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The Birmingham Canal, completed in 1773, terminated at Old Wharf beyond Bridge Street. When the Worcester and Birmingham Company started their canal at a point later known as Gas Street Basin the Birmingham Canal Navigations Company (BCN) insisted on a physical barrier to prevent the Worcester and Birmingham Canal from benefiting from their water.
The Worcester Bar, a 7 ft. 3 in. wide straight barrier 84 yards long was built perpendicular to the run of the two canals. Cargo had to be manhandled between boats on either side
The Worcester and Birmingham Canal opened between Birmingham and Selly Oak on 30 October 1795 but took until 1815 to complete to Worcester, at which time, after much lobbying by iron and coal masters and the Worcester and Birmingham Canal Company, an Act of Parliament was passed to open up the bar and the bar lock was built. There were toll offices either side of the bar lock and tolls were collected by each company from boats using the canals. The Worcester Bar still exists, with boats moored to both sides of it. It is connected to Gas Street via a footbridge reconstructed to a design by Horseley Ironworks of the early 19th century (see photo).
During the 1990s much of the area around the basin was redeveloped and older buildings refurbished.
The wall and ramp down from Gas Street, the Tap and Spile pub, and the neighbouring building are all grade II listed, as is the Martin & Chamberlain building built on top of the Broad Street Tunnel.