Leeds & Liverpool swing bridge closed until Spring

Published: Thursday, 09 July 2020

THE lack of maintenance to the Leeds & Liverpool Canal swing bridges has resulted in the closure of a Skipton swing bridge until Spring of next year

The mechanism has broken on Gawflat Swing Bridge (175) at Skipton, but luckily for boaters in the 'open' position, so though no traffic can use the bridge, boats still can at present.

SkiptonFailureWill remain out of action

Canal & River Trust has stated it has no funds to repair it until next year so it will remain out of action until then when its mechanism was due to be replaced.

At present the bridge is in the 'open' position so is not preventing navigation, but there is pressure in the town for it to be in the 'closed' position to allow pedestrians, cyclists, school and college students, access, otherwise they have to detour over another canal bridge.

Safety of staff and volunteers

Sean McGinley, Director for Yorkshire and North East, of Canal & River Trust stated:

“We apologise for the local disruption this will cause—and it is not a decision we have taken lightly.  However, we need to ensure the safety of our staff, volunteers and boaters and we do not have the funding to carry out the repairs this summer."

“Locking the bridge in a ‘closed’ position would stop all boats from travelling along the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, and would be another blow for the leisure and hire boat companies who operate in the centre of Skipton after months of lockdown restrictions.

“Whilst we appreciate that there will be inconveniences, there are alternative routes that allow vehicles and pedestrians to cross the canal.  There is no alternative route if we were to close the canal to boats, and it is important that the canal is open for both private boaters and especially boat hire companies now that restrictions are beginning to lift.”

£2 million on towpath upgrade

The Trust is coming to the end of a major £2 million project involving the resurfacing of 11 km of canal towpath between Gargrave and Kildwick.

Skipton Councillor, Andy Solloway, told Craven Herald & Pioneer:

“This is going to be very disruptive, especially considering that the leisure centre cafe, play areas and other park facilities are opening up.

“I also can’t believe that the Canal & River Trust can’t find some external funding sources to do more immediate repairs to this bridge.  The footpath behind Hall Croft is far from an ideal alternative, especially from an accessibility point of view.

“The trust have done some great work on the upgraded towpath, they mustn’t blow all that goodwill with a long closure of this vital access to Aireville Park. “