Some paths were not meant for walking, but for strolling. One such path has gained a world-famous reputation for its miles-long corridors along Birmingham’s intertwining canal system.
This scenic route, known as the Gas Street Basin, is a part of the UK’s sprawling Birmingham Canal Navigation’s Main Line (BCN), which was constructed by–you guessed it–the Birmingham Canal Company.
The ambition of several business moguls spurred a 1768 Act of Parliament, which initiated the project and soon afterwards, James Brindley, a canal engineer, was commissioned to design and oversee the project’s construction. He would later have his name enshrined nearby at Brindleyplace, where his ingenuity has become an iconic neighbourhood of Birmingham’s urban community.
The Gas Street basin is named so due to its localisation near Birmingham’s historic Gas Street, but the canal itself spans miles and miles along the Worcester and Birmingham Canals. The path itself starts at the iconic Mailbox complex (near the Gas Street Social) which contains a menagerie of haute couture stores (Hugo Boss, Armani, etc) and international restaurants, coffee shops, and wine bars.
Along the pathway, the bustling local scene erupts with a queue of pubs, cafes, shops, and eateries fit for British (and even American) tastes. Many of them are found along one of the canal’s most salient landmarks such as the Worcester Bar, which acts as a miniature ‘car park’ for many riverboats. Here, you can see a kitsch assortment of river taxis and house boats, many which are colourfully decorated and marked according to each captain’s ingenuity.
The waters of the basin continue onward beyond the Broad Street junction and then coalesces into a vibrant epicentre of riverboat cafes, diners, and pubs with a distinct ‘Brummy’ (Birmingham) charm. The area is sandwiched between several important landmarks: the International Convention Centre, the Symphony Hall, The National Sea Life Centre Aquarium, the Barclaycard Arena, and Oozells Square–a key business hub for Birmingham’s upscale developments.
Here are some of our best moments throughout our stroll through the Gas Basin: