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Grub Street Cutting
Shropshire Union Canal, Grub Street, Staffordshire
associated engineer
Thomas Telford
date  1832
era  Georgian  |  category  Canal/Navigation works  |  reference  SJ780253
ICE reference number  HEW 2070
The second of two long deep cuttings engineered by Telford for the then-named Birmingham & Liverpool Junction Canal, now the Shropshire Union Canal. Direct-line canal routing is typical of Telford's work in this field.
Grub Street is a small village in Staffordshire. The cutting that bears its name is 2.7km long, with a maximum depth of 15.2m. It is crossed by three bridges constructed using relatively small-span semicircular arches situated at the top of very high vertical abutment walls. Double Culvert Bridge is 9.8m high. High Bridge is just over 12.2m above the waterway and carries the A519 road.
Some time after the building of High Bridge, its abutment was buttressed by the addition of a double brick arch about halfway up the wall. At one time, the canal had a telegraph line running along its bank and the strengthening arch has been used as a convenient sitting point for a very short telegraph pole. Although the other poles have now been removed (traces may be still found along the towpath), this one has been left as a curiosity.
The other cutting lies further north west along the canal, near Woodseaves in Shropshire (not to be confused with Woodseaves in Staffordshire, which is right near Grub Street!). It's about the same length but is deeper, has steeper sides and is crossed by four bridges.
Both cuttings were ready by about 1832 but the canal didn't open fully until March 1835 because of difficulties in the construction of the great embankment at Shelmore. Digging the cuttings caused the contractor many headaches as the sides frequently slipped. With hindsight and present-day knowledge of soil mechanics, we can say that the sides should have been shallower. Even today, slips happen from time to time and evidence of this can be seen from the towpath.
Main contractor: William Provis
Research: RJ
reference sources   CEH W&WBDCE

Grub Street Cutting