IWA expresses concerns over Leigh branch stoppage date

Barton Swing Aqueduct, which carries the Bridgewater Canal over the Manchester Ship Canal. PHOTO: IWA

THE Inland Waterways Association has written to Peel Holdings, owners of the Bridgewater Canal, to express concern at the revised timing of a proposed stoppage at Vicars Hall Bridge, near Boothstown.

Originally scheduled for December 2016 to March 2017, IWA has asked Peel Holdings to reconsider the timing of the stoppage which is now scheduled to run from mid-February to mid-June, affecting the early part of the summer when many boaters will wish to use the canal.

The Leigh Branch of the Bridgewater Canal is a vital link between the canals of Lancashire and the Midland waterways.  Whilst for some boats it will be a very long way round via the Pennines and Yorkshire, for boats over a certain length it is simply impossible and they will be effectively trapped where they are until well into the summer.

This will affect many peoples’ boating plans for attending events around the country, from Easter onwards.  It will also affect many boats from elsewhere in the country who wish to visit Liverpool, Wigan and Lancashire, including the Lancaster Canal via the Ribble Link.

Whilst IWA understands that the recent delays are as a result of regulator and statutory undertakers’ delays in responding to Peel Holdings plans, IWA has asked the owners to consider options that would minimise potential closures of the canal and towpath, as well as looking at whether there is an opportunity for some windows of opening to canal traffic, to enable boats to pass through in each direction on specific (and advertised) dates during the stoppage period.

Should none of these options be viable, IWA has asked Peel Holdings to consider postponing the stoppage further until the autumn.

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