ONE matter has been ‘conveniently' overlooked by those proposing, or commenting, on the widening of the towpath in Edgbaston Tunnel, writes Jimmy Lockwood.
That is the important subject of Heritage which governs much of the changes that are permitted to be made today to historic structures.
Will change its profile
Between Worcester Bar and Tardebigge all the canal structures were constructed as for a broad canal and the intention, never carried out, was to provide a barge canal to the Severn. Thus the widening of the towpath will impact on the structure of the tunnel and change its profile, albeit at and below water level.
Are we now saying that saving heritage doesn't matter? If so where will a future line be drawn? In the recent past many waterway based structures have disappeared from canal banks—warehouses, cottages, etc. but the waterways have largely remained as built. Are we entering a new era where canals will be redeveloped to meet the needs of others who choose to use the facilities but have no interest in waterway heritage?
Construct a new tunnel
If a wider cycle way is required by Birmingham City Council let it construct a new tunnel for cycles parallel to the canal tunnel. With modern construction plant the 100 or so yards of a new tunnel should be easily achievable. This would have the added advantage of meeting Health & Safety concerns as cyclists would not be cycling next to water and moving craft.
Do cyclists contribute financially to any improvements? No, they cycle for free along routes that were designed and built for a very different purpose. Does Birmingham City Council annually pay CaRT more the CaRT receives in boat fees? I doubt it! Let the council sort out its problem and leave the canal heritage alone.
Is this just another method CaRT have devised to increase its income from third parties? If so it is the wrong one and CaRT as guardians of the waterways should be putting heritage first!