By lunchtime​, it had gone!

AFTER a five-month wait, the familiar wharf crane at Audlem has been removed for repair. CRT staff, contractors and an observer from the local IWA branch gathered outside Audlem’s Shroppie Fly pub one morning in late February as the task of dismantling and removing the canal side landmark finally got under way.

The complex operation, necessitated by the fragile condition of the structure, saw the top stays detached and the crane jib swung, on a mobile crane, onto the waiting trailer, to be followed by the crane’s pillar and eventually the base and winding gear.

The dismantled crane has now been moved to CRT’s yard at Northwich, where it will wait for carpenters from one of CRT’s lock gate workshops to measure up and make replacement timbers to replace the rotten and damaged originals.

The crane, star of countless photos, paintings, illustrations and souvenirs, was initially pronounced in a dangerous condition in early September 2018 and was duly fenced off, the towpath outside the Shroppie Fly closed, and the adjacent water point restricted to boats of no more than 50’. IWA Shrewsbury & North Wales Branch, local IWA members and other waterways users have been pressing for remedial action over the autumn and winter, with questions tabled at CRT’s North West Region user forum in November and direct contacts with the navigation authority since.

The latest estimate given for the reinstatement of the structure to its Audlem home is ‘late spring’, 2019.