Victor: At long last...

Published: Sunday, 23 December 2018

YES, my friends, at long last, the Middlewich Branch is open.

But it took nine months, with our getting just about every excuse in the book for the delay, though we are told 'the whole project team and contractors have worked hard to achieve this'!

Yet back in 1958 there was a worse breach on the Midddlewich Branch at Church Minshull that was repaired a damn sight quicker.

And that time we boaters did not get the blame from the then people in charge, they then knowing full well that leaving paddles open can hardly cause a breach, the 'fake news' that Canal & River Trust purloined being nothing more that a a cover for its own inadequacy in not maintaining regular examination of what after all was obviously a suspect area.

The old days

As to the inordinate length of time it took to repair, Pam Picket explained in her feature (The other Middlewich breach) how it was done in those old days:

ChurchMinshullBreach1958'Happily British Waterways at least had both the expertise and the will to deal with this breach. With no time being lost the breach was stanked off. Without the benefit of modern machinery now available to CaRT. Draglines and a face-shovel were deployed together with a drott and with materials now being delivered by boat, work on this breach was completed in just over five weeks. A far cry I think from both the cost and time being taken in respect of the current breach'.

To which I shall add that instead of repairing the breach with its proper material, clay, CaRT has used plastic sheeting  that as was proven in the breach at the top of the Trent & Mersey, using the same material, then leaked again where it joined the original clay.  So can we expected another stoppage?

Another manager

The Boat Safety Scheme has been organised and well operated since its inception under the then British Waterways, and accepted by most as an excellent scheme in helping to keep boats safe.

So why, particularly as we learned some few months ago that there was to be something of a clear-out of managers at Cart, has a further manager been appointed for the BSS scheme to—and here I quote—'helping us to develop and distribute safety and regulatory support information especially linked to our spring/summer 2019 carbon monoxide campaign'.

Generator on boatSurely all those hundreds of volunteers we are told about could pass on a leaflet or two to passing boaters, without the cost of yet another manager?

If more money is to be spent on the BSS, don't you agree it would be much wiser to have a roving inspector to check that boats are actually safe and comply with the regulations?  As like me, you must have seen no few that are certainly not, in fact being downright dangerous, (as the one pictured) and not only to themselves but to nearby moored boats.

Dangerous, not only from fumes from the generator but escaping gas, that surely would benefit  from a roving inspector.

Now that would be wiser, but alas wisdom, to my mind, seems to be sadly lacking in the Canal & River Trust of today.

That did not last long

So on Friday, with much ado, Cart 'fully opened' the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, then the very same day closed it again at Blackburn with the flight from lock 52 to 57 again chained-up.

Whatever caused the stoppage we are not told, but at least Cart has learnt its lesson and not blamed boaters but instead blamed vandals, though we were not told what vandalism. Anyway, after the outcry from boaters the locks are open a couple of hours a day around noon.

One of our regular contributors told us there seems to be a shortage of water on the flight, adding however, "even though it is hissing it down!"

Stretching the imagination

One last question—How on earth can the Leeds & Liverpool Canal be open when the Wigan Flight is closed six days a week?

Victor Swift