led by William James, a shareholder of the canal company who became chairman during a time when he was expanding his business interests.
1816 – The Edstone Aqueduct is constructed, and the canal reaches the Avon at Stratford. Traffic is good between King’s Norton and the Kingswood Junction although it carried low tolls. The meager traffic Stratford received was the delivery of coal for the town and its neighbours. More money had to be borrowed to maintain the canal and the first dividend was not paid until 1824 .
1845 – The canal and aqueduct are bought by the Oxford, Worcester and Wolverhampton Railway Company which amalgamated with the Great Western Railway in 1863. A valve was fitted in the aqueduct for trains to draw water from the canal. Legend has it a train was delayed due to a fish blocking the intake pipe. Here is an example that still exists, it looks like it is used for agriculture.
1885 – Traffic on the canal falls as transport on the railway increases.
1908 – Pleasure boaters discover the canal.
1956 – The Stratford-upon-Avon Canal Society is founded with the aim of preventing the canal’s closure and ensuring it’s preservation .
1958 – Warwickshire County Council applies for a warrant of abandonment, which results in a public protest organised by the society. Almost 200 people took part in a cruise down the section of the canal from Preston Bagot to the Edstone Aqueduct. The group consisted of MPs and members of the Coventry Canal Society, the Burton-on-Trent Sailing Club, the Leamington Canoe Club, and the Inland Waterways Association .
1964 – The canal is restored by the British armed forces and volunteers.
1971 – The aqueduct undergoes repair following an examination, which revealed the surface of the buttress at the southern end was disintegrating. Repair work was carried out by members of the National Trust .
1985 – The aqueduct is listed as a Grade II* structure .
2003 – The three aqueducts on the canal undergo additional restoration costing £1.2 million .
Architecture and dimensions
There are fourteen spans between thirteen tapering brick piers made from English bond grey bricks and regular coursed stone. Two wrought-iron girders between each span support the cast-iron trough and the towpath .
The trough consists of 35 plates each side. Every plate measure 14 ft (4.28 m) long and 1 in (2.54 cm) thick.
The trough is 8.5 ft (2.64 m) wide and around 3.75 ft (1.14 m) deep. The towpath is 4.5 ft (1.37 m) wide and has cast-iron railings running along the edge .
The abutments are party made of engineering brick and the aqueduct contains 19th century repairs.
- Hadfield, C. (1985) The Canals of the West Midlands. Newton Abbot: David & Charles (Publishers) Limited.
- British Waterways Information Board
- Tyson, S. (1975) ‘Cast Iron Aqueducts in England and Wales’, Journal of the Railway and Canal Historical Society, 21(3), pp. 54-64.
- Historic England (2020) Aqueduct, Stratford On Avon Canal. Available at: https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1024550 (Accessed: 21 December 2020).
- (1971) ‘Repair Job on 300ft Bearley Aqueduct’, Coventry Evening Telegraph, 6 March, p. 12.
- (1958) ‘M.P.s Lead Canal Protest Cruise’, Birmingham Daily Post, 13 October, p. 20.