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Ashby Canal

The Ashby-de-la-Zouch Canal is a 22 mile (35 km) long canal in England which travels between Bedworth in Warwickshire and the Leicestershire village of Snarestone. The canal used to travel 8 miles (13 km) further north to Moira, just outside the town of Ashby-de-la-Zouch.

The Route

The canal starts at a junction with the Coventry Canal just outside Bedworth and travels north-east for about 7 miles (11 km) through the town of Hinckley. It then continues to run north through largely rural and remote countryside for another 15 miles (24 km) until reaching its terminus at Snarestone.

History

The canal, opened in 1804 to transport coal from the west Leicestershire coalfields, the canal did not prosper and rarely made a profit. In 1846 it was taken over by the Midland Railway company for just 110,000, a considerable loss for the owners, who had paid 184,000 in construction.

The canal was gradually run down by its railway owners. In 1918 a major breach caused by mining subsidence caused the last few miles of the canal near Ashby to be abandoned. The canal was nearly closed completely, only the strategic importance of the coal supplies during the First World War allowed it to survive. In 1944 the L.M.S railway, which by then owned the canal, closed down several more miles of its northern end. Further closures followed in 1966, largely owing to mining subsidence.

Now the mining industry in the area has gone, there are plans to re-open the canal to its original terminus at Moira. A short stretch of the canal near Moira has been restored and re-filled with water. But the A46 main road has been built across the canal's formation making a complete re-opening unlikely in the near future.