Victor: Have swing bridges passed their 'use by' date?

Published: Sunday, 23 August 2020

THE continuous failures of swing bridges prompts that particular question.

With 21 failures already this year—and three months with virtually no useit would seem that the swing bridges have indeed reached their 'use by' date, and thus need replacing.

Boaters, particularly on the Leeds & Liverpool, are absolutely fed-up of the endless stoppages as they fail time after time with the two now famous ones of Coxhead and Crabtree rarely out of the newsfor the wrong reasons.

We often read about the Coxhead failures, with the Crabtree having the record of breaking down twice in one day, such is its reliability.  Others are now joining the list on that particular waterway.

Then of course those swing bridges on the Kennet & Avon have their fair share of failures.  And there's the one over the Ouse at Selby now a regular contestant.

All too often we hear that the barriers have been struck, but James Henry told us he was held up at Coxhead on a cruise in the past with the stoppage notice stating the barrier had been damaged—but it wasn't!  When the engineer arrived James pointed out that he 'messed about with the innards and the thing worked'!

And now Keith tells us Godstow Swing Bridge on the Stainforth & Keadby Canal has packed-up!  Will it ever end?

A major redesign and replacement of the ever failing ones is perhaps the answer.

A linear park in the making

But alas, there will be no money for that as towpaths have priority, as we learn from a recent Times article.  In this article under the heading 'Walking and cycling routes unlocked in plan to transform 100 miles of towpath' we are told that the biggest ever upgrade of canal towpaths is being planned to turn muddy neglected routes into safe, good quality surfaces for walking and cycling.

The Canal & River Trust proposals are for 30 towpath improvement schemes, and include spending £1.25 millions on one scheme, £3.3 millions on another, and told that £2 millions already spent on one scheme 'is forecast to yield £4 millions in benefits!  Work that one out!

If that's not a linear park in the making, I don't know what is—and bugger the canals.  Oh yes, ner a mention of those...

Don't fancy that

The news that two of the four locks connecting the tidal Trent to the canals are out of action as a staff member has been diagnosed with coronavirus is bad news indeed.

For no boater wants to be on the tidal Trent today—not with an estimated  16 feet tide at Keadby rushing up river today.  Torksey is the only safe place to be on the river well tied to the floating pontoon.

Victor Swift