About us

The Dudley Canal Trust was created to protect and preserve the tunnels. Through our subsidiary charity, Dudley Canal Trust (Trips) Ltd, we run regular guided boat trips through the tunnels, accompanied by videos, lifelike reconstructions and stunning music and light shows.

These excursions are fun, informative and entertaining, and they attract over 80,000 visitors every year.

Any trading surplus is re-invested in maintaining the tunnels and their environment, so visitors can enjoy and appreciate 420 million years of living history long into the future.

 

about-history-castle-mill

Castle Mill Basin c1900

The History of Dudley Canal Trust

During the 1950s there was a concerted attempt by the British Transport Commission (BTC) to destroy the canal network. A policy of abandonment, neglect and vandalism was implemented to stop navigation and therefore be able to declare the canals unused. A few people stood up and fought to keep the right of navigation and kept the canals open.

In 1959 the BTC proposed closing the Dudley Canal Tunnel and mines officially closing and sealing it in 1962. Faced with the loss of a unique nationally important site some local people re-opened the tunnel and fought to restore it to working order.

The Dudley Tunnel Preservation Society, was formed in 1963 and changed its name to Dudley Canal Trust in 1970.

We have spent 50 years restoring, conserving and trying to secure the future for the Dudley Canal Tunnel and our local canals. Over the years many battles have been fought, some won, others lost, and many friends made.

Why not join us in preserving our heritage. The work and the fight goes on.

“Dudley Canal Tunnel. Closed by the Government on behalf of the people. Re-opened by the people on behalf of themselves.”

—  Vic Smallshire, 1962

Dudley Canal Trust actually came into being in 1970. But the organisation’s origins date back to 1963 when the Dudley Canal Tunnel Preservation Society was formed to spearhead attempts to protect the tunnel.

This campaign was successful, and in 1970 the Society became the Dudley Canal Trust. We have been instrumental in many key developments since then, including:

  • The reopening of Parkhead Locks to form a through route in 1973
  • In 1984, with Grant Aid assistance, the building of the first new tunnel for 126 years, connecting with the Singing Cavern
  • The completion of yet another tunnel in 1989, allowing our passenger boats to offer a unique underground round trip.

All our staff were volunteers, and by this time they were very stretched. So Dudley Canal Trips Ltd — a registered Charity no. 514219 — was created to oversee our passenger boat trips, and ensure that our catering and shop sales operations were run professionally. Today we welcome over 80,000 visitors every year, and any trading surplus is used to maintain the tunnels and their environment.