© 2016 Lichfield & Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust

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Spoken Memories…  The history of the L&H by the people who experienced the canals in their heyday, or became involved in it’s restoration.  A rare opportunity to hear real stories first-hand from the people who were there. This project was supported by a grant from Lichfield District Council.

Spoken Memories - an Oral History


Kathleen Bird

Speaking to Dora Hancock in August 2015

Kathleen Bird was born in Southwell, Nottinghamshire but moved to Lichfield as a baby where she spent her childhood living in Saint Johns Street. Kathleen attended Saint Joseph's School in Chapel Lane and Central School in Frog Lane. In 1940 Kathleen married Arthur Bird and they had three children Susan, Richard and Ian. Kathleen still lives in Lichfield and together with her son Ian takes an very active interest in the work of the Trust. They are both members of the Trust and frequent visitors to the Tamworth Road site. Kathleen is our oldest member and celebrated her 100th birthday in 2018.



On growing up by the canal

At school with the barge children

Present day uses for the canal

A busy time on the canal

On the closure of the canal

On the restoration project

Lichfield Canal at Sandfields in 1926

Kathleen Bird by Pound 26 in 2015.  Photo Christine Howles

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I remember the humpback bridge halfway up Shortbutts Lane and as a kid walking along there in the Late 50s early 60s. Until I was 5 we lived in the old Stowe Street then we moved to Whittington. We used to play on the canals as kids but I dont remember any boats. I always remember the humpback bridges down Cappers lane and down Darnford lane. Late 50s early 60s.

Paul Backhouse

If you remember the canal before it was abandoned  or were involved in the early days of restoration and would be willing to be interviewed we would love to hear from you. Please contact me, Dora,  at hancock.dora@googlemail.com

John & Jan Horton


Speaking to Paul Marshall in January 2018

The early days of the Trust

6 mins.

John and Jan Horton have been key members the Trust since just after it was founded in 1988. In these  recordings John recalls the early days and tells how he came to be involved, and of his role in the M6 Toll Aqueduct project.

Jan  recalls the vital assistance given by Sir John Smith of the Manifold Trust, and how she found out who owned the land at Fosseway.

The enquiry into the BNRR and the Aqueduct

7 mins.

Fund-raising for the Aqueduct

8 mins.

Acquiring the land at Fosseway and starting on Lock 18

4 mins.

Roy Aston

December 2018

My name is Roy Aston. I was born, and lived until I married, at Muckley Corner.

My playground from the time when I caught sticklebacks in a net, up until I fished for roach, perch, and tench, was the stretch of canal from around an area we called” Redgap”, (the proper name of which I think is Red Cap Wharf), situated on Muckley Corner common near the road from the Boat Inn, down to the bridge on the A461 near Moat Bank lane.

When the canal was drained (1957 ?), I remember carrying fish, in buckets of water down to the wharf at Pipehill in a vain attempt to rescue them.

I have three photos taken at that time which you might wish put into your archives.

You have taken on an enormous project, which I know will be greatly appreciated by those lucky enough to see and use it. I will follow your progress and wish you good luck and good speed for its completion.

The first is taken from the towpath near the A5 Bridge looking towards John Browns nursery. Incidentally, in the area situated where the tallest bushes are there were some old lime kilns.

The third was taken at the same period of time I think, and is from Pipehill bridge looking towards Shaw’s Bridge.


The second photo is of the the first lock along that pound, (number 10)


The camera had only just been invented when I was a lad!