Victor: Still don't know what to do about Toddbrook Reservoir

Published: Sunday, 17 November 2019

THE Canal & River Trust still does not know what to do about the damaged Toddbrook Reservoir.

Its Regional Director, Sean McGinley, tells it is not known whether the spill wall will require 'a large-scale repair or a complete rebuild'.

WhaleyBridgeDamNeither is it known how much it will cost or how long it will take, he stating that it will be 'millions' and take anything up to three years to complete.

It will be remembered that many families had to be evacuated from the town after the collapse in fear of the whole 200 years old earth structure giving way.  I would imagine that these people would most certainly prefer that the reservoir was not rebuilt at all.

After all there are other reservoirs supplying the Peak Forest Canal.  So though Toddbrook was obviously necessary in the days when there was constant boat traffic of limestone and lime from the quarries feeding the demand of the industrial revolution, it is hardly necessary now for the few boats that venture that-away.

Explaining it

Though I should imagine many would not agree, I being one,  Project Manager Rob Jowitt tells he was happy with how the 200 years old earth embankment dam was built and thought the damage an 'anomaly'!

Not sure what those people evacuated would think about that, but perhaps it was a good thing that the reservoir spillway collapsed when it did—for imagine the volume of water that would have been cascading over with all the recent rain...  Would it have held?

Not only but also

It is not only CART that is having problems but the Environmental Agency too is being castigated for its lack of maintenance that is causing flooding.

It has come to light that the Association of Drainage Authorities had warned it every year since 2007 that its lack of maintenance of the Don would acerbate both flooding and the clearing of floods.  A member, John Duckitt, telling that his complaints fell on deaf ears.

He told that the Agency 'chooses to do as little as possible', allowing trees and plants to grow by the side of the river, that meant they caused blockages narrowing the channel and stopped the water getting away with his farm at Fishlake still submerged.

The Chief Executive of Association of Drainage Authorities, Innes Thomson, told that the Agency's maintenance 'had tailed down over the years' with river banks not looked after, with parts slipping into the river causing blockages.

A revelation

With our Thomas swapping offices and having a clear-out, our old first boat's log came to light, and what a revelation!

aqeduct troughExcept for a few years hiring we were quite new to boating and were obviously very keen indeed.  In keeping with many others, in the summer of 1997 our first cruise was to see that aqueduct and the 'mountains of Wales'.

Needless to say we were quite thrilled with Pontcysyllte Aqueduct but failed to see any mountains.  The scenery to the aqueduct being quite bland, and nothing to compare with the later cruises over the Pennines.

But I digress.  The log brought to light our cruising times, with over 10 hours a day, time after time!  What  a difference now—four or five hours before lunch, and that's it!

One thing was for sure, we certainly had no 'system' at working the locks, for those 10 hour days were greatly reduced indeed when next we 'did' the Llangollen some years later!

HurlstonAbout time

We were accompanied by another boat on that first cruise which brings me to the repair to the bottom lock on the Hurleston Flight, where that boater, leaving his fenders down, became stuck in the lock that had narrowed over the years.

Yes my friends, 22 years ago that particular lock was trapping boats, and notwithstanding many promises from both British Waterway and Canal & River Trust, that it 'will be attended to' nothing happened until this year, when at long, long last hopefully it will be rectified.

The problem of course was that though from time to time notices were erected telling the lock was too narrow, these disintegrated, so unwary boaters were caught.  Of which there must have been hundreds over the years.

Victor Swift