Waste of Money?

Published: Wednesday, 09 August 2023

THE Canal & River Trust have recently completed the reconstruction of bridge 37 (pictured) on the Caldon Canal, at the foot of Hazlehurst locks, writes David Hymers.

DavuidBridgeThis took most of the winter and it cost £2 million. The bridge carries a farm track and gives access to a handful of offside moorings. How can an organisation, which claims to be short of enough money to carry out a decent standard of maintenance, possibly justify spending this amount on a single bridge, which does not even carry a road?

In any case, why did it cost that much? For £2 million you could build four or five decent sized houses, including the cost of the land. The budget for Schoolhouse Bridge on the Montgomery is £1 million, and that involves diverting a proper road in order to carry out the job and reinstating it afterwards. You can see from the picture that the £2 million did not stretch to providing a number plate for the bridge.

DavidMooringsThe other picture also shows the lock landing for Hazlehurst bottom lock—completely overgrown and unusable. Indeed, the whole of the Caldon, especially the bottom stretch, is appallingly overgrown, the towpath inaccessible and the offside vegetation overhanging half the canal width. Nearly all the bridge approaches are blind, from overhanging trees. I get the impression that this part of the Caldon is on CaRT's list for abandonmentafter all, it doesn't go anywhere.

Worse for Weaver

Having just spent time on the river I can endorse all Dave Collins says about the problems on the Weaver. There is no point in going through Hunt's Lock if Vale Royal is shut, as there is nowhere to moor between the two. According to a staff member, the problem at Vale Royal is that the swing bridge over the lock has got out of balance and cannot be safely operated.The option of opening it and leaving it open was vetoed by the resident of the property the other side of the lock, who insists on his full right of access, although alternatives are available.

None of the road bridges can be swung because of faults and as a result the Daniel Adamson is stuck below Sutton Weaver, unable to go anywhere, as it is too big to turn round at that point. When we used it the Anderton Lift only had one caisson working and it is due for a major maintenance shut down as soon as funds can be found. Another one for the abandonment list, I suspect.