THE completion of the Barge Canal will see the first boat on the waterway in 80 years next Monday.
Eventually this will complete a 21 miles cruising ring with the restored Barge and Droitwich canals, the Worcester & Birmingham Canal and the Severn.
The first boat to travel the restored Barge Canal next Monday (6th September) will enter the restored waterway from the Severn (pictured) through Hawford Lock to cruise up to the Droitwich Salt Day celebration event.
This however is ahead of the canal being fully open to navigation, as the low rainfall has again taken its toll, with not enough water being able to be abstracted from the Salwarpe at present as its water level is very low. But once the level rises the navigation will be open. The picture above shows members of the Waterway Recovery Group working on a Barge Canal lock. with the one below showing the opening.
Then there is just the short link of the Junction Canal to be completed, which is scheduled to open next year, then the new cruising ring will be open.
British Waterways Senior Regeneration Manager Jason Leach explained:
"It's especially rewarding to see all the diverse efforts of groups and individuals coming to fruition after decades of planning and spadework. This £12m project to restore the Barge and Junction Canals will unlock the entire ring, a green waterway corridor for communities and a magnet for visiting boaters"
The work included four new locks, 550 yards of channel built and a new Tunnel under the A449. There have been 46 visitor moorings installed.
We are told the restoration will create £2.75m additional visitor spend; 196 FTE jobs; 322,000 additional visitor days plus 12,000 annual cycling visits; 2,000 annual canoe visits; 3,500 annual angling visits; £3,088,800 uplift values for adjacent houses; £144,000 annual health benefits; 20% increase on Worcester & Birmingham Canal and Severn; 3,300 new boat movements.