Wide beams on the Oxford now costing CaRT

Published: Monday, 28 March 2022

ALLOWING wide beams on the narrow Oxford Canal has proved a bad decision for Canal & River Trust.

It allowed wide beams on many parts of the waterway between the narrow locks but we are now seeing the folly of encouraging wide boats along this route, Brian Jarrett reports.

Wide Beam WilloughbySpend more money

The latest Grand Union stoppage and repair notice shows CaRT now have to spend money they’re short of to keep this ill conceived process operational.

After a number of incidents affecting widebeam craft, it was in January 2022 it carried out a thorough investigation and accurate measurements of the wall beneath the water level.   explaining:

Prohibitively costly

"We’ve looked at the opportunities for widening the gap here to 14 feet, to open up this section of canal to breasted-up narrowboats and other craft currently able to navigate the southern Grand Union. However, initial findings show that this would be prohibitively costly and more disruptive for both canal and road users, requiring extensive engineering works on the bridge itself, with a long stoppage for boats and traffic diversion for cars.

"There are also other pinch points on this section of the Grand Union, particularly at Bridge 23 which make it unsuitable for full-width operation. We are also aware of a recent incident at Bridge 59, Shrewley where the permitted 12’6” beam is unable to be accommodated. The trust is planning to complete further investigations regarding this restriction."

During the time wide beams were allowed on the Oxford Canal there have been many complaints of the problems they caused on what after all is a narrow canal.